The squat is one of those movements that has no gray area. Either you love it or hate it but regardless of how you feel about it you have to respect it for its effectiveness in helping athletes develop their lower body. If performed properly with a full range of motion, squats can help all athletes improve for any athletic or physique endeavor. They are tough to do and take a lot of energy which is why some people aren’t big fans of them. So the last thing they need is something to make this challenging lift even more challenging. The thing is as fitness minded people, we know that finding the easy way isn’t the best way. The tougher it is, the more we will benefit from it. So for your next squat day I present you with this tip to make the squat more challenging as well as more effective.
With a normal squat, you lower yourself until the top of your thighs are parallel with the floor and immediately use force in your legs to stand back up with the weight on your back as quickly as possible. So what’s the trick I keep referencing? The trick is lowering yourself down “in the hole” and pausing at the bottom of the movement for a count of two before standing back up with the weight. This pause is similar to pausing the weight on your chest on the bench press in powerlifting. The purpose is to prevent any momentum from becoming a part of the lift so you have to exert more force to lift the weight. For the squat, that means the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes will have to work harder in order for you to generate the force necessary to stand back up with the weight. Your core will also have to work harder to keep you and the weight more stable. You will likely have to use less weight than you normally use for the squat so when trying this for the first time, make sure your working sets are with 75% of the weight you would use for traditional squats.
How to Perform the Pause Squat
Stand with the weight on the back of your shoulders as you normally would with a traditional squat. Make sure your feet are a little wider than shoulder with. Stand tall with your chest out, core tight, and looking straight ahead. Lower yourself by bending the knees and sitting back like you would be if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep going until the top of your thighs are parallel with the floor. Once you are in this position, stay there for a count of “one thousand one, one thousand two”. Push through your feel and generate as much force as possible from your legs to push yourself back up to a standing position. Do not relax at any point during the movement. Keep yourself tight and hold the weight with as tight of a grip as you can. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
There isn’t any major benefit to performing a longer pause so keep it to no more than two seconds. You can either make this your new style of squatting or you can alternate between performing pause squats and traditional squats so you can reap the best of both styles. You can also use this technique with any other version of the squat like front squats, goblet squats, and hack squats, among others. You should notice an increase in power and size in the legs within a few weeks of trying this if you’re new to pausing.
About the Author
Roger “ROCK” Lockridge is a writer whose work has been seen all over the world. He is most known as a writer for Iron Man Magazine and Bodybuilding.com. In 2009, he was named Bodybuilding.com Male Writer of the Year which along with the Female award is the highest award for writers in the bodybuilding/fitness world.
Roger is also known for his work against child abuse and domestic violence and he was featured as a part of the domestic violence documentary “30” as the only child survivor and the only male survivor in the film.