If you follow me on social media, you find out real quick that I am a full-fledged squat maniac. I squat every single day now and wholeheartedly believe in the benefits, whether it’s simply completing the challenge of it or the noteworthy strength gains I’ve made while getting leaner.
But there’s always a way to up the ante, and I’ve tried to find a way to do that— even while maintaining my squat everyday mantra. How have I done it? Pause squats.
My interest in pause squats came about when I started following my favorite Olympic weightlifter on Instagram, 2008 silver medalist Dmitry Klokov. Besides being an absolute animal in the gym when it comes to pretty much any lift, Klokov is a big advocate of performing pause squats with very heavy weight. Now, his heavy weight and everyone else’s heavy weight is going to be vastly different, but the message remains the same – using heavy pause squats in your routine is going to lead to big gains when it comes to your regular squat.
In my opinion, a major reason that pause squats are so effective is because they help you get really comfortable in the most uncomfortable part of the lift. Take any badass in the lifting game – and Klokov certainly qualifies as one – and they are always able to take the worst part of any lift and make it as comfortable as possible.
It takes some serious work and some major grinding through heavy weights, but pause squats can do that for you. But it’s not simply doing them, running through the motions and expecting your regular squat to fly up. You’re going to have to raise your intensity level, dial in your technique and learn how to power through a dead stop in the squat hole. There’s nothing easy about pause squatting a heavy weight, but the sense of satisfaction can be immense. To be honest, I’ve also noticed a huge improvement in my Olympic-style squat and my bottom position flexibility.
The pause squat forces your body to be in the proper position, but you also find where your restart power is at the bottom of the squat. It’s going to be different for each person, but finding it can help you generate even more power, which obviously leads to a bigger squat. The pauses, in addition to just flat out making you stronger, can help you discover all sorts of little intricacies at the key spots of a squat, another reason they are so beneficial.
My entire goal is to be a freak out of the hole of my squat and, to be honest, it’s not going to be possible without adding in some pause squats. I’ve applied pauses to both my front and back squat to improve my overall squat game, but the benefits don’t just stop with that lift. Pause squats have had a direct influence on my deadlift training simply by making my lower back so much stronger. I bought some Reebok Olympic shoes, watched some Instagram videos and started squatting every day nearly 200 days ago and, without a doubt, adding pause squats into the mix has been one of the most important parts of this journey.
If you’re interested in applying them to your squat game, check out some of my videos on Instagram at @musclepharmpres and also check out Klokov’s as well. I also listed a progression of an example pause squat day above, working up to a daily max and then including back off sets with longer pauses (sometimes up to 30 seconds). The reload of the weight in addition to being warmed up allows you to hold that pause for a much longer time after you hit that max weight. It also helps make you a freak out of the hole and that’s pretty much what we’re all after.
I’ve found out that this helped make me pretty damn strong, and I’m very confident it can help your squat game a great deal as well. So take a second (or two or three or even more), pause, and get to work.
PAUSE SQUAT WORKOUT
*Perform a solid dead stop on the bottom for at least 1 second on all reps unless otherwise noted
|45 lbs (Bar)||2||10 (with solid dead stop in bottom for 1 second)|
|315 lbs||1||1 (with 5 second pause)|
|275 lbs||1||1 (with 10 second pause)|
|275 lbs||1||1 (with 30 second pause)|