Pause Squats


I have been a fan of pause squats for a long time. I remember reading Ed Coan articles back in the 1990’s and he was a big fan of the movement. As I pretty much did everything that Coan did back then, I included them in my training.

The technique itself is pretty simple. You perform a regular power squat to below parallel. The difference is that instead of driving out of the bottom, you remain in the bottom position for a count of 2-3 seconds and then drive from the bottom. I like to keep the reps at around 3-5 reps. The weight will be less than you squat and you are better working on explosion with a light to moderate weight.

There are several reasons why I rate the movement:

– Pause squats reinforce “tightness” at the bottom of the squat or in the “hole”. This is important for obvious reasons. Too often lifters get loose at the bottom after they have hit depth. This results in the lifters getting out of position and usually leaning forward and being forced to do a good morning with the lift. Box squats reinforce the need to remain tight.

– Pause squats reinforce squat depth. I am no angel here. Most of us tend to squat too high in training. This is not good. Pause squats to below parallel are a great for learning about depth. Being able to gauge your own depth is important. Learning to sit down in the “hole” will help here. Of course there is a danger that lifters will perform pause squats above parallel. This only serves to compound depth issues. The key is to do everything below parallel. Make it a habit!

– Pause squats teach explosion out of the “hole”. The ability to squat huge weights is dependent on a big drive out of the bottom. Focus on exploding as fast as possible at the completion of the pause.

Ed Coan squats

I recommend pause squats for raw and equipped lifters. I have my lifters perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps after their regular power squats. They are an assistance movement. Keep the weight relatively light. Start very light and work up to 50-60% of your squat weight. The emphasis is not on weight but on technique and explosion.

bigger stronger smarter

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