I’m going to confess something guys:

My squat sucks.

For whatever reason I’ve just never been very good at them. Most recently my best back squat is 315 lbs for 1 rep at a bodyweight of 185.

Since then I’ve not come anywhere close to that weight. I tend to play around the in the 250-275 lb range for most of my heavy back squats, and ~205-225 for heavy front squats. But lately all my squats have felt like garbage.

So I decided to “rebuild” my squat.

Enter the Pause

Pauses can be used with almost any traditional lift as a way to get stronger through a “sticky” point in the lift. We all have that sticking point in a lift that just feels slow and arduous.

For example, let’s say you want to build a bigger bench, but you have trouble right off your chest. Use a 3-5 count pause on your chest before exploding back up.

Have trouble off the floor with your deadlift? Grab the bar and drive, but stop about 2 inches or so off the floor for 3-5 seconds, then finish out  the rep. Having trouble at lockout? Use a 3-5 count pause around your knees and then finish the rep.

Squats feeling like garbage? Spend some time in the hole or wherever you have the most trouble.

Basically, spend more time in the “sticky” spot. By hanging out there for awhile, you can help bring that spot up to the speed with the rest of your lift and help you push more weight later on down the road.

The trick here is to check your ego at the door. Since you’re holding a weight in a paused position for a small period of time, you absolutely can’t go all out and try to pull or push the same weight you’re used to. Drop the load and work on technique.

My suggestion is to go about your regular routine of squatting, benching, or deadlifting, and then tagging on a couple sets of “Pause-squats/bench/deadlifts” before you strip the bar and move on to the next thing.

As part of my squat rebuild, I’ve been using Goblet Pause Squats for 4 sets of 8 reps, with a 4-5 second pause at the bottom. Since my weak spot is in the hole, I’m spending more time there. This is done after my heavy stuff, which most recently was 8×3 in the barbell back squat.

As an added bonus to helping me build strength out of the hole, it absolutely kicks my ass. Forget conditioning; try some goblet pause squats and see if you don’t want to punch me in the face after doing a few sets.

Give Pauses a try!

Cycle them into your normal routine for about a month, and see if it helps you build a bigger and badder squat/bench/dead.

Happy lifting!

Andy Van Grinsven

About Andy Van Grinsven

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