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Benefits of Pausing at the Bottom of Squats

7208-nathuge2Q: I read that you pause for two seconds at the bottom of your squats. What are the benefits of doing that? Also, what do you think of full squats?

A: I started doing pause squats about 10 years ago. I was having problems with my lower back from squatting so heavy all my life, and I wanted to find a way to keep doing squats but put more stress on the legs and less on the back.

Pause squats are much harder to do than regular squats because you have to come out of the bottom position from a dead stop. By stopping the movement at the bottom, you reduce the lower-back stress but cause the legs to have to work much harder to push back to the starting position.

In order to perform a pause squat, squat down as low as possible and then hold the bottom position for two seconds. I like to have my training partner count, “One, two,” so I can just focus on keeping my upper body straight and tight before coming back up. Repeat that pause at the bottom of each rep.

The pause squat gives the legs greater “time under tension,” as the legs are forced to work much harder during an extended set’ the longer time is due to the pause on each rep. The longer the muscles are under tension, the greater the muscle damage to the tissues, leading to more muscular development.

The first time you try pause squats, use less weight so you can get the feel of the exercise and do it correctly. This is obviously a more difficult squat variation than regular squats, so work into it slowly.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Mr. Natural Olympia and is a three-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Check out his Web site at for more information about how you can be a part of his exciting, new Natural Olympia Fitness getaway. Send questions or comments to [email protected]. Look for John’s DVD, “Natural Bodybuilding Seminar and Competitions,” along with his book, Natural Bodybuilding, and his training DVD, “Real Muscle,” at his Web site or at Home Gym Warehouse,  IM


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