Pause training – mix things up with a pause
Pause training is thought of as an intermediate to advance technique, but I think there are some good applications even for the beginner. In this episode, we'll discuss pause training and how you can use it in a safe and effective way.
Benefits of pause training:
- Increase intensity
- Improves strength through the full range of motion
- Often safer than other methods
This method works for two basic reasons:
- It increases the time under tension. Most beginning trainees focus on the number of repetitions and sets. Added together these represent the total number of repetitions for any given exercise. Yet, there is one other dimension in weight lifting, which is the time the weight is being moved. Increasing this time variable ramps up the intensity.
- It removes momentum from the lift. Many lifters have a natural bounce at the bottom of a lift. This allows them to build momentum, which reduces the total intensity of the exercise. Using a pause reduces or eliminates this momentum.
Two use cases for pauses:
- Sticking point. A sticking point is where you are weakest with a range of motion. For many lifters, this is the bottom of bench press or when your arm is fully extended in an arm curl. By lowering the overall weight used and pausing around the sticking point, you'll build more strength around that point in the range of motion, allowing you to lift more through the entire range of motion.
- At the bottom of the range of motion. I will use pauses at the bottom of a range of motion to help build flexibility and control at that point of a lift.
I use pause training in two different types of exercises.
- For isolation movements like the bicep curl or triceps extension. In isolation movements, you can use a pause to either eliminate momentum or work through a sticking point. Be careful as isolation movements typically use one muscle group and one joint and the added stress of the pause can cause an injury if not properly supervised.
- For compound movements like the squat or push up. I used the technique for both momentum reduction and range of motion work. You'll still want to watch your form, but this is the safest use of pause training.
Example of pause training:
Squat to the bottom and hold for improved range of motion:
- Use 50 – 70% of your normal weight for the lift.
- Hold for 3 seconds.
- Use a timer, it is difficult to count seconds to yourself when you get fatigued.
- Drive out of the bottom using good form.