Avoiding Life in the Fast Lane: Why Pause Squats Can Increase Your Platform Total

Kristen setting up for some heavy pause squats!
I've been asked many times how I squat so much etc over the years.  I certainly won't deny that my genetics have me built to squat with short femurs, wide hips and strong shoulder girdle.  One of the earliest examples of assistance training by my first coach, Ernie Fleischer, was to perform slow down squats which were basically pause squats.  He utilized them in different ranges during the negative and positive of the lift.  Ernie's preferred method was to have me squat just below parallel and hold for a 2 count which I still do to this day. 

 Ernie stated that being able to stop on a dime and start would make me more explosive and stronger in the hole of the squat.  I don't think it is a coincidence that I am strongest in that position and accelerate really well from the bottom position.  Let me add some points that I have learned of why pause squats will help make your squat better than ever.

1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Pause squats are just hard.  You have to sit down in the bottom rock solid.  You will get use to that feeling of being deep with weight, where much like over overload concepts, making the normal training or competing easier.  
2. Slowing down to smell the roses.
Technique is so much easier to assess when you can slow things down.  You will be able to make simple adjustments as you start to recognize areas of needed improvement.  Knee positioning, bracing, depth are all needs for every lifter to work on and slowing down lets you start to feel and establish better habits.
3.  Dive bombing will blow up in your face.
Dive bomb squatting is popular for some.  You basically drop fast hoping to bounce off the knees to help get out of the bottom.  Well too many times that technique just doesn't pan out for many reasons I won't share in this post.  Simple and short version is it takes a lot of force to redirect weight that you have exponentially increased by letting it drop.  A tighter and controlled style will allow you to be able to decelerate and accelerate while maintaining better form throughout the lift.  Pauses squats will help set you up for this more efficient and safer tempo.