A.M.R.A.P Saturday ~ begin each A.M.R.A.P with a 200m skip
- 7 Burpees
- 14 Pushups
- 21 Mtn. Climbers
- 28 Sit-ups
Then rest 2 minutes and continue with…
- 10 KB High Pulls
- 20 Slam Ball slams
- 30 MB Jumping Jacks alt overhead to front
One of the more recent topics on Olympic weightlifting forums has been the use of stop squats or pausing/pause squats as an adjunct or substitute for squats in the training program. Pausing squats can be an effective method of improving squatting ability, if performed correctly.
UNDERSTANDING MUSCLE CONTRACTION
To understand pausing squats, one must have a basic knowledge of muscle physiology. The most well-known types of muscle contraction are concentric, isometric, and eccentric.
-Concentric muscle contraction is a type of muscle activation where muscle tension increases as the muscle shortens.
-Isometric muscle contraction occurs when the muscle fires without concomitant joint motion.
-Eccentric muscle contraction is a type of muscle activation that increases tension as the muscle lengthens.
What makes pausing squats an effective method of training is the combination of all three types of muscle contraction in a single exercise.
PERFORMING PAUSING SQUATS
Before performing pause squats, we expect the trainee to possess a fundamental understanding of the basic barbell back squat in terms of foot position, bar position on the upper back, body alignment, and breath training.
2.) How to Perform
One must slowly descend to the appropriate squatting depth. This slow, downward eccentric movement assists in presetting the muscular system for the pause (isometric contraction). At our training facility, the Institute of Heavy Training (IHT), we use a 6 second slow descending movement with a 3 second pause at the 3/4 squat depth. The lifter “breaks” the pausing position and steadily returns to the starting position using a concentric muscular contraction.
The “bottom” or depth of the pause squat is never lower than a three-quarter depth squat position. The purpose of the exercise is to maintain the isometric contraction for an extended period of time (3 seconds). Bottoming out will decrease the isometric contraction on the musculature and increase the stress on the joints. One only has to palpate the quadricep muscles in the three-quarter squat position versus the full depth position to feel more muscle activation in the three-quarter position.
RATIONALE FOR PAUSING SQUATS
l. De-loading the spine. Due to the fact that pausing squats take more time to complete the squatting program has to be modified. The adage to follow here is more time, less load. This is one of the major benefits of pausing squats. The lifter can actually increase the training effect with decreased loads. Decreased resistance will result in less compressive forces on the spine.
2. Repetitions. Due to the bearing of the load on the body, repetitions for the slow descending to pausing squats are reduced to one to two repetitions.
3. Safety. Squatting is a demanding exercise and as such requires perfect body alignment! Lighter loads and lower repetitions permit more effective squatting mechanics with less threat to the body.
4. Depth. Due to the slow descending movement patterns presetting the pause, the lifter does not descend more than the depth of a three-quarter squat position. This is another benefit of the pausing squats: reduced stress on the entire body.
5. Variation. Normal squatting maximizes concentric muscle activation, but minimizes both isometric and eccentric muscle activation. Slow descending pause squats use all three forms of muscle activation, but recruits the eccentric and isometric modes more than regular squats. Sometimes three forms of contraction can be better than one.
6. Recovery. Lighter loads, shallower depths, decrease loading of the spine, and the various combinations of slow controlled squatting, will work the muscles effectively but still allow them to recover for the next training session.
MULTI-POSITION PAUSING SQUATS
An even more demanding squatting exercise is the multi-position pausing squat (MPS). The multi-position pausing squat is performed as follows:
1. Slowly descend for a count of six to the three-quarter squat position.
2. 2 to 3 second pause at the three-quarter squat position.
3. Ascend to the half squat position and pause for 2 to 3 seconds.
4. Descend to the three-quarter squat position for 2 to 3 seconds.
5. Ascend to the quarter squat position and pause the 2 to 3 seconds.
6. Descend to the three-quarter squat position and pause for 2 to 3 seconds.
7. Return to the start position
If incorporated into a routine, pausing squats should be performed one workout per week. Suggested loading for this exercise is as follows:
Novice – 30-50% of 1RM Back Squat
Intermediate – 50-60% of 1RM Back Squat
Advanced – 60-70% of 1RM Back Squat
Only one to two repetitions is performed each set (for multi-position work, a single rep will suffice). Due to the increased time of supporting the bar, loads are reduced even further. Focus is not on the amount of the load, but the control of the body in time and space.