Pause and Breathe for a Stronger Squat

What are Pause and Breathe for a Stronger Squat?

Pause squats are a great exercise if you want to build up your strength without using weights. They work the muscles around the knees, hips, back and glutes. You don’t need any equipment other than some sturdy flooring or a bench. You can do them anywhere because they require no special skills such as balance or coordination.

You can perform them with dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine ball, or even just your body weight. All you have to do is focus on maintaining good form while performing each rep.

That’s it!

The Benefits of Pause Squats:

Benefits of Pause Squats:

Pace Up Your Training:

How to Perform a Pause Squat Exercise?

Here are the steps to perform a pause squat exercise:

1) Stand behind a box or bench.

You can use anything. Place your feet on the ground and place your hands on top of them.

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Keep your shoulders down and keep your chest up. If you feel tightness in one of these areas, then move away from the wall so that you won’t hurt yourself when doing this exercise correctly.

2) Start with the barbell on the ground.

Move it back and get into position. The knees should be slightly bent.

Bend down, grab the barbell and put it on your upper back.

3) Un-rack the weight, and then walk backward to get your desired starting position.

Your feet should be shoulder width apart, your toes should be facing forward, and your knees should be slightly bent.

4) Slowly go down into a squat position while keeping the weight on your heels.

Go down as far as you can without losing your posture. In other words, keep your back straight, don’t let it round out.

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5) Hold this position for one to two seconds.

Keep breathing normally and hold your breath if you need to. Maintain good posture during this period.

Then push with your heels and drive the body upwards. Complete all the reps and then rest.

What are the Differences Between a Pause-Squat and a Regular-Squat?

In a regular squat, you slowly squat down and go all the way to parallel. In a pause squat, you slightly go down, but then you pause at the bottom for a moment before going back up. This is one of the best exercises if you’re looking to break through that plateau in your training. You can use it in your program as a finisher or just as part of the routine. It’s great for building strength and muscle. Make sure you incorporate this exercise into your routine at least once a month to get better results in your training.

Why Do Pause Squats?

There are many reasons why you should do pause squats. Here are some of them:

It allows you to train your muscles through a full range of motion.

It allows you to lift more weight than you normally can.

It helps tone and strengthen your muscles.

It helps improve your speed, power, and strength.

You’re at a reduced risk of getting injured compared to other exercises.

You burn more calories during and after the exercise.

It improves hip drive and really works on your glutes.

What are the Benefits of Pause-Squats?

There are many benefits of pause-squats. Here are some of them:

Better focus on your form.

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More muscle activation in the glutes.

More strength gain.

More power and speed.

More range of motion.

Better balance.

Longer muscles.

What are the Types of Pause-Squats?

There are many types of pause-squats. Here are some of them:




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Split squat

Bulgarian split squat



How to Warm Up for Pause-Squats?

Before doing pause-squats, it’s necessary to warm up first. Otherwise, you’ll put unnecessary stress on your body and increase the risk of getting injured. Here are some of the warm up exercises you can do:




How to Do Pause-Squats?

Before starting, it’s always important to first make sure that you’re warmed up properly. After that, it’s time to start the actual exercise. Here are the steps you should follow:

1) For your grip, you can either choose a straight bar or a EZ bar for this exercise.

For the EZ bar, it’s ideal if you’re using the cambered or slanted style.

Pause and Breathe for a Stronger Squat - Image

2) Stand in front of the barbell with your feet shoulder width apart.

3) Slowly take the barbell off the rack and hold it with both hands.

The knurl part of the bar should be at shoulder width apart.

4) Start by bending your legs slowly and keep your knees slightly bent throughout the movement.

5) While bending, take a deep breath and brace your core tightly.

6) Continue bending until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

7) Hold this position for a moment and keep your back straight.

Inhale at this point. The pause in this position is what gives the name to this type of squat.

8) Exhale and go back to your initial position slowly.

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9) Take a small break and repeat the steps until you reach your prescribed number of reps.

Wait for at least a day before doing it again to give your body time to recover and heal itself from the stress that you place into it.

Common Pause-Squat Mistakes to Avoid

There are some common mistakes that most people usually commit when doing pause-squats. It’s important to avoid these so you can get the most out of this exercise and also prevent injuries from happening.

Here are some of the common mistakes and how to avoid them:

1) Not Heeding the Warm Up Recommendations – Just like any exercise, pause-squats are best done after a good warm up.

The warm up recommendations that we gave above are just that, recommendations. You can modify them based on your own need as long as you warm up thoroughly.

2) Allowing Your Back to Go Out of Alignment – One of the most common mistakes when doing pause-squats is allowing your back to go out of alignment.

When you’re in the bottom position of the squat, your back should be straight and you shouldn’t be bending too much forward or backward.

3) Using a Weight That’s Too Heavy – Another mistake that people usually commit when doing pause-squats is using a weight that’s too heavy for them.

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Don’t be afraid to start with a light weight to get the movement down before you increase the weight. Also, if you’re struggling with a particular weight, it means you shouldn’t be using it.

There’s no shame in dropping the weight down if you feel you can’t handle it.

4) Bouncing at the Bottom – It’s common for people to bounce a little when they reach the bottom of the squat.

However, this is not advised as it can cause damage to your joints and ligaments if you’re bouncing excessively heavy weight. Stay still in the bottom position for a moment to give your muscles time to stabilized before moving back up.

5) Losing Your Form – It’s very easy to lose your form especially when you’re using heavy weights.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should have a partner to watch you and tell you if your form starts to degrade. If you don’t have a partner, it’s best to use lighter weight or perform the exercise in front of a mirror so you can correct your form as you go.

6) Breathing Improperly – Most people usually take a big breath before starting the lift which is wrong.

What you should be doing is taking a small breath and hold it until you reach the top of the lift. This is to prevent your belly from sticking out which would make the exercise harder to do.

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Common Pause-Squat Myths and Misconceptions

There are many myths and misconceptions about pause-squats, here are some of the most common ones:

1) You’ll Get Bulky – A lot of people think that pause-squats are going to make you big and bulky like a bodybuilder.

Nothing could be further from the truth though. Pause-squats are for strengthening the muscles in your legs and glutes while also improving your coordination and balance.

If you’re looking to put on mass, pause-squats are not going to do it for you.

2) You Need to Go Really Heavy – Some people think you need to go really heavy with pause-squats in order for it to be effective.

This isn’t true though as even light weight will strengthen your muscles if you’re using proper form and going through the full range of motion.

3) You Get More Out of Pause-Squats Than Regular Squats – This is only somewhat true.

While pause-squats do have their place in a well-designed strength training program, regular squats are still more effective. They recruit more muscle fibers and demand better balance and coordination from the trainee.

4) You Should Rest as Long as You Were at the Bottom – Some people think that they should rest as long as they were at the bottom of the squat before doing the next rep.

This can be excessive and is unnecessary as 1 or 2 seconds is more than enough. By spending too much time at the bottom, you’re defeating the purpose of the exercise which is to strengthen your muscles.

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Common Questions

Here are some of the most common questions people have about pause-squats:


How Many Reps Should I Do?

– For the best results, it’s recommended to do either 3 or 5 repetitions depending on what you want to accomplish. If your main goal is to improve your strength, then doing 3 repetitions is best. If your main goal is to improve muscular endurance, then doing 5 repetitions is best.


How Much Weight Should I Use?

– Start off light and build up gradually. If you start off too heavy, you can hurt yourself.


Why Are There Varied Repetitions?

– The reason there are various repetitions for pause-squats is that some people may be more advanced than others or have different goals. By using different repetitions, everyone can use the same exercise and achieve their goals.


What If I Can’t Do A Pause-Squat?

– If you can’t do a pause-squat, that doesn’t mean you’re not strong enough to do one. It might just mean that you need to build up your strength to be able to hold yourself up in that position. Keep practicing and you’ll be doing pause-squats in no time.

As you can see, pause-squats are a very effective exercise that you should definitely include in your strength training program.

Even if you do regular squats, pause-squats are still a great addition since they work and strengthen your muscles in a slightly different way.

Here is a list of the muscles that pause-squats work:


Pause and Breathe for a Stronger Squat - Image





If you follow the recommendations in this guide and make pause-squats a regular part of your strength training routine, here is what you can expect:

1) You’ll Be Able To Squat Heavier Weights – One of the best things about pause-squats is that they allow you to use heavier weights which will in turn make you stronger.

In addition to being able to squat heavier, some people also find that their explosive power goes up as well.

2) Your Knees and Lower Back Will Appear Safer – One of the reasons why pause-squats are so safe for your knees and lower back is due to you being forced to have proper form in order to execute the exercise correctly.

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In fact, some people with old knee and lower back injuries have used pause-squats to strengthen those problem areas while being able to squat again.

3) You’ll Have Stronger Legs – This is probably the most obvious reason why pause-squats are effective since the exercise mainly targets your legs.

The stronger your legs are, the better you’ll be at activities in daily life and also other exercises that you may do.

FAQ: How long do the effects of pause-squats last?

The effects of pause-squats won’t last forever. However, they should last longer than if you didn’t do any squats at all. Typically the effects can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks depending on your diet and other physical activities that you partake in outside of weightlifting.

FAQ: Are there any alternatives to pause-squats?

There are a few alternatives to pause-squats. The main one that comes to mind is the use of chains. Using chains is also very effective at forcing your body to adapt and get stronger.

Another alternative is to do pause-deadlifts instead of pause-squats. Deadlifts are also a great strength training exercise, so this is definitely a viable option.

If you can’t do either pause-squats or pause-deadlifts, that’s fine too. You can just do regular squats and still get substantial benefits.

If you really want to maximize your results, I’d still highly recommend that you do pause-squats or pause-deadlifts at some point because they are both very effective at making you stronger.

7. What

Are The Best Exercises To Strengthen My Lower Back?

Your lower back is just as important as your legs when it comes to squatting heavy weights.

If your lower back isn’t strong enough, you could end up hurting yourself and not be able to train at all.

As a powerlifter, it’s absolutely critical that you strengthen your lower back because you’re constantly engaging it while you’re lifting weights.

There are a few different exercises you can perform to strengthen your lower back.

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1) Hyperextensions – Hyperextensions are great for working out your entire lower back. They aren’t as well known as they should be, but if you can find a gym that has a hyper extension unit you should definitely try it out.

If not, you can always perform hyper extensions using something as simple as a dumbbell.

Sources & references used in this article:

Growing stronger; strength training for older adults by RA Seguin, JN Epping, D Buchner, R Bloch… – 2002 –

The Power of Breath: The Art of Breathing Well for Harmony, Happiness and Health by S Saradananda – 2017 –

The communicative value of filled pauses in spontaneous speech by RL Rose – MA Diss., Univ. of Birmingham, 1998 –

Bigger faster stronger by G Shepard, K Goss – 2017 –

Breathing as a Tool for Self-regulation and Self-reflection by P Lehtinen, M Martin, M Seppa, T Toro – 2018 –

Efficiency and effectiveness of stoop and squat lifting at different frequencies by E Welbergen, HCG Kemper, JJ Knibbe… – Ergonomics, 1991 – Taylor & Francis

The Tao of natural breathing: For health, well-being, and inner growth by D Lewis – 2016 –