The Benefits Of Paused Repetitions
So you want to get stronger? Maybe you want to build some muscle? You're an athlete and want to improve your power output? Well, don't I have a proposition for you! Using paused repetitions can greatly improve your progress regardless of your goal. Bodybuilders, strongman competitors, football players, and power lifters all utilize paused repetitions somewhere in their training. Why? The answer lies within what pausing a repetition brings to the table. In this article I will cover the 4 benefits of paused repetitions.
1) An Emphasized Stretch: It's no secret in building muscle you must emphasize tension. One mistake many lifters make is emphasizing so much on the contraction while they neglect the stretch of the muscle. A muscle must lengthen (stretch) and shorten (contract) fully for full progress potential. This is where paused repetitions are king. Pausing a repetition means slowing down the descent (eccentric phase) in order to have full control of the weight at the bottom. This not only provides more manual tension (contracting harder to control the weight's descent), but also provides a stronger stretch at the bottom of every repetition.
2) Increased Tempo: I have talked highly about tempo training in previous articles and there's nothing different here. Pausing the repetitions will increase the tempo without even thinking about the tempo count. This means longer time under tension and more muscle breakdown (which is later rebuilt, resulting in muscle gain).
3) Improved Control and Confidence: One reason I use a lot of pause work (or prescribe it) is because of the confidence and control boost you get with non-paused repetitions. Being able to pause a given weight with control for multiple repetitions greatly increases your power output and control during a non-paused repetition. This is because you are used to lifting with raw strength (no momentum). With the stretch reflex and semi-momentum (shouldn't be using too much unless that is your goal) the lift with the same weight will be that much easier and your ability to control heavier weights will have increased as well.
4) Form analysis: The last, but most important reason to do paused repetitions is their ability to help you analyze your own form. You can find what gives out first and what you have most trouble with, because you are in the set for a longer period of time. You also are pausing halfway through the lift, which means analyzing both phases of the lift individually. This can be very beneficial for beginners who don't know if their lower back is raising first in a squat due to posterior chain taking over, or because of their incorrect bottom position/descent.
Sometimes a simple manipulation can provide immense benefits. Your workouts should be both hard and efficient, and what better way to do that than to pause difficult repetitions? Without a doubt, pausing my repetitions either with my main lifts or supplemental movements has drastically improved my results. I can always tell when my pause work repetition max increase, so does my main lift repetition max. Never take simplicity for granted!