Author Topic: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups  (Read 6855 times)

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adarqui

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I'm going to keep this blog VERY short :) I personally don't condone a ton of exercise variety when it comes to improving performance (strength, power, etc..), that is, I like to stick to the basics. That being said, there are a few variations of the basics that I absolutely love for strength improvement. Those variations I'm referring to consist of paused lifts, which require you to isometrically hold a position for 3-5 seconds during each rep. By holding certain lifts/exercises at the weakest joint angle under load, for reps, very rapid strength gains can be made.

The 3 paused lifts I find very useful include:
  • Paused presses
  • Paused lower body unilaterals
  • Paused pulls


Here is an example paused lift (paused bench):
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2SVmb-XzKA&fmt=22#t=1m15s

With these variations, I usually like to perform them as assistance to a primary (heavier) lift, but they can very well be used as the primary lift. The sets and rep ranges can vary, but I prefer 3 sets of 5 reps with a 3-5 second pause between each rep. Full recovery isn't mandatory between sets, but I advise it (~5 minutes rest between sets unless you're in a superset, then ~2 minutes is fine), these lifts really induce alot of fatigue, especially if you aren't accustomed to them.

  • Preferably can be performed as assistance, but can of course be used as a primary exercise
  • 3 sets of 5 reps with a 3-5 second pause between each rep
  • Full recovery between sets: ~5 minutes with light mobility work to aid in recovery
  • Adhere to very strict form, don't let fatigue alter the movement
  • Breathing at the bottom is fine, just stay tight, use pursed breathing


Paused Presses

FlanderBeast demonstrating paused bench press:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0BEj3Aw3xA" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0BEj3Aw3xA</a>


Paused presses really target the pectorals and anterior delts. These could include any of the following, which usually depends on personal preference:
  • Paused bench press
  • Paused parallel-bar-dips


Paused bench press can be performed with dumbells or barbell. Paused parallel-bar-dips can be performed weighted.

Quote
Example workout:
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Flat Bench Press: Work up to a 5 Rep Max, Then singles at 2 x 90%, 2 x 95%
- PAUSED Flat bench press @ 3 x 5 with 5 second pause at the bottom
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition



Paused Lower Body Unilaterals

Paused lower body unilaterals really target the quads, hamstrings, and the (especially) glutes hard. These could include any of the following, which usually depends on personal preference:
  • Paused walking lunges
  • Paused bulgarian split squat
  • Paused reverse lunges


Barbell is preferred, as grip strength won't become an issue, but dumbells are fine too.

Quote
Example workout:
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Squat: Work up to a 5 Rep Max
- PAUSED Barbell lunges: work up to a 3 x 5 each leg with 5 second pause at the bottom
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition



Paused Pulls

Paused pulls really target the lats, rear delt, and upper back musculature. These could include any of the following, which usually depends on personal preference:
  • Paused seated row
  • Paused chinup or pullup
  • Paused single arm row


Paused seated row can be performed on a machine. Paused chinup or pullup can be performed weighted. Paused single arm row can be performed with dumbells.

Quote
Example workout:
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Weighted chinup: Work up to a 5 Rep Max, Then singles at 2 x 90%, 2 x 95%
- PAUSED Seated Row @ 3 x 5 with 5 second pause at the back
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition



Mixing Pulls & Presses

If you're like me, you probably enjoy doing presses & pulls in the same session, if so, mixing in paused variations can be done in a few ways:
  • Mixed normal/pause: Day 1 = normal press, paused pull ..... Day 2 = normal pull, paused press
  • Separate normal/pause: Day 1 = normal press, normal pulls ..... Day 2 = paused press, paused pull

Quote
Small example for Mixed normal/pause:

Day 1: Example workout: Normal press, paused pull
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Flat Bench Press: Work up to a 5 Rep Max
- S1: Flat DB bench press @ 3 x 8
- S1: PAUSED Seated row @ 3 x 5, with 5 second pause at the back
- PAUSED Single arm DB row @ 3 x 5, with 5 second pause at the back
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition


Day 2: Example workout: Normal pull, paused press
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Weighted Chinup: Work up to a 5 Rep Max
- S1: Seated row @ 3 x 8
- S1: PAUSED Flat DB bench press @ 3 x 5, with 5 second pause at the bottom
- PAUSED Dip @ 3 x 5, with 3 second pause at the bottom
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition


Here's another example, but for the second scenario:

Quote
Small example for Separate normal/pause:

Day 1: Example workout: Normal press, normal pull
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Flat Bench Press: Work up to a 5 Rep Max
- S1: Flat DB bench press @ 3 x 8
- S1: Seated row @ 3 x 8
- Single arm DB row @ 3 x 8
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition


Day 2: Example workout: Paused pull, Paused press
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- PAUSED Weighted Chinup: Work up to 3 x 5, with a 5 second pause at the back
- PAUSED Bench press: Work up to 3 x 5, with a 5 second pause at the bottom
- S1: PAUSED Flat DB bench press @ 3 x 5, with 5 second pause at the bottom
- S1: PAUSED Seated row @ 3 x 5, with a 5 second pause at the back
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition




An example full body template

Here is a quick template which consists of full body workouts each session. A few things to keep note:
- ... after the warmup means "other stuff", for example, this could consist of interval sprints, plyometrics, jumps, explosive lifts, or whatever it is that you're focusing on.
- ... at the end of the workout could be any additional exercises you need to include, or just like doing, such as core, curls, or whatever.
- this could be done monday/wednesday/friday, or mon/thurs/sun, it doesn't have to follow a 7 day period

Fill in the sets x reps based on your goals, if you need any help with that, post a reply.

Quote
Example full body template:

Day 1: Example workout: Normal press, paused pull, normal lower
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Normal lower exercise: bilateral or unilateral
- Normal press
- Paused pull
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition


Day 2: Example workout: Paused press, normal pull, normal lower
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Normal lower exercise: bilateral or unilateral
- Normal pull
- Paused press
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition


Day 3: Example workout: Normal press, normal pull, paused lower
- Active-Dynamic warmup   prehab/activation
- ...
- Normal press
- Normal pull
- Normal lower exercise: unilateral
- ...
- Cooldown: stretch   post workout nutrition



peace!

LanceSTS

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2010, 03:24:28 am »
0
Great stuff man! I like using pauses at the sticking points in a similar manner only rebounding back up after the pause.  For example, on bench press pausing right where the kid in the video did but letting the bar touch the chest and coming back up explosively as possible on the concentric.  Or one of my favorites is with the squat, pausing right at the sticking point ~90 degrees or paralell, then getting the rebound out of the reflexive drop to below and exploding upward.  They also work really well on rdls and conventional deads. Havent tried much of the paused unilaterals or chins, Ill have to give them a shot.
Relax.

adarqui

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2010, 04:05:05 am »
0
Great stuff man! I like using pauses at the sticking points in a similar manner only rebounding back up after the pause.  For example, on bench press pausing right where the kid in the video did but letting the bar touch the chest and coming back up explosively as possible on the concentric.  Or one of my favorites is with the squat, pausing right at the sticking point ~90 degrees or paralell, then getting the rebound out of the reflexive drop to below and exploding upward.  They also work really well on rdls and conventional deads. Havent tried much of the paused unilaterals or chins, Ill have to give them a shot.

cool man nice info.. that would probably help you hit a few more reps too, well at least one more for sure.

peace man

LanceSTS

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2010, 04:52:33 am »
0
yep more reps and still getting some reflexive action in while benefitting from the iso hold simultaneously.  Great info from you as usual and on a side note ive been addicted to this thing you posted for the past 2 hours!

http://www.cesmes.fi/pallo.swf
Relax.

adarqui

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2010, 05:00:34 am »
0
yep more reps and still getting some reflexive action in while benefitting from the iso hold simultaneously. 

yea definitely, i like that modification to the variation.

Quote
Great info from you as usual

thanks man! appreciate it.

Quote
and on a side note ive been addicted to this thing you posted for the past 2 hours!

http://www.cesmes.fi/pallo.swf

ahahah! post a screen shot one time before you X out.. that shit is fun for sure.. i'll try to make my A again and screenshot it :D

peace

LanceSTS

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2010, 05:09:45 am »
0
haha damn I already got out of it.  Im not that creative I just shrunk every circle as small as it could get over the whole screen lol. 
Relax.

adarqui

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2010, 05:23:43 am »
0
haha damn I already got out of it.  Im not that creative I just shrunk every circle as small as it could get over the whole screen lol. 

hahaha, i did that too man.. fun stuff :F I tried to make shapes/letters on it.

SteveL

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2010, 07:40:00 am »
0
Great post and great site!  Keep up the good work!

I also like combining ISO holds 25-40s in one workout with paused reps in a follow up work out.  Works great for assistance work

For example (using a template similar to yours),

Day 1

Work up to a heavy set of 5reps on squats

ISO GH holds at about 45 deg for 25-40 secs - once you get to 40 secs add weight

ISO BSS see above

Day 2

Work up to a heavy set of 5 reps on squats or for variation you could do DLs on this day

Paused rep GHs 3 sec paused at bottom

Paused rep BSS 3 sec pause at bottom


This has worked well for me in the past.

Peace!

adarqui

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2010, 03:53:03 pm »
0
Great post and great site!  Keep up the good work!

Thanks mang! appreciate the compliment, will do!

Quote
I also like combining ISO holds 25-40s in one workout with paused reps in a follow up work out.  Works great for assistance work

For example (using a template similar to yours),

Day 1

Work up to a heavy set of 5reps on squats

ISO GH holds at about 45 deg for 25-40 secs - once you get to 40 secs add weight

ISO BSS see above

Day 2

Work up to a heavy set of 5 reps on squats or for variation you could do DLs on this day

Paused rep GHs 3 sec paused at bottom

Paused rep BSS 3 sec pause at bottom


This has worked well for me in the past.

Peace!

Nice post man. I've done something similar to that as well, love those long heavy isometric holds, that's a nice setup for sure. I've only done them with:

  • heavy isometric hold bench or weighted pushup
  • heavy isometric hold pullup (at the top)
  • heavy isometric hold lunge


Heavy isometric hold front/back squat is nice but it definitely hits the lower back too hard IMO.



I guess we can throw core in there too, since pillars are isometrics:

  • heavy isometric hold pillar (front/side)


I like when people shit on isometric yet perform pillars :) I definitely don't like isometric-only programs though, definitely has to be some isotonic work in there.



peace!

steven-miller

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2010, 11:01:40 am »
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Good stuff! I guess the paused reps really strengthen the sticking point and thus can help to bust plateaus. Another option would be to begin and initiate the movement at the sticking point. For example if a trainee has problems with the parallel position in a squat he would set the pins low at that position, get under the bar and try to push up from that weak position. For squats this method might be better than the paused reps since breathing with a heavy load on the back is probably not the best thing to do.
But I can really imagine this method to be very effective for the bench press and press, especially in combination with what Lance said about using the rebound after the pause.

adarqui

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2010, 04:03:52 pm »
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Good stuff! I guess the paused reps really strengthen the sticking point and thus can help to bust plateaus. Another option would be to begin and initiate the movement at the sticking point. For example if a trainee has problems with the parallel position in a squat he would set the pins low at that position, get under the bar and try to push up from that weak position. For squats this method might be better than the paused reps since breathing with a heavy load on the back is probably not the best thing to do.
But I can really imagine this method to be very effective for the bench press and press, especially in combination with what Lance said about using the rebound after the pause.

ya man I love those lifts, pin squat, pin bench, pin press.. Deadlift naturally works that way :) I've had lot of success with pin squats in terms of power for vert, they seemed to keep me feeling a bit healthier too, the nice momentary deload at the bottom feels good, and allows you to reposition yourself.

peace!

adarqui

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2011, 07:01:20 am »
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linked flander's paused bench press into the blog.. here it is in case anyone is interested:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0BEj3Aw3xA" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0BEj3Aw3xA</a>

PointerRyan

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Re: Paused Lifts For Strength Gain - Improving bench, squat, & pullups
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2011, 03:21:43 am »
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well so what do you all peopel think about 3 second hold at the bottom in travelling lunges? i'm doing bodyweight work now , i managed to do 20-17-15 reps of travelling lunges, bout 1 and a half min rest in between sets, with a tempo of 1-3-1 .

Think the tempo is good?

cheers