Ask Dave: What’s your opinion on pausing at the bottom of front squats?

Today’s “Ask Dave” is taken directly from email. Thomas is an online client asking for clarification on Squatting. I’m always delighted when clients ask good questions, there’s nothing worse than a client who will not interact, be that with feedback or with questions.

Over to Thomas:

Hey Dave,

What’s your opinion on pausing at the bottom of front squats? I was squatting for the first time in three weeks last night (don’t judge I’ve been on holidays for most of that time) and I found myself inserting a pause at the bottom, which I don’t usually do.

I obviously find this harder but feel like I’m in much more control and maintain better form coming up. Should stick to this or am I better off doing them the usual way? Or should I consider mixing set to set? I do five sets so I could start with a pauses and then remove the pause for the final two sets?

Interested to hear you thoughts?


Hi mate,

This could be a long answer, so I’ll keep it as brief as possible.

Let’s use the terms “paused” and “control pause “

A paused squat has a deliberate stop and hold in the bottom position. You say tight and hold for long enough that the stretch reflex dissipates, on average 4 seconds. This means you lose that “pop” or bounce from stored up elastic energy and you get stronger ” out of the hole ”

The pause is usually cycled in and out to work on a particular attribute, in this case coming out of the hole. You may spend a few weeks with the pause then either return to normal or cycle to a different variant focusing on a different variant. You wouldn’t do it long term.

A control pause is simply a defined moment of control in the bottom position, a clear stop. This is how most should squat most of the time as a default.

You don’t lose the stretch reflex, but you certainly don’t bounce of the joints/ ligaments.

It shows you have controlled the descent well and are in full ownership of that weight, tight and loaded to push back out.

So both are good

Thomas responded again saying it was the “control pause” he was using. Which is perfect. Especially as he is a tall lifter, standing well over 6 feet. Tall lifters have much less room for error than their shorter, stockier brethren. So having the controlled pause is a great way to stay honest in the squat and develop strength slowly over a long term. Not rushing to work heavy untidy squats that may give strength gains but while flirting with danger the whole time.

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