The squat pattern is a fundamental component of our programs at Boxing Science to improve our athletes’ maximal force production capabilities.
Though developing maximal strength involves heavy loads and slow velocities and doesn’t appear to be specific to boxing, enhancing this ability means we can maximise our athletes rate of force development and power output in subsequent training phases, producing optimal training adaptations in short periods of time.
In an ideal setting, each athlete would perform back squats on a regular basis to stimulate the greatest improvements in lower body strength. However, due to movement limitations, susceptibility to soreness, lack of a solid strength training foundation and high training loads at various stages of training camp, standard back squats may not be the most appropriate method to employ during certain training periods. Therefore, as strength and conditioning practitioners, it’s important to adapt our training systems around the athlete, to minimise negative effects on technical training and maximise the training stimulus we want to provide. One way we can do this in relation to squatting is the incorporation of a pause in the bottom position and eliminating the use of the stretch-shortening cycle or “bounce” out of the hole.
We frequently incorporate pause squats with our athletes at Boxing Science for both boxing specific reasons and general strength and conditioning reasons.
BOXING SPECIFIC REASON
Eliminating the bounce from the bottom position essentially dissipates any elastic energy that may have been stored during the eccentric portion of the lift and forces the athlete to produce more concentric force during the ascent using sub-maximal loads. This means we are achieving the desired training adaptations i.e lower body force production and rate of force development whilst lifting lighter loads and thus reducing the risk of soreness in the hours following the session.
This subtle change in technique is perhaps most useful during early stages of camp when the athlete may be returning in a de-trained state, exposing him/herself to overall increases in training load, experiencing sharp decreases in body mass and in a calorie deficit. The Pause Squat can therefore be considered a fantastic tool for steadily building training load at the start of camp and facilitating a smooth transition to full back squats in subsequent training phases.
Another primary reason to incorporate pause squats is to develop and refine squatting technique. Including the pause can breakdown the movement for the athlete and encourage him/her to maintain a strong position at the bottom of the lift. Frequently, athletes will display a weight shift to one side whilst descending into the bottom position, this can significantly alter the bar path when lifting maximal loads and may increase the likelihood of lower back injury. Cueing the athlete to pause, however, allows him/her to become accustomed to this position and adopt the correct posture to drive out of the hole, safely.
HOW LONG SHOULD I PAUSE?
The length of the pause ultimately depends on how much the individual should focus on his/her technique. To really emphasise technique development a pause of 2-3 seconds in duration is sufficient. If the intention is to quickly progress to full back squats a brief pause of 1 second is appropriate.
Back Squats are frequently used in our programs to develop lower body maximal strength and maximise rate of force development qualities.
Depending on the athlete, the time of training camp and adaptations we are looking to achieve alterations to common lifts may need to be made in order to minimise adverse effects to technical training and maximise the stimulus applied.
Pause squats are an effective alternative to the standard back squat during early stages of training camp to reduce muscle soreness and promote increased rates of concentric force development. Additionally, pause squats may serve as a means of refining squat technique and correcting undesirable weight shift as the athlete descends towards the bottom position.