Tip 179: Pausing during the repetition affects the training effect, and is an effective form of training variation.
Pausing during repetitions is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your training. This type of training is often called intrarep pauses, and I was introduced to this method by my mentor, weightlifting coach Pierre Roy. One reason male gymnasts are so strong is that their training is characterized by pauses. In fact, many years ago I taught two gymnasts on the Canadian national team how to bench press. They weighed about 175 pounds and had never performed the lift. After just four workouts they could both bench 350 pounds!
There are several places that you can pause during a repetition. You can pause at the start of a rep, the mid-point and the end of a repetition. You can also pause anywhere during the concentric range (lifting) and eccentric range (lowering).
For bodybuilding purposes, pausing during a repetition is especially effective. Pausing during a repetition increases intramuscular tension and the percentage of muscle fiber recruitment. During arm curls, for example, pausing at 30 to 90 degrees of elbow flexion increases the work performed by the brachialis muscle.
I often use intraset pauses during the last rep of flexion exercises such as chin-ups. For example, at the end of the last rep that you can perform without assistance, you could pause during several angles for three to five seconds to prolong the set and increase intramuscular tension.
For strength training, pausing between repetitions (at the end of the concentric range) is extremely effective for extension exercises such as squats in which you are at an advantageous leverage position. Pausing in that range will enable you to lift more weight for whatever number of repetitions you are performing, and as such you can recruit more motor units.