7 Reasons Why You Should Do Pause Bench Presses
March 12th 2019
If you have been a consistent gym goer, you may wonder if you should do pause bench presses?
There are no drawbacks to doing pause bench presses. They are an excellent bench press exercise that works on being explosive from your chest. Pausing anywhere from 1 second to 3 seconds will definitely show some carryover strength on your bench press max. Sports like powerlifting mandate that you do pause bench presses, so you are forced to train that way.
Without further ado, let us get straight into why you should do pause bench presses.
1. Work on your tightness
When you do pause bench press, you are training yourself to not be so relaxed. You will be working on how to finish the lift quickly and strongly. You slow down the lift and be forced to control the entire movement.
2. Helps you break through plateaus
Are you stuck at a weight for a few months? You have tried every accessory available and still not able to make bench press gains? Give pause bench presses a try.
Take off around 20% of your current bench press working set and do that for your paused bench press working set. Try to focus on pausing on your chest as you would want to develop more strength. Do this for a few weeks and then go back to doing regular bench presses. You will notice a difference in your pressing strength.
3. No more bouncing off the chest
As a new lifter, it is not uncommon to see the bench press being done incorrectly. One of the most common errors is bouncing the bar off your chest. Not only is this bad for your overall bench press gains but you also risk injuring yourself.
Doing paused bench presses will train you to gain more strength off your chest. It will humble you and make you realize how much actually goes into a bench press.
4. More time under tension (TuT)
When you are doing paused bench presses, you are also under a longer time under tension than a regular bench press. These couple of seconds add up, forcing your body to adapt to the resistance. Your body will also adapt to adjust to heavy weights.
5. Competitions enforce pause bench presses
If you are a powerlifter, you have no choice. You need to train your pause bench presses in order to compete otherwise, you will not do well. Pause bench presses are different and require a lot more strength and skill in order to compete on a high level.
6. You also work on your form
Nothing is better at fixing and stabilizing your bench press form by doing paused bench presses. With regular bench presses, you may be able to cheat a little and get away with not being tight all the time. You can keep your feet off the ground too. It is just a mess sometimes with regular bench presses.
With paused bench presses, mistakes are not so forgiving. Your form is critical and you will notice immediately if you are not able to maintain proper form. You will be forced to stay tight and maintain strict technique in order to complete every set and every rep. This is an ideal training situation since you are training multiple goals at the same time.
7. You will be humbled
Your paused bench press will be lower than your regular touch and go bench press. This goes back to reason four, more time under tension. You are just under a lot less stress for touch and go bench press.
This is a good thing since you will be training at a lighter weight in order to make more long term bench press gains. You can check your ego at the door and focus on actually trying to improve.
How long to pause for pause bench presses?
It depends on your goal. Usually, lifters will have an idea of what they are trying to accomplish if they are doing paused bench presses.
If you are planning to compete in a powerlifting competition, you will probably need to train at least a 2-second pause to mimic competition level judging. If you are a beginner and just developing strength with no competition in the near future, you can probably get away with 1-second pause, maybe even a half a second pause.
Overall, if you are unsure about how long you should pause for, you can always do this: say in your mind “one one thousand two one thousand” before you press the weight. You will never regret pausing your bench press for too long, but you will always remember the times you failed the bench press from not being strong enough in the hole. Pause bench presses will help you build strength off your chest and eliminate any bouncing you may feel inclined to do.
3-second pause bench press
Should you do a 3-second pause bench press? For competitive powerlifters, this would be a good idea to include in your training. If it worked for you, why fix what is not broken? If, on the other hand, you dominate the bench press, adding additional stressors may not make or break your bench press PR. But generally, we are all looking to improve and optimize our training.
I have tried doing 3-second pause bench presses in the past. During those times, I did not feel great and I did not feel any noticeable progress. At the same time, I was still a beginner during those times and was trying out different training methods to see if it made a difference. Now, I still incorporate paused bench presses but not for 3 seconds. If I am competing in the near future, 3-second pause bench presses would be an ideal exercise to include to prep myself for any powerlifting meet.
Pause Bench vs Touch and go
The ultimate question, pause bench vs touch and go bench? If you are a casual lifter, the answer may not matter as much. You may decide to do just touch and go bench presses and still feel great that you had a good workout. If you want more training variety, pause bench presses are one of the best bench press variations to begin building strength off your chest.
I decided to do some research online to see if other lifters around the world also face similar situations. For me, for the first few years, I did primarily touch and go bench press and plateaued around 185lbs. When I started to incorporate more pause bench press after watching and studying a few powerlifters, I saw that many powerlifters do pause bench work regularly in their training. I mean, if the best are doing it, why shouldn’t I at least try it? So, for the last four years, I have been predominantly doing paused bench press work. Currently, my best touch and go bench press max is 230lbs at a 170lbs bodyweight. It is a PR nevertheless but I feel that I can get stronger.
So, I scanned the web for pause bench vs touch and go debates. I found that there were a huge variety of opinions. No clear conclusion could be drawn by looking at all these different forum responses.
Double pause bench press?
You may have seen double paused bench presses on some Youtube videos. They look interesting, maybe even tempting to do. The big question is, do they work?
Again, that really depends. For me, I am still making progress by doing a single paused bench press so I have no need to drastically change my routine. Could I make double pause bench presses an accessory? Sure, but I would not make it the main lift.
Typically, there will be a pause on the chest and a pause somewhere between halfway and two-thirds of the lift. Depending on your variation, it could be different for everyone. What is the goal of a double pause bench press? It is to build strength around the areas you paused in so that you are not relying on any momentum to finish the lift.
Bench Press Progress
If you haven’t read my article about how I got to a 225lbs bench press at 170lbs, you should check that out. I go over some of the mistakes I made and what has worked for me to continue to improve my bench press to this day. In fact, my most recent PR was a 230lbs bench press and I am not looking to stop.
Has paused bench press worked for me? From my training experience, it has yielded me results. I did get stronger. But was it the sole reason? I think not.
A lot of what determines whether or not you make progress in your bench press is not determined by training alone. Training hard is important, but if you do not rest well and eat enough food, you will not be making any progress.
Ever thought about why army training never got you shredded? Running marathons and can’t seem to hold onto muscle mass? You are not resting enough. You are not eating enough. Patience is definitely tested for a majority of lifters since we are not exposed to any pressing movements until later on in life. As a result, it takes us more time to make more progress. Ever wonder why a farmer is so strong? Hard work that is coupled with good rest and nutrient is the only true formula for big gains.