Pause Squat vs Pin Squat vs Box Squat

Squat is a wonderful and versatile exercise targeting​ major lower body muscle groups of your body.

Leg training is immensely important for any workout regimen as these are the muscles that bear body weight, helps you in running, walking, and many more activities. Without making legs stronger, your workout is incomplete.

There are ample varieties of squats like pause squats, pin squats, box squats, and many more.

The pause squats are one tough squat variant. It is meant for increasing the strength on the lowest part of squat a.k.a ‘hole’. You have to pause at the end of flexing your knees and hips. This will have brutal yet amazing effects on your slow-twitch muscle fibers.

Pin Squats is like pause squats but here you have to set the pins. Unlike in pause squats, the weight can be unloaded from back to pins but not completely releasing the bar. Just after a brief pause, the weight is back again on the shoulders with the person standing back.

In box squats, you use a box while doing squats with a weight bar on your shoulders. This is great for building the lower muscles of your body. These are like normal squats but down on a box.

Let’s take a deeper look into the trio-

Pause Squat vs Pin Squat vs Box Squat

Pause squats

These are just like their names. You should do pause squats if you are facing problems with the lowest part of squat (squat hole) or if you want to focus more on eccentric movement to elongate your muscles.

How Pause Squat Is Done?

Pause squat stands true to its name. You can perform pause squats by following the given steps-

  • Stand straight with feet slightly​ apart
  • Hold the weight bar in your hands supported on your shoulder.
  • Now slowly you have to perform the normal squats.
  • Don’t lean much forward. However, a slight bending forward is allowed.
  • Just when you take a deep squat or the knees are fully flexed, you have to pause.
  • This temporary holding position creates tension, this tension is maintained throughout​ the pause.
  • After a brief pause (say 2-3 seconds), ascend. Try not to have any flail movement.

Who Can Do Pause Squats?

This is a wonderful exercise​ for people who want more training in the eccentric phase/downward phase (stretch) and have problems​ with squat hole.

Advantages of Pause squats

Pause squats are helpful in numerous ways, let’s discuss how-

  • The strength in the hole can be increased.
  • Strengthen the weakest part of the squat and build power out of the hole.
  • Helps in developing strength for the eccentric phase/downward phase (stretch).
  • The endurance of the muscles can be increased.
  • The Time Under Tension (TUT) can be increased.

Pause Squats Muscles Worked

The major muscles which are primarily affected are-

  • Quadriceps muscles (front of thigh)
  • Gluteus muscles (hip muscles)
  • Adductor Magnus (helps in adduction of thighs)
  • Erector spine (surrounds the spinal cord and helps in maintaining the erect spine)
  • Abdominal muscles

Pin Squats

These squats are quite similar to the paused squats, only here you have to fix pins in the rack above the parallels to restrict the movement till there.

You should do Pin squats if you are facing problems with the explosive strength required to lift the weight in the concentric phase of the squat. Pin squats eliminate stretch reflex.

Pin squats are relatively easier compared to pause squats because pins eliminate tension on the squat hole.

How Pin Squats Are Performed?

These are normal paused squats but with pins set.

  • Perform the movement just like as Paused squats.
  • Adjust the pins on the rack lying sidewards.
  • The pins should be adjusted in such a way that the weight bar rests right on it and you are just below the parallels.
  • The main aim of adjusting the pins is to ease the weight from the shoulders while descending, though not fully getting rid of it.
  • It is much similar to the pause squats, only it is a simpler version of it.
  • While ascending, the weight is again fully transferred back on the shoulders avoiding any jerky movements.

 Advantages of Pin squats

  • Breaks both eccentric & concentric (lifting) phases.
  • Give more focus to the concentric phase.
  • Target weaker points.
  • The explosive strength and endurance of the muscles can be increased.
  • Time Under Tension can be increased.
  • Strength at the hole is increased.
  • Helps in Core muscle strengthening.

Pin Squats Muscles Worked

Pin squats is one powerful exercise targeting major muscles of your body-

  • Quadriceps muscles
  • Gluteus muscles
  • Erector spine muscles
  • Other core muscles like Latissimus dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius, and many more.

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Box squats

This is a variant of the regular squat but there is no free space. You have to sit on a box at the end of the squats. The box may be set at the height of parallels or even slightly below it. 

The box squatting is a great way to improve your squat mechanics to break strength plateaus. You can also address sticking points by eliminating stretch reflex.

How Box Squatting Is Performed?

It is quite similar to the normal squats only with some changes such as-

  • Do the regular squats.
  • Place a box just at the level of parallels or slightly below it.
  • You can either maintain the feet parallel or at some angle with each other (negative shin angle) to impact the hamstrings.

Advantages of Box squats

Box squats are way advantageous over other squats-

  • Box squats provide a depth indication.
  • The negative shin angle during performing the box squat helps build the hamstrings.
  • Helps in building the lower leg muscles.
  • These squats can be done in combination with the paused squats to get better effects.
  • There’s no use of stretch-shortening cycle.

Box Squats Muscles Worked

Box squats are a great way to target major muscles of the body such as-

  • Glutes muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductor muscles.
  • Latissimus dorsi


What’s Better Box Squats Or Regular Squats?

Both the exercises are better in their own way and it depends upon your needs. If you want to improve squat mechanics, then you should go for box squatting, and for an overall target till the hole, regular squats should be given priority.

Will Box Squats Help Regular Squats?

Yes, definitely. You can address stick points with box squats. Also, box squats are very helpful in improving squat mechanics. So, box squats produce an enhanced effect on regular squats.

Are Pause Squats Better?

Pause squats are better if you want to build the strength that is needed to come out of squat hole (lowest part of squat).

How Much Should You Pause Squat?

You should pause for 2-3 seconds in pause squats. Ideally, it is said that while doing pause squats, you should pause for 2-3 seconds without releasing the weight.

Are Pause Squats Harder?

These are very hard as pause squats increase the Time Under Tension of the muscles and eliminate the quick stretch reflex or bounce of the regular squats. Lifting the heavyweight and pausing briefly creates a lot of tension on the legs. This, in turn, increases muscle strength, power and time under tension.

Are Pin Squats Harder Than Regular Squats?

Pin squats are harder than the regular squats due to their shared similarity with the paused squats. These also increase the Time Under Tension of the muscles. People who have problems with concentric phase should go for these.

Why Do Pin Squats?

Pin squats are done to increase the Time Under Tension of the muscles and to build explosive strength. It is a great exercise for professional weightlifters to master lifting phase of the squat.