From a the perspective of training for strength, though, I would be interested to whether there is any advantage to pausing or descending slowly during training. As an oly lifter, of course, I never do either of these things. But are they beneficial for powerlifting?
Pausing increases the time under tension and assures cleaner (usually) technique. A slower eccentric move (descent) does a couple of things. Again it allows for greater time under tension–remember that more time spent under heavy weight (to a point) lends itself better to hypertrophy gains and strength. Slow eccentric moves also allow for greater cross bridging (basically more muscle fibers get involved) and therefore potentially greater force production. This is why doing “negatives” on an exercise leaves you so sore–more damages muscle fibers. Remember, you can ALWAYS lower more weight than you can lift because of this cross bridging effect.
Powerlifters will use this type of idea for force production, becuase it allows for greater control over the weight and also the ability to move more weight. Think of trying to squat something extremely heavy (max box squat, not OLY squat). If you had to rely on a bounce to get you out of the hole, there would be a momentary lapse in muscle tension and you would never get the weight up. If you slowly descend and stay tight on the bottom you stand a greater chance of moving the weight up.[/quote]
I don’t believe in bouncing out of the hole (not because I’m worried about staying tight but because I don’t want to injure myself), but on both the squat and the bench you should lower the weight as fast as you can under control. The longer you take to lower the bar, the weaker you will be.
Secondly, you can stay tight while taking advantage of the stretch reflex. Especially in the bench, it’s the tightness in fact that allows you to get a good stretch reflex (a relaxed muscle has to be stretched a lot further to get the same elastic force production). Rather than letting the bounce do work for you and just going limp, work with the stretch reflex which will give you good speed out of the bottom.
If you see a powerlifter going down slowly, it’s usually because he can’t go any faster due to the supportive gear he’s wearing.