We’ve all seen the Athlean-X Jeff Cavaliere controversial fake weight pin press, but you should not be deterred by the set up as exercises off pins — or dead stops — can pack a wallop when increasing your strength. Old school strongmen used the Anderson Squat to great effect to build their legs.

Why You Should Use Pins For Strength Gains: The Power of Anderson Squats

using pins to boost squat
using pins to boost squat

When using pins for presses, Anderson squats, rows, partial deadlifts, etc, the pins remove much of the control required for the eccentric phase of the lift as well as staggering net time under tension.

For hypertrophy, pin movements may not be optimal as total time under tension will be significantly reduced; but for strength gains, lifting from a dead stop can yield tremendous results.

Pin presses helped me bench press 3 plates for the first time. In fact, my bench press increased by around 30lb in a couple of months just by adding the movement to my arsenal.

Pin squats or Anderson squats helped me squat 5 plates for the first time. Within a month, I went from a 230kg pin half squat to 270kg. This, in turn, took my squat to depth to over 220kg (five plates in England).

There are a wide variety of pin movements you could implement into your training.

However, beware; movements from a dead stop are fairly taxing on your central nervous system and connective tissue. Your golgi tendon organs are taken out of the equation before executing the movement, and thus, your central nervous system must overcompensate through sudden and aggressive muscular activation.

You need to already have adequate lifting experience before attempting movements off pins or a dead stop.

Use the pins on Anderson Squats for major gains

Having said that, if you’re relatively experienced and you’ve hit a strength plateau, try adding in a pin movement to continue making gains.

Pin or dead stop movements are great for partial lifts such as the “Herc Squat” to bolster your lower body exercises. By starting the movement when you begin to stall, you can break through sticking points and even surprise yourself by your progress.

Examples of pin or dead stop accessory movements:

  1. Pin Press
  2. Phillips Press (Military Press from pins at nose height)
  3. Herc Squat
  4. Pin Squat (Anderson Squat)
  5. Pin Front Squat
  6. Rack Pull
  7. Snatch Grip Rack Pull
  8. Power shrugs
  9. Pendlay Row
  10. Dead stop Dumbbell Row
  11. Floor Press (technically as much of the tension is removed when elbows rest on the floor)
  12. Pin Zercher Squat
  13. Dead stop seal row
  14. Conventional deadlift
  15. Pin push press

And the list goes on and on.

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One quick tip would be to suggest only making dead stop variations for compound lifts, not isolation work; I mean, imagine trying to bicep curl or side lateral raise a dumbbell from a dead stop.

As previously mentioned, exercises from a dead stop aren’t optimal for hypertrophy as time under tension is interrupted between each rep and a full range of motion might be limited by the introductions of pins or a dead stop.

For muscle gains, despite lacking on a few fronts, the movements will tear down muscles fibers quite diligently — especially if you’re a newbie. The strength gains will translate into a greater ability to progressively overload on exercises performed within a hypertrophic rep range.

When I increased by bench by around 150lb in a few years after switching from bodybuilding to powerlifting, I was able to double the amount I could do for tricep extensions on my home pulley system.

The potential for growth, in my opinion, increases, ceteris paribus, if net absolute strength increases — who’s bigger out of the guys with the same height and arm length: the guy who can bench 500lb or the guy who can bench 300lb?

As I said on my piece on partial lifts, please don’t use dead stops or pin movements such as the Anderson Squat or Phillips Press as a staple. As a maximum, implement them on a month on/month off basis as they are more taxing on the CNS and connective tissue.


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