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I can squat ass to grass, even lower, rest in a squat position with a barbell resting on my clavicles and chest and It is quite common for people in the gym to be able to relax in a squat position.

But for some people pause squats are considered harder than normal squats.

never met a single person in my entire life who can squat below 75 degrees without being in a gym, let alone parallel or ass to grass. Kids crumble on their knees and let them go inward and adults fall on their backs. I don't know about me, I have always been able to squat ass to grass as a child, but maybe because I was doing stupid stuff seen in TV cartoons like tying to cross the legs and lock them in a knot. So maybe it's not that I'm a natural squatter, but I developed flexibility in the hips by imitating cartoons.

I wanna know if the majority of people are anatomically adapted to squat ass to grass or is it something that everyone needs to learn by chance or by going in a gym.

  • I don’t have a lot of info on it, but I’ve heard ass to grass is a function of calf flexibility. I also personally think femur length/ratio is important too. How tall are you, out of curiosity? – Frank Jun 17 '20 at 22:00
  • Welcome to the site! I doubt we can answer "Is ass to grass squat natural or a learned behaviour?", though. – Christian Conti-Vock Jun 18 '20 at 1:18
  • I am not sure why you see so many people who can't squat. But I can see no one around me who can't squat, unless they have some knee problem in old age. I can squat all the way down until the thighs have full weight on calves. Everyone can do that, children are even better than adults. – Abdullah Baig Jun 18 '20 at 6:07
  • You must have never seen people in india or eastern europe slav squat (there are tons of memes for that). Without chairs people squat naturally all the time and are used to that position for resting, if chairs are prevalent ability to squat goes down drastically. – mega_creamery Jun 18 '20 at 10:57
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    "squat below 75 degrees" - to clarify, which 75deg angle are you referring to? I would assume you are measuring the angle from vertical (angle behind the knee), but then that would be "above 75 degrees", wouldn't it?! – MrWhite Jun 18 '20 at 16:34
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Squatting through the full range, or “ass to the grass”, is entirely natural for anyone who possesses normal, healthy function. Once we can stand and walk confidently—that is, by about 1½ or 2 years of age—we all squat to the ground effortlessly, with a neutral spine and with our (proportionally large) head perfectly positioned over our centre of balance. This position is functionally imperative, of course, because our undeveloped muscles have no reserve of strength to allow us to hold a position that is not optimal.

By the time that we are about a year older, however, we have often already begun to develop poor habits—relying on our (now present) strength reserves to approach the ground by leaning forward excessively and flexing the spine, whilst keeping the legs relatively straight. With the functional imperative gone, we favour economy of movement. And it exerts us less to lift half of our body towards the ground than the whole.

Cultural norms such as chair-sitting further exacerbate our muscular biases, weaknesses, and tightnesses. And although mobility is highly individual and the product of our skeletal geometry, it is also heavily influenced by our activities. If our joints are not exercised through full range-of-motion, their mobility gradually deteriorates. So too our muscles and fasciae.

This is why most adults have difficulty squatting through the full range—the most common areas of weakness being mobility of the shoulder and ankle.

It should be noted that this is not a pattern that is seen in cultures of which squatting is a natural part. People from certain socio-economic demographics of many Asian and African nations, for example, often squat perfectly through full range without any training or instruction. This is because it is common for them to squat as part of their day-to-day activities such as waiting, talking in a group, or playing games.

Thus, it is our inability to squat that is unnatural—the consequence of the modern First-World lifestyle, which has removed the need for us to use the fullness of our strength and range of motion.

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    I also think it's a cultural thing. People in developing countries usually have to squat down in the toilet and are more used to laborious routines. On the other hand, people in developed countries usually don't have to squat in normal routine, so their eventually loses the ability to do so. – Abdullah Baig Jun 18 '20 at 6:10
  • @AbdullahBaig: I agree. – POD Jun 18 '20 at 7:23
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    RE: the cultural thing: In Asia almost everyone can squat like this, even old people (although perhaps not with a barbel). Children everywhere can do it, but since people in the West don't squat, they lose the ability. powerliftingtechnique.com/asian-squat – taciteloquence Jun 18 '20 at 10:14
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It is a natural pattern of movements. Hunter-gatherer tribesmen squat ass-to-grass all the time to "sit". Chairs require effort to make and you risk insect bites if you sit on the ground, so they squat instead.

Hunter-gatherer tribesmen squat ass-to-grass all the time to "sit".

Since chairs require resource to make, they are usually reserved for people of authority while everyone else squat. That's how the term "chairman" becomes associated with position of authority.

Western cultures had largely abandoned squatting. While it may or may not be the primary cause, western-style sitting toilet (as opposed to squatting toilet common in Asia) means that Westerners rarely squat anymore, thus losing the ability to.

Squat toilet vs sitting toilet

Now that we have established that ass-to-grass squat is natural, the next question is: should you?

Since this is Physical Fitness Stack Exchange, I'll focus on the sport perspective, more precisely, squatting with weight. However, I recommend also reading the effect of squatting on bowel movements. Long story short, squatting allows easier bowel movements compared to sitting.

First of all, are you a professional athlete? If you are, follow your coach's instructions. If you're not, then do what feels comfortable for you. Do not force yourself to imitate professional athletes. They know the risk of their sport and they likely had the talent or physical build to excel in it.

Then ask yourself, do I really need to squat ass-to-grass? Unless you're a professional athlete (or looking to compete), there is really no reason for you to squat ass-to-grass. Believe it or not, full squat is not universally superior compared to half or quarter squat. For example, this study found that quarter squat is better than full squat at increasing your vertical jump and sprints. If you just want to jump higher or run faster, there is no need to do full squat. This is significant because full squat is harder to recover from compared to quarter squat. A sprinter focusing on quarter squat will be able to train more often than one using full squat, without losing any benefits from squats.

Next question is, can I maintain proper posture while squatting ass-to-grass? Squatting is not just about depth, a lot of things need to go correctly. One frequent pitfall is your spine. Oftentimes the lumbar spine would round in the deepest portion of the squat. If you are using heavy weight, this could be dangerous. Only go as deep as you can maintain proper posture.

Finally, can I attain enough flexibility to properly squat ass-to-grass? It's easy to think that with enough stretching, you could be flexible enough, but sometimes flexibility issues rise not from the soft tissue, but from the bones. If you don't have the right bone structure, no amount of stretching would allow you to attain the flexibility required. This is important because if you don't squat ass-to-grass in your youth, your bones may develop in a way that doesn't allow you to, thus permanently losing the ability to do so.

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