T Nation

Ass to the grass? or no?

I got into an argument with some guys at work today about squatting technique. I’ve always thought you were supposed to bring your ass to your ankles… all the way down. These guys are telling me 90 degrees is all you need, and that anymore is just bad on the knees. Who is right? thanks

People do full squats in real life, not just in the gym & they don’t have knee problems. Tell those high-squatting wimps to take a hike next time they try to tell you 90 degrees is low enough.

The knee is at it’s most vulnerable position at 90 degrees. It would be better to either squat a little higher than 90 degrees or go ahead and go beyond parallel. There was a contest t-mag had a few years ago as to who could best explain why full squats were better…if you review the feedback letters archive from the first year you might be able to find it.
Besides this, in olympic lifting catching a clean or snatch around the 90 degree knee flexed position is known as “No Man’s Land” because the stress on the knees in this position is so much greater. It’s better to either catch the clean or snatch in the “power” 1/4-1/3 squat position or go ahead and ride it down into a full squat. For more info. on this check out this link:
As far as limiting stress on the back and benefit from the squat exercise another school of thought is to use flexibility to assess R.O.M. I believe Ian King recommends descending down as far as you can until the spine reaches a 45 degree angle. For this reason many taller lifters will not be able to get the same effect R.O.M. as a shorter lifter.

Try this experiment: One leg workout do squats down to 90 degrees. The next workout do squats, with the same weight, all the way to the bottom. You tell me what workout left you more sore throughout more of the muscles of the legs. As long as you warm-up properly before and stretch after and use good form with no bouncing, it’s a no-brainer. Squat all the down.

I have jus started squating all the way down to the ankles. I have been using 225 for four sets. (Super stes with Stiff legged Deads) I have been more sore and seen better results than using 405 for stes of 6! (Also LESS knee and lower back pain.)

When your lower back starts to round, that’s where you stop. For me, since I have poor low back and hip flexibility, that happens to be about 1 or 2 inches below parallel. If I ever did an ass to the grass squat my spine would be horribly rounded.

In his video guide to squatting Ian King reccommends not descending past a point where your upper body exceeds a 45’ tilt forward, as after this any further descent is usally accompanied by pretty severe lordosis. This simple guideline allows you individualise a depth perfect for you, while maintaining a neutral spine position. For me this removed the lower back pain that was a constant companion both during and in the days after squatting. His other reccommendations include high bar placement, narrow grip and feet facing completely forward. Having said that though there are others that put quite an arch in their lower back and descend really low and suffer no ill effects, and indeed thrive on this style of lifting. You might be one of those. The question of knees? I guess its the same thing. What’s poison for one might be gold for another. Sorry for the ambiguity but in this game I think there will always be far more maybe’s than definately’s.

Your guys are stuck in the 70s. Do a search for “Lori Gross” to find the most detailed explanation that you could ever hope for as to why full squats are okay. Print it out and show it to them. Then stand back and watch their heads explode.

All the way down (or as low as you can go while maintaining good form) is best. Make sure you don’t slam your ass into your ankles. Keep constant tension throughout the movement. A lot of people tend to relax at the bottom of a full squat, which is bad.

Slightly below parallel is fine; you don’t always have to go ass to grass, though changing it up once in awhile and going very deep is good too.

There is no “right” here, it’s totally personal preference, and/or what is smart for your body. Why is there an “argument”? I have better things to blab about. No one can tell you how for down you should go, only you can with your own previous experience in squatting.

Speaking of this whole ass to the grass controversy, have any of you seen the new issue of Flex magazine with the pics of Jean Pierre Fux bailing out on a 675 pound squat? This dude takes “ass to the grass” to an excruciating new level. He also took a little ride in the ambulance for his trouble. Check it out, you’ll stand there in the grocery store with your jaw to the floor! Please don’t diss me. I don’t read Flex…much. My vote goes to low, deep squats. If you don’t squat all the way, you’re wasting your time.