T Nation

Third World Squat


I just read the article as I was researching how to correct lower back/pelvis rounding when going below parallel as I squat. Very interesting. If anyone can chime in, I was wondering if the article suggests going as deep as possible even if the back rounds and holding this position OR going as far as you can with a neutral spine and slowly trying to get deeper each time? I love squatting and I wouldn't want this lower back rounding to cause me future injury.


If the lower back rounds (I think Thibaudeau calls it "tail under position") and you lose your arch it can be very, very dangerous - IF the spine is loaded, that is.
Without weights we have a completely different discussion.

Apart from just spending time in more comfortable position then standing, the thirld world squat is performed in over half the globe when people defecate. Both involve relaxing muscles.
These squats can be held very long without beng uncomfortable.
Also, most of the thirld world sqatters are lightly build compared to T-Nationeers and their ideal physique.

A weighted squat requires you to use and flex your muscles activly for a few seconds, rarely for more then a minute.

You should probably be able to full squat to the point where your lower back curls/flexes.
But that is just for general mobility.
Nobody is telling you to squat your bodyweight+ with no spinal stability.


have you ever heard of "porn star " squats? sounds lol but its basically the same thing. Just spread your legs out wide and squat down till arse touches heels but again you need to keep lower back arch. If you watch an olympic lifter squat (not that good of an example) and they go ATG theyll still have their lower back arching as hard as they can.

To be honest, do "third world squat" when your at home. its natural movement & actually decompresses.


good post. I often upon awakening in the morning or before bedtime, do a tabata with the "third world squats. chock full of win....


I understand that third world squats are used to improve mobility. So when doing them, my lower back should not round? Or is rounding ok because my spine is not loaded?


Im no expert but from what I understand there is no or little chance of injury from rounding your lower back during a 3rd world squat(using no weight ofcourse). What is your current mobility like?
If I was you I would practice been in the 3rd world squat position and over time try and reduce the rounding in the back, until one day you can squat without rounding at all!

Good luck buddy!



If you take a "third world dump", your lower back has to round.
After all, you should be able to relax.

Exercising is a different thing altogether.
Depending on genetics, you can go very deep without losing arch. Some might even go ass-to-grass without losing tonus.
You have to understand that while an unloaded spine can happily go tail-under, for the sake of exercise, you rather don't want to lose tone, especially with an exercise such as the free squat, where you can potentially do hundreds of repetitions.
An oversimplification: This of doing pushups this way; you go down until your body rest for a split second on the ground, then you press up. Awkward, right?

If you want to rep out deep bodyweight squats, I'd say go as deep as your knees permit you to.
Although, on second thought, it is more complex like most things, if you want to truly grasp it.
Since I'm not an author here and don't plan to, let's keep it short and just say:
Experiment with both bodyweight squats ATG and squats to parallel/a bit below parallel, depending what suits you naturally, although it's normal that the range below parallel increases with practise.

the term thirld world squat is misleading and shouldn't be used.
It implies that there is a more advanced and/or civilized method.
Quite the opposite, actually, as everyone would benefit of enjoying full range of motion while [free] squatting and being able to rest comfortably in the deep-squat position.
It's basically a natural skill most western people have lost.
Some even say defecating in the relaxed, deep squat position provides numerous health benefits.


There's been a lot of old bumps lately