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Thread: Squat question-ass to grass or things parallel to ground? page

  1. #1
    Eklecktika's Avatar
    Eklecktika is offline Senior Member
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    Squat question-ass to grass or thighs parallel to ground?

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    I can't figure out how to find what I'm looking for, so I'm just going to ask.

    Am I wrong in thinking that a 'full, asstograss' squat stops when the femur is roughly parallel to the ground?

    I guess get confused when I hear things like this

    "you go all the way down until the top of your thigh is parallel to the ground. "

    and then hear people talk about ass to grass squats.

    I'm not into politically correct, just biomechanically correct.



    Final answer:

    Will a full ass to grass squat, with my knees no further forward than my toes (think a baby in a diaper that just stops and squats down to grab a cheerio or something) wreck my knees?

    (If the answer is no, I have more questions to follow!)
    Thanks!
    Last edited by Eklecktika; 02-23-2011 at 07:01 PM. Reason: things, thighs, its all relative

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    TheFastCat's Avatar
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    Will a full ass to grass squat, with my knees no further forward than my toes (think a baby in a diaper that just stops and squats down to grab a cheerio or something) wreck my knees?
    Your knees should not track beyond your toes. Yes this is dangerous as it causes undue stress on your knees. If your knees are tracking beyond your toes:

    1.) you are not pushing your ass *back*
    2.) you are not pushing your knees outwards while lowering and raising the weight

    with that in mind you're probably safe if you aren't doing that while retaining curvature in your spine

    Ideally you want to get below parallel on your depth because that's where the real gains to strength stem from; that's different than ass to grass but trust me once you get substantial weight anything approaching parallel to the ground feels like you are actually 6 inches lower. A great way to learn would be to film yourself doing them and upload a video to youtube for specific feedback.

    another tip

    - your back should remain straight but not vertical/perpendicular to the ground - think about sticking your ass out behind you as much as possible while lowering the weight - that will help keep your knees from tracking out over your toes
    Last edited by TheFastCat; 02-23-2011 at 04:03 PM.
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    PatrickF's Avatar
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    http://www.exrx.net/Kinesiology/Squats.html gives some discussion on squats. No serious dangers anywhere.

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    Your specific anatomy will partially determine how low you can truly go - for some people thighs parallel is as far as it gets, then they get a "bounce" off their calves to help them back up. If you have skinny legs, you can usually go well below parallel before getting much of any "bounce" which really affects how much weight you can take on - either you have to stop at parallel and forego the bounce, or go way low and have a lot farther to go. I think videoing yourself is the way to go with all those exercises. Also search youtube for "Rippetoe Squat" - you'll find truly great instructional video.

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    Eklecktika's Avatar
    Eklecktika is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks. I appreciate it.

    I'm certain my knees are staying well behind my toes-I have no problem sticking my ass out! I will have to see if I can figure out how to do a youtube-that's one area of technology I've not ventured into, and need to for a couple reasons. In the meantime, I will hunt up Rippetoe. I've seen him referenced before, but have also been bombarded recently with OMGDON'TGOBELOWPARALLEL and having dealt with enough knee trouble in HS to know I don't want to go back,

    I must have skinny legs (who knew?) because I can go way below parallel.

    Haven't added any significant weight yet (<20 lbs, lol) because I wanted to be certain my form was right.

  6. #6
    BarbeyGirl's Avatar
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    Actually, Rippetoe notes that the toes do go just forward of the knees in a perfect, ass-to-grass squat. (Starting Strength, 2nd edition) Yeah, I was totally surprised. But he explains it. As for going below parallel, he explains that doing so activates the posterior chain to balance the anterior chain, thereby actually protecting the knee.
    Last edited by BarbeyGirl; 02-23-2011 at 04:38 PM.
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    Ass-to-grass, to me at least, means as low as you can possibly go (thighs touching calves). And BarbeyGirl is correct; in a full ATG squat, your knees will go just slightly past your toes. I think ATG is better for your knees. If you stop at parallel, this is the point at which there is the most stress on your knees and you're just adding to it by having to reverse your momentum. If you go all the way down, the weight stops on your glutes and hamstrings which are more than able to take the load (as long as you aren't lifting way above your ability). I second the recommendation to watch Rippetoe. I've been squatting for ~3 years now and after watching Rippetoe again recently, my form was greatly improved (I was focusing too much on keeping my back upright, +1 FastCat)

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    ATG squats and parallel squats are for targeting different muscles. Which one you do depends on what you're hoping to achieve. If you want to do ATG squats then you will probably have to practice. Sitting in chairs all day ruins our ability to naturally go ATG squats. Learn to sit in a third world squat. Cut out time sitting in chairs and either stand, sit on the floor or squat down. A parallel squat allows you to move more weight and stresses your body more, which is why Rippetoe has them in his Starting Strength program. Also, when squatting parallel Rippetoe advises you to squat as low as you can so as you build up the weight you don't start cheating and doing partial squats instead of parallel squats.

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    Once you break parallel you start to engage the behind muscles (glutes, hamstrings, etc) more. Parallel and above is more quad dominant.

    Not sure if you are a man or woman, but women tend to be really quad imbalanced naturally, so below parallel, even if it means sacrificing a bit of weight, is more ideal. Or at least mixing the two up.
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    Al_Kavadlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eklecktika View Post

    Will a full ass to grass squat, with my knees no further forward than my toes (think a baby in a diaper that just stops and squats down to grab a cheerio or something) wreck my knees?

    (If the answer is no, I have more questions to follow!)
    Thanks!
    Ass to grass is deeper than parallel and no, it won't wreck your knees. Read this for more info.
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

    "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

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