Asian Squat: Everything You Need To Know

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What Is An Asian Squat?

The Asian squat is a deep squatting position that has strong cultural roots throughout many parts of Asia. This seemingly simple exercise has made international headlines for its ability to challenge even the most athletic individuals from Western countries.

While some may consider it an easy movement, many have found themselves unable to hold the deep squat for extended lengths of time. In this article, we explore the biomechanics of getting your glutes low to the ground and why those of Asian nationalities seem to have an easier time with it.

We also discuss the cultural significance associated with this exercise and tips for mastering it to get the most benefit from it. Get ready for a comprehensive overview of the Asian squat phenomenon!

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Why Is The Asian Squat So Predominant Among Asians?

From a historical perspective, the deep squatting position has been part of the daily lives of humans for centuries. Before chairs were introduced, people would often perform tasks in a deep squatting position.

Our ancestors would spend a lot of time in active rest poses while hunting, gathering, or resting.

As our ancestors did, many Asians have been accustomed to squatting while working, eating, or playing since childhood.

In many Asian countries, squatting is commonly used even while emptying the bowels as it is considered to be more hygienic than sitting directly on a dirty toilet seat. Especially in China, squat pans are still widely used in public restrooms.

Moreover, Asians find this position to be more comfortable than standing or leaning against a wall and can easily be adopted in any setting.

How To Asian Squat With Proper Form

To properly execute the Asian sitting posture, you must sit in a squat position with your hips between your ankles. Your torso should remain upright and your feet flat on the ground.

It takes superior hip, ankle, and knee mobility to get into this multi-segmental stance correctly.

To do an Asian Squat follow the steps below:

  • Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart, or slightly wider.
  • Flare your toes slightly out.
  • Allow your hips and knees to bend simultaneously and begin lowering towards the ground.
  • To stay in balance and maintain your center, be sure to keep your body weight above the midline of your feet. This will help you avoid rocking backward or forward.
  • Aim to push your body as low as you can while maintaining an upright torso and keeping the weight on your heels – heels stay on the floor.
  • Rest your arms on top of your thighs.
  • Try and relax into the position and hold it for a few minutes.

For those who can’t perform the Asian squat, it is probably due to inflexible ankles, hips, or tight calves. These factors typically restrict a person’s ability to properly perform the Asian squat.

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What Makes The Asian Squat So Difficult To Perform?

The Asian squat position can be quite difficult to master for those who are unable to get low enough and sustain the posture for an extended duration. It looks strikingly different from a Western-style squat, which generally isn’t as deep.

So why is it not possible for everyone to do this exercise?

Limb Length Proportions

The proportions of limb lengths can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to squat deeply. The human body is divided into various sections based on the length of the bones between certain joints.

Those with a longer femur (upper thigh bone) relative to their tibia (lower leg bone) will likely find it more difficult to achieve the Asian squat position than those with proportional or shorter legs.

People who have long legs and a shorter torso may also find it more challenging to perform the movement with ease.

Though it is certainly possible for individuals with these limb-length proportions to engage in deep squatting, they may find that getting into a ‘deep squat’ position requires more effort and forward torso lean.

Lack Of Mobility

The Asian squat is a challenging exercise that requires an exceptional amount of mobility in the hips and ankles. Even if you can easily accomplish a Western-style flat foot squat, reaching sufficient depth to perform this posture may prove difficult.

A 2009 study revealed that ankle mobility plays a major role in how successfully one can assume the deep squat position with ease. Therefore, having limited mobility could be your greatest obstacle when trying to do an Asian Squat correctly.

Infants are born with an impressive capacity for passive ankle dorsiflexion (backward bending of the foot): approximately 60 degrees. However, this natural flexibility generally reduces to just 20 degrees or lower when adulthood is achieved.

In other words, everyone is naturally born with the agility for an Asian squat; this potential reduces if it isn’t used or practiced.

To gain maximum muscular activation and reduce the chance of injury, squats must be performed with perfect technique. Unfortunately, those lacking ideal joint mobility or stability often experience movement compensations – where their body tries to use an easier pattern or path of least resistance to decrease effort and fatigue.

The good news is that improving ankle mobility can be achieved.

While some individuals experience inherent restrictions on their mobility due to the structure of their joints and bones, everyone can enhance their natural range of movement with proper training and conditioning.

Even though regularly improving mobility is crucial for avoiding lower-body pains, most people tend to overlook it because their day-to-day activities do not require such improvements. For instance, a lot of Westerners drive to work and then sit at a desk all day – meaning that ankle flexibility isn’t viewed as something they need to thrive in life.

However, having regular mobility can make an enormous difference when it comes to reducing pain throughout your ankles, shins, hips, and knees – particularly while squatting or doing other exercises.

Squat Practice

If you find yourself struggling to stay in the deep squat position, then it’s likely because you haven’t had enough practice. With patience and dedication, however, your endurance to hold this position will eventually increase.

Performing a deep squat requires patience, practice, and dedication. To obtain the strength and flexibility to hold the position for long periods, regular practice is essential. You can try to perform three sets of 60-second holds every day until you’re able to comfortably complete a deep squat.

Additionally, practicing one-and-a-half squats can help you achieve your desired depth.

Is Your Ability To Do The Asian Squat Genetic?

A study established that 100% of Asian individuals were competent in performing an ‘Asian squat’, compared to a mere 13.5% of Americans. It’s true that genetic elements, such as bone shape and length, can affect one’s ability to achieve a deep squat.

However, your lifestyle mainly influences your ability to perform the Asian squat.

Although those with longer legs may be more challenged biomechanically to reach a deep squat, the defining factors are around the flexibility and range of motion in the ankles and hips.

It is important to remember that muscles around the hips need to be strong and flexible for a person to achieve and hold a deep squat.

Having an inactive lifestyle and spending too much time sitting down can cause the muscles to become tight, limiting one’s ability to perform this posture. Incorporating regular exercise, stretching, and mobility drills into your day-to-day routine could help improve hip flexibility, leading you closer to achieving an Asian squat.

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Are Asian Squats Good For You?

Asian squats are an excellent exercise for individuals of all ages and fitness levels, as they not only help improve mobility, flexibility, and lower body strength but also reduce the risk of injury. Redistributing the weight from the back to the legs during workouts such as Olympic weightlifting or CrossFit, dramatically reduces the chance of injury while allowing for better performance.

Benefits Of The Asian Squat

The Asian Squat offers numerous health benefits in contrast to today’s sedentary lifestyle which has been linked to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and other unfavorable health outcomes.

Improved Functional Performance

Squatting, especially the Asian squat, is an incredibly beneficial form of exercise for improving heart health because it requires more physical activity than just sitting in a chair or lounging on a couch. Not only will this type of movement help your cardiovascular system stay in shape, but it’s also a functional movement that can help protect your back from injury.

Practicing the Asian squat can help you become stronger and more capable of performing activities from standing up from a low chair to safely lifting heavy objects off the floor. In this way, it can dramatically improve your functional performance.

Improved Lower Limb Strength

The Asian squat can be an ideal exercise for developing lower limb strength, as it provides a better range of motion for lifting more weight. It also puts less strain on the back as more weight can be moved through the legs, resulting in improved performance and reduced risk of injury.

A study has specifically compared the effects of squats with different depths on lower limb muscle volume, and it was found that the Asian squat is more effective at building glutes and inner thigh muscles than performing a standard squat.

Weightlifters and powerlifters alike can benefit from incorporating this exercise into their routine to reap the benefits of greater lower limb strength.

Better Posture And Balance

Another benefit of the Asian squat or deep squat is to build better posture and balance. Engaging in Asian squats or deep squats helps to improve posture and strengthens the lumbar spine so that one can maintain proper alignment without risk of injury.

This is because maintaining a neutral spine at all times while doing these exercises is essential for successful performance. Doing so will help to strengthen the glutes and reduce strain on the lower back.

Additionally, keeping both feet flat on the floor while shifting your center of gravity towards your heels, can improve body stability and prevent injury. Regular squats can help you maintain good posture and balance, which can help improve your overall strength and stability.

Improved Flexibility

The Asian squat is an incredibly beneficial movement that provides excellent flexibility and balance. It requires the activation of numerous muscles, including the calf muscles, which work together with the hip flexors and glutes to ensure proper leg alignment when performing the squat.

Furthermore, this movement pattern helps to alleviate tightness in both the calves and hamstrings as it stretches them out. It is an ideal activity for anyone looking to improve their flexibility and stability.

Muscles Involved In The Asian Squat

The Asian squat is a powerful multi-joint movement that targets multiple muscle groups throughout the lower body and trunk. It is considered to be similar, if not superior, to other compound exercises.

When performing the Asian squat, all of the muscles of the lower leg must work together to generate maximal force and keep the joints properly aligned while squatting. The trunk muscles also play an important role in stabilizing the body, allowing for safer execution of this exercise and helping reduce compression or excessive forces that could lead to injury.

Glutes

The gluteal muscles generate immense force to execute this exercise.

When performing hip flexion, such as when squatting down, the core and glutes work together to stabilize the hips. As you stand back up from a full squat position, these muscle groups provide the necessary power for hip extension.

The gluteus maximus is of utmost importance when performing a squat, as it aids in the full extension of the hips. Meanwhile, the gluteus medius helps keep your knee on track over your toes by providing hip abduction.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings serve a dual purpose in the squat. Firstly, it works synergistically with the glutes during knee extension while they are straightening. Secondly, this muscle group is an important stabilizing force for your knees at full flexion when you reach the lowest point of your squat; balancing out the counterpart forces from the quadriceps to extend the leg.

Calves

Though squats do not help with calf muscle development, and tight calves can even limit ankle mobility, it is crucial to train these muscles separately for stability in squat exercises. Through separate training, you will gain strength and flexibility that creates the balance needed for the proper form of a deep-body exercise like the squat.

Adductor Magnus

Comparable to the glute maximus in hip extension, the adductor magnus of your inner thigh is most active during mid-ascent before it hands off work to the glutes for final hip extension. With a wider stance squat, you will be engaging this muscle more than usual as it works hard to extend your hips.

Erectors, Abdominals, And Obliques

The erectors, located around the spine, maintain stiffness and extension throughout the squat to prevent your torso from hunching forward.

The abdominals and obliques are antagonists that stabilize our bodies while squatting. Through their ability to maintain postural alignment, they protect us from back injury by stopping the erectors from pulling our spine into hyperextension.

If You Have Never Done The Asian Squat Before

If you have never performed the Asian squat before, begin by standing upright with your back to the wall and the backs of your heels about 6 inches away from it. Make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart, and place both of your hands on the wall for support. Ensure that you feel balanced and stable with your hands on the wall.

Then, slowly move into the squat position, but stop if you feel any pain in your calves or ankles.

According to the physical therapist and personal trainer Bryan Ausinheiler, an individual’s squatting ability is determined by placing them into one of three categories:

  • Uncompensated Deep Squat: The ability to perform a deep squat, where your heels remain on the ground and arms stay behind your toes.
  • Compensated Deep Squat: The ability to perform a deep squat, but your heels are off the ground and your arms are forward.
  • Unable to Deep Squat: Inability to reach the resting position or appearing pain during the movement.

Word of advice:

When squatting, let go of the self-doubt and stress regarding how you look compared to someone else; instead, focus on getting your hips lower and keeping your weight shifted over the midpoint of your foot.

To achieve the perfect Asian squat, you must ensure that your feet remain flat on the ground. To do this, it is essential to loosen up and increase the mobility of your calf muscles and ankle joint. With proper stretching plus improved flexibility in these areas, you’ll be able to master a comfortable yet effective Asian Squat!

To improve your ankle mobility for the Asian squat, here are three exercises you can include in your workout routine:

  • Banded Ankle Dislocation
  • Single-Leg Downward Dog
  • Soft Tissue Calf Release

Asian Squat Challenge

Here is your challenge:

Step away from your seat for 15 minutes each day and try Asian squatting instead! Take on this challenge for a month, then see how you feel afterward.

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