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[–] chirogonemd 0 points 25 points (+25|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Nope, it's just mobility. I wasn't previously able to do this either. But I started working on ankle mobility, and it was only a couple of weeks before I was able to squat flat-footed. I also started focusing on the squat as a hip-hinge, which tends to make it a more hip/back dominant exercise, as opposed to how most people squat in the olympic style (which is very upright torso and far less hip flexion). After a few weeks, I noticed all low back pain disappeared, my hips and ankles were far more flexible as well.

It is a natural human resting position, and its observed among slavic countries as well. Actually, I kind of thought the slavs were far more famous for this than asians (unless we are using asians in that really, really broad sense).

This squat stretches/releases all the muscles of the posterior chain and when you stand up out of it, you feel remarkably more loose. If your hams or glutes were tight/short from sitting for a long time, do this for a minute or two and take an inventory of how you feel afterward.

There is a lot of variability in hip structure in humans, namely in the bony notch where the femur inserts. Some people can't achieve as much hip flexion without the femur running into the back of the acetabulum. It can make going into a full-depth squat like this more difficult for some. Basically, if this is your situation, then when you try to full-depth squat, you get an effect called "butt wink", and you'll see it as your pelvis tilting back at the bottom of your squat (makes it look like your butt is winking). Adjusting your stance can help. Again, if this is you, try placing your feet wider and pointing the toes outward at 35 degrees or so. If your knees are tracking over the toes, this will also cause your knees to go outward as you squat, which is what you want (if this is your situation). Also, on the subject of butt wink. As long as it isn't massive, it's really no big deal, especially if you aren't loading the squat (and just using your bodyweight instead).

EDIT: An excellent way to increase ankle flexion mobility (so you can squat flat-footed) is to mark a line about 5 inches from a wall. On the leg you are going to work, put the tip of your toes at this line. On the opposite leg, just kneel down on your knee. Now, on the work leg, attempt to touch your knee to the wall without lifting your heel off the ground at all, or allowing your toes to cross the line. If you can't at first, just spend some time in the furthest position you can reach without lifting your heel and stay there. You can use your bodyweight to force things a little, but don't go crazy. Work this for a few weeks and your ankle mobility will increase a lot.

EDIT 2: Some people have said they have trouble getting into this squat resting position because they end up falling backward. First thing I would try would be widening your stance slightly. Ultimately, this is because you need more hip flexion to balance your center of gravity. Your torso is probably too upright at the bottom of the squat. Keep in mind, however, you don't want to just bend forward and introduce a lot of curvature in your back either. Maintain a relatively straight back. Again, some slight lumbar curvature (butt wink) is okay, but if you are curving in the thoracic spine, you are doing it wrong. You can also try tucking your elbows on the inside of your knees. This causes you to shift your arms in front of your body by interior rotation at the shoulder, and will help keep your weight forward.

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[–] prairie 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago 

Squatting is the natural defecation position, which I hear Asians use (they have those toilets in the floor). So they get practice there every day. I was taught this method when I was little and squatting flat-footed is trivial for me.

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[–] StagOfMull 0 points 2 points (+2|-0) ago 

Dude if it takes this much thought and effort for you to simply squat without picking up your heels you have much greater issues with your lifestyle.

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[–] chirogonemd 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Haha. I understand that perspective. But a lot of people, irrespective of their fitness levels have just taught themselves bad habits, or have gotten very disconnected to the archetypal movements. I'm just very fascinated with the kinematics of exercise in general. It can help some people to have information and a way to think about a movement, as a means for improving it.

I know some people who are incredibly fit, and still have poor understanding and mechanics in the squat. A buddy of mine who did "Hindu" squats for years taught himself absolutely piss poor habits. So you get into the idea of moving for moving's sake, or actually training certain patterns and cues for better and more sustainable performance.

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[–] BeefBourgignon 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Squat as a hip hinge, please forgive my ignorance but what does that look like?

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[–] chirogonemd 0 points 4 points (+4|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Okay, stand with your feet at your comfortable squatting width. Bend your knees just a little and totally straighten your back and your neck (look forward). Now, you are going to pretend like you have to look at something small on the ground right between your feet, like a coin or something. Here's the catch. You cannot bend your knees or curve your back at all, and you can't curve your neck either. The spine stays straight. You can't alter your knee angle. Hips can move freely. Attempt to look down between your feet.

It will naturally require you hinge at the hip to do this. Interestingly, if you DON'T cheat and flex your back or neck to look all the way, you'll find you can't really look ALL the way. You've just discovered your full range of hip flexion! Try this a few times and get used to how it feels to hinge at the hip. When you hear trainers cue the squat by saying, "Now SIT BACK", they don't literally mean sit back. They want you to hinge your hips. It's just to get your head into your hips. They want you to focus on hinging at the hip instead of the knee. If you think of this while squatting, i.e. breaking at the hip instead of at the knee, you'll do a better squat almost every time. Unlike the example exercise I gave you above (which was just meant to make you feel the hip hinge), in an actual squat your knees are going to bend as well. It's just that we aren't focusing on that. We are breaking at the hip before the knee.

Doing this with just bodyweight isn't difficult to get used to. If you weight train, you'll notice almost immediately that this will cause you to want to put the bar in a lower position on your back. That's because your body wants to keep the downward acceleration on that bar right in line with your mid-foot.