Squat Challenge: Taking it Ass-to-Grass (ATG)

Okay, who else wears shorts like this on what is clearly meant to be her “leg day” in the photo below?

Anyone?…Anyone?…Bue…haha! Had to go there for a moment.

Let me just say the form is more what I’m concentrating on here: she’s nearly ATG on this squat (that’s gym talk for Ass-to-Grass), heels back, shoulders back, weight evenly distributed across the traps, no arch in the back, knees aligned between the second and third toes at the deepest point of the squat, head up, and eyes forward.

Proper form is the most essential part of any squat. That said, training your body to go ATG takes time–not everyone can do it—and isn’t actually necessary for the leg results you’re looking to produce. If you’re an experienced bodybuilder or athlete, it can be a great power and max strength movement but if you don’t have the hip flexibility, core strength, knee health, or lumbar strength to get the job done, you will do more harm than good.

My advice is to start with the parallel squat, using only your bodyweight, with a chair as your guide. You don’t necessarily have to sit in the chair, but utilizing it will give you a good indication as to how far you can comfortably go without breaking form.

As you gain more confidence with the movements, try to go deeper with them—the deeper you go, the more you activate the muscles in the glutes, hamstrings, and core—but remember to keep your form and stop at any point you feel discomfort or pain.

Here’s an example of a parallel squat using a chair:

For those who are already comfortable with the parallel, there are other ways to upgrade your squat game simply by adding other elements (i.e. dumbbells, barbells, or BOSU ball) or utilizing other techniques (prison squats, hack squats, one-legged squats, squat with reach, etc.).

The important thing is to continue to challenge yourself, and your body, by exploring its capabilities beyond the perceived comfort zone.


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