The importance of squats for functional fitness is abundantly clear. Improving strength and power in our leg muscles, improving mobility in our lower body joints, and improving overall flexibility to enable better movement, is something we all strive for.
Particularly as we get older, losing flexibility can feel limiting so doing exercises and movements that combat this natural loss of flexibility is highly valued.
But although many of us would be forgiven to think a squat is a squat, there is actually many types of squats, that all offer slight variations and benefits.
Our recent blog about Hindu Squats, highlighted how this particular style of squatting, originating from India, offers additional benefits for functional and practical movement, by replicating real world requirements.
And after a recent visit to our local physiotherapist, Ideal Physio, they mentioned another type of squat – the Asian Squat.
But what exactly is the Asian squat, and should we be using it in our exercise routines?
What are Asian Squats?
Asian squats have both cultural and athletic references. They describe the common squatting position from many Asian countries.
In these countries, it is very normal to adopt this particular type of squat for many reasons – including simply just relaxing. From street corners, to parks and living rooms, people will often adopt the so-called “Asian squat” position.
Until recently, this was predominantly ignored in Western countries until the clear health and fitness benefits that this style of squatting offers was highlighted. As the “functional fitness” movement continues to gain pace (and rightly so), exercises that replicate real world movements and requirements are considered highly valued for overall health and fitness.
In terms of exercise, Asian squats describe a very deep type of squat, where the buttocks almost touch the ground. The feet are kept flat on the ground. They are probably the best exercise you aren’t doing, particularly if you’re over 50.
How to Asian Squat
To do an Asian Squat, stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your feet pointing forwards. Slowly lower yourself into a deep squatting position. Keep your back as upright as possible and keep your heels touching the floor. Try and relax into the position and hold it for a few minutes.
Perfecting the Asian squat requires more than just strong glutes or hamstrings. It’s a movement that requires hip and ankle mobility – something lots of us don’t have!
Watch the video below to learn how to do an Asian squat.
For anyone who can’t do an Asian squat, the chances are, it boils down to inflexible ankles, hips or tight calves. These are likely to be the defining characteristics that limit some people’s ability to Asian squat.
Are Asian Squats Good for You?
Asian squats are good for mobility, flexibility and lower body strength.
If you imagine Olympic weightlifting movements, adopting an Asian squat puts the weight on the legs, as opposed to taking more of the weight on your back which can often lead to injury. This leads to better performance of many fitness exercises, helping strengthen muscles and lower the risk of injuries.
If you’re keen to start CrossFit or Olympic lifting workouts, being able to do deep squats will be prioritised – so it’s worth giving it a practice!
One of our favourite YouTubers, Fabulous 50s, discusses the Asian squat in her video, Best Exercise for Women Over 50, below.
Benefits of Asian Squats
Asian squats offer a range of benefits, including:
- Combat the Problems Associated with Sitting
- Strengthen Legs
- Improves Posture
- Improve Ankle Mobility and Flexibility
- Promotes Better Positioning for Olympic Lifting Exercises
- Useful During Pregnancy to Alleviate Pain
- Reduce Tight Calves
- Reduces Pressure on Joints and Bones
- Combat Lower Back Pain
- Improves Digestion and Bowel Movements
An additional benefit of the Asian Squat is for those adventurous travellers out there, who long to explore Asia and the Far East. Bathroom visits in these countries can often require a strong squat so its always good to know you won’t be left struggling to balance when mother nature calls!
There is also a growing trend in the US and parts of Europe, around ditching traditional toilet seats and positions, to adopt the more ancestral squatting style (reflecting that of Asian squats). It is argued that it could help improve bowel movements for many of us. The Squatty Potty is a product that helps achieve this and is highly rated by many.
Adding Asian Squats into your Daily Routine
There are 2 ways to gain the benefits of Asian squats.
Firstly, you could add some sets of Asian squats into your workout routines. If doing this, remember the benefits are often in holding the position too, so try and keep the Asian squat position for a little while on each repetition.
Secondly, it is to simply try Asian squats at home and remain in this position for as long as you can. You could be watching TV, using your laptop, or doing all sorts. By swapping sitting with squatting, you’ll gain lots of benefits without it requiring more time at the gym or working out.
So, without further ado, presenting the simple but effective Asian Squat Challenge!
Asian Squat Challenge
Here is our challenge to you – Swap 15 minutes of sitting a day with Asian squatting. Do this for 30 days and see how you feel afterwards. If you can’t do an Asian squat to begin with, try holding onto something like a chair or table for support – but ensuring your buttocks are as low as possible and your feet are flat on the ground.
We’re confident after 30 days, you’ll notice the difference and never fail to do your Asian squats again.