“Ass to grass” is the single most irresponsible colloquialism to ever hit the functional fitness landscape.
I will repeat that.
While I have no doubts that the idea was born in the right place, that more range of motion is better than less, it set off a chain reaction of uniformed coaches ill prepared to adequately interpret that to the their athletes. It launched a thousand ignorant ships pacing around the room with PVC pipes poking butts and shotgun vocalizing the term around the room on squat day.
We don’t coach the term “Ass to Grass” at this gym for a very simple reason.
It’s a matter of anatomy, specifically bony hip structure. I am by no means an anatomical expert, but I do know that not everyone will be able to break parallel on their squats in a safe manner. The main variable of safe squat depth is the length of the femur. At a certain point in the squat for everyone, the femur will push up against the socket of the hip, making further range of motion at the hip a physical impossibility. If the athlete keeps dropping down further in search of that grass, they will accommodate further range of motion by going into flexion in the lumbar spine, not increased hip movement.
Lumbar spine flexion under a few hundred pounds of spinal loading.
Those with long femurs, long leg to torso ratio, poor mobility, and a lack of experience will all jeopardize their positioning if they try to force further range of motion beyond what their hips allow.
Anyone can collapse and bottom out their squat position, but in almost every instance, it’s at the cost of their bracing and spinal integrity.
Is that productive? Fuck no, it isn’t.
If we are to be effective at teaching people movement in hopes of teaching people fitness, then we have to do better than blanket statements designed to take the individualization out of coaching.
Anytime you see a coach take shortcuts in the name of easy homogenization, run for the hills as fast as you possibly can.
Now, please send this to every coach and casual gym goer that you know.