A common idea circulates that adults should squat like a baby.
Some will claim that we should be able to sit straight down and be in a deep squat with little effort.
This usually comes from a theory that we all could do it as babies, therefore we should all be able to do it now – we just need to put in the work and effort.
The idea that all adult humans should be able to squat like babies is nonsense.
Here are 4 reasons why:
1) As we age, our body proportions change.
It is well understood that having short femurs and longer torsos is a biomechanical advantage in deep squatting.
Babies take the cake there with their torso and head comprising a much larger proportion of their body.
Not only is this an uncommon thing for most adults, there are actually many adults who have the inverse relationship, making deep squats even more challenging.
2) We don’t all have the same hip structure
It is widely accepted that having shallow acetabulums (hip sockets) is a competitive advantage in powerlifting.
This is the famous Celtic hip example Stu McGill introduced us to years ago.
Well, you guessed it: babies have it.
Babies have super shallow and retroverted hips because they sat in a deep squat for 9 months during development.
Their hip structure will change as they continue to weight bear and their skeletal structure matures.
As this occurs, we see a change in the amount of retroversion in the hips, as well the socket depth, and many factors that alter the level of ease to which someone can attain a deep squat.
3) Their center of mass is higher.
Have you ever noticed how it’s easier to squat deep holding a dumbbell in front of you or in a goblet position?
As we mentioned, babies have larger torso and head, this shift in relative body proportion allows babies to stay more upright and provides more hip clearance to squat deep.
When babies go to sit down and back, their torso and head provides a counterbalance that accommodates this deeper depth.
In contrast, for most adults we have a greater proportion of weight lower, which requires a more vertical orientation if we were to squat deep – which is more demanding on the ankles than for babies.
4) Patellas anyone?
Babies don’t even have knee caps!
Their bones are extremely soft, and many of the smaller ones are not even fully formed.
In addition to the aforementioned hips, this helps significantly with foot and ankle mobility.
Babies are incredibly flexible from head to toe, and most have lower muscle tone than your typical adult.
If you want to squat like a baby, go for it.
But don’t get frustrated when your efforts fall short.
Don’t stress about it and focus on just squatting whatever way you can and try to improve it over time!