Abdominal Activation in Front Squats

Do front squats with a barbell.
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Front squats are a good exercise for working many of your muscles, including your abs, legs, hips, butt and lower back. Though they differ slightly from a traditional squat, front squats still offer big benefits. If you want to emphasize work on your belly, adding front squats to your routine can help target the area, while also working the rest of your lower body at the same time.


    The best way to get the most out of front squats is to perform them correctly. This prevents injuries, but also maximizes the activation in your abs, which is great for creating tone and definition in your belly. To do a front squat, position a barbell in front of your neck and hold it at about chest level by wrapping your forearms around each other and placing your hands on the barbell with your upper arms parallel with the ground. Lower your body down as if sitting into a chair, stopping when your knees reach a 90-degree angle. Hold the front squat for a second or two and then return to the starting position.

How They Work

    If you've ever placed your hands on your abs while doing a traditional body weight squat, you've probably been able to feel your stomach muscles activate. Anytime you lower or raise your body, your abs must engage to help you keep your balance. It is more difficult to test your ab activation with front squats since your arms are around the barbell, but if you're new to the move, you'll probably feel some soreness in your stomach in the days following your workout. You can also ask a friend or workout partner to lightly touch your abs and make sure they are activating while you are doing the squats.

Muscles Used

    Though front squats target your quads the most, you'll also work your glutes, erector spinae, hamstrings, lats and delts when you do them. Front squats shouldn't be the only ab move you do despite their activation of your obliques and rectus abdominus muscles. Your obliques run down the sides of your waist and as you work them, they'll nip in to give you a slimmer waist. The rectus abdominis muscles are located in the front of your stomach and are those that make up the "six pack" of muscles. Working both muscle groups with front squats helps you tone your middle.


    When choosing a pound load for your barbell, the appropriate amount allows you to do 12 front squats with good form, though the last two or three might be difficult. If this is too easy, you need to add weight, but if it's too hard, you are using too much weight. Front squats are ideal for working many of your muscles, but for toned abs, combine them with other moves that target the area. Planks, crunches and sit-ups are appropriate options that give you a well-rounded ab workout.

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