The squat is probably one of the best compound movements you can do to tone your lower abs, butt, and legs. It also has a wide range of other benefits including boosting cardiovascular health, helping build rock-solid all-around strength, improving balance and stability, and decreasing pressure on your knees.
Squats are a great full-body exercise that you can do at any time in almost any space for a quick workout.
Known as one of the best full-body exercises – and most often recommended for overweight individuals in particular – the squat is an exercise that allows you to strengthen your lower abs, build up your glutes, and burn fat at the same time.
Do Squats Work Abs?
Surprisingly to most of us, the squat is one of the best exercises for losing your lower belly fat and achieving a flat, toned stomach. Combining this with the fact that squat engages your core muscles naturally during the movement, and you have one of the best abs building combinations that build your abs while reducing fat around your stomach to make your abs more visible.
Squats function to activate your core muscles in order to keep your body upright and balanced during the exercise. Your core muscles stabilize your body, which is why they are so important when it comes to proper posture and balance.
To understand how the squats work the abs, we will need to understand the anatomy of the core muscles.
Your core muscles are those muscles in your body (besides your arms and legs) that stabilize your spine. While there are numerous core muscles in your body, the ones most often associated with the term “core” are the muscle of rectus abdominis (your 6-pack muscle group), transversus abdominis (which lies below your rectus abdominis), and obliques.
What Core Muscles Are Activated During The Squat?
Rectus Abdominis: The most superficial of all the core muscles, your rectus abdominis is often referred to as your 6-pack muscle. Your rectus abdominis is responsible for flexing your body forward.
Transversus Abdominis: Also known as the deepest of all your abdominal muscles, your transversus abdominis helps compress and stabilize your internal organs. Not only does it control the pressure of these organs but it also pulls them back toward the spine to help you stay standing upright.
Obliques: The next set of core muscles below your rectus abdominis, your obliques are responsible for lateral flexion and rotation. This means that they help you side bend and twist.
As you can see, your core muscles are responsible for helping you maintain your posture and balance, which is why squats are great for building your abs.
How Do The Squat Compare To Other Abs Exercises
Squats activate the core muscles just as other core exercises like sit-ups or plank do, however, unlike these other exercises, the squat allows you to use your leg muscles and bodyweight to contribute to the exercise and because of this it burns more calories and works more muscle groups (including your legs), which means that you will be burning even more calories.
Because of this, squats are even more effective at building a toned midsection while reducing fat around your stomach.
A study conducted by Roland van den Tillaar and Atle Hole Saeterbakken at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology compared the core muscle activation between a squat and plank.
The study concluded that the erector Spinae and external oblique were activated the most when you performed a squat movement, but the rectus adominis was activated slightly more during the plank.
Because the squat engages your core muscles so deeply, the squats work both the top half of your abs and bottom half of your abs to help strengthen them while at the same time burning fat from your upper and lower abdominal region. Because of this, squats are one of the most effective exercises at making your abs look more visible.
While they are not as effective at building the midsection as traditional sit-ups and planks are, because of the deep engagement of core muscles, the squats are still a great exercise to complete on your abs workout program.
If you want to get even more benefit out of your ab workouts, combine them with other core exercises such as deadlifts and squats.