Squats have always been considered one of the 3 kings of exercise (along with deadlifts and bench press).
But are variations such as the front squat more beneficial for certain fitness goals such as having a six-pack?
In this article, we take a look at whether front squats are good for abs.
Do Front Squats Work Abs?
Front squats are good for abs in that they bring your core muscles into action while performing the movement.
While back squats also work your core muscles, having the weight on the front of your body reduces the pressure on your back and puts slightly more strain on your abs meaning they get slightly more of a workout.
The Science of Six Pack Abs
Unfortunately, getting six-pack abs isn’t as simple as doing hundreds of sit-ups.
There’s actually quite a bit of science behind defined abs.
The first thing you need to consider is body fat.
Everyone has abdominal muscles, the same as everyone has biceps, triceps, quadriceps, etc.
One of the reasons why we can see some people’s abs more than others usually comes down to their levels of body fat.
A rough guide to work with is that men can usually see their abs with less than 14% body fat although body fat below 10% is usually when the abs are very clearly visible.
Women usually need to get below 20% body fat to see their abs but below 16% to have a clearly defined six-pack.
While having a lower body fat percentage will help you show off your abs, you will also need developed ab muscles from training.
It might be easier to think of the bicep muscle in your arms.
Everyone has them and you can see them all the time (fat stores are usually lower away from the core of your body so covers less muscle) but biceps that have been exercised are bigger, more defined, and more developed than those that haven’t been.
This is the same principle with your abs, without proper training they won’t be as developed so won’t show as much.
Even if you have a low body fat percentage and highly developed abs, genetics also plays a part in how easy it is for you to get a six-pack.
As we’re all different in our make-up, some people have naturally more defined abs whereas others have to put in a lot of work for fewer results.
Why Front Squats Are Good For Abs
Front Squats Burn Calories
To reduce body fat percentage enough for your abs to show, you need to be in a calorie deficit. In simple terms – burn more calories than you consume.
Front squats are a compound exercise meaning they work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
This type of exercise burns a lot of calories as the large muscle groups required to perform the movement all need energy to contract, resulting in a big calorie burn.
What is important to remember is that front squats burn calories – they do not burn fat.
When working in a calorie deficit, your body will ultimately end up burning through its fat stores but one exercise alone is not sufficient for this to happen.
Burning fat on your torso in order to get a six-pack is not something you can target either.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to pinpoint areas of fat to burn.
Your body will eventually burn fat from the areas you want it to but it will do it once it has burned through its primary fat stores first and you have no control where they are.
Front Squats Work Your Core
As well as burning calories, front squats also work your core muscles.
These are the muscles that you need to develop if you want those six-pack abs.
Even if your body fat percentage is still too high for your abs to be clearly visible, working on developing them now will benefit you in the long run as they’ll become visible quicker as your body fat levels drop.
Having a strong core is also beneficial for your overall health and fitness.
So, even if you aren’t training for defined abs, front squats are still a very worthwhile exercise to include in your workouts.
Can You Get A Six Pack Just From Front Squats?
While it may be possible to eventually get a six-pack just from front squats, it will certainly not be something that is quickly achieved.
Having a six-pack means having low body fat levels and developed abdominal muscles.
Front squats can assist with both of these factors but there are far more effective exercises to include in your workouts to help you reach your six-pack goals.
Your ab muscles will be a secondary muscle group being worked during front squats, so although they will be working, they won’t be the hardest working muscles in the movement.
To get as much development as possible, you’ll want your abs to be working hard during exercise sessions.
Are Front Squats Better Than Back Squats For Abs?
Both front squats and back squats engage your core muscles.
However, front squats involve having the weight placed on the front of the body rather than the back. This tends to move some of the load from your back muscles into your core muscles.
Having more load on your core muscles will make them work harder resulting in bigger gains in this area.
The difference may not be huge but every little adaptation in your workouts can make big differences down the line.
With this in mind, you could argue that front squats are slightly better than back squats for your abs.
- Front squats are good for abs because they work your core and can help you reduce fat.
- If you want to build a six-pack, you should do front squats alongside some ab-specific exercises.
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.