What Can Squats Do for Your Abs?
We all know that squats can get you a bootylicious backside and celebs like Beyonce swear by them, but many don’t know what they can do for a saggy midsection. For many women, especially those who have had children, getting your abdominals in fighting form isn’t always easy. Just focusing on crunches and abdominal-specific workouts will help to strengthen the abs, but incorporating squats can do wonders as well.
When you perform a squat, you'll find that it’s not just one muscle feeling the burn. The primary muscles targeted during a squat are the quadriceps and the hamstrings. These two large muscle groups are located in your thighs. The gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your butt, is also a primary muscle that is targeted during a squat. You’ll also feel the burn in secondary muscles such as the calf muscles, abdominals, lower-back muscles, obliques and the smaller butt muscles -- the gluteus medius and minimus.
Strengthen and Tone
During a properly initiated squat the muscles of the rectus abdominis and obliques contract to aid in proper alignment of the back. Basically, tightening your ab muscles will help you maintain a straight back while performing a squat. Engaging the abdominals throughout the squat movement will strengthen and tone your ab muscles.
Another added benefit to squatting like a duck -- you’ll increase stabilization of the core muscles, increasing your coordination and giving you better balance. The core muscles are not just the abdominal muscles, but also include the obliques, back muscles and the muscles of the butt and pelvis, according the Harvard Health Publications. This girdle of muscles links the upper and lower body, acting as a synergistic balance helping you with daily movements like reaching to pull cereal down for the kiddos in the morning or bending over to pick up a basket full of laundry. A strong core also helps to prevent back injuries and improves your posture.
Toning the ab muscles alone won’t get you a six pack, but losing fat around your midsection will help to show them off. As women age, and after having babies, they tend to see a loss in muscle tone and an increase in fat. But squats are nicknamed the king of all exercises because they aid in building muscle mass over your entire body. The more muscle you gain, the better off your metabolism is. If you’re carrying some extra fat around your midsection, a faster metabolism will help to burn off those pesky fat cells, allowing those beautifully toned muscles to show through.
Squats are not easy to perform. To avoid injury and to get the most out of this exercise, you have to perform them correctly. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your toes pointed forward. Stand keeping your back straight and extend the arms out in front, keeping them level with your shoulders. Lift your chest and make sure your shoulders are not raised. Tighten your abdominals and push the hips back as you descend into the squat position. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor, making sure the knees are not bent over the toes. Hold this position for a count of three then return to the standing position. Repeat the squat for 12 to 15 reps.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.