A Surprisingly Killer Exercise for Rock
Hard Abs and a Strong Core
by Mike Geary
Most of the time when people think of
abdominal exercises, they think of crunches, sit ups, hanging
leg raises, and other various abdominal exercises that you do
either on the floor or in a hanging position. But what if I
told you that one of the most effective exercises for building
chiseled abs and a strong core is actually done in a standing
position and is thought of by most as "just a leg exercise?"
Well, it's certainly more than just a leg exercise! The
exercise that I'm about to show you requires significant full
body tension from head to toe while performing it. Therefore
it not only blasts the legs, but also produces a solid, rock
hard midsection. So what exactly am I speaking of?
Front Squats, my friend!
||Now most of you I'm
sure are quite familiar with back squats (where the
barbell rests behind your head on your upper back while
squatting), but most people have never tried the more
difficult cousin of the back squat - the front squat. And
by the way, even fewer people have ever tried the
extremely difficult 2nd cousin - the overhead squat (but
we can cover overhead squats in a future article).
squats, the difference is that you support the weight in front
of your body on your shoulders while squatting. Now something
interesting happens by shifting the load to the front of your
body - It forces you into a more upright posture during the
squats when compared to traditional back squats. In order for
you to be able to handle the weight in this front-loaded
position, your abs and core need to stay rock-hard to
stabilize your body throughout the entire movement.
When I teach front squats to new clients, they are always
amazed at how much they feel it in their abs after doing a
couple of sets. Personally, if I haven't done front squats for
a couple of months and then add them back into my routine, my
abs actually feel some pretty good soreness after the first
couple front squat sessions.
One of the great things about front squats is that regular
practice of them tends to improve your form on your back
squat. In fact, some of the top strength coaches in the world
teach their athletes front squats and overhead squats before
ever introducing them to back squats. This tends to teach
athletes a much better squatting form as it is virtually
impossible to cheat in front squats or overhead squats or else
you might lose the bar (contrary to the poor back-squatting
form you see all the time in gyms and related back injuries it
Let's get to the details on exactly how to perform the front
squat properly. This can be a little tricky to learn, but it
is well worth it. If you are only accustomed to performing
back squats, it will take you a few sessions to become
comfortable with front squats, so start out light. After a
couple sessions of practice, you will start to feel the groove
and be able to increase the poundage. Eventually, some of the
best front squatters can work up to about 85-90% of their back
squat weight for any given number of reps.
To perform front squats:
One of the tricky things with learning front squats is finding
which method of supporting the bar on the front of the
shoulders is most comfortable. There are two basic ways to
rest the bar on the front of the shoulders.
In the first method, you step under the bar and cross your
forearms into an "X" position while resting the bar on the
dimple that is created by the shoulder muscle near the bone,
keeping your elbows up high so that your arms are parallel to
the ground. You then hold the bar in place by pressing the
thumb side of your fists against the bar for support.
Alternatively, you can hold the bar by placing your palms face
up and the bar resting on your shoulders against the tips of
your fingers. For both methods, your elbows must stay up high
to prevent the weight from falling. Your upper arms should
stay parallel to the ground throughout the squat. Find out
which bar support method is more comfortable for you. From
experience, I've found that the majority of people find the
first method more comfortable (pictured below).
Once you've got the bar positioned in front of the body on the
shoulders, initiate the squat from your hips by sitting back
and down keeping the weight on your heels as opposed to the
balls of your feet. Squat down to a position where your thighs
are approximately parallel to the ground, and then press back
up to the starting position. Think of squatting back and down,
instead of simply squatting down. Keeping your weight more
towards your heels is the key factor in squatting to protect
your knees and develop strong injury resistant knee joints.
Keep in mind – it's a myth that squats damage the knees. On
the contrary, squats done correctly actually strengthen the
knees; squats done incorrectly can damage the knees. Practice
first with an un-weighted bar or a relatively light weight to
learn the movement before starting to pile on the weights.
Most people are surprised at how hard this exercise works your
abs once you learn the correct form.
|There you have it!
Give fronts squats a try and you'll be working your abs
and core VERY hard and from a totally different angle than
you are probably used to
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Mike Geary is a fitness coach, nationally certified
personal trainer (CPT), the author of the
internationally popular book -
Truth about Six Pack Abs, and a contributing writer
for Weider Publications, which publishes Men's Fitness,
Muscle & Fitness Magazine, and others.
here to read more on
The Truth about Six Pack Abs