- Nate Feliciano, CFSC, CES, owner and head of training at Studio 16
First, a refresher on which muscles make up your abs
Before diving into how often to work your abs, it may be helpful to know which specific muscles your abs include. Here's a breakdown, according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Rectus abdominis: Sometimes called your "six-pack," this pair of muscles span from the middle of your abdomen to your ribs to the front of your pelvis. They hold your internal organs in place and stabilize your body when you move.
- Transversus abdominis: The deepest abs muscle that stabilizes your trunk.
- External obliques: A pair of muscles on either side of your torso that allow your trunk to rotate.
- Internal obliques: A pair of muscles underneath your external obliques that allow your trunk to rotate.
- Pyramidalis: A muscle located in your pelvis that helps maintain your abdomen's internal pressure.
Should you do abs exercises every day?
There's really no need for doing daily ab workouts, according to Feliciano. The most important thing to remember about working your abs is that they should be treated like other muscles in the body.
"Your abs shouldn’t be trained to the point of extreme exhaustion each day. It becomes dangerous or counter-productive if you’re still training abs while you’re sore," Feliciano says. "Other muscles like your lower back will end up doing most of the work during ab exercises when you’re sore, and that will increase the risk of injury."
So, how often should you train your abs?
While Feliciano doesn't advise doing a heavy core workout every day that's only going to do more harm than good, there is a way you can train your abs on a daily basis without any negative consequences. Doing just a little core work each time you work out is totally fine.
"If you’re going to the gym two to three times per week, I suggest doing 5 to 10 minutes of ab or core work during your workout. Then, give yourself a day of rest in between workout days," he says.
Yes, your abs need time to recover just like the rest of your body.
Now, a few minutes of ab exercises a few times a week might seem like nothing compared to what you've been doing. But the reason why your abs require little workout time is because when you're working out regularly, you're probably already working your core enough without even realizing it.
"Many exercises you do in your other workouts will be training the core as well, so you don’t need to do abs or core for too long at the end of your workout," he says.
Plus, by cross-training and not just limiting yourself to one ab workout after another, you'll always be challenging yourself, won't plateau or overwork your body, and will never get bored of your routine.
Aside from limiting your ab-focused workouts, you can also switch up your exercises day-to-day by focusing on different parts of your core.
Split it up by doing obliques (the muscles on the sides of your torso) and serratus anterior (the muscle that wraps around your rib cage) one one day, and then lower abs and upper abs another day, Feliciano suggests.
"And always do them after your workout, because you don’t want to exhaust your core before doing other exercises."
Sometimes less is more, and when it comes to your abs, that's definitely true.
“Your abs shouldn’t be trained to the point of extreme exhaustion each day. It becomes dangerous or counter-productive if you’re still training abs while you’re sore.” —Nate Feliciano, CFSC, CES
The best ab workouts to add to your routine
1. 10-minute core workout
2. 15-minute lower abs Pilates workout
3. 12-minute deep core Pilates workout
1. What happens if you do abs every day?
Your abs won't be able to properly recover if you work them every day. Overtraining these muscles when they're sore can lead to fatigue and potential injury.
2. How often should you do abs?
The recommended frequency of abs exercises is to give yourself at least one rest day in between each abs session so your muscles have the chance to recover. Feliciano recommends doing 5 to 10 minutes of core work two to three times a week.
3. Can you overwork your abs?
The short answer: yes. Your abs function just like every other muscle in your body. If you work out any specific muscle too much, you can risk getting injured and having your body break itself down instead of building muscle.
Loading More Posts...