It's conventional fitness wisdom to avoid training the same muscle group two days in a row, which is why lots of people talk about doing "leg days," "arm days," "glute days," and so on. Yet, it seems like this practice doesn't quite extend to that all-important central muscle group: your abs. Core and ab workouts don't require a lot of equipment or time to be effective, which is why many of us will tack on a plank or some leg lifts at the end of our workout just to get that extra bit of burn (and bring us a little closer to a six-pack). But should you really be training your abs every single day?
Trainers Don't Recommend Daily Ab Workouts
"There seems to be a misconception that more is always better with abdominal training," said Lee Wratislaw, NASM, a GOLD'S AMP certified personal trainer at Gold's Gym. "You need to give the abdominal muscles time to recover, as you would other muscles of the body." Lee recommended doing ab-specific workouts just two to three times a week. Doesn't seem like enough? Remember that your abs are working in just about every kind of exercise you do, from cardio to weightlifting moves like squats and deadlifts, as long as you're engaging your core properly.
Evan Metzger, ACE, a trainer at Be Fitness in Delafield, WI, told POPSUGAR that the frequency of your ab workouts is much less important than the types of exercises you're doing. Diversifying your moves to hit different parts of your core on different days will make you strong and stable throughout your midsection. "Your core is always being used when you're exercising, so focusing on different aspects of it on different days could be beneficial," Evan explained. For example, you could do rotational exercises, like medicine ball side rotationsor Russian twists on one day; work on stability with a farmer's carry or overhead weighted carries on the next; then tackle extension movements like sit-ups or back extensions.
Warm Up Your Abs Before Every Workout
Still, it's not a bad idea to warm up your abs before a workout, whether it's cardio or weight training. "That's actually ideal," said Ashleigh Kast, NASM, a certified personal trainer at Perfomix House and coach at Ladder. She recommended doing some planks, side planks, or hollow holds before a workout. "It brings the focus back to that very important part of your body and gets you ready to move or lift with integrity," she told POPSUGAR. These are the four moves we recommend to activate your core and get your body ready for a workout.
If you're doing it right, you should be engaging your core in every workout and every exercise you do, so there's no need to do an ab-specific workout every single day. Doing warmup moves that engage your core, like plank walkouts and body saws, and completing two or three ab-focused workouts a week will strengthen your ab and core muscles without risking injury.