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Q: How often should you exercise your abs? ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: How often should you exercise your abs?
Category: Health > Fitness and Nutrition
Asked by: dawerm-ga
List Price: $29.50
Posted: 18 Oct 2006 15:16 PDT
Expires: 17 Nov 2006 14:16 PST
Question ID: 774827
I would like to know if training your abdominal muscles on a daily basis is: 

 * safe
 * effective
 * proper

Any conflicting views would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

All the best, 

Jake Berlin

Clarification of Question by dawerm-ga on 18 Oct 2006 15:17 PDT
if you find any research that may hold up for and\against daily
training, I would love to know about it.


Subject: Re: How often should you exercise your abs?
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 18 Oct 2006 22:32 PDT
Hello Jake,

   As with many things of this nature, I was able to find information,
both pro and con about daily ab training. However, my research showed
far more articles claiming that a day of recuperation is best after a
serious ab workout. Please check each web site link I have posted, for
complete information.

Cons - Daily workouts not necessary or useful

      ?2. You should train your abdominals every day for best results.
This belief goes hand-in-hand with the first myth. People believe
abdominal exercises can and should be performed daily to achieve
maximum effect. Abdominals can be overtrained just like any other body
part. Moreover, your abdominals are worked indirectly when you perform
many exercises such as tricep press-downs, let pull-downs or squats.
The goal should be to train your abdominals no more than twice a week.
If you do not see proper results, train more intensely or utilize
weighted abdominal exercises. Don't forget, if you have excess body
fat in this area, you will never see the muscle you have worked so
hard to build.?

   ?MYTH 3. You should train your abdominals every day for best results. 
? widely believed that the abdominals exercises can and should be
trained on a daily basis to achieve maximum effect. The fact is,
abdominals can be overtrained just like any other muscle group. Muscle
tissue is actually broken down during training, and therefore needs
adequate rest and recuperation in order to regenerate. When your abs
are trained too frequently, the recovery process is shortchanged,
resulting in diminished muscular development.

  Moreover, your abdominals are worked indirectly while training other
muscle groups. They are stabilizers for virtually every movement you
perform. Exercises such as triceps pressdowns, lat pulldowns, squats,
etc., heavily employ abdominal assistance. In effect, you get an ab
workout every time you train with weights! Considering these facts,
you need only train your abs a maximum two or three times per week. If
you do not see proper results, train more intensely and/or use
weighted abdominal exercises. Don't forget, if you have excess bodyfat
in this area, you will never see the muscle that you have worked so
hard to build!

   ?Take at least one day's rest in between any one muscle group (yes,
that includes abdominals as well). That 48 hour or more rest period
will help sore muscles recover and grow, allowing the right amount of
food and sleep. Any less rest, and you're doing your body more harm
than good. So something like upper body on Monday and Thursday, and
lower body on Tuesday and Friday is fine, since there are no
consecutive days of the same body parts in that split.?

   ?Train those Abs - Exercising the rectus abdominus and internal and
external obliques are actually quite simple, and they require no
specific apparatus. Don?t have to go to the gym here friends. Try
these on your bed at home; great cushioning in the bed. In our case
with the abdominals, we will use a combination of gravity and body
weight to be the resistance factor stressing the muscles, fatiguing
their energy stores, ultimately promoting growth and adaptation. Many
sport science experts including myself agree that training the
abdominals every other day provides substantial recuperation time.
Don?t do this
everyday!!!! The group consensus is to hit the floor on alternating
days exercising the mid-section using only body weight as the
resistance factor.?

   Can I work my abdominals everyday? - The abdominal muscles are one
of the major muscle groups and therefore should be trained on 2 to 3
non-consecutive days per week, similar to the other major muscle
groups. This recommendation is for a general exercise program.
Sometimes, specific exercises used for stabilization are recommended
daily by a physical therapist. If you are in physical therapy, it is a
good idea to discuss your entire program with both the physical
therapist and an exercise physiologist."

How much cardiovascular exercise is recommended? Per workout? Per week?
For general health benefits: The Surgeon General's Report recommends
that all children and adults set long term goals to "accumulate at
least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on
most, or preferably all, days of the week." Engaging in intermittent
or shorter bouts of activity (at least 10 minutes) as an alternative
to a single, longer bout is effective. Shorter bouts of activity,
including occupational, non-occupational, or tasks of daily living,
have cardiovascular and health benefits similar to moderate-intensity
continuous activity, if performed at a level of moderate intensity.

For cardio-respiratory benefits: The recommendation is 3-6 days per
week for 30-60 minutes per session of aerobic activity, such as
running, brisk walking, biking, or swimming. The RPE (Rate of
Perceived Exertion) should be 11-15 or within your target heart rate

   ?Initially, ab training should just consist of a couple to three
movements at the most, performed for 2-3 sets of as many good
concentrated repetitions as the person can do with his/her bodyweight.
As time goes by and one progresses, more sets can be added and
repetition parameters can also be manipulated by adding weights to
some exercises in order to target the fast twitch muscle fibers in the
abs and thus create a six pack with deeper groves in between. Adding
weight to abdominal exercises will not give you a bloated stomach

Principle #4: 
Unless you are training one day upper abs and the next day lower abs
(a very advanced technique), training abs every day will typically
lead to overtraining them.

While many advanced bodybuilders and figure girls can train their abs
every day for a short period of time in order to shock the body part,
this typically will lead to overtraining if continued for too long.
Therefore, unless you are doing upper abdominals one day and lower the
next, you are better off training your abdominals for no more than 20
minutes at a time, 3 times per week on alternating days, as in

   ?Training is the last factor. You must train your abs in order to
achieve tone in your muscle or in order to increase your muscle size
(if that is your goal!). There are a lot of myths surrounding
abdominal training. The most efficient way to train your abdominals is
every other day. You never want to train on consecutive days. You
abdominals are like every other muscle group. They tear when you train
them and require at least 48 hours in order to repair themselves and
become stronger. Never train your abdominals on two consecutive days.

   You should also familiarize yourself with the anatomy of the abs.
You should be doing at least one exercise to target each of the 4
major areas. The rectus abdominus (a separate exercise for the upper
and the lower), the obliques, and the transverse abdominus. Look at
the exercise on the board to get an example of what types of exercises
train which abdominals. As well take a look at the anatomy pictures
provided. The number of sets and repetitions is going to vary from
person to person. It depends on many factors. What is your current
fitness level? What is your current core strength? What are your

 A higher repetition range with little weight for toning the
abdominals would be optimal. A lower number of repetitions with higher
weight will help to increase muscle size. This, however, is a more
intermediate to advanced training method. You want to ensure that you
have a strong base before moving to more intense core training. This
will reduce any chances of injury. Please note, if you are a beginner,
the first and most important step is to perfect your form. After that
is accomplished, you can work on increasing your repetitions and
eventually add resistance (weight).?

Most fitness experts will tell you to do abdominal exercises every
other day. If they are not telling you this, you should question them
about it! The abdominal muscles are like every other muscle in the
body. They require adequate time to rest and repair, generally at
least 48 hours. It is during this repair time that they are actually
getting stronger. Make sure you give them the rest they need!!
Otherwise you will be overtraining and will not see the results you

   ?Choose exercises that bring you to muscle fatigue within 10-15
repetitions 2-3 times per week.  Treat the abdominal musculature just
as any other major muscle group when you strength-train it.  In order
for them to appear more muscular, thicker, and ?six-pack? like,
abdominals need to be challenged with resistance exercises.   At
first, just body weight may be all an individual needs in order to
challenge themselves, but eventually more weight or an advanced
version of the exercise will be needed for further gains.

As with all exercises, be sure to select ones that are appropriate for
your level and experiences.  Trying to perform advanced movements too
soon can not only increase your risk of injury, but also leave you
feeling unsuccessful in your attempts to improve.  Expensive gadgets
and video programs are not always necessary to improve upon your
abdominal fitness.?

Pros: For some sort of daily training:

   ?Can I work the abdominal muscles daily? - Make sure you train them
at least 3 - 5 days per week, with a daily workout being permissible.
Unlike other muscles, you rarely fatigue the abdominal muscles enough
so that they need an additional day to recover. This is because you
are always working with the weight of your torso, in a limited range
of motion, as compared to other exercises which may challenge the
muscles with progressively heavier resistance. In practice, it
actually makes sense to do some type of abdominal strengthening
exercise on a daily basis to try and counteract the excessive
tightening of your lower back muscles and hip flexors.

 Just because you may work the abdominals regularly, there should be
no fear that these muscles will get too big. In fact, the abdominals
are very thin muscles compared to other muscles, such as the deltoids,
gluteals, hamstrings, biceps, and quadriceps. So, unless you are
progressively overloading these muscles with additional external
resistance, such as ab machines, it is unlikely that the abs will
become ?too thick.?

   Bruce Lee believed in daily ab workouts: ?Black Belt magazine owner
Mito Uyehara recalls that "Bruce always felt that if your stomach was
not developed, then you had no business doing any hard sparring."
Lee's wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, claims her former husband "was a
fanatic about ab training. He was always doing sit-ups, crunches,
Roman chair movements, leg raises and V-ups."
According to some of Lee's early training notes, his daily abdominal
workout included:
?	Waist twists - four sets of 90 repetitions. 
?	Sit-up twists - four sets of 20 repetitions. 
?	Leg raises - four sets of 20 repetitions. 
?	Leaning twists - four sets of 50 repetitions. 
?	Frog kicks - four sets of 50 repetitions.

Additional Information:

   ?There is nothing unique about abdominal muscle as far as their
training and response to training is concerned. The principles that
apply to biceps and triceps apply equally to abs. So the three
critical elements of your ab workouts are: high intensity of muscular
overload progressive intensity from workout to workout proper spacing
of workouts to avoid overtraining or undertraining
Most people do sit-ups or crunches as an ab exercise. While these are
basically good exercises that can satisfy point 1, above, how many
people use them in a way that satisfies point 2?

Muscles will only develop in response to overload that is above
normal. So if you do 20 crunches every day for a year, why would your
ab muscles develop beyond that capacity? They won't. To force new
development you need to increase the intensity. You could add a few
crunches every day but that really just increases duration, there is a
better way to get fast results.?

   ?Contrary to popular belief, the best way to burn the layer of flab
from your midsection is not to do more abdominal exercise, but to do
more cardiovascular exercise. Aerobic exercise is the real secret to
burning fat. Walking, jogging, bicycling, elliptical exercise and
stair climbing are all great fat burners. Most people give up too
early in the workout. During the first 10 minutes of aerobic activity,
glycogen (stored carbohydrates) is the primary fuel source. If you
stop after 20 minutes, you?re only getting half of your workout done!
You get the cardiovascular health benefits, but you don?t get much fat
loss. Because you don?t burn significant amounts of fat until glycogen
stores are depleted, the key to maximum fat loss is to work out
aerobically for 30-60 minutes continuously per session. Don?t worry
though every workout should be easy, like strolling around the
shopping malls for an hour can be beneficial, although it would be
best if you try not to stop moving!?

?The final component of your abdominal fat-reducing program is
resistance training. It is important to train the entire body. Working
one muscle group to the exclusion of others is a common cause of
muscular imbalance. Building strong abdominals without also developing
the antagonistic spinal erectors of the lower back could easily lead
to injury. Many people are under the impression that they should only
do cardiovascular activities until the weight comes off, and then add
weight training later on. It?s true that weight training is an
anaerobic activity, so it burns more glycogen than body fat. However,
working out with weights will increase your lean body mass, which in
turn raises your resting metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism
is, the more fat you will burn! A complete program should always
include aerobic exercise and weight training for every muscle group.?

   I hope this has helped! If anything is unclear, please request an
Answer Clarfication, and allow me to respond, before you rate this
answer! Good Luck!

Sincerely, Crabcakes

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