You Asked: Can You Train Your Abs Every Day?

6SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/5/2008 4:00 AM   :  50 comments

Who doesn't want six pack abs? Well REIGNWATER recently asked a great fitness question related to these muscles: "Does Pilates count as ab work? How often can it be done?"

Want to hear what I had to say?

First of all, it's important to know that the abdominals are just like any other muscle in your body. So when you strength train them to fatigue, they need a break. But let's be clear here. Fatigue is the key word. When you strength train to fatigue, that means you do enough reps that you cannot possibly do another one in good form, whether your working your abs or your biceps. Traditional strength training exercises for the abs and core, when done correctly, can lead to muscle fatigue. Therefore, you should allow the abs to rest and recover 1-2 days before you train them again.

But while mat Pilates is a form of strength training (it tones the muscles and increases strength, too), it's different. For one, you'll typically perform 10 reps of each exercise or fewer. The goal isn't to "fatigue" the muscles, either. Pilates is often described as "gentler" for this reason. Because Pilates does not work the muscles to fatigue, it is safe to do on back-to-back days without a break. If you are a beginner to Pilates, however, it can be extremely challenging and lead to fatigue and post-workout soreness. If you're new, it's best to rest and allow your body to recover 1-2 days before doing Pilates or abs exercises again in the week.

In general, I recommend that people train their abs, whether with traditional exercises like crunches or Pilates exercises, 2-4 times a week (allowing adequate rest days if necessary). This is simply because I don't think doing any one form of exercise every day is ever ideal—even if it is "safe." I think people tend to focus on the abs a little too much (they're working all the time, whether you're running or strength training) at the expense of other muscles, such as the lower back (which you should train every time you do the abs).

Need answers to your fitness questions? Post in the comments below and I just may answer your question in a future entry!


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Comments

  • 50
    Yeah I remember those days well.. haven't felt soreness in my muscles since I had my last child Cesarean. I hope to have those feelings again but not at the cost of a poor lower back.. easing into it will be my best option... - 1/29/2014   12:17:00 AM
  • STAYFIT16
    49
    Just make sure you don't work them too hard. Eventually your body will adapt, but otherwise, make sure that you don't hurt yourself by working tired muscles. I'd say start with larger intervals, and then upgrade it to daily. For your calves, running is not a bad thing.For more information about Health visit stayfitnutrition website. - 4/24/2012   5:19:20 AM
  • STACIBUK
    48
    next topic should be pilates vs yoga - 6/1/2011   9:13:12 AM
  • 47
    Hi, if anyone has some advice for someone with a HUGE jelly belly...this all came on with middle age...where do I start??? - 10/31/2010   11:15:27 PM
  • ETHELMERZ
    46
    I wonder if we will be doing these moves when we are in assisted living?? - 10/28/2010   10:17:08 PM
  • 45
    What kind of pilates does the writer do exactly? When I take a class or a lesson I work till my abs are really fatigued. Pilates is suppose to be hard work for your abs, not gentler. - 8/18/2010   8:56:42 AM
  • 44
    HI! I'd like to know? Do those 'cut abs' look that way if your NOT tightened up or sucking in? I've had major surgery on my abdomin and have a huge scar that leaves me slightly disfigured and the muscle on that side is never the same level of 'flat' unless I keep it sucked in. It doesn't help either that I've lost so much weight that I have what my Dr termed, "redundant" fat? She thinks I would have to have lipo & tummy tuck to get cut abs. I just wondered if everyone kept theirs "sucked in" to look that way? - 6/7/2010   11:26:59 AM
  • 43
    I work my abs/core to near fatigue 5-6 days per week. I've been following this schedule for over a year, and my abs have never looked better or been this flat. My posture has also improved, and I just feel stronger overall.

    I wanted to add, too, that I've never had children but I sympathize with all you mothers. - 6/4/2010   9:22:38 AM
  • 42
    Now I can train my abs without feeling cramps for days, I think that's an improvement. I just need to be more patience to see the result of more toned, stronger abs/core! - 5/31/2010   4:25:39 AM
  • 41
    Is there any such thing as fast pace pilates? - 2/19/2009   11:37:54 PM
  • KATIE_59
    40
    That's a good question. I love Pilates and would easily do them every day. I love how lean I get, even after just a couple of weeks! Good to know that doing them most days isn't going to hurt me. - 2/5/2009   11:48:43 PM
  • 39
    I want tighter abs also. I do not train to fatigue but I do walk holding them in and try to remember to hold them in while exercising. I do see a cut waist now. Keep with the suggestions. Knowing that everything does not work for everyone. I will try it and and see what works. - 12/9/2008   10:00:06 AM
  • 38
    I generally work my abs in sections. Abs, obliques and back. So when I do actually end up working them to fatigue I have 1-2 days before I am back in that area. if I do not work them to fatigue I use them as time filler when I am at the gym waiting on equipment.
    I have in the past been told that its ok to work abs and calves every day. They get used so much that the body repairs them first.
    - 9/9/2008   4:36:25 PM
  • LOSETHEJIGGLE
    37
    I've heard conflicting views on this. Great info to explain it a little. - 9/8/2008   8:54:51 PM
  • RENA1965
    36
    I carried alot of weight and had two kids, so had to have a extreme tummy tuck to remove 35 cms of skin. Most important thing with this operation you have to be 100% sure you can hold your weight at steady state. It has taken a while to get great abs but I use the every other day principle to train. I have a whole section to my stomach and it has shaved a extra 5 cms just with training off my waist just training while my weight stays steady.
    I don't like that AB coaster unless you have a huge amount of core strength (good upper body body and lower back strength control) it can feel really unsafe. I used the torso machine and Ab machine to build up strength and then ventured out into stuff more unstable equipment that requires total body control.. - 9/7/2008   11:37:38 PM
  • 35
    Has anybody tried the Abs Coaster? - 9/7/2008   10:23:06 PM
  • 34
    As a fitness trainer, I tell people to train the abs every other day. The article was spot on. We teach them to train every other muscle group every other day, the abs are no different. People use to be taught to do them every day, but the studies showed to do them every other day a few years back, and so people are now taught (and teach others) to do them every other day.

    Ms. Novia-bicycle crunches are one of the best ab exercises, as well as ball passes (lay on your back put a stability ball between your feet, lifting your legs up and shoulders off the floor, grab the ball, lower the legs until you feel the abs engage, and lower the shoulders while holding the ball, then lift the legs and shoulders back up and pass the ball back to the legs, lower the legs and arms and repeat)-it is probably on a video on SP, if not, hopefully they will add it :) - 9/7/2008   2:44:51 PM
  • GOAL142
    33
    I have had 5 children, two of which were over 9 lbs and 23 inches long. My abs are a mess! My doctor told me, as in some of the other comments, that my ab muscles were stretched and displaced and I would probably need surgery to correct. I refuse to beleive this. I have been to other doctors as well as two chiropractors and never was recommended for this surgery. So my question is this: Can "displaced" or "seperated" abs come back together with proper excercise? I'm not necessarily looking for a 6-pack here, just would like to not look pregnant anymore! - 9/7/2008   2:30:52 PM
  • 32
    I was lead to believe from every trainer I've every talked to that you can work your abs everyday because it is the only muscle that forgets, so thats what I do.

    I would like to make a suggestion. I would like to see more numbers under the walk category I always seem to walk in between wants listed. - 9/7/2008   2:30:02 PM
  • 31
    I'm 36 & I've had lower back surgery 3 years ago. I have a hard time doing exercises. Especially things on the floor. I want better abs what would you suggest in toning my abs? Thank you. - 9/7/2008   11:39:49 AM
  • NIKKIH1975
    30
    lovesweets2,
    I understand your pain. I had damage done to my stomach when I had my eldest child. I even had my doctor tell me that I can do a thousand sit ups and it would not make a difference. That was frustrating to hear. So its like when you do crunches all you think bout is what the doctor said about trying to get a smaller tummy is pointless. - 9/7/2008   9:33:17 AM
  • 29
    To sauna or not to sauna?That is the question. I'm very confused. I went to the gym a while a go and after each session I went to do sauna(3 times/week) and after that I waf feeling great. Now, I started going to another gym and they told me I shouldn't do sauna no more 'cause is bad for me. So, which is it? Is sauna good for people or not?! - 9/7/2008   3:27:14 AM
  • 28
    I love reading all the comments. I try doing abs every day, but I don't see a difference. I see more of a difference by doing cardio every day and holding in my stomach as I exercise. - 9/6/2008   10:23:20 PM
  • 27
    I sort of have the same question as "magickhapns" I never had to worry about my stomach before my daughter was born 16 years ago. I naturally had a 6 pack. Now because of the c-section my abs are out of control. I still look like I am pregnant. I have done sit-ups until I am blue in the fact and then I just give up. I need to know what ab exercise I can do that will tighten up my flabby abs - 9/6/2008   12:55:55 PM
  • 26
    What would happen if you do them everyday? - 9/6/2008   11:10:13 AM
  • 25
    I had a baby 16 months ago, the delivery ended in an emergency C-section. Now I have been left with what is called a "split abdominal rectus muscle". It took a long time to recover. Although I work my abs often, they get to the point of fatigue quite quickly, I'm still left with this problem and I still look six months pregnant. I'm not clear on what exercises are best in correcting this and wonder if I'm doing more harm than good. Any suggestions? - 9/6/2008   9:28:54 AM
  • 24
    I have a Wii Fit, and I adore the exercises there, especially since in order to unlock more challenging exercises, you have to work out a certain amount before you can access them. This keeps me from doing them all and burning out.

    The question that I have though, is are those exercises safe to do everyday? What would be the best way to create an exercise program using the Wii Fit to lose weight? Are there any exercises that are on the Wii Fit that should be avoided or only done a certain amount of time per week?

    Thanks for the help!! - 9/6/2008   6:39:02 AM
  • 23
    Thank you for this article we can learn a lot just by reading. - 9/6/2008   5:37:24 AM
  • 22
    I would like to see an article done on the stability ball 'chairs' you see at places like Target. How practical are they, how long can you be at the computer on them, are they a fad trend? - 9/6/2008   3:43:11 AM
  • CHIPDANIEL
    21
    i always thought it was cool to do that everyday - 9/6/2008   3:29:47 AM
  • 20
    I have no idea which one is better:pilates or yoga.Perhaps Nicole can solve this "problem" :))) - 9/6/2008   2:34:40 AM
  • 19
    This questions comes up often on our Crunches team. It's nice to finally see an official answer from Spark on this issue! - 9/6/2008   1:09:29 AM
  • 18
    I think they should double COACH NICOLE'S salary!! - 9/6/2008   12:07:18 AM
  • 17
    Thanks for all the great info, I took a lot from the article. - 9/5/2008   11:27:53 PM
  • 16
    Really great info. I never considered Pilates but this may change my mind. - 9/5/2008   10:28:52 PM
  • 15
    Great info. - 9/5/2008   9:07:20 PM
  • JAZZERCISEGENIE
    14
    I usually do abs everyday. I exercise everyday and really don't give my body a rest. Could be why I am falling apart. I am 63 and exercising and eating healthy is one way I am trying not to be dependant on my kids for my life. - 9/5/2008   7:41:52 PM
  • 13
    Multatuli, not to say that your trainer isn't educated, but the Hamstrings (3 muscles), Quadriceps (4 muscles), Rotator Cuff (3 muscles), etc. are all muscle groups...you can't work those on back to back days! Like Nicole put it, if you are working to fatigue, it's probably wise to give the body (in this case, abs) rest. Overtraining only will be a set back in the long run! - 9/5/2008   7:22:02 PM
  • DORIANRW
    12
    I've heard that it's okay to work abs everyday, but what you say about muscle fatigue makes a lot of sense. - 9/5/2008   6:51:54 PM
  • 11
    Good to know and great information. - 9/5/2008   6:22:16 PM
  • 10
    I try to do different core and either upper body or lower body everyday I alternate between them. Seems to me my abs get worked no matter what I do. Thanks for the info now I can add them to my plan. - 9/5/2008   5:53:34 PM
  • 9
    I understand there are different answers to this question, but do you know what the best ab exercise is??? Please let me know, I have tried a lot of things and the abs are stubborn..Help!! - 9/5/2008   5:09:23 PM
  • 8
    I would say it's ok to exercise your abs every day but I don't do that myself. My other exercises actually activate my core a lot more than doing simple crunches so it's not a big deal to me. - 9/5/2008   4:07:15 PM
  • MOTOMOJO
    7
    You don't work out other muscle groups every day... and Abs are no different. - 9/5/2008   3:08:18 PM
  • 6
    I have heard conflicting arguments for this for what seems like years! I work until I'm fatigued, so I definitely need the rest! But I also do pilates twice a week and I don't usually count that because I move quickly from exercise to exercise. So it all depends on how you feel. Your abs are certainly working constantly! - 9/5/2008   2:11:47 PM
  • GONZO.SPIRAL
    5
    I do ab training everyday simply because it's part of my schedule-- and I don't work them to fatigue. Just a nice, quick crunch routine. And of course I do lower back excercises -every time-. - 9/5/2008   1:50:59 PM
  • 4
    Hmmm, my personal trainer (Master's in exercise physiology) says that because the abs are actually a series of muscles, they can be trained every day, no matter what, not just with Pilates. Not that I do ab work every day :-) - 9/5/2008   1:33:25 PM
  • CRICKETRO
    3
    Yup, I already knew that :) - 9/5/2008   1:06:38 PM
  • 2
    Good to know!
    I'm anxious about getting my belly flat and am often eager to do some kind of ab work.
    I love pilates for the lengthening abilities. I always feel so much taller after a session with my DVD! I look forward to taking classes in the near future!

    I love this blog! - 9/5/2008   12:52:58 PM
  • 1
    I had no idea that you shouldn't do abs everyday.....Thanks!! - 9/1/2008   8:38:39 PM

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