In 2015 it emerged that to get in shape for his upcoming film “Southpaw” Jake Gyllenhaal performed 2,000 sit-ups every day. But compared to international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo – who apparently performs 3,000 a day, Jake is being positively lazy!
The question isn’t CAN you work out abs every day, it is SHOULD you?
The abdominal muscles are situated between the thorax and the pelvis and their main function is a protection of the organs.
The purpose of strengthening your abdomen is to reduce the risk of back pain, improve your strength and power, it can improve your sporting performance, and there is also the benefits of strong abdominals being desirable.
The most effective way to get a six pack is to combine exercise with a calorie controlled diet, this will help you lose body fat from around your abdomen and strengthen the muscles at the same time. The purpose of this article is to explore whether working abs every day is a good idea or not.
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Can you Work out ABS Every Day?
Technically it is possible to workout abs every day but it probably isn’t advisable. Depending on what your goals are, it is unlikely that dedicating 365 days per year to abdominal workouts is necessary. If you are an elite athlete then you may be able to handle the volume, but a regular gym goer would not.
If you exercise a muscle group nonstop without adequate rest and recovery you are going to be heading for an overuse injury. This is where a repeated, low impact movement can lead to injury. So how is it that celebrities and athletes can manage it?
Well, for the same reason that Usain Bolt can run faster than you. We’re looking at the best athletes on the planet here. While movie stars get the best team surrounding them while training.
If you are in good shape and you manage to keep your volume at the right level it should be possible for you to train abs every day, but not to the same extent. Performing three sets of ten crunches every morning will be absolutely fine for most people.
How Often Should I Train ABS?
You would get the best results from training abs two or three times per week, this way you will get enough volume for hypertrophy to occur, without risking overtraining. At first, it can take a few days to recover from an ab workout. You may find that sore abs can prevent you from performing other exercises too.
Squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, even bench presses can become difficult when your abs are fatigued. So if you are in the first week or so of training you might want to allow an extra day’s rest between training abs and training any other muscle.
How Many Crunches Should I do if I Want a Six-Pack?
This is a tough question to answer, there are many who will say that the number of crunches that you do is irrelevant. It’s all about your diet. But this is only half true. While creating a calorie deficit is the number one way to lose body fat and reveal your abs, you still need to build those muscles.
Adding a few sets of high rep ab exercises to the end of a workout three times per week should be sufficient. Three sets of crunches one day, some ab rollouts the next, and you can add in exercises such as planks too (though these aren’t great for increasing ab size).
Is it Safe to Train ABS Every Day?
A lot of personal trainers tell their clients to avoid sit-ups and crunches as they compress the spine, while this may seem like one of those “better safe than sorry” approaches in this instance it is incorrect.
Not only are ab exercises safe when performed correctly, studies have shown that they can have many benefits for sportspeople and regular gym goers.
It’s funny how crunches and sit-ups get so much bad press about their “dangers” while other exercises that have a much higher injury rate (such as running, sport, powerlifting, and cross fit) get a free pass. Part of the problem is that so many people perform ab exercises with poor form, perform any exercise badly and it can cause injury. That doesn’t make the exercise a bad choice though.
What is the Best AB Workout for a Six-Pack?
The best ab workout doesn’t come alone, it comes as part of a fantastic, full-body workout.
If you want a flat stomach and a six pack, then you can’t just spend your entire session working your abs. You need to work your upper body and your lower body, and then focus on your core at the end.
You want lots of compound movements that work lots of muscle groups as these are fantastic for strengthening your core. An exercise such as the deadlift may not appear to work your core at all, but it will make a huge difference, same goes with squats, pull-ups, dips, and almost any exercise that involves balance.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid ab specific exercises though, because targeting the abs directly when combined with the aforementioned compound movements is the best way to get results. Bret Contreras, writing for T-Nation outlined the best exercises for the different muscles that make up the core.
Bret got these answers by using an EMG to measure how much the muscles were stimulated by different exercises. The ones mentioned above were the best. As you can see there are a few exercises that you wouldn’t consider as an ab exercise such as chin ups or reverse hyperextensions. There are also a lot of ab specific exercises such as ab wheel rollouts.
What you could do is follow an upper body/ lower body split. Where you train your chest, back, arms, and shoulders on one day, and your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves on the other. You could add in a couple of ab exercises at the end of each session, this way you would be training abs every day but wouldn’t be overdoing things.
What About Diet?
There’s no point training abs every day if your diet is bad. While it is possible to out-train a bad diet, it certainly isn’t recommended. Finding a diet that works for you will make your six pack dreams a lot easier to attain. For most people, getting a six pack will require losing some fat from around your abdomen. To do this you need to create a calorie deficit.
This involves consuming fewer calories than you expend each day. Think of calories as a form of energy currency and your body is a bank account. If you were to spend more money each day than you were earning your bank account would become smaller and smaller. If you earned more money than you spent then your bank account would get bigger.
Where people make a mistake is that they try to be too drastic, they try to spend lots of money each day (exercise) while earning as little as possible (extreme diets). This can cause lots of problems and usually ends up with the person fatigued, fed up, and waiting in line for a Big Mac.
But if you wanted to lower your bank account slowly, spending $1 more than you earned each day, you would eventually hit your goals. It’s the same with dieting. Create a small calorie deficit by increasing activity (exercise) and lowering calories (diet). Then be patient, and you will soon see the fat reduce as that deficit does its work.
One thing that you should ensure is that no matter how low your calories get, your protein intake should still be high. This is because protein is needed to preserve muscle during a diet. So think about purchasing some protein shakes, adding some lean meats, fish, or if you’re vegetarian or vegan look at some non-meat options.
Can you train abs every day? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. The idea that training abs every day will get you better results than a more strategic approach needs to end.
Diet, training volume, perfect form, and patience are the best things that you need if you want a six-pack. So long as all of these factors are accounted for you could train abs every day without injury, but you would also get amazing results if you only trained them 3 times per week.