If you want six-pack abs you’ve got to use a good strategy to get them. One part of your strategy will be the intensity and frequency that you choose for strength-training exercises. Doing 100 crunches a day is not the best approach. In fact, daily ab workouts will actually make it harder to attain your goal.
Common Training Myth
Common gym folklore says that your ab and low back muscles are “endurance” muscles that can be trained daily. However, your abdominal muscles really do not have different physical properties than the other muscles in your body. That means you should only train them -- at a maximum -- once every 48 hours. Abdominals have endurance qualities because they are required for daily activity, but high-resistance exercises build the size of your ab muscles more effectively.
How Your Muscles Grow
When you train your abs you create microscopic tears in your muscles and connective tissues. This prompts your body to produce new muscle proteins, which is what leads to increased strength and muscle growth that occurs when you are sleeping. It takes approximately 72 hours to rebuild muscle tissue after an intense workout.
When you do abdominal workouts every day you risk overtraining your muscles. Overtraining causes a reduction in the synthesis of muscle proteins along with an increased rate of protein degradation in your muscles. This produces the opposite effect you seek in training and leaves you more vulnerable to injury.
In lieu of daily training, you need a good strength training routine, a proper nutrition regimen and a good cardiovascular fitness plan. In fact, diet is at least as important as how often and how hard you exercise because you need to remove the fat that covers your abdominal muscles. As for specific abdominal exercises, bicycle crunches and captain's chair are the top two top ab exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise.
- Strength Training for Women; Lori Incledon
- Atomic Fitness; Steve Michalik
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- Exercise Physiology, Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance; William McArdle, et al.