If you want a six-pack, you might be inclined to spend hours a day working your abs. However, this is not an effective way to build core muscle strength. Instead, you need to rest adequately between workouts to help your muscles recover. Keep in mind that if you want a toned tummy, you need to do more than just core exercises. You also must also follow a calorie-controlled diet and participate in regular cardio exercise.
For the ideal effects, spend about three days per week exercising the abdominal muscles. According to the book “Strength Training for Women” by Lori Incledon, it's best to wait 48 hours between abdominal workouts. This rest period gives your ab muscles ample time to recover, especially if you worked them to fatigue. Overusing the muscles may lead to injury and decreases the effectiveness of your ab workouts.
Aim to spend 20 to 30 minutes on ab work in each session. This does not mean you need to sit on the floor and do hundreds of crunches. Instead, perform a mix of exercises that target both the upper and lower ab muscles. Incorporate yoga or Pilates sessions since both forms of exercise target the core.
Start out slowly when you work the abs. Aim for 10 to 15 reps for each exercise. Examples of exercises to add to your core workout routine include reverse crunches, planks, pelvic lifts, pelvic tilts and trunk twists. You can perform these exercises at home and do not require you to purchase any fitness equipment.
Although you may not get a six-pack with ab exercises alone, building core strength has its benefits. A strong core improves posture, reduces risk of lower back pain and decreases your chances of muscle injuries. Although ab muscles will not make fat disappear, it can reduce the appearance of fat for a more toned look.
- Strength Training for Women; Lori Incledon
- Harvard Medical School: The Real-World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core
- Spine Health: Five Ways to Keep Your Spine Healthy and Happy; Stephanie Burke