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How Often Can I Train My Abs?

by
author image Judy Bruen
Judy Bruen is a private certified personal trainer and wellness coach. She holds dual master's degrees from Boston College in clinical social work and pastoral ministry. She currently works with individuals on fitness, health and lifestyle goals.
How Often Can I Train My Abs?
Rest a day in between abdominal training. Photo Credit Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Strengthening and toning your abs requires no more or no less effort than any other muscular group in the body. The American Council on Exercise recommends resting a day in between abdominal workouts to allow for muscular recovery and growth. Over-training or doing abdominal routines several days in a row may contribute to burnout or injury. Doing two to three abdominal strength training sessions each week will help build muscle and tone the stomach.

Muscular Anatomy of the Abs

How Often Can I Train My Abs?
The transversus abdominus is responsible for abdominal compression. Photo Credit matthewennisphotography/iStock/Getty Images

The rectus abdominus runs vertically down the front of the abs and laterally flexes the trunk. The external and internal obliques laterally flex the trunk and are on both sides of the abs. The transverse abdominus runs the width of the lower abdomen and is responsible for abdominal compression.

Optimal Repetitions

How Often Can I Train My Abs?
Form and execution are as important as frequency. Photo Credit Andrey Popov/iStock/Getty Images

Form and execution are equally as important as frequency of abdominal training. Performing more than 25 repetitions of an abdominal exercise is too many and indicates that either your form is incorrect or that you are overcompensating with other muscles or momentum. Check your speed and form if this happens during your routine. Consult with a personal trainer if you are unsure of your form or for individual exercise guidance.

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Abdominal Exercise Variation

How Often Can I Train My Abs?
Exercise variation is important to developing strong abdominal muscles. Photo Credit LuminaStock/iStock/Getty Images

Exercise variation is key to developing strong abdominal muscles. Training the same abdominal muscles each session may lead to a plateau and stall your muscular development and gains. Switching the abdominal exercises and focusing on different muscles will ensure you are not over-training a certain area during your bi-weekly workouts. For example, bent-knee sit-ups and pelvic tilts strengthen the rectus abdominus, while twisting bent-knee pushups and curlups strengthen the obliques. Performing an isometric exercise, such as the plank, strengthens the transverse abdominus.

Importance of Recovery

How Often Can I Train My Abs?
It is important to make sure your muscles have recovered before you engage in another abdominal workout. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Abdominal strength training causes microscopic tears in your stomach muscles' fibers. ACE recommends waiting 48 hours in between strength-training routines to allow proper time for the tears to heal and rebuild as stronger muscle fibers. Exercising your abdominal muscles before the recovery period is over may injure your muscles and hinder your efforts.

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