Warm up before you work out to prepare your body for the impending challenge, even if that challenge is isolated to one muscle group. A warmer body is better able to execute the moves and is less likely to be injured as you crunch, twist, plank and stabilize. An ab workout that involves dynamic moves, such as hanging leg raises, or weighted moves, such as kneeling cable crunches, only invites injury if you're not warmed up. Even if you're staying close to the floor for crunches and sit-ups, an ab warm-up is prudent.
Warming up before your ab workout, or before any workout, is the smart thing to do. A warm-up gets your blood flowing to the muscles you'll be exerting.
Warm-up exercises increase blood flow to muscles and loosens your joints so you have more range of motion, explains ExRx.net. It also helps you create a better connection between your mind and body — so you're more likely to execute the exercises correctly and effectively. You may even burn a few extra calories because you've increased your core body temperature with the warm-up. This slightly higher body temperature makes the muscles more ready for action.
Multiple muscles assist and stabilize when you do ab-centric moves. Small muscles located in the middle and lower back, back of the neck, the hips and even the thighs engage. A warm-up prior to ab exercises prepares these areas, as well as your abs, for activity.
Getting your back ready to move is critical too. Your back moves in six directions: lateral flexion, or side bending, twists and forward bends. Move it in all these directions to prepare it to help when you exercise your abs.
Warm-Ups for Core Workouts
Combine light cardio — to get the blood flowing and increase your body temperature, says Harvard Health Publishing — and dynamic moves that prepare the muscles you'll activate during your ab workout. The whole warm-up doesn't have to take long — about five minutes and you'll be ready to go.
Get the blood flowing by marching in place with high knees and your arms pumping along with every step. Alternately, walk or run up and down a staircase — or step up and down on a riser or stair step for two to three minutes.
Stand still with your feet hip-distance apart and hands behind your head. Rotate slowly right and left for about 30 seconds like a whirligig and then bend side to side slowly, right and left, for another 30 seconds. Do 30 seconds of moderately paced forward bends by reaching your arms for the ceiling and then to the toes. Do not strain beyond your point of comfort. No use warming up only to find you've pulled a hammie.
End your warm-up with a plank hold of 15 to 30 seconds to prepare your back to stabilize you during your ab exercises and increase blood flow to the abdominal muscles.
Avoid quick or sudden movements during the warm-up. This increases your risk of injury.