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 the floor for crunches and sit-ups, a warmup is prudent.
Warm Up Benefits
A warm-up increases blood flow to muscles and loosens your joints so you have more range of motion. As the American Council on Exercise explains, 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.
What a Pre-Ab Workout Warmup Looks Like
Combine light cardio -- to get the blood flowing and increase your body temperature -- and dynamic moves that prepare the muscles you'll activate during your ab workout. The whole warmup doesn't have to take long -- about 5 minutes and you'll be ready to go.
March in place, do high-knee raises and step up and down on a riser or stair step for 2 to 3 minutes.
Stand still with your feet hip-distance apart and hands behind your head. Rotate slowly right and left for about 30 seconds and then side bend 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.
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.