Achieving a rock-hard abdominal area is no easy task. You may think that doing hundreds of situps or crunches per day will help you achieve this look, but that’s not always true. The American Council on Exercise points out that, like any major muscle group, the abs can be overworked and need recovery time between workouts. Working your abs every single day may be unnecessary or even counterproductive.
Rather than working out your abs every day, the Department of Health suggests exercising them twice a week for maximum results. The caveat of this training plan is that you exercise your abs to fatigue during each workout. The remaining days of the week are for resting your abs and allowing them time to recover and grow. This is how you gain strength and size – the keys to getting that six-pack look.
Since your abs consist of the same type of muscle tissue as your other muscles, they are subject to the same negative effects caused by overtraining. One negative aspect of overworking your muscles is called muscle atrophy, or the actual breaking down of muscle tissue to a smaller size. The second potentially negative side effect of doing situps and crunches every day is that over time your workouts will tend to get less intense, and thus less effective at strengthening and toning your abs.
There seems to be an exception to every rule, and this one is no different. Professional bodybuilders will often train their abs every day – or close to every day – but this is an extreme example. For the average person, daily ab workouts are not necessary to strengthen the abs. Pro bodybuilders train full-time and have special diets/supplement regimens that allow their bodies to recover faster after they work out than the average person.
Variations on the basic crunch are excellent ab exercises. The basic crunch, bicycle crunch, twisted crunch and reverse crunch will target all your ab muscles. Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise suggests doing one to three sets of 10 to 25 repetitions. As your abs get stronger over a period of weeks, incorporate ab-tightening yoga poses such as the boat pose or plank and other ab exercises, such as hanging leg raises.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.