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How Often Should You Do Abdominal Exercises?

To get results and prevent over training, focus on hitting your core two to three times a week post-workout. During those workouts, aim to include a variety of core exercises – not just crunches. Planks, cable woodchops, and abdominal rollouts are all good variations to include. Also, aim for the bulk of your program to consist of total body exercises that are going to involve your core like front squats, deadlifts, and standing shoulder presses. When choosing sets and reps, also be sure to mimic your current training program. If the rest of your training is geared towards increasing maximal strength and power, then your core moves should focus on that as well (shifting to medicine ball throws versus woodchops for instance). As with other muscle groups, vary the exercises and intensity to constantly see results and avoid overtraining.

Low Intensity / High Repetition Abdominal Routines

For those who mainly focus on a toning style of exercise consisting of lower intensity exercises (using light weight or no weight, low difficulty exercises) with a higher number of repetitions per set (3-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions), reaching your threshold takes a bit longer. This is primarily due to the lower intensity of an exercise used for such a routine. Because the exercise is less intense it will not rip the muscle fibers as often or as much as a higher intensity abdominal exercise, which means you can do this style of exercise more often with less of a chance of becoming too sore to exercise or bringing about repetitive stress syndrome.

How often can you train with a low intensity/high rep approach? A toning style core routine can be performed 4-6 days per week once you have built up your tolerance for those exercises, but if you become overly sore you may need to take a 48 hour break to allow muscles to properly heal. Just make sure you take at least one day off each week, even if you never get sore.

High Intensity / Low Repetition Abdominal Programs

Those who need to be more careful with working out everyday are those who do more aggressive strength training exercises consisting of a high intensity exercise (high weight/resistance or difficult bodyweight exercises) with a lower number of repetitions per set (3 sets of 4-10 repetitions).

With an abs exercise routine consisting of high intensity exercises there is a much greater incident of muscle damage.

In fact, damaging the muscle fiber by tearing it is actually the intention of a strength training routine and it is because of this that you need to limit the frequency that you do this style of core routine. If you are doing a strength training routine correctly, you should be sore after each routine, and this is what determines how often you should do abdominal programs. You should never repeat a strength training routine on sore muscles; this is a sign that your muscles are still healing from the damage they sustained from the last workout routine. If you exercise these muscles again with a strength training routine you will just reinjure the muscles in the same areas they were injured before, essentially setting you back in your goals, not getting you there faster.

With high intensity abdominal strength training, working your abs more than 3 times a week is usually too much. The general rule is that you should wait at least 48 hours before repeating a strength training routine or targeting the same muscles. If 48 hours have passed and you are still sore, either wait another 24 hours or switch to a lighter toning routine to avoid derailing your schedule, just make sure that you never do strength training on sore muscles.

When it comes down to it, your abdominal and core muscles are just like any other muscle group in your body and should be trained accordingly. The only difference is that abdominal muscles are particularly strong and can take a fair amount of punishment before they need to rest and heal, and they heal slightly faster than most other muscles, but only slightly. The main key to remember about how often to do abs workouts is that if it is sore, let it heal before you train it again, and even if it never gets sore give those muscles at least one day of rest a week.