If your workout is never complete without a few core exercises, you’re not alone—it’s not uncommon to treat your abs as a muscle group you should work daily. But if your arms and legs get days off, shouldn’t your core, too? According to Nate Feliciano, CFSC, CES, owner and head of training at Studio 16 in New York City, there’s really no need for putting ab exercises on your daily workout schedule.
The most important thing to remember about working your abs is that they should be treated like other muscles in the body. “Your abs shouldn’t be trained to the point of extreme exhaustion each day. It becomes dangerous or counter-productive if you’re still training abs while you’re sore,” says Feliciano. “Other muscles like your lower back will end up doing most of the work during ab exercises when you’re sore, and that will increase the risk of injury.”
While Feliciano doesn’t advise doing a heavy core workout every day that’s only going to do more harm than good, there is a way you can train your abs on a daily basis without any negative consequences. Doing just a little core work each time you workout is totally fine. “If you’re going to the gym two to three times per week, I suggest doing 5 to 10 minutes of ab or core work during your workout. Then, give yourself a day of rest in between workout days,” he says. Yes, your abs need time to recover just like the rest of your body.
Here’s a quickie ab workout to try:
Now, a few minutes of ab exercises a few times a week might seem like nothing compared to what you’ve been doing. But the reason why your abs require little workout time is because when you’re working out regularly, you’re probably already working your core enough without even realizing it. “Many exercises you do in your other workouts will be training the core as well, so you don’t need to do abs or core for too long at the end of your workout,” he says. Plus, by cross-training and not just limiting yourself to one ab workout after another, you’ll always be challenging yourself, won’t plateau or overwork your body, and will never get bored of your routine.
Aside from limiting your ab-focused workouts, you can also switch up your exercises day-to-day by focusing on different parts of your core. “Split it up by doing obliques and serratus anterior one one day, and then lower and upper abs another day,” he says. “And always do them after your workout, because you don’t want to exhaust your core before doing other exercises.” Sometimes less is more, and when it comes to your abs, that’s definitely true.
This ab workout specifically focuses on your lower abs:
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