Abs Workouts: Four Personal Trainers Reveal Their Favorites

By doing abdominal exercises several times a week, you can prevent injuries and build strong, toned abdominal muscles.  (photo symbol)

By doing abdominal exercises several times a week, you can prevent injuries and build strong, toned abdominal muscles. (photo symbol)
Getty Images/Crispy Pork

Combination exercises like squats and deadlifts are good for training the abdominal muscles during a workout.

If you want to focus on additional ab workouts, you should do up to three ab workouts per week.

Abdominal and core exercises can prevent injury, improve performance, and tone your core.

When it comes to strength training, moderation is key. Otherwise, you risk overdoing it and injuring yourself. However, the core muscles are a bit different. “The abdominal muscles are very resistant to overload,” says Vanessa Mandell Windt, a US board-certified personal trainer who trains clients online.

So, theoretically, you can do abdominal exercises every day, says Mandell Windt. However, you’ll be in much better shape if you don’t do a lot of crunches every day. Below, I spoke to four personal trainers about the best way to train your core.

How many times a week do abdominal exercises?

You can stabilize your core with different exercises every day. But if you want toned abs, you shouldn’t just do crunches. Instead, create a total-body strength-training routine that focuses on bodyweight exercises like dumbbell squats and chest presses.

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“The abs are activated and involved in almost every bodyweight exercise, so you can make significant gains without completely ignoring the abs,” says Mandell Windt. “I’d say total-body workouts and heavy compound exercises are more effective for strong, visible abs than crunches and crunches.”

Combination exercises are exercises that work multiple joints and muscle groups. And the core is almost always involved in compound exercises because the abs work closely with other core muscles, such as the glutes, the erectors (the muscles that straighten the back), and the multifidi (small muscles on both sides of the spine). . ).

If you want to focus on working your abs outside of combo exercises, Rachel MacPherson, personal trainer for Garage Gym Reviews, suggests building a targeted ab workout up to three days a week. Start adding ab training to your existing routine and add to it however you can.

Should you focus on different abdominal areas each time?

It’s hard to target a specific abdominal muscle “because the goal is to get all the muscles working together,” says Nicole Pruchnik, a performance coach at the Future personal training app. Still, you can emphasize certain muscles more than others depending on their function, she adds. For example:

  • Of abdominal rect he flexes the trunk and is trained in sit-ups, sit-ups, and McGill sit-ups.
  • Lateral abdominal muscles allows you to move your torso. They can be trained with bicycle crunches, side bends, wood chops, and Russian twists.
  • The transverse abdominal muscle It contributes to trunk stabilization and is the central element in forearm planks and hollow body poses.

Combination strength exercises like squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups are perfect ways to work your abs. Other ab exercises that engage multiple core muscles include bird dogs and hip raises. The Bird-Dog, for example, works your entire core, including your glutes and even your back, says Mandell Windt.

The hip raise also engages the glutes and core muscles. “The goal is to keep your back straight when you’re lying on the floor. That’s why you want to raise your hips while simultaneously engaging your core and glutes,” says Pruchnik.

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The benefits of abdominal training

Abdominal and core training is an important part of any fitness program, so don’t neglect them when planning your weekly workout. These muscle groups have many important functions, from stabilizing the core (the midsection of the body, including the chest, back, and pelvis) during heavy squats to helping maintain balance in everyday life.

Here you can learn more about the advantages of the abdominal and core muscles during training.

Prevents back pain and injuries

Strengthening the core helps prevent back pain and injuries. “The core stabilizes the lower back and pelvis as a unit,” MacPherson says. Without strong core muscles, your body needs to rely more on your spine and pelvis for stability during exercise and daily activities. This can lead to lower back pain and injury.

Improves daily functions and physical performance

Regular training of the abdominal and core muscles can make daily activities and sports easier. “All physical movements start from the middle of the body. Anything you do with your extremities, like picking up grocery bags or throwing a ball, requires your abs and other muscles in your body to keep your spine stable,” MacPherson says. If you strengthen your abdominal and core muscles, you’ll find these activities easier.

firms the core

Abdominal exercises can help build stronger, more defined muscles. There’s one big problem, though: MacPherson says you won’t get rid of belly fat by doing crunches.

Dave Candy, an athletic trainer and board-certified orthopedic physical therapist, agrees. “If his goal is a flat stomach and a six-pack, then diet has a lot more to do with it than exercise,” he notes. So if he wants his abs to show, he must combine his workouts with a healthy diet.

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Correct execution is important

One disadvantage of abdominal exercises is that they are often not performed correctly. This often happens when the repetitions are done too quickly. “When you rush through your reps and don’t get a chance to properly target your abs, your lower back tends to take the load, which can lead to lower back pain and injury,” Mandell explains. Windt.

So, to avoid pain and get the most benefit, you need to perform ab exercises slowly and with control, “and make sure you feel your abdominal muscles contracting on each and every repetition,” adds Mandell Windt. It’s also important not to do the “wrong” ab exercises, says Mandell Windt. “As a trainer, I see a lot of people who otherwise tend to be reluctant to exercise diligently do crunches and crunches.”

When you sit for long periods of the day, your shoulders and upper back tend to round forward. This causes the pectorals and front hip muscles (called hip flexors) to contract, says Mandell Windt.

High repetitions of crunches and sit-ups will strengthen your abs, but will also further shorten your chest and hip flexors. So if you’re a sedentary day worker, you’re more likely to benefit from core exercises like the bird dog or pallof press, which stretch the hip flexors and chest while strengthening the shoulders and upper back. , explains Mandell Windt.

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Strengthening the abdominals and other core muscles can have important benefits, including preventing pain and injury and improving performance in sports and everyday life. Abdominal exercises can also contribute to a more defined core, as long as you watch your diet at the same time.

Are your abs already getting a lot of attention with combined strength and trunk exercises? If you want to focus even more on your abs, you should do a targeted abs workout up to three days a week. The goal is to train the entire half of the body equally: pay attention to the correct execution, not too fast.

This article was translated from English by Melanie Gelo. You can read the original here.

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