Whatever your ab conditioning goal, there is a lot of information and misinformation about training this particular area. In this article we are acknowledging that realistically, it depends on you and your goals. Everyone is different and we have to remember, what works for some won’t work for others.
A lean and well-defined six-pack is as much a product of nutrition as it is exercise. For men, this normally means body fat levels of 10% or less and 16% or less for women. So make sure that, along with your ab training routine, your diet is in order too.
You also need to consider your choice of exercises. Crunches, sit ups and other spinal flexion exercises are fine but as your spine moves in a variety of directions, you need to select a variety of exercises if you want to maximise your abdominal development. If you can do 20 or more reps of an ab exercise, chances are it is too easy. When selecting ab training exercises, train using demanding exercises that keep your repetitions below 20 per set.
Related article: 10 Minute Home Bodyweight Abs Crusher
Here are a few options to consider:
Ab training at the end of your strength or cardio workout, the main advantage of performing your ab exercises last is that, in terms of energy expenditure, ab exercises are easier than compound exercises. This means that despite having worked hard, you should still have sufficient energy left to finish your workout with some effective ab exercises.
Ab training during your strength or cardio workout:
A great way to get plenty of ab work done in a very time efficient way is to perform your ab exercises during your breaks from your main exercises; for example by doing a set of planks between sets of pull downs. This makes your workout much more time efficient and also ensures your heart rate stays elevated throughout your workout. As well as being time efficient, this is also a great way to burn more calories
Related article: Cardio And Weight Loss
Ab training at the beginning of your strength or cardio workout:
Ab exercises generally involve movement of your spine. By doing some ab work near the beginning of your workout, you loosen up and mobilise your spine which can help make sure your back is thoroughly warmed up before you begin your main workout. On the downside, overusing your abs early in your workout can reduce spinal stability for safe performance of key exercises such as squats and deadlifts so although this is a viable option for some exercisers.
Related article: 9 Fitness Tips to Help You Build Muscle & Lose Fat
Ab training on a separate day to your main workouts:
This is a great option if you are serious about your ab work. Squeezing in ab work before or after your main session is okay but time and energy can be limiting factors. Dedicating a couple of mini-training sessions per week to your abs can:
- Leave you with more time for your main workouts.
- Allow you to concentrate 100% on developing your abs.
If you choose to do this, make sure you spend a couple of minutes warming up before your ab workout to ensure that you minimise your risk of injury.
In summary, there is more than one “best time” for ab training – it very much depends on what you need and what you think is best for you.