It’s a new year, which means there’s no time like the present to finally start building that six-pack. You found a bunch of quick ab workouts and plan to do them everyday, because that’s the best way to chisel your core, right?
Not quite. When you do the same exercises every day, you may be causing more harm than good.
“Every time you strength train, you cause micro-tears in the muscle,” says Astrid Swan, N.A.S.M.-certified master trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in West Hollywood, California. “The muscle needs time to heal, and as it heals, it grows and you see results.”
By doing the same exercise, or working out the same part of the body over and over again, you won’t get more fit or make gains. Instead, you’ll be more prone to plateau or cause an overuse injury.
“Your abs are like any other muscle you train, so giving time for the muscles to grow and heal is crucial,” says Swan. “When I do an abs circuit, I use variety, and I also give my abdominals and body time to rest and recover.”
Strengthening your core is important not only to achieve a desired physical appearance, but also for improved posture, balance, and to help relieve lower back pain. But like most things in fitness, too much of anything is not a good thing.
“All the benefits of strengthening your core can revert back if overdone, with postural issues and muscle imbalance being the most significant,” says Swan.
Plus, a big part of getting your abs in check has to do with what you’re eating. “You have seen the memes on social media,” says Swan, noting that abs really are made in the kitchen. “Working on your abs in the gym is very important, but not as much as working on the ingredients you are consuming. No amount of variation with crunches will develop a six-pack if you are overindulging in the calorie department.”
So what’s the best way to get results? Swan suggests balancing a healthy diet with cardio and strength work.
“I recommend to my clients to work out hard five times a week, taking a day between for a lighter workout and a full day of rest,” says Swan. “My advice is to work out hard and then let the body recover. You will see results faster and be happier with your efforts from working out.”