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Abs should be trained like any other muscle group

Contrary to what you read in most magazines or see most people doing in the gym, your abdominal muscles respond best to two and at most three workouts per week.

The anatomy, physiology, metabolism, and mechanical properties, ... of the muscles in your abdomen are no different from those in your arms, legs or elsewhere. And to think that training them more than two or three times a week is necessary, and that it helps give you wash board abs is a complete wives tale and fallacy.

In fact, training your abs more frequently takes time away from other activities which move your entire body and burn far more calories than abdominal exercises. You are also very likely to over train the muscle, limiting its adaptation.

Also, high rep sets are out too.

Just like any other muscle group, if you want to train and tone your abs, you must use an adequate resistance. A resistance which allows you to perform repetition maximum (RM) sets within the 8 to 15 or 20 range is what works. Higher rep sets aren't intense enough to recruit all of the fast twitch muscle fibers, and don't fully recruit, train, and tone your abs.

If you are able to perform repetitions on the end of any exercise, it is time to modify your position or perform a more difficult exercise in order to optimally train your abs and make the most of your workout.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 1.31.06