How often should one train their abs/core?

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Steroid Freak
May 24, 2019
Well, like with everything in the world of fitness, there isn’t a clear cut answer, but there are a few suggestions we can look at. Direct core and ab training will often be part of one’s accessory work, and will typically come at the very end of a workout to avoid decreased performance in major lifts.

When deciding how often to train the core, then a good starting point is to look at two factors in your training: Training history and current volume. These two factors will help you dial in how much core training you can perform in a weekly basis without fatiguing or sacrificing your workout’s other goals. Below are a few examples of how to incorporate core training at various fitness levels.

A beginner in the gym will need to build up a base, so they can have the ability to handle higher workloads. The core is like any other muscle and will need to have a foundation before jumping to higher frequencies. For this reason, training the core 1-2x a week directly will be a beneficial starting point.

  • Training History: >1 year of resistance training
  • Current Training Volume: 2-3x week
  • Starting Core Work: 1-2x a week full core days
Intermediate & Advanced
Both the intermediate and advanced athletes will already have a training base, and more of a guided goal in the gym. At this point in one’s training career there’s often a calculated method behind why one’s in the gym, along with an understanding of what their body is capable of. For this reason, these folks can train the core directly more frequently, and 2-4x a week is usually sufficient (4 is on the much higher end).

  • Training History: 1+ years of resistance training
  • Current Training Volume: 3-5x a week
  • Adding In Extra Core Work: 2-4x a week
This group of lifter should keep two aspects in mind when utilizing additional core work. First, they should cater these exercises around their current training goals. For example, it wouldn’t be optimal to exhaust the core a day before a heavy squat day, as this could decrease your compound lifts performance. Base additional core work off of compounds.

Second, breaking the core up into separate days can be a useful tool. Lower abs, obliques, and upper abs are three ways of deviating core work into different days. This is useful because it allows you to spend time on various aspects of the core, as opposed to exhausting every part of it 2-4x a week. Plus, if you know your lower core is weak for example, then doing this allows you to apply additional direct work to this area.
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