An Ab-Solutely Overdone Body Part

Cathleen Kronemer

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

As the temperatures indicate, summer is just around the corner, and with summer comes….. swim suit season! To that end, many folks are getting busy with their workouts, and focusing particularly hard on their midsections.

As I walk through the gym, I can’t help but notice how many individuals are beating their abs to death, operating under the premise that “more is better.” When it comes to strength training, however, this is not always the case. Muscle fibers have a limited “attention span,” if you will. They can only respond to so much resistance; after that their response is going to cease. This holds true for any muscle in the body, whether it is the bicep, tricep, quadriceps, or abdominals.

While it is true that the muscle fibers in the abdominal area can handle a greater amount of volume than some other body parts, it is still advisable to train them twice a week and no more. This provides ample time between workouts for the muscles to recover and become stronger. Just as you wouldn’t train your shoulders two days in a row, the abdominal workouts should be spaced out accordingly. A dynamic workout for the midsection combines exercises for core strength as well as definition of the rectus abdominus muscle. Striving for a combination of body-weight exercises as well as those to which weight is added, a goal of six sets of 10 repetitions should be ideal. These six sets can be from a variety of different exercises. A mantra that was handed down to me has made it simple for me to remember: “Stimulate the muscle, don’t annihilate it!!!”