Generally toning exercises are recommended every other day, with a recovery day in between. Your ab muscles are striated, skeletal muscles just like most muscles use during a workout. These muscles need a recovery period to reduce microtrauma.
Whenever you work any muscle, you subject it to microtrauma. Microtrauma is simply the tearing of the muscle fibers, which leads to inflammation and soreness. As such, depending on the intensity of your workout, those particular muscles worked during a strength training session need anywhere from one to three days to recover in-between workouts. Your abs are no exception to this rule. If you train your entire core every day, you run the risk of injury due to overuse.
Should you do abs everyday? Yes and no. Certain ab exercises that recruit your Transverse Abdominis TA are crucial to the functionality of your core, so you can do these more often. They are crucial to your posture. Every time you take a step, climb a stair, reach overhead, cough or laugh so hard you cry, these lovely little muscles are kicking in. The problem is that we are not taught how to correctly and selectively strengthen the TA.
Because the TA is known as the corset muscle, it is the one we want to hit up to get those pre-mommy tummies back. We need to train all four of our abdominal muscles (TA, rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique), but the TA is essential for getting a flatter tummy and kicking the “bread loaf”.
Using the following four TA exercises will not create microtrauma. These exercises are recommended to create a neuromuscular pattern or strategy to get your deepest ab muscles firing correctly.
Perform each exercise for 40-50 seconds. Please note, these exercise are not done until fatigue or failure. They are used to create a connection between your brain and core musculature. You can read all about this in our free Ab Rehab Guide.
Setup: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent, feet resting on the floor
Tighten your abdominals, drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Your pelvis should not tilt. Hold this position, as you switch your arms overhead. Repeat.
BENT KNEE FALL OUTS
Setup: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet resting flat on the floor
Tighten your abdominals. Without letting your hip bones move, slowly lower one knee out towards the floor only as far as you can without your pelvis moving. Slowly return to starting position. Alternate with other leg. Do not let your pelvis move.
DEAD BUG SWITCH
Setup: Begin lying on your back with legs bent
*Beginners — start with only the legs. If you do not feel it in your back you can add your arms. Stronger muscles like the back extensors can take over in this exercise. Starting with the legs only should prevent that.
Lift your legs and arms off the ground, keeping your knees bent. Lower one arm to the ground and lower your opposite leg at the same time. Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. Continue to alternate. Maintain your low back on the floor and keep abdominals drawn down towards your spine. If you cannot maintain lower back, start by alternating arms. As you become stronger alternate legs only. Then progress to opposite arm and leg.
QUADRUPED TA BRACING
Setup: Begin on all fours
Let your stomach relax down towards the ground, keeping your spine in neutral. Tighten your abdominals by drawing your belly button up towards your spine and away from the floor. Hold this position, then relax and repeat. Breathe.