Generally toning exercises are recommended every other day, with at least one recovery day in between. Here’s why – muscles need recovery time. This recovery time is when the benefits occur. When we work a muscle, tiny tears or microtrauma happen. These are a good thing! It sends a signal to our body to start repairing through the inflammation process. Through that process – loading a muscle past it’s previous condition, giving that muscle 2-3 days to repair – the benefit is healthier muscle tissue.
Your ab muscles are striated, skeletal muscles just like most muscles use during a workout. These muscles need a recovery period to reduce microtrauma and heal. Otherwise overuse and overtraining can occur. If we were doing lunges everyday we would probably have knee pain. Same goes for the abdominal cage. If we were to do ab exercises everyday, the healing process would be interrupted. Then we would stop seeing results because our muscles are under a constant state of stress. Our abdominals need to be at their full capacity to exercise effectively.
If you train your entire core every day, you run the risk of injury due to overuse. There is one exception to the rule – neuromuscular training. This type of training isn’t loading the muscles, but simply educating your body to make the muscles work consistently for the best performance. In short, teaching your brain to talk to your muscles and create healthy movement pathways.
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. We can do this through neuromuscular training.
Perform each exercise for 40 – 50 seconds — not until fatigue or failure. The purpose is to create a connection between your brain and core musculature to get your deepest ab muscles firing correctly. You can read all about this in our free Ab Rehab Guide.
DIAPHRAGMATIC TA BREATHING
Pulling your navel toward your spine is not the same thing as sucking in your gut. What do you when you suck in your gut? You hold your breath, you tuck your hips. You don’t want to do that. A great cue is saying “ssssssss” as you exhale.
Begin lying on your back with your knees bent, feet resting on the floor. On the exhale, 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
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.
QUADRUPED TA BRACING
Begin on all fours. Let your stomach relax down towards the ground, keeping your spine in neutral. As you exhale, tighten your abdominals by drawing your belly button up towards your spine and away from the floor. Hold this position without moving the pelvis. With every breath, tighten the TA.
We cannot target one area while ignoring the other areas — our bodies are one complete system and need a comprehensive approach including cardio, strength and flexibility. Try our 3-week Core Program in the Moms Into Fitness Studio. We focus on each muscle group twice a week, then add rotation-balance-core transfer exercises for a comprehensive circuit workout.
If you have an abdominal separation you will want to follow our dedicated program for Diastasis Recti.