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Abs Before or After Your Workout?

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 9/14/2022

Should You Work Your Abs at the Beginning or End of Your Workout?

You want to build a solid six pack, and you realize you need to drop your body fat levels and train your abs hard in order to get there, but you’re still not sure just WHEN to exercise your midsection.

In particular, should you work your abs at the beginning or end of your workout?

Let’s take a look a both options so you can decide what is right for you.

The Case for Training Abs First

There are two primary reasons why you might want to train your abs before you do anything else in your workout.

First, since abs lie at the center of your body and help stabilize your torso, they are involved in almost every other exercise that you perform, and they’re also critical for normal movement throughout the day. You’re going to be using your abs during squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and other big movements, so it makes some sense to think you might want to warm up your midsection to avoid injury.

Ab work is also fairly light, so it can serve as a gentle overall warm-up to help you prepare for the more rigorous exercises to come.

The second reason you might want to train abs first is just to ensure that you actually work them at all. After several sets of the big moves mentioned above, many trainees are inclined to simply skip smaller muscle groups like abs at the end of a workout. Training them first sidesteps this motivational and energy-related problem.

The Case for Training Abs Last

The major drawback in training abs first is the same idea that might motivate you to do so in the first place: they are involved in almost every other movement you do.

By working your midsection at the beginning of your routine, you risk fatiguing your abs to such an extent that they can’t help as much as they should during the big mass-builders. This can limit your poundages AND potentially make you more susceptible to injury. Strong abs keep your spine aligned and your abdominal structures in place during heavy exercise, so any weakness can lead to problems.

By training your abs last, you keep them as strong as possible during the bulk of your workout and then provide direct stimulus to them when they are already warmed up and pre-fatigued.

What’s Best?

Both approaches to ab timing have merit, but caution should win the day most of the time. Your abs are a small but vital muscle, and you need them to be strong and fresh for the major movements that will lead you to real gains in your physique development.

And, the truth is that many very strong men are able to develop very good abs with little or NO direct abdominal exercise.

For these reasons, it makes sense to train your abs LAST as a general rule. Feel free to move them up in the exercise order occasionally, but be careful. Realize you may need to adjust your training poundages OR change your exercise selection for other bodyparts to avoid injury.

Training abs at the end of your routine, though, should work well for the majority of trainees.

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