Most people start working out want to have six pack abs since it looks cool, and they are the sign of strength and manliness. Hence, they focus on training their abdominal muscles more than any other body parts. They do numerous sets and hundreds of reps almost each day. However, they forget about an important thing that may have a contrary effect on their abs.
They are overtraining their abs.
Yes, it is possible since the muscles of the abdomen are the same as the other muscles in the body.
What is overtraining a muscle?
That happens when the hormone, metabolic and nervous system of the muscle fibers, and they themselves, are over-stressed. Hence, the muscle cannot function at the optimal level and, as a result, the muscle stops growing.
On top of that, overtraining not only has an effect on the muscle itself but the entire body. For example, it increases the level of cortisol in the body, which is a catabolic hormone but decreases the testosterone which is an anabolic hormone.
So, if you overtrain yourself for a longer period, it can cause energy, muscle strength and size reduction.
These are serious effects, aren’t they? You will get a just the opposite what you want.
What are the overtraining abs symptoms?
Here are some of the most common symptoms.
- You always feel soreness in your abdominal muscles. You feel they cannot recover.
- It is challenging for you to increase the reps for exercises or to add extra resistance, for example, by using weights. So, you stay at the same level and cannot develop.
- You feel you cannot do as many reps and sets as you used to be. So, your performance just gets worse.
What can cause overtrained abs muscles?
- You work out your abs almost every day.
- You do not provide enough time between the abs workouts to recover, or you rest is insufficient.
- You reach the total failure on too many exercises and sets.
- You simply do too many sets, reps, and various abs exercises.
How can you prevent overtraining your abs?
Firstly, the abdominal muscles are the same as any other muscles in your body so you should train them with that in mind. You would not do hundreds of reps for chest, would you?
Here are some tips:
- Have no more than 2-3 abs workouts per a week and have at least one day rest between each training. The sore abs recovery time is the same as other muscles of your body.
- It is enough to have 3-4 abdominal muscles exercises and 2-4 sets per exercise. The repetition should not be extremely high. 10-30 reps, depending on the exercise, will do.
- It is not recommended to get to the total failure zone too many times. It is enough just to get close to it.
- If you feel that you can do over 30 reps for a particular abdominal exercise, you can add extra resistance, but only if you can perform the move correctly with a proper form.
Should I workout my abs every day to get six pack?
No! It seems to be logical that the more you strengthen your stomach, the faster you get shredded midsection. But, the body does not function like that. Firstly, too much abs workout is counterproductive, and you will face with the overworked abs symptoms. We train to strengthen and shape the muscles, not for burning belly fat, for that a healthy diet and cardio is the key. Read more about everyday abs training here.
Do you need to workout abs?
Well, it depends on the workout you do. For example, if you do compound exercises like the clean press, squat or shoulder presses, your core is always engaged so they will develop. However, a strong core is vital to prevent injuries and also helps to perform better in any sports. So, yes, do it.
Do abs matter?
Well, a six-pack is not equal to strength. Some guys genetically have so low body fat that they have abs even if they have never done a simple sit up in their life. While others have a “normal” tummy with some fat but they have rock solid core. Do it for strength training and not for beauty first.
I know, these tips may sound a bit strange, because there are so many tips saying that you can train your abs as much as you can since they are different from the other muscles. It is a misconception that has been implemented into our brains by a few so-called fitness and bodybuilding experts. Just follow the advice above, and you will never overtrain your abs. Hence, they will develop continuously, and you will feel better in your body as well.