How Often Should I Work My Abs? - Don't Waste Too Much Time!

Bicycle Crunch

Question: How often should I work my abs if I want a six-pack?


The short answer to this is never.  The only reason I say that is because ab exercises won't give you flat abs.  It seems like it would work, right?  You do a crunch and your body takes the energy and calories from your abs, right?  Oh, if only that were true.

Spot reduction doesn't work, so most of your time is better spent on activities that burn more calories like cardio, strength training and doing more compound exercises.

That said, you still need to work your ab muscles and they're no different from the rest of your muscles. You wouldn't work your shoulders every day and, similarly, you shouldn't work your abs every day either. Your body needs recovery time in order to grow stronger and change.

How Often to Work Your Abs

Like your other muscle groups, you want to work your abs 3-4 non-consecutive days a week and you want to make sure you target every part of your torso, not just the 'six-pack' area.  Those include: Work your abs 2-3 non-consecutive days a week, taking care to target all your ab muscles:

Ab Workouts

How many sets/reps of ab exercises should I do?

As mentioned above, your ab muscles are just like other muscles in your body. That means you want to do between 10-16 reps of each exercise for 2-3 sets. If you've been doing abs for a while and find that you're not fatigued at the end of each set:

  • Check Your Form. Don't use momentum or other body parts (like your neck or your hip flexors) to help you.
  • Slow down. The slower you go, the more your muscles will work.
  • Challenge yourself with different exercises.
  • Try dynamic activities such as Pilates, yoga or even standing ab exercises to target your abs in a whole new way.