Having a debate with a friend where he says you can do ab exercises basically everyday (planks, knee lifts, exercise ball sit ups, etc) and others have said that you said treat is like other body parts where you should have rest days in between to get the best results.

Looking on the internet I see both opinions so wanted to see what folks thought was a more effective approach to working out abs with the goal of getting six pack?

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  • honestly you can train core everyday. That goes also with doing calisthenic movements such as pullups, dips and pushups all at your bodyweight. It is very hard to overtrain those aspects of training. It is when you put your body under a LOT of stress that it takes time to recover from those workouts. Your nervous system gets hit real hard with high intensity (heavy loads in the weight room for e.g.) workouts, especially in the pulling movements. Jul 25, 2012 at 5:45

2 Answers 2


As a rule, unless you're on steroids, one rest day minimum, no matter what. In fact, two or three rest days is better, and given your core muscles include the back muscles, and larger muscles need more recovery time, you should be leaning towards more for your ab work (if you're not yet balancing your ab work, you should start).

  • 1
    As a rule for what? Because I know plenty of athletes in other forms of sports like running or waterpolo that train every day or at least don't have 3 rest days a week
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 22, 2012 at 7:14
  • But are they making progress?
    – Robin Ashe
    Jul 23, 2012 at 1:34
  • Well probably they are already in great shape and simply need to maintain that
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 23, 2012 at 7:53
  • Probably doesn't cut it. It's perfectly easy to just stick at a certain level working out every day, but making progress in strength gains requires rest days without the use of steroids.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jul 23, 2012 at 7:57
  • Depending on your previous work capacity and training maturity you can train everyday. Especially core. Unless you're the kind of guy who goes in the weight room and does russian twists with a maximum weight, then obviously you'll burn out. But since he is asking about planks, knee lifts, even exercise ball situps [fairly light i assume], that can be done everyday. Very heavy pulling movements (power cleans, esp deads) take a long time to recover from. It can take a few days or even weeks to recover for a professional athlete from a maximal deadlift workout. Jul 25, 2012 at 5:49

The muscles in the core are the same as other muscles in the body, i.e. to be stronger, they need rest. To have visible abs is more a question of body fat %, not strength.

My own experience of strengthening the core is that a mix of awareness workouts (e.g. yoga, exercise balls,.. that doesn't wear the muscles down) and strength training (e.g. squats, deadlift,..) is best.

Losing weight for the purpose of having a "six pack" is covered in other answers, e.g. see local fat reduction, running and six packsand six pack wo rotine.

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