Is it better to train your abs at the beginning or at the end of a workout?
“The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. Where shall I begin please your Majesty? he asked. Begin at the beginning the King said gravely …..”. (Alice in Wonderland)
Not so where ab training is concerned.
Some people prefer to train their abs at the BEGINNING of a workout session in order to warm up or so that they don’t skip the ab workout altogether later in the session. Typically, however, the END of your workout session is the recommended time to zero in on your abs in order to prevent you from fatiguing your body before you train the rest of your body parts.
Research performed at the Weider Research Group investigated whether or not training abdominals would impact on strength during a workout. To do this, the researchers had a group of trained athletes perform three sets of squats using their six-repetition max after doing an ab/core work and before doing an ab/core work. The ab/core work consisted of three sets of fifteen repetitions of dumbbell woodchops, followed by three sets of hanging knee raises performed to failure and then three sets of crunches performed to failure.
The research found that when the athletes performed the ab/core work before the squat work, the sample group completed an average of one to two fewer reps during all three sets of squats than when they did squats before the ab/core work.
Even though doing abs first is a good way to ensure you avoid the temptation of skipping your ab training it may hinder the strength of your bodyparts worked next in your session. Although in this case study researchers investigated the effects of ab training on leg strength, it is reasonable to assume that doing abs before working any other major bodypart may reduce the strength of that bodypart. This is so because the abs and the core support your spine and your pelvis, both of which are critical for producing strength in the upper and lower parts of your body. If the abs and the core are fatigued, the potential for injury is increased. Stick to doing you ab and core workout at the end of the workout after you have completed the training of your other muscle groups.
All of the above having been said, my personal view is that you should avoid training bodyparts or muscle groups in isolation at all costs. At one80 we don’t train muscle groups one by one, rather we train your body in movement patterns which help the body to work together as a unit like it’s supposed to function in everyday life.
Train Smart, Train Elite