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How Often Should I Train My Abs?

Learn My Secret To Achieving Six-Pack Abs!

Posted by Scott_Herman - January 21st, 2015

This is a question I am asked a lot and being in the fitness industry as long as I have, I have heard many different answers and explanations. So here is my disclaimer: Everything I say here is based on a mix of research, my experience with my own body and my experience with clients. Not one thing works for everyone because we are different! You can use this as a general guideline and, with time, fine tune what works best for your body.

First, let me start by saying that there are two categories of people: those who just want a nice tight and lean core (a lot of women fall under this category) and those who want the big blocky very visible 6-pack. So keep this in mind as you read the information below.

What are the most effective ABS exercises?

I have heard many people say that you never have to train abs because they are worked hard enough during intense compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. I actually talk about that on this video right here:

If you fall under the first category, and we’re talking strictly about “core engagement” and not building and sculpting blocky abs, you might be able to get away with this. Now, if you want to GROW your six-pack, you will need to do abdominal isolation exercises on top of the compound movements just like you would any other muscle group.

For example, if you want to grow your biceps, you don’t do just pull ups, you add some curls to your program to isolate and destroy that specific muscle group, right? Well, you abs are the same!

Another point I want to make about those who only rely on compound lifts to work their abs is that if you’re always relying on the assistance from a weight training belt when performing your lifts, although you’re engaging your core, you will quickly find that YOUR core will be much weaker than someone who does not.

There is nothing wrong with using a belt, just understand that the more you use it, the more you need to spend time training your entire core (abs, lower back, & obliques) to make it stronger. The best thing to do would be to train without a belt when doing your lighter sets and only use your belt when you get into your heavier more intense sets.

How Often Should I Train My Abs?

I have found that abs are a lot like our calf muscles because they need a lot more volume in order to grow. With that in mind I don’t train abs just once a week. I actually train them four times a week and separate them into two workouts. “Upper & Lower” one day and “Lower & Obliques” on the other and I do these workouts after the muscle split I’m training for the day.

Ultimately, how often you will train your abs will come down to personal preference and how much time you have available, but let’s talk about my training schedule.

My ab schedule is very simple and I even have two videos you guys can check out if you would like to try my routines.

Starting Monday, I like to train two days of abs, rest on Wednesday then repeat Thursday and Friday. Weekends are ab rest days. Keep in mind that this is not set in stone. Sometimes if I am in a hurry, I will do my regular muscle splits and leave the ab workout for the weekend.

Day one focusing on “Upper & Lower ABS”:

Day two focusing on “Lower ABS & Obliques”:

Now there is a lot of debate that you cannot target upper or lower abs because the rectus abdominis is one big long muscle. To these people I say lay on the ground and perform a reverse crunch with a 25lbs dumbbell between for your feet and tell me what part of your abs hurt the most!

In addition to this, I am not claiming that if I’m focusing on lower abs that the upper portion isn’t being worked as well. At the end of the day both areas are activated, but we can be creative and perform exercises that will target the area we intend to work more.

The reason why I have one day to focus on lower & upper and the other to focus on lower & obliques is because it’s my belief that you’re targeting upper abs the majority of the time when training and if we really want to bring out the lower portion they need to be focused on a bit more.

In fact, one of the most common questions I get is “How do I bring out my lower abs?”. Obviously a low bodyfat % is key, but to me it proves my point of what area of the rectus abdominis that needs the most attention.

Now for the last part of this video let’s talk about reps and sets. Typically what I like to do is on the first two days I focus on lifting as heavy as possible on all exercises for 12 – 15 reps. Just like any other muscle, to build blocky abs you need to train with resistance.

On the next two days your abs may still be a bit sore so I focus on high reps, anywhere between 30 – 50 reps per exercise.

But there is one myth I would like to dispel before I end this video and that is that weighted oblique exercises will give you a HUGE WAIST! This is a myth; the only way you will gain a huge waistline is by gaining fat or doing a cycle of steroids. The reasons why gaining fat can increase your waistline is pretty obvious, the reason why steroids can increase your waistline is because you’re not only unnaturally increasing the size of your muscles, but your internal organs as well. It’s called a roid gut, or distended belly.

Now let me make it clear I am not judging anyone who uses steroids. It’s your decision and I respect that. It’s just a point I need to make for those of you watching this video who might be new to bodybuilding and are afraid of increasing your waist size.

If you would like more information on this topic, check out this video I did a while back. Lots of great info:

One more quick tip. If you‘re lacking TIME in the gym and can’t possibly train your abs as frequently as I do, a great way to still train them hard is to superset them between your regular routine. For example, if you’re going to the gym today to train chest, instead of taking a two minute break between sets use that time to perform an abdominal exercise.

I hope you guys enjoyed this video and it brought some clarity to a lot of questions you may have. Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions!

If you haven’t signed up for my LeanMuscleSystem yet, I will put a link HERE so you can jump on the waiting list and be ready for the next release of the program!

Now go train those abs! #HTH

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Nice man! I love it




I really liked the suggestion to superset an ab excercise in between your regular excercises. Lately, I've been having the problem that I either had to workout less to get enough sleep, or sleep less in order to train all muscle groups as many times as I actually wanted to.
Superset them throughout your regular workout seems like a good idea to train my abs more often without needing an extra training day for it. Gonna give it a try. Thanks a bunch!

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

yeah man I was having the same kind of trouble last month being so busy with the holidays.  supersetting definitely comes in handy!

Erica_Stibich  Edit  Delete  Close

Yes it is definitely a way to get ab work in without staying in the gym forever! Scott does that all the time!!!


"Learn My Secret To Achieving Six-Pack Abs!"

No thank you! I already know the secret..I watch Mike Chang :D :D

Brolle81  Edit  Delete  Close

4sure it is =) Not sure that I could handle the newly won fan club if doing that though ^^I would have to fence of all the ladies trying to grab and squeeze my "guns" and washboard abs.. Haha 

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

no way @jcgadfly!  You are doing great and I am super proud of you!

jcgadfly  Edit  Delete  Close

Heaven help me, I don't lnow how many times I was tempted to buy into Chang's (and other "instant fit body" programs). Ye gods, I was such a fat, lazy thing. Sometimes I feel like I still am (even with going to the gym 5x/week).


Let's see those abs Nation!  We are the most shredded community online! #HTH

jcgadfly  Edit  Delete  Close

Someday, sir. Still have a lot more work to do...