View Full Version : ab workout frequency?

February 26th, 2002, 11:14 PM
I've worked my way up to 800 situps / day by doing 400 in sets of 30 (and 1 of 40) twice a day. My question is: should I do this EVERY day or not?? I know that for arms/legs you're supposed to leave 1 or 2 days of rest between lifting workouts. Is it the same for abdominals or is it OK and beneficial to work them EVERY day??

Thanks in advance!

February 27th, 2002, 01:55 AM
Abs and calves are the two things you can work on daily.

I would only suggest giving yourself a rest day every week, perhaps every two weeks, just to be safe.

I am not sure the long term effect of doing it twice a day though. If it is not interfering with your swimming then I guess it is not a big deal, but my limited experience in physical training cannot answer that aspect of your question. But I would tend to suggest doing it all at once.

Hope this helps!

Philip Arcuni
February 27th, 2002, 02:30 PM
That is quite a lot of situps, Supafly. You are truely super!

I think the current thinking is that situps are not as effective, and more stressful on the lower back, then "crunches." I have only recently been introduced to them, and they are hard! They are situps where you only go 1/3 of the way up, and often more rapid. You can vary the direction of the crunch (left, right, straight) and other variations, such as whether your feet are on the ground or not. Don't forget to balance things out with back arches the other way.

February 27th, 2002, 03:16 PM
To elpaninaro:

I can't do 800 all at one time though... why do you suggest doing them all at once instead of 400 twice a day? What problems does 400 twice a day pose?

February 27th, 2002, 10:51 PM
Hiya Supa,

Again, I am not sure if there are any potential injury risks here. I was just floating the thought out there is all.

But there is one other reason and Phillip's post reminded me it was a point I forgot to make.

One of the best things about crunches is that they isolate the abs better than situps. Situps create a very easy temptation to use your back, neck, shoulder and arm muscles and that reduces their effectiveness in some cases. It all depends on the person, and thus I am not making any judgements here since I do not know you, just putting out there how it works for most people.

Additionally there is with abs the issue of what I call "peak effectiveness."

If you do a set of 10 on the bench press for example, each and every repetition is going to have significant value. Same applies to many exercises using weights.

The issue with abs however is that since there is no additional weight involved with a situp, and since the ab muscles are used quite frequently in the course of your normal daily activity, it takes several reps to get to the point where you are doing some serious work.

If I do a set of 100 crunches, it will take 40-50 before I really begin to feel it because it takes time to work to the stress point. Therefore, in a set of 100 crunches, 40-50 will get me to the point of a good workout, and only the latter 50-60 will actually be the workout.

As I do more sets immediately after, the workout point (ie where they start to burn) will come faster and faster. So subsequent sets will become increasingly efficient and effective.

Let me present a scenario here. Four sets of 100 crunches each...

I do all four at once with 15-20 seconds rest between each set, and a good theoretical outcome is as follows. This is a realistic outcome based on my experience, so it is not total guesswork LOL.

Set 1- 40 crunches to get to where I start to feel it- to where the workout is happening. So in this set, 60 crunches have been an effective muscle builder
Set 2- 30 to get to workout, 70 effective crunches.
Set 3- 20 to get to workout mode, 80 effective crunches
Set 4- 10 to get to workout mode, 90 effective crunches.

Net total- 100 crunches to get me to the workout point, and 300 crunches that actually do serious work to improve my abs.

Now let us say I do two sets of 100 twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. By nighttime, my abs are fully relaxed again so I get a repeat of Set 1 and Set 2 above both times as follows,

Set 1- 40 to get to workout point, 60 effectives
Set 2- 30 to get there, 70 effectives

Set 1- 40 to get to workout point, 60 effectives
Set 2- 30 to get there, 70 effectives

Net total- 140 crunches to workout point, 260 that do serious work to my abs, BUT also I have missed out on having the benefit of sets 3 and 4 in the first example where I get 80 or 90 consecutive crunches to really work me out. Once you are at workout point, each additional crunch or situp will have a greater effect that the one before it. So the 40 good crunches/situps you lose have a greater value each that the ones you have achieved.

Hence, by doing it all at once, it is a reasonable guess, assuming the sets are the same length and the exercises are effective, that you could do 550-600 situps in one sitting and get the same results as doing 800 in a day at two separate times.

I think situps can be great. I do not do them because I prefer the crunch method since it gets me faster results. So I am not saying you need to abandon situps.

But do give them a try and see what you think. A very effective workout is to mix it up- doing sets of situps, then crunches, then crunches with your legs up, and then crunches where you lean to one side and the other.

It will give you a more rounded workout of all the muscles in your abs, and by switching it up you can do more without stopping, which is key.

The less rest the better when it comes to your ab routine since you do not want to lose that "peak performance" point that is achieved about halfway through the first set. The longer your rest, the more time you spend achieving that point again in the next set.

Hope this helps!


February 27th, 2002, 11:45 PM
Wow very informative! The thing that I hadn't realized was that every additional crunch after the workout point does more for the abs than the previous one :o... in which case doing more all at once rather than in two workouts does make sense!

I actually meant 800 crunches initially not situps; I was just confusing the two. They're definitely more effective than situps.

I do them on an exercise ball (the soft air-filled type about 3x the diameter of a basketball or so) and I recommend this method. If you lie on it so your shoulderblades are on the ball that will work the upper abs and sliding up so that your butt is on the ball works the lower abs, and of course everything in between these extremes works too. The left/right ones work as well so all the ab muscles can get a great workout. The fact that you're trying to balance on the ball works all of the stabilizer muscles in the area.
You should give it a try and see for yourself... ;)

March 1st, 2002, 03:15 AM
Ah yes! The dreaded exercise ball LOL. My trainer taught me a lot of tricks, but we gave up on that thing real fast. It does work I am sure, she certainly wanted me to try it, but I could just never get comfortable with it. I think my height and limb length just made it very clumsy.

Glad to know you were doing 800 crunches instead of 800 situps too! 800 crunches is VERY respectable, but 800 situps was gonna make me feel real inadequate.

If you were doing 800 situps a day, then I would say you need to change your handle to SupaHuman...


March 1st, 2002, 09:09 AM
I had a buddy in HS who did situps for half an hour every day one summer because he read that Rowdy Gaines did some huge amount daily. I wish I could remember the number, it was at least 4 figures if not 5. This was before crunches were the thing.

I think at this volume you are fine doing it every day. It is more aerobic / interval training than strength training. Have you tried the exercise with a weight on your chest/forehead?

I'd be more concerned about boredom with a high volume. There are some fairly intense stomach exercises you can do that won't require the same time. Hang from a bar, lift your knees up straight and to the side. Try that little rolling wheel, do not let your back sag.

Swim fast,

March 1st, 2002, 09:16 PM
I doubt that it is still standing, but my first record I set as a freshman at Northwestern (where I swam the 440) in 1942-43. President Roosevelt had declared a physical training program that included sit-ups to be done with a buddy holding down the feet of the contestant. I have no idea how many I had done, but I quit only because I had to go to my next class. At the time the instructor told me that I had set the school record!

Since then I have done sit-ups somewhat with feet held down by heavy furniture, but not in the last thirty years or so. For a while I did some "crunches" on the YMCA's weight machines, but when I learned that several world champion masters swimmers did not engage in weight training to avoid the threat of injury, I took a similar stand for the same reason.

I also have reason to believe that most, if not all, of the present prominence of abdominal exercises is a misplaced emphasis on vanity. In short, my guess is that sit-ups or crunches are not a worthwhile dedication of time or effort to most, if not all, masters swimmers. If there is any one out there who has knowledge or expertise to contradict me on this, don't hesitate.