Is it better to do abdominal exercises before or after a workout? A.M., Vancouver, WA
Actually, there are pros and cons to both. Performing abdominal exercises before a workout will help to warm-up and prepare the core/abdominal muscles for the actual workout which will involve these muscles in some manner. However, you must be careful not to overly fatigue these important muscles prior to exercise as they are the spine and pelvis support network. If totally fatigued for example, prior to a loaded back squat and/or deadlift, poor form and injury may result. So if you do your abdominal exercises before your workout, you would want to take it easy and train at a sub-maximal level for the rest of your workout.
If you wait to perform your abdominal exercises at the end of the workout, you can train them more aggressively because you won't have to worry about the over-fatigued state as we mentioned above.
You can even perform abdominal exercises during a workout in between exercise sets so long as the intensity does not exhaust the abdominal muscles and compromise the quality and/or safety of any of the other exercises in the workout. For example, sometimes a workout circuit I will follow will be a lower body exercise, upper body exercise and then a core exercise and repeat this template with different exercises each time through.
Yours in health and fitness,
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