You were so focused on getting great abs that you overdid it on the exercise. No one can blame you; you were only doing what you thought would help flatten your tummy and give you that coveted six-pack. But now you’re paying the price and suffering the adverse effects -- pain, injury or fatigue -- of workouts that were too strenuous.
Muscle Strains and Pulls
One of the main signs that you overdid it on the ab work is pain. When you overwork a muscle or group of muscles, the fibers can tear or rupture, leaving you with what is called a strain or, worse, a pull. You can strain or pull your ab muscles by making a sudden lifting movement, lifting too much weight or by overusing the area. And you’ll feel it, too. If you tear a muscle, you’ll feel immediate pain, usually in the lower abs, whereas if you strain it, you may not feel it until you contract the area again. Depending on the severity of your injury, it can take days, weeks or even months to heal a strain or pull caused by strenuous exercise.
Slowed Muscle Growth
Your muscles need time to rebuild, and the only way they can do this is by resting. If you never give your abs a chance to rest, your body can’t repair the damaged tissue that you worked so hard to break down. Instead of helping your body get stronger, you’ll just continue to make it weaker if you never give it time off. That’s why overworking your abs is a great way to get nowhere fast.
Decreased Athletic Performance
Think about the location of your abs. As part of your core, they’re right in the middle of everything and are responsible for helping you live, move and work out. Whether you’re trying to train for a race or athletic competition or just maintain a regular fitness routine, you need strong, healthy abs to achieve your goal. But if you overstress your abs, they won’t be able to perform how they should when you’re ready to work. Once again, fatigue will keep you from success and you’ll suffer a decreased athletic or fitness performance due to a tired and weakened core.
Instead of killing your abs day after day and risking your health and ability to function, learn how to train your abs in a way that increases your strength and enhances your life and mobility. Just as you would with any other muscle group, allow your abs to rest for one to two days between workouts. If you want to do intense workouts, go for it. Just don’t do them every day and don’t do more than your abs can handle. For the best results, consult a personal trainer or ask your physician for advice. And if you are currently experiencing abdominal pain or have already overused the area, discontinue your ab routine and contact your doctor for help.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.