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Discussion: Abs everyday - yay or nay?

in: Orienteering; Training & Technique

Mar 1, 2021 4:18 AM # 
Danny Riley:
I've seen arguments for both: abs every day or abs only 2-3 times a week. Which seems better? I've always been told that you could work your abs every day but some people now seem to be saying otherwise.
Mar 1, 2021 5:57 AM # 
The question is a bit vague, however it depends a lot on what you are going for.

In terms of training for orienteering "Core" is a more appropriate thing to train than particularly abs. But we could go even further and ask why core even helps orienteering, a sport that mainly involves running and our legs.

For that I think there is a lot of info out there already that does a good job explaining what core strength actually does.

[core strength] helps to
stabilise the spine, pelvis, and kinetic chain
during functional movements

This particular stabilization is especially important in Orienteering which includes much more variation in footing and conditions.

(Some of the following is paraphrased from the book Running Rewired if you are interested in checking it out)

I think what's important to note is that a lot of abdominal targeted exercises target very specific muscles that while technically part of our "core", these are not the muscles most responsible for stability and driving motion while running/orienteering.

What is actually doing a lot of the heavy lifting and is most often undertrained are the core muscles in your lower back, hips and glutes (erector spinae, psoas major, tensor fasciae etc.) but targeting these muscles individually also tends to ineffective.

The recommendation for at home, no equipment core work would include as many compound, stability, and rotational movements as possible (plank/plank variations, bridges, Russian twists, hollow hold, supermans etc) and less isolated movements (crunches). This is provide for a more effective workout that provides more strength with less DOMS (delayed onset muscles soreness) and an easier time recovering.

Anyways this brings me back to the original question and the answer is: it depends. Do core / abs as often as feels comfortable and aiming for a specific optimal volume of strength is less important than doing more effective strength training during that time.
Mar 1, 2021 2:26 PM # 
Jan Erik Naess:
2-3 times a week is great. General core and upper body oftentimes serve as more of a physical fitness confidence booster than to aid actual performance.

Core, specifically everything stabilizing your body while running through the forest is hugely beneficial, especially as you get into longer races and multi-day events.

I remember a few years back I had been doing 10 minutes 3 days a week and then went to the Portugal O-meeting. 4 days of extremely fast terrain and by the end, my back and neck were hurting so bad I could only roll in and out of bed in one direction. I later found out it was because my core had more or less run out of energy and other muscles were compensating. I was really lucky not to come out with an injury.

Focus on strengthening your core to meet the needs of the races you plan to run
Mar 1, 2021 5:51 PM # 
Once your body accomadates to any exercise, not much can be gained by doing it. So 1 or 2 times a week would be maintenance, nothing to be gained by doing it every day....saying that, I do a set of exercises 5 times a week, just because it's easier mentally to just do them every morning rather than a changing day to day. As Jan learned above, the best exercise to improve your ..running.
Mar 1, 2021 7:04 PM # 
Yeah, if you can run in a forest for an hour every day then that works! But if a lot of your training ends up being on roads, I think strength training is an essential component of orienteering training.

But it does depend what you mean by "abs" and "core". Full body movements that require engagement of muscles similar to those used in terrain stability are of way more benefit than a gazillion crunches.
Mar 1, 2021 7:38 PM # 
Might be a different story if your objective is mainly to get a killer six-pack.
Mar 1, 2021 11:53 PM # 
What happened to the idea of a hard day of workout, working muscles to their limit followed by a day of relative rest to allow the muscles, including core muscles, to recover and re-build stronger than before?
Apr 15, 2022 9:18 AM # 
riley mcfarlane :
Most humans can recover within 2 hours of physical intense exercise. Oh, and in terms of abs every day, well your abs get heaps of blood flow anyway so I'd say yay. Don't forget to work out your hip flexors, shins, hamstrings (flexion of knees and extension of hips) and shoulders. Basically, no runner should have a weak point in their body, it doesn't matter if it's aesthetically symmetrical as long as you can push and pull and squat and lunge and reverse squat and reverse lunge your own body weight then that's fine. Only training core I believe is a waste of time, all of your other tendons and ligaments are prone to injury if you don't utilise them to their full ability.
Apr 15, 2022 11:14 AM # 
There's no doubt that strength and core stability is vital to run your fastest. The old-school argument that strength will make you gain huge muscles has been fully debunked. But the question was whether you can do abs every day - yes, you can. Those muscles are almost fully slow twitch fibers, used every day all day to stabilize your spine, so it is really hard to overwork them.

Should you do abs every day? There is no reason to. A logically-planned strength program executed 2-3 times a week such as described by various people above would be a much better use of your time.
Apr 15, 2022 10:32 PM # 
Riley good Q and A session guys!
Apr 19, 2022 8:33 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
From personal experience over the last 25 years, doing indoor rock climbing twice a week is the perfect way to get all the core strength needed for hilly, off-path orienteering!
Apr 19, 2022 11:26 PM # 
Finally a core program suggestion that appeals. ;-)
Apr 20, 2022 5:14 AM # 
Jan 25, 2023 6:14 PM # 
The parts of my body that seem to get worked when I orienteer are my ankles, and my calfs and my thighs. The upper body doesn't seem to factor into it, unless you consider your lung function when running.

I work out pretty regularly at Planet Fitness and I find that time on the treadmill is critical to a pain-free, exhaustion-free, 3-hour orienteering experience, during, and in the days after.

I learned at my last orienteering competition that my lower calf muscles need work. They were sore for 3 days after the event. This was because unlike my previous orienteering in Florida, Tennessee if very hilly and tends to stretch/use the calf muscles more. So, I intend to add an incline to the treadmill and also do some tip-toe lifting to building up strength in the lower calf area. Leg raises with a weight around my ankles, while lying flat on my back, lifting with a straight leg works the upper thighs.
Jan 26, 2023 5:26 AM # 
AJ Riley's reply earlier in this thread is very relevant I think. For me, weak glutes or forgetting to activate them before and during a run seems to be my biggest cause of calf or quad tightness or strains.
Jan 26, 2023 8:16 AM # 
Maybe that's why I haven't had any leg injuries lately, I always perform a glute and core activation routine before every run. It's not much but it's something.
Jan 27, 2023 3:46 PM # 
tRicky, could you share what exercises you do to activate them please?
Jan 30, 2023 11:46 AM # 
Eh it's not a whole lot, front leg swings (10 each leg plus 10 with boot-to-glute), side leg swings and a derivation of aeroplanes (10 each leg, more for the hamstrings than the glutes but a bit of benefit to both). Lunges with trunk twist if I'm feeling perky. There was a time when I also did planks with single leg raise/hold but I'm not convinced of the benefit of that right before exercise. Could be good to activate your core or could just wear you out.
Jan 31, 2023 2:28 AM # 
Of course now that I've said that, I have a minor niggle on the inside of my left shin, which I know will lead to further problems if I don't do something about it.
Jan 31, 2023 8:46 AM # 
Thank you tRicky. I much prefer the more mobile exercises practised by other orienteers to the static ones you come across.
Jan 31, 2023 11:36 AM # 
The ones I do aren't static.
Jan 31, 2023 11:52 AM # 
Sorry that was poorly worded! I meant yours are mobile, as are most orienteers, and the static ones are the ones you find via google.
Jan 31, 2023 10:44 PM # 
Ahh yes I'm sure there's some research somewhere that says static stretches before exercise are not good for warming up with.

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