It’s a great idea to include ab exercises during your bulk for the following reasons:
- You will build better core strength necessary for performing heavy compound lifts.
- Ab workouts during a bulk will prevent muscle imbalances that come from neglecting the abdominals.
- By building ab mass during a bulk, it will be much easier to achieve defined abs when you begin a cutting phase.
- Help prevent midsection fat accumulation and a soft abdomen.
Combine dedicated ab workouts with compound lifts to build muscle and functional strength in your abdomen. Just like any other muscle, work your abs a couple of times each week and provide recovery time so that you can build muscle without overtraining.
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4 Reasons You Should Work Your Abs While Bulking
Just because you’re in a bulk doesn’t mean abs are no longer an essential muscle for performing at your best in the gym. Here’s why you should include ab workouts in your bulking phase.
Build Core Strength and Stability
Regardless of the phase you’re in, maintaining a strong core is essential for overall strength and stability. By working your abs during bulking, you’ll be strengthening your core, which in turn will help you perform other exercises with better form and reduced risk of injury. This is especially important for mass-building compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows. Each of these exercises requires a strong core to allow you to advance to heavier weights and set a new PR during your bulk.
Create a Balanced Physique
Working on your abs while bulking ensures you do not create any muscle imbalances. Since you’re gaining muscle mass all over your body during a bulk, it makes sense to include your abs in the process. Ignoring your abs during bulking can cause muscle imbalances that increase your injury risk and contribute to a less aesthetic physique.
Make Cutting Easier
Just like the other muscles in your body, it’s easier to increase the muscle mass of your abs during a bulk. Larger, stronger ab muscles will appear much more easily as you lose fat during a cutting phase. Although you may not think of bulking as an opportunity to add definition, working your abs during a bulk makes achieving a visible six-pack easier in the long run. We covered this method in more detail in our article on how to get abs while bulking.
Manage Fat Gain
While it’s true that you’re likely to gain some fat during a bulking phase, including ab exercises in your routine can help minimize fat accumulation in the midsection. Although you can’t spot-reduce fat, incorporating regular ab workouts can contribute to a more even fat distribution throughout your body. You’ll retain a harder midsection throughout your bulk by including ab workouts in your routine.
How Can You Work Your Abs Effectively While Bulking?
Now that we’ve established the benefits of working your abs during a bulking phase, here’s how to put the theory into practice:
Prioritize Compound Exercises
While it’s essential to include ab-specific exercises in your routine, don’t forget about compound exercises. Squats, deadlifts, rows, and overhead presses engage multiple muscle groups at once, including your core. By incorporating compound exercises in your routine, you’ll be indirectly working your abs and building overall strength.
Select Your Ab Exercises Carefully
When choosing ab exercises, opt for movements that target your entire core, such as planks, hanging leg raises, and ab rollouts. Avoid exercises that only target your upper abs (rectus abdominis) like traditional crunches and sit-ups. Many ab exercises neglect the lower abdominals (transverse abdominus). For more information on the best ab exercises, check out our comparison of the ab wheel vs. planks.
Don’t Overdo It
Even though you’re bulking, there’s no need to go overboard with ab training. Your abs are like any other muscle group and require adequate rest and recovery to grow. To prevent overtraining, work your abs 2 to 3 times per week. Allow 48 hours of recovering time between ab training sessions to get the best results.
Quality Over Quantity
Focus on performing fewer ab exercises that target your entire abdominal region, rather than performing many reps of a simple exercise. If you’re a beginner to total ab training, bird dogs, dead bugs, and planks are a great way to build muscle throughout your abdomen. As you get stronger, you can advance to hanging leg raises and ab wheel rollouts. Doing many reps of easier exercises is more likely to result in injury or overtraining, instead of stronger abs.
Is it OK to Skip Abs While Bulking?
You should not stop doing ab workouts when you are on a bulk. Your abs are essential for stabilizing your core during compound lifts. Plus, skipping ab workouts results in muscular imbalances and increases your injury risk. By working abs while you bulk up, you’ll build abdominal muscle, which combats fat gain while bulking. Keeping ab exercises in your workout during a bulk will make it easier to cut and reveal your defined abs.