Why Abs Training Should Not Be A Priority

Screenshot 2020-12-31 at 12.43.49
Sean Wilson

Sean Wilson

The abdominals are an extremely popular muscle group to train, but to make great progress, there are more important areas to work on. Here's why.

The abdominals are a very popular muscle group to train for many people. Everyone wants to have them as visible as possible and show off a leaner, more cut physique.

As a result, abs training is one of the first things people focus on when trying to get in shape. Yet, further down the line, frustration grows when they can’t see the progress that they were hoping for.

This is largely because you have not focused on other areas that need to be the priority. So, why is this? Why is training your abs a waste of your time, especially in the early days?

Body Fat Levels

If you want to trim down and have a leaner, more toned body shape where your abs can be visible, you must understand that this will not happen without lowering your body fat levels. Training abs does not achieve this, so you must focus on the areas that do.

Losing body fat requires a calorie deficit, a good training plan, quality nutrition, adequate recovery, patience, and a whole lot of consistency. If you do not lower your body fat levels, you will not be able to see your abs, regardless of how much you train them. So, achieving this must be a priority.

Does Not Reduce Pain

Many people suffer from aches and pains, particularly in their lower back, and believe that the solution is to train the abdominals in isolation. However, back pain does not occur because the ‘core’ is weaker, but more so because the lower body is nowhere near strong enough.

When the lower body is weak, you are unable to bend your knees and get into strong, stable squat positions. As a result, your back overcompensates and any weight or load is placed on your spine, rather than the huge leg muscle groups which can withstand an enormous amount of tension. So, start to train your quads, glutes and hamstrings more often and you will notice a huge number of benefits, including reduced back pain.

More Important Muscle Groups

It is important to understand that your abdominals are only a small muscle group and do not play as bigger role in a stronger body as much as others. Training your abs will make them thicker and stronger, but that does not mean a stronger body. As mentioned before, you must train larger areas of your body to get the best rewards.

This includes your leg (quads, glutes, hamstrings), back, shoulder and bicep muscles, which are the pillars to a better looking, stronger body. If you are weak in these areas to begin with, you must make sure that you prioritise them first to give your body stronger, more stable foundations.

Limited Potential For Increased Strength

Another issue with abs training is the limited potential for increasing your strength. Compound movements are excellent for building a stronger body and provide more value due to the fact that they work multiple muscle groups at once. Of course, if you are not in a position to start with those movements, isolation exercises will be far more beneficial in the early days.

When you train, you should be aiming to gradually increase the weight you lift in line with your strength improvements. This will provide the perfect stimulus for muscle growth, more stability, and better balance. It will also improve the quality and intensity of your sessions, which in turn increases your calorie output.

Lower Calorie Expenditure

When the goal is fat loss, doing exercises that burn more calories is a great way of placing yourself in a consistent deficit. Many people fall into the trap of believing that the more reps you do, the more calories you will burn, but this is far from the case. While you should look at training as a way of building muscle and increasing strength instead of burning calories, you also want to do exercises that are going to provide the most value through working your body the hardest.

This means, if you are in a position to do them, two to three heavy compound movements per session, before some intense isolation work at the end. These exercises will be more demanding, meaning that your calorie expenditure will be higher. They also indirectly active your abs during the movement.


So, while training your abs does indeed make them thicker and stronger, they should not be the priority, especially in the early days. This is because core training is not effective for lowering your body fat levels, reducing aches and pains, working more important muscle groups, increasing strength and burning more calories.

Abs training does have its place, but there are other areas that you must prioritise first to have the body that you are looking for.

Photo Credit: Envato Elements

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