Great question! The reason you have been receiving conflicting advice, is that the subject itself is somewhat controversial.
Part of the problem lies in varying parameters of what actually constitutes "abdominal training."
For some, this means training the more superficial muscles such as the rectus abdominus, as well as the obliques. We are talking about your basic crunches and rotations. Some hold the belief that since you are not weight training these muscles, its ok to work them on a daily basis. Many people feel "sloppy" if they have not done their daily set of crunches. But the "sloppiness" has less to do with a weak rectus abdominus. In many cases, the issue is one of postural alignment. If someone sits hunched at their desk all day long, their abdominals may well be sagging. But since they are sitting in flexion all day, is it really a good idea to engage in flexion on a daily basis, as you would when performing crunches?
When I teach a 45 minute step class in a corporate facility, I often do not do traditional ab work at the end of class. Instead, I encourage them to use their deep core muscles while stepping, keeping a tall spine, as opposed to what we call "Groucho Stepping." Like skiing, this involves keeping their center of gravity over their base of support, as opposed to behind.
Speaking of skiing, ski pros who ski every day actually work their "abs" on a daily basis. Not their rectus abdominus.But their transverse needs to be very active for balance and alignment.\
Many people do not realize that the internal obliques also have a
stabilizing function. The act of keeping the hips facing downhill uses the obliques as stabilizers, as opposed to rotators.
People who are really in touch with their deeper core muscles can activate them at will. Since their posture is usually pretty good, They don't get that sloppy feeling if they miss a day of crunches.
Based on the number of back problems we hear about, as well as how often people tend to fall, either on the slopes, or in day to day activities, most people do not have very active DEEPER core muscles. Core work that does not involve flexion can probably be done almost daily.(See the Finally Feeling Better thread in this section for exercise ideas.) As I always say, practicing 10second abdominal holds 10 times a day is a great way to re-awaken your transverse.
Then, on alternate days, you can do traditional abdominal work.
Hope I have not made you even more confused! [img]smile.gif[/img]
[ November 04, 2003, 08:47 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]