You can do ab workouts before, after, or even during your runs, but if your goal is a strong core, when should you really work those muscles? "Like just about everything else in exercise, the 'best' time to do abdominal exercises is whenever you can," said Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist and fitness adviser for Bowflex.
Among other things, that depends on personal preference; I, for example, always used to do abs after my run. I switched to pre-run, frankly, because I liked running better and wanted to save the best for last. Yes, that was my extremely scientific reasoning. But if you want to know when you should actually work your abs for the best results, Tom gave us the real answer — and the pros and cons of whatever you choose.
Work Your Abs Before a Run For the Best Results
Look, if you like doing a quick ab workout after your run and that's what works for you, then keep on keeping on. But if you could go either way, or are just trying to develop the best routine, Tom said that pre-run abs is probably the way to go. "If you wait until after your workout, you will be fatigued with less energy to perform your ab moves," he told POPSUGAR. Your form might suffer and you may not be able to get in as many reps or hold positions, like a plank, for as long. All of which translates, potentially, to less-than-optimal results.
With the pre-run option, working your abs before a run — when you're still fresh — may allow you to push your intensity more while keeping up your proper form, Tom explained.
And, yes, you can also get in an ab workout during a run; that might mean pulling over on the side of the track for a plank or hopping off the treadmill for a quick ab circuit. This less-traditional approach has its advantages. "Your body will be warmed up yet not too fatigued," Tom explained.
But the overall best approach, he said, might actually be to switch it up between all three: doing an ab workout before some runs and during or after others, "for maximum variation and muscular stimulus." If your primary, number one goal is to build ab strength, though, Tom recommended going with the pre-run option.
Whatever you choose, keep it up with the core-and-running combination. The benefits go beyond aesthetics. "Having a strong core will maximize your running performance as well as enjoyment," Tom said. A strong, stable core lessens your risk of injury while running and helps you feel better while doing it. Even better: the benefits go both ways. A strong core helps you run better, and running itself can help strengthen your core. It doesn't get more win-win than that. Try this 10-minute ab workout, created especially for runners, to get started.