Is It OK to Do Crunches Every Day?

close-up of a woman doing abdominal crunches

When it comes time to work out your abs, it’s more than likely that crunches are among your mix of exercises. The crunch effectively develops your rectus abdominis, which is the major muscle in your abs. Whether you can do crunches everyday depends on your workout volume and intensity, as well as your training goals.

Importance of Rest

Although you’re likely not holding any weighted implements during crunches, the exercise is considered a strength-training activity. Your abdominals have to lift up the load of your shoulders and upper back. Strength training is effective at building strength and tone because it overloads and damages your muscles. When your muscles heal, they do so while adapting so they’re better able to handle the stress they undergo during your workouts. They increase their force production capabilities and increase in size. It’s during the breaks in between your workouts that this adaptation and development occurs. If you don’t give your abs enough time to heal, you’ll significantly limit their development.

Volume and Intensity

How often you can do crunches depends on how many you do and if you’re using any additional weighted implements. If you're only doing a single set of crunches to maintain strength, you won’t exhaust your abs. Therefore, you won’t need as much time to recover. If you’re interested in building muscular tone in your stomach, however, your crunch workouts will need to be of a higher volume. To effectively build tone and definition, you need to do enough crunches to leave your abs feeling exhausted and you need to allow more recovery time.

Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico recommends doing crunches three to five days every week, but notes that doing them every day would be fine. However, he does so because he considers most ab workouts to not be of high enough volume or intensity to fatigue and overload your abdominals. If you’re just doing a few sets of crunches, it's OK to do them everyday. The American Council on Exercise, however, recommends that you give your abs a day off in between crunches like you would with any other strength-training workout. Therefore, at the most you should do crunches three days per week.

Crunch Misconceptions

Doing crunches more often will not make an impact on any excess fat that you have on your stomach. Strength activities like crunches directly develop your muscular tissue, which is completely independent of fat tissue. If you're looking to lose torso fat and tone up your stomach, the American Council on Exercise recommends that you eat a low-fat diet and frequently participate in calorie-burning cardio exercise. You can simultaneously tone your stomach with crunches so when you lose the excess fat, the muscle definition you've developed is visible.