First off, the abdominal area is composed of six different muscles and the deeper the muscle, the greater affect it will have. The muscle closest to the spine is the transverse abdominal and the internal obliques control the body’s lateral flexion while the external obliques and rectus abdominal are located more towards the surface with much less effect.
One thing you should not do is train your core (abs) at the beginning of your workouts and here’s why: your abdominal muscles are incorporated in common big lifts such as squats, deadlifts and even military presses, thus you’ll need optimal core strength to assure maximum performance in said lifts.
Thrashing your core at the start of leg day and then diving into back, box and deep squats does not bode well for either form or safety. The job the core has in exercises such as these is to protect the spinal cord and to help relieve pressure off your lower back. By also tightening your abs in lifts like military press, you’re teaching yourself good body mechanics.
Pretty much by training your core at the very beginning of your overall workouts, you’re potentially reducing performance and diminishing the integrity of your lifts. Be patient and hit that core super hard after all weightlifting is said and done; this will translate to better protocol and a reduce in injury.
Photos by Per Bernal