Learning to activate the stability muscles throughout all exercises performed is best. If you intentionally perform “ab” exercises with the intent of creating sufficient activation and fatigue to improve some physiological parameter (endurance, strength, etc.) before other movements (like squats), you increase the risk of injury due to fatiguing the stability system. I do not recommend this. Save this type of exercise for the end of the workout. Especially with athletic performance workouts (Football practice, etc.) I would rather you think of the entire stability system instead of the “abs”.
This is a type of question that I recently answered. I copied and pasted it here for convenience. (The end bit is my pitch for my own programs.)
Many of the currently used exercises are excellent for increasing endurance (planks, bridging, etc.), especially for novice exercisers. But stability, like most activities, needs to be dynamic and adaptive.
Teaching techniques that allow clients to intentionally activate the stability system is the first step. When this is done consistently, the client will develop this into a habit and also become aware of when the system is not activated or too fatigued to safely attempt an activity.
The progression of this is to use multiplanar movement activation exercises for the stability muscles. This is fairly complex, but not difficult to learn how to do or how to teach. Understanding progression/regression is the key to this and really any type of exercise system.
I teach this and more on the Big Island of Hawaii. Check out my new website, www.hawaiifitnessacademy.com or contact me through my profile here.
Come to the Big Island for a Continuing Educaton Vacation and you should be able to write off most of your expenses (if you set up your week/weeks with me properly) for the trip.
Ask your tax guy. According to my tax advisor, “Professionals must spend over half of their days doing business (in a CEC course for some part of the day) to deduct airfare. Other costs (Hotels, meals, rental car) are only written off for the business days (days of CEC courses).”
I set up CEC courses for individuals or groups according to this, their budget, and how they want to set up their time. I can take you around the island for off site course work and out on field trips like swimming the triathlon course, hiking the volcano,and more with CEC time, etc. And you get to come to Hawaii!!
It is best to add ab exercises right after your workout or at the fag end of your workout. This will help you reap greater benefits from your workout and sculpt a tiny waist.