T Nation

Abdominal Bulge


Wondering if anyone could offer any suggestions on this. A little about me first. Im 5'11" and a fairly lean 167 lbs. I'm an ectomorph, yet through T-Nation's great workouts and diet advice I am up from 117 lbs 18 months ago. I have "bulked" the entire time and my ultimate goal is a lean 200 lbs.

However there is a snag I've run into. I have a gut. I don't beleive it is fat as I cannot pinch more than 1/2 of an inch of skin between my fingers. Also if a flex my abs I have a six pack and my stomach becomes flat. When relaxed I look like a beer swilling slob.

I have done a little research and have seen this can possibly be caused by a weak transverse abdominis (sp?) and/or possibly tight hip flexors (although I'm ignorant of the biomechanics of the last possiblity).

I would love to hear anyones advice or opinions. Thanks.


I actually am the same way, I'm 5'8 145lbs with about 12-16% bodyfat and when I flex I have a 6pac but relaxed I got a little bit of a bulge that seems to be continuelly growing.


I've got the same thing, and have been recomended doing vacuum's / planks although they dont seem to have helped the problem. if you learn anything, please post it.


Yo guys

I have the same body type, and so do many other people. It's called "Skinny-fat" and has been said various types that it is the worst body type.

We tend to accumulate fat first around the ab area.

I have been on the Vdiet and so far it is the only diet that worked. I am losing fat w/o losing any muscle

BUT: The gut will not disappear until all other parts have been shredded. I am in my 3rd week and I can say that the last week of the VDIet will be the most interesting; there no fat throughout my body except a little in the gut area.

That being said, I have managed to control it by clean eating, doing a food log etc.

Nevertheless, you still have to find out how carb tolerant you are, and adjust diet accordingly. Once you tweak these things, I'm hopeful we could add muscle in appropriate amounts without too much fat gain.

Hope this helps a little bit



I don't know man. Your explanation is what I initially thought, but I have a fairly defined six pack if a flex. Additionally there just isn't anything to pinch down there. I don't think it is intra abdominal fat as when I lie down and relax my stomach sinks below my rib cage.

You might be on to something with the worst body type thing. If my body does one thing consistently well its to disappoint me. Thanks for the replies.


skinny fat is the absolute wrong term to use. Skinny fat is when you are small in size and have a high percentage of body fat. I have the same condition as the original poster and i'm 5'9" 215lbs and when i flex i'm ripped so calling me or anyone else who works out and has some fat stores around their belly skinny fat is crazy. I think it might have to do with an increase in abdominal size from doing the heavy compound lifts over the years. I guess i've neglected to balance out the inner abs cause the outer abs are pretty strong, that makes sense. laters pk


Check out the article "The Lost Secret of Ab Training". It discusses exercises that may help. I noticed a big improvement in my own gut when I started doing these.


I'm not as learned as some of the anatomy pros here. But here are a couple suggestions.

First, try doing crunches with a band wrapped around your knees, pulling them in away from the direction of the crunch. This forces you to keep your core tight and flat while you working your abs. I am not going to try to explain why, but I was shown this exercise by a trainer who has worked with Olympic athletes and it seems to have helped me.

Second, be honest with yourself. Most people, when standing relaxed, have abs that swelll out some. We all have a warped perspective on anatomy because of the pics in the magazines, the movies and so on. Unless the bulge is really out past your chest, it is probably normal.

Third, I agree with those who have recommended vacuums.

Fourth, Ian King wrote a great article on tight hip flexors, which explains why they will tilt the pelvis out, creating a bulge in your stomach. look it up.

And last, when I am bulking, I am always full. Six to eight meals, protein drinks, lots of calories, they will make you look pregnant. Have you ever taken two days off from heavy eating and then looked at your stomach? My waistline goes from 33 inches to 31 inches overnight, just because my stomach has digested all that food.

Hope something I have said helps. Good luck!


Could be the weak transvers abs or tight hips, or it could be the developement of a strong abdominal column, aka the muscle gut.

When you start doing weavy lifting like squats and deads it is likely that you will develope a strong, thick abdominal wall. Without a hyuuge lat spread it may look like a little gut like, but it is what keeps you from buckling under heavy wieght when you brace to lift.Consider it a good thing. People do pilates for years and can't get that.


Aren't cortisol levels highest in the tummy area? So fat normally forms first around the stomache.


I'd definately think this is part of it...my "waist" as measured around my naval goes from a 33 in the morning to a 35 or so by the time I go to bed at night b/c of all the food I eat. And I always feel semi-bloated/full. I know when I stop bulking I'll drop 4-5 lbs and at least 1" due to reducing my calories/carb load.


It could be visceral fat.


Alrighty first off -- flexing and seeing a 6-pack just says you're not ridiculously fat. It doesn't however say you're ridiculously lean either. There are a couple of potential problems:

  1. You're not sucking your stomachs in when you're working them out or doing other exercises and so you're hypertrophying the muscles to bulge, not to come in tighter. That I am sure is part of the answer.

  2. Omega-3 fats help decrease abdominal fat in particular, I would highly suggest you include them.

  3. You don't sound lean enough people. If you're 7% BF or above, then you've got some work to do to really get to the ridiculous ab level. Sorry.

  4. Next off you might want to reduce sodium and make sure you carb down -- that will remove the bloat.

In order to have a six pack not flexed though you have to be ultra lean. Again suck in the stomach at all times.

And if you're telling me it is only in your stomach, then I suggest you pinch around your patella and see if there is any flab, or behind the elbow... if you don't see your brachialis and you've been working it out (that muscle lateral to your bicep) then you're just not that lean. Suck in the gut, take omega-3's, drop the bloat, and keep leaning to 5% and below and then you can complain about some genetic nonsense.


Apologies if this was mentioned above, but you could also have abdominal bloating. For me, I have lots of muscle there, some fat, and abdominal bloating (from Irritable Bowel Symdrome).


Why don't you post a pic. so we can get a better idea?


Hey guys

Yep, whener I stick my gut in, my 6 pack becoimes very clearly defined...

I thought the term was indeed skinny fat.... that yes, skinny all over the body, but with a very high concentrated fat ratio in the stomach area.

Nevertheless, I'd say we ask this on Prime Time. We'll get much better responses.




First of all thank you for the advice. I will definitley address sucking my stomach in as I train. I also currently supplement with Omega-3s.

Although I am not at 7% or under, my principal concern is not a ripped six pack at this point but simply a lack of a huge beer gut that sticks out past my chest.

I tried the patella and elbow pinch test and cannot get anything more than tiny pinch of skin. (Or anywhere on my arms or legs for that matter).

I think you've misunderstood me if you beleive I am "complaining about some genetic nonsense". I think my weight and strength gains demonstrate I gave up that excuse long ago. Simply looking for a solution.

Whoever mentioned the "Lost Secret of Ab Training" article, thanks, I'm going to try that.


My solution to this is....

build a bigger chest!

Seriously some of us are just skinny and have thicker mid sections. This is something I've had going on my intire life. If your doing any amount of decent ab training (and or heavy lifts such as squats and deads) it will help your midsection seem tighter all the time, but beyond that I don't worry about it.

I think once you get closer to your goal of 200lb lean this will be less of an issue as you fill out the rest of your body.


The "skinny" refers to muscles. Skinny fat is when you are weak and have small muscles, yet a lot of fat making you look bigger. I could post a pic of myself to give you a better idea.

I know plenty of ex football players who are fat, yet you can tell they have lots of muscle underneath there. That is not "skinny fat" even though I've seen pics where people claim to be.


I haven't read through the entire thread, but could it be that your posture is off? I am a lot skinnier than I look, but because I have such bad posture form when I was younger, my stomach hangs out like a beer belly. When I stand up correectly and turn to the side, my stomach really isnt that big compared to the rest of my body, i.e it doesnt hang out more than my chest swells (if that makes sense). Try standing up straight. I think my problem is just being absurdly unflexible. If you have really gained that much muscle mass, which it sounds like you have, you might have lost flexibility.