T Nation

Squats Widen Midsection?


I've been wondering about this for a while, especially with my ever-growing gut (yea, I know I'm getting fatter too, but still).

Could pushing your abs out when squatting, or deadlifting, or overhead pressing, or benching, or any lift where you brace your spine by pushing your abs out and take deep breaths 'into your stomach' so to speak?

I'm also thinking that all of the compound exercises that help to strengthen the core could also be adding muscle to the midsection, making it larger, but it seems that the constant pushing out might get the muscles used to the position and creates a wider midsection. Plus, I don't know of any other muscle group that acts the way the abs and obliques do.



I'm not sure about pushing the abs out when squatting but I think direct oblique work has definitely widened my waist. I have to be careful when measuring my bodyfat on the suprailliac. I think the amount of water we as bodybuilders take in also cause some stomach expansion. But, what do I know? I would like to here some comments as well.


Perhaps. I have been on a big bulking cycle for a year (225->265), and I'm kind of half cutting now. My lifts improved enough to suggest that my bulk was about half fat half muscle, and my cutting goal is to get about 250. I'm taking my time on that.

Anyways, I have the weirdest body composition. I have more fat than I did before, for sure, but I don't really see it in my face, arms, or anywhere else when I was 260 fat. I've gained about 3 inches on my waist, but looking in the mirror I have this weird pooch that starts below my ribs and protrudes in a way that can't possibly be all fat. I should post a pic, but I don't have a digital camera. I don't have a reliable body fat measurement for now, but I started at 10%.


You push your gut out? I presume you're using a belt.

I don't use a belt when I lift. Granted, I've found my gut's getting bigger than I'd like, but that's because my training and diet have gone to shit lately. After I squat or deadlift, though, my gut's tight again and has a natural kind of inward sweep.

When you look at the old lifters from the 30's to the early 50's, even those who regularly handled heavy weights had very trim midsections.


It just grows like everything else. I've had discussions with some of my friends about the possibility that midsections widen in part due to the massive amounts of food it takes to bulk, plus the water, plus the ab/oblique work.

I think everything comes into play.


I don't know the facts, so I'll just speak for myself. I've noticed that since I've started using a belt, I have more of a gut. It's not so much of the fat that is on my stomach, cause there is that too, but I think since I've gotten used to pushing out instead of sucking in and tightening my midsection, I just don't keep my abs tight all the time anymore.


umm, yeah, i got one ... i think you're a fat bastard ... lose the fatness, but otherwise don't worry ... it is ok for your midsection to be "too muscular"


I think Colgan wrote about this in his "Power Program" -- exercises to specifically taper the gut back in, and talking about how use of a belt is detrimental to it. He claims that you can actually get better spinal support by training the natural support system, creating a body that ends up being stronger in a raw lift.


And let me guess, you think that he should get out and Jog?

I wouldnt expect anything less from an ignorant little bitch like you.


vince gironda claimed that squats widen enlarge the gut and detracts from the v look. He was against squatting bc of this factor and a number of other factors




from my own experience...

using belt and pushing abs out (talking about Valsalva Manouver) does increase waist-line with time. it's not happening overnight, but IT DOES HAPPEN! I like gained stability though, so there's NO complaining here.
I am not talking here about increased % of Body Fat, but simply about thicker obliques and overall hips and weist size.
Well, overall body performance and core strenth is fantastic too


I don't use a belt untill I get close to 90% of my 1RM.

Either way I still push my gut out when squatting. This has already been argued about. It works.


LOL, that's funny. "JOG".

I think I'll bulk to 250 now.


I'm not saying it doesn't. But if you want a smaller midsection, it's certainly someting to think about.


A couple thoughts from my own experience of my most recent bulking cycle:

  1. The added meals and water made my stomach constantly full so I looked bloated, this was of course temporary;

  2. All the heavy compound movements, especially squats seemed to thicken my obliques (nothing new); and

  3. I ended up developing a bit of lordosis (sp?) from the frequent squating and maintaining an arch. I was constantly having lower back discomfort and my stomach was bulging, even when not full. I would have never thought about this until I say the Mike R. article a little while ago. Since correcting this imbalance my stomach does appear flatter.

Bottom line, as long as your stomach is strong, who gives a shit.


Dont you mean that you WILL bulk to 250?


I wonder how much Colgan squats...


Jog is just the cutest little troll, isn't he?


Look at old school bodybuilders (Aronld, Columbo, Zane) Who did squats heavy for years. They had thick abs and could hit serious vaccume poses. They did not get a big round belly.

Today look at Mariuz and Marunde. Both squat, do olympic lifts etc and both have great v-tapers and thick abs.

I don't think you have to worry.