T Nation

Thick Abs vs Flat Abs?

Recently, I’ve noticed my abs getting kind of thick, which irks me a lot.

I’ve been training for about 3 years, the past 8 months were more progression-oriented (no more “anorexia athletica”).
I do a 4-day split with varying rep ranges, lots of basic exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and so on. Currently very little cardio.

I am very happy to see growth in my arms, back and legs, but my abs are a different matter.
I used to do dedicated ab work (the standard, high-rep gym class stuff), but obviously that doesn’t give you ripped abs. So I no longer do add abs to my workouts, I supposed the support work for the lifts, pull-up/pushups would suffice. It does, strength-wise…if it weren’t for the shape, I’d be fine with that.
I’m not gaining fat on my stomach, rather it really seems to be an issue of the abs (especially upper) getting thicker.

They’re getting stronger from all those lifts, but why bigger? Is there a way to prevent this? I realize it’s probably in part due to genetics…but thick abs look bad on me, I’m quite short, big frame (my ribcage and hipbones would suit a much taller person) so I’d appear rather, well, blockish.

Any suggestions?

Its partly when you get stronger…and dont do as much cardio…If you keep more cardo going your abs will stay thinner looking. Im the same say. I stopped doing so much running and my abs are very thick…especially for my size. 5 11 170…I do ab rollers from the toes though and that makes them thick. If you also eat really lean there will be less fat over them… But the thickness really is beneficial to lifting. Keeps your body inline much easier. Heavy sqauts and dead lifts seem to make the abs puff out.

I’ve recently been reading a bit more about training obliques. Trying to avoid the square oblique look we associate with men, and keep more of an hourglass can be tricky, especially for those of us who really like to do the compound lifts, but here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Focus more on timed planks (front elbow planks and side planks).

  • And here’s another one to strengthen your transverse abdominals (the ones that corset you in and emphasize the hourglass). I was taught to do this one while laying on my back in a glute bridge posture, exhaling and pulling the belly button back toward my backbone and holding for a count of 10 or so. The video below shows the person on your hands and knees, but it’s essentially the same idea.

  • Maybe more myotatic crunches on the bosu ball. It’s just BW, not progressively heavier stuff that is going to thicken you up more at the waist. It’s pretty hard not to really engage the abs and push out on something like a heavy DL anyway, so you probably don’t need to add more weighted isolation ab stuff.

  • For my physique goals, I’m not going to try to thicken my abs anymore than they are, because for my proportions I want to keep my waist small. I have vertical lines, but not a visible six-pack. If you look at most of the women who are competing in bikini these days, you won’t see a lot of ab thickness on most.

Squats and deads are very core orientated because the hips,lower spine and stomach needs stability and protection. Start wearing a belt when you squat and deadlift which help take those muscles off line while you perform the exercise.

[quote]tattoo’d’popeye wrote:
Squats and deads are very core orientated because the hips,lower spine and stomach needs stability and protection. Start wearing a belt when you squat and deadlift which help take those muscles off line while you perform the exercise. [/quote]

that’s the most dangerous and horrible advice ive ever read.
belts are supposed to build more pressure in the core, not take any work away from it. when you use it like that injury is imminent.

Old school bodybuilders didn’t do abs during a bulking stage, for that reason. If it really worked or not who knows, but they did have a different look.

[quote]Kooopa wrote:

[quote]tattoo’d’popeye wrote:
Squats and deads are very core orientated because the hips,lower spine and stomach needs stability and protection. Start wearing a belt when you squat and deadlift which help take those muscles off line while you perform the exercise. [/quote]

that’s the most dangerous and horrible advice ive ever read.
belts are supposed to build more pressure in the core, not take any work away from it. when you use it like that injury is imminent.[/quote]

You have no clue or education to back this statement up. People who generally wear belts all the time will have weaker cores than their counterparts who only use belts when they go above their 80% 1 rep max range. Contrary to popular belief belts are worn to increase lifting numbers, giving the air and muscles in your torso something to push against making the core more rigid. Meaning belts dont create pressure, you body does. Imminent injuries as you put it come from weak cores and bad form!

There is nothing wrong with wearing or not wearing a belt. I suggested that she wear one for all her squat and dead sets because it will cut down on the amount of output her core muscles will exert, thus minimizing her abdominal load.

Maybe study up on some strength training before making such a dramatic “advice Ive ever read thing”.

Glad to hear another woman is facing this problem. It’s really disheartening to feel like I’m losing my feminine curves but when I remind myself it’s for the sake of being a beast, I get over it… Slightly.

Aside from leaning out more, I’ve decided there isn’t much else to do. A layperson suggested I stop training “like a man,” but then I realized I don’t want a smaller torso if it means I never reach my goal of deadlifting 300lbs.

[quote]tattoo’d’popeye wrote:

[quote]Kooopa wrote:

[quote]tattoo’d’popeye wrote:
Squats and deads are very core orientated because the hips,lower spine and stomach needs stability and protection. Start wearing a belt when you squat and deadlift which help take those muscles off line while you perform the exercise. [/quote]

that’s the most dangerous and horrible advice ive ever read.
belts are supposed to build more pressure in the core, not take any work away from it. when you use it like that injury is imminent.[/quote]

You have no clue or education to back this statement up. People who generally wear belts all the time will have weaker cores than their counterparts who only use belts when they go above their 80% 1 rep max range. Contrary to popular belief belts are worn to increase lifting numbers, giving the air and muscles in your torso something to push against making the core more rigid. Meaning belts dont create pressure, you body does. Imminent injuries as you put it come from weak cores and bad form!

There is nothing wrong with wearing or not wearing a belt. I suggested that she wear one for all her squat and dead sets because it will cut down on the amount of output her core muscles will exert, thus minimizing her abdominal load.

Maybe study up on some strength training before making such a dramatic “advice Ive ever read thing”. [/quote]

The body is not a segmented system, it all works together. Strengthening the prime movers without it’s supporting structure is a recipe for problems.