T Nation

Tightening the Mid-Section

Hey, all. I have a persistent, annoying problem: a stomach that seems to protrude regardless of my BF%. It’s probably because I was taught that to breathe properly I had to use my stomach, which has become a habit. I’m around 190 lbs right now, maybe 15% BF, so I’m trying to recomp a little, but I can still see some definition in the stomach area, so what gives? Are there any exercises I can do to generally tighten up that area? Or maybe I should focus on building up my chest and shoulders to take the attention off my naturally thick abdominal area?

I’m not a newbie; I hope the word “tighten,” which is usually used by retards, doesn’t put anyone off giving useful advice.

If a person trains heavy on deadlifts or squats, his abdominals are going to hypertrophy. And if you eat frequently, your belly is going to be full of food. I wouldn’t be too worried about it; at 15% bodyfat you aren’t fat.

[quote]G87 wrote:
Or maybe I should focus on building up my chest and shoulders to take the attention off my naturally thick abdominal area?[quote]

I would agree with you here, bring your chest/shoulders/upper back/traps up maybe? Either way, we are a product of the work we put into our bodies. If you’re working hard and eating right, be happy with the way you’re body is reacting. Look at Chuck Liddell… dude’s a beast, and I don’t think anyone is calling him out on a little protruding abdominal stack. ; )

Exercises like ab rollouts can help that a bit by strengthening the transversus abdominis.

you also could be carrying a lot more visceral fat than you think!

[quote]JoPi wrote:
Look at Chuck Liddell… dude’s a beast, and I don’t think anyone is calling him out on a little protruding abdominal stack. ; )
[/quote]

I used to lurk on Sherdog in my free time. You’d be surprised :smiley:

more cardio+less carbs = smaller waist

I have a similar problem with my stomach protruding.
My body fat is also in the 15% range.
Its more a function of the amount of food you eat, and subsequently pass out of your system, than body fat or hell even abdominal development.
Once you relax those muscles, that belly will pop back out.

Nevertheless I wouldn’t worry too much about it. When the rest of you grows to reasonable proportions, very few people will care.

Can’t you do shit to work the muscles on the inner abdominal muscles? What about that stomach vaccuum thing that some bodybuilders used to do? Wouldn’t being able to to that cause your stomach to not puff out as much?

dragon flags (non-weighted to start off)are the cure
also hanging leg raises and reverse crunches

i have the same problem. An anterior plevic tilt adds to this appearance. Any suggestion on helping this? (been trying to do more ab roll-outs and strtch the hips)

I used to have the same problem. Try some digestive enzymes, they can help keep any protrusion that is caused by food, to a minimum, as well as helping with more efficient use of nutrients and the foods that you are consuming.

It won’t completely cure the problem, as it may be a result of your muscle balance, but it will help for sure.

read Mike Robertson’s http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/core_training_for_smart_folks&cr=

reading that you would know , how APT can be resolved and core strength can be multiplied doing dragon flags.

[quote]challer1 wrote:
you also could be carrying a lot more visceral fat than you think![/quote]

x2

[quote]Henry Krinkle wrote:
If a person trains heavy on deadlifts or squats, his abdominals are going to hypertrophy. And if you eat frequently, your belly is going to be full of food. I wouldn’t be too worried about it; at 15% bodyfat you aren’t fat. [/quote]

This is kind of true, but I don’t think the abs have much potential for hypertrophy; definitely not enough to create this kind of look on their own. I think food is a more likely culprit here.

[quote]challer1 wrote:
you also could be carrying a lot more visceral fat than you think![/quote]

This is something I’m a lot more interested in. How can I find out/attack the visceral fat?

[quote]xydharth wrote:
read Mike Robertson’s http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/core_training_for_smart_folks&cr=

reading that you would know , how APT can be resolved and core strength can be multiplied doing dragon flags.[/quote]

Good link, very relevant to this topic, thank you!

[quote]Mettahl wrote:
Can’t you do shit to work the muscles on the inner abdominal muscles? What about that stomach vaccuum thing that some bodybuilders used to do? Wouldn’t being able to to that cause your stomach to not puff out as much?[/quote]

Interested in this…

There was this article about power breathing, which is supposed to fix the imbalance between the transverse abdominus and the rectus abdominus, thus giving you a tighter waist.

I had a similair problem. Gut not protruding badly but did through off the aesthetic quality and symmetry of my build.

Fixed it though with bridge pulses (push-up hold on your elbows, constantly sucking in and releasing your naval), trying to focus on building up from 1 min till 5 min eventually. Did the mormal and side versions.

Also cut down on the carbs and saturated fats. Intra Abdominal Visceral fat (stored beneath the abdominal wall) is associated with higher levels of ldl cholesterol. Upon advise of one of my associates, who is also a hardcore bodybuilder, I started on a 6 month course of cholesterol medication, which helped A LOT! plus I added metformin 1000mg 3x per day. High insulin levels are associated with higher ldl cholesterol.

If you don’t wish to pursue the medication route, a long term keto diet will also help, trying off course to keep the saturated fat to a minimum.

Hope this helps

[quote]G87 wrote:

challer1 wrote:
you also could be carrying a lot more visceral fat than you think!

This is something I’m a lot more interested in. How can I find out/attack the visceral fat?
[/quote]

If you have a protuding stomach and a large waist line, odds are you are carrying a lot of visceral fat. It’s just fat around the organs, some people carry more than others. If you lose weight, you’ll lose visceral fat. It’s easy to lose too since it has a lot of bloodflow (being around the organs and all), so just diet and it’ll go down.

[quote]
Mettahl wrote:
Can’t you do shit to work the muscles on the inner abdominal muscles? What about that stomach vaccuum thing that some bodybuilders used to do? Wouldn’t being able to to that cause your stomach to not puff out as much?

Interested in this…[/quote]

Some people will pose with that technique, but sucking in your gut 24/7 is not a healthy to walk around all the time.

Your transverse abdominus helps create that hollowing, but when it’s active in the vacuum pose, pretty much every other “core muscle” is inactive - again not a safe way to be walking around 24/7 as you’re seriously lowering spinal stability since there is serious inhibition in every other muscle.

[quote]Gabe299 wrote:
i have the same problem. An anterior plevic tilt adds to this appearance. Any suggestion on helping this? (been trying to do more ab roll-outs and strtch the hips)[/quote]

Tighten the hamstrings. Stretch the TFL/hip flexors.

It is likely about core strength (trust me, i use that term as little as possible too and if i do, i REALLY mean it!)
Yes, the vaccuum pose works, but learning how to contract the TVA properly is vitally important for posture as well as this issue - plus avoiding injury as well as making you look more confident and even making your chest look more impressive! Bonus…

It is a natural girdle as most will know and is actually supposed to be in a semi-contracted state throughout the waking day. Due to the lazy lifestyle we live, soft couches, TV, cars, (all the fucking sitting down!) we slouch and we don’t tense a muscle.
Shit - by the standard of design, even those who don’t think they slouch - do.

It is a tricky muscle to learn to contract, one of the hardest - and it is even worse when you try to live like that.
However once you do master it, you will have a straight-er back, better breathing, look taller, slimmer, a bigger dick and a nicer car - it will also mean if you want to keep it contracted you may look like you have a stick up your arse… FYI.

Some of you may like having a stick up your arse, i don’t know, and it isn’t my place to judge… technically if you do, then learning to contract the TVA may allow an even BIGGER stick to be inserted into your rectum… so it is all good.

It isn’t a matter of just sucking the stomach in, or tensing the abs -

  1. Sucking (not just inhaling) in air.
  2. Breathing out sharply, - Retaining some of that air in the lungs (this is exactly what one does before a lift too of course - for the same reason as well!)
  3. As you breathe out, pull the stomach gently in and up
  4. A lecturer once told me to imagine a string is tied to your navel, and it is being pulled back towards your spine, and up. This is the direction the stomach will move.
  5. Importantly, the abs and stomach are NOT contracted. If you have contracted your abs - you may well have contracted your TVA but you wont be maintaining that too long!

Once you are ‘in position’ (if you are trying this for the first time you may ‘get’ it within minutes or you may not for a week) your stomach will be firm but NOT hard… technically the muscle behind those hot abs will be in a semi-contracted state and the abdominis rectus will not be.

If you look at Mike Mentzers front relaxed pose (any BB but i feel Mentzer displays it best - prolly due to his strength in the area) you can see he has contracted his TVA. His muscles are relaxed for the most part - but his chest is out, his Scapula spread, shoulders back - clearly this is a prerequisite for the pose BUt it is also the state of the posture when you contract the TVA.

JMO

JJ