Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm 37, with an average body type (not skinny, not fat), but my belly requires constant attention not to pop out like a beer addict. It's not fat and it doesn't feel bloated... it simply seems like my abs are too "long" and I need to keep on pulling them in to keep the belly flat. It's not a lot of effort and I do it semi-automatically , but sometimes it's very annoying. Even when I was younger and quite fit (doing hundreds of abs), my belly always tended to pop out unless controlled.

So I'm just looking for a way to teach my abs to stay in when relaxed. Is there anything I can do?

share|improve this question
1  
Is it only for aesthetic reasons? The belly naturally comes out when relaxed, there's nothing wrong with it. Keeping the belly always tense is not a good idea, it might contribute to increased stress levels, digestion problems etc. –  BKE Oct 25 '13 at 17:14
    
@BKE Yes, it's for aesthetic reasons. You are right, it's quite stressful to keep it in... that's the point of my question! –  chris Oct 26 '13 at 11:40
add comment

3 Answers

You can do all of the ab workouts you like and never see a difference if your diet isn't in the right place. "Abs are 70% diet and 30% training," unfortunately, and I believe that is the truth. Your abs are under your "fat" so training abs without changing your diet will help, but not nearly as much as a better diet would.

Posture may help a little bit. If you have bad posture this can "teach" your abs to stay relaxed in incorrect positions. See this article.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 ...I think bracing your abs is part of your posture as well. Core posture. I "hold" my abs in all day, depending on my position...Also there's no such thing as not skinny and not fat, you either have fat you can get rid of, or don't. You really are contradicting yourself by saying your belly requires constant attention and is beer belly like, but not skinny or not fat. I think you need to learn the anatomy of your muscles especially in relation to your stomach/abs/core - not you jordan, OP –  Hituptony Oct 25 '13 at 14:59
    
@Hituptony What I'm saying is that I don't look like the Sparta guy but neither am I fluffy. If I put a finger on my belly, it seems there is 1/4 inch between skin and muscle, and I'm fine with it. If I let it hang out, it resembles a beer belly, but it definitely isn't... –  chris Oct 26 '13 at 0:11
    
@Jordan Thanks, slouching seems to be right on cue. I have to research that... But the fat part isn't correct. It really seems like it's the muscle coming out. –  chris Oct 26 '13 at 0:12
add comment

This is a controversial subject, given that it is influenced by cultural elements as well.

Our culture tends to see the flat six-pack abs as healthy and strong, and relaxed abs unhealthy and weak. But this is not necessarily true.

From a physiological point of view, it is also controversial. Some will say pulling your belly in will improve your posture, and protect the spine. This is true, but it also has some negative effects (makes breathing more difficult, increases stress, digestion problems, even sexual problems). This video demonstrates many ways of how the abdomen can be drawn in or relaxed.

Many people have flat abs, but they're unable to relax it and actually they're quite weak under the surface. If the abdomen is relaxed, it comes out, it is a perfectly natural thing, and I don't give a damn what other people think. This is in no way a justification for not having a healthy diet and not doing exercise. It is just that it's equally important to be able to relax the abdomen and having a strong one.

share|improve this answer
    
Very interesting perspective. Where is it coming from? –  chris Oct 27 '13 at 23:35
    
Usually eastern movement forms (eg. tai chi) emphasize both relaxation and strength, usually combined with abdominal breathing. But many forms of dance, especially those involving a lot of hip movement, are also not possible with a rigid or a weak belly. –  BKE Oct 28 '13 at 22:18
add comment

You might have a case of hyperlordosis.

Due to the imbalances between antagonist muscles. In this condidtion, the pelvis is tilted downwards, stretchign the belly and making it pop out, while giving you a too deep "pinch" in the limbar region.

Visiting a Physical Therapist will detrmine wherther thats the case for you. Im thinking that may be it, and typical ab answers focusing on showing the abs (and therefore on reducing body fat percentage) do not really apply here.

I think stretching the lumbar region and strenghtening the glutes and abs should help, but Id love to see an answer tackling the problem at this angle from a more competent and experienced user.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.