Why You Might Have Uneven Abs and What To Do About It
While uneven abs may be a source of frustration for a professional bodybuilder, it means something else entirely to the average gym-goer: your abs are visible! Achieving a defined six-pack, no matter how asymmetrical, is no easy feat. However, if your inner perfectionist has you wondering about the reason for your uneven abs, there are a few possibilities.
What Causes Uneven Abs?
Crooked or uneven abs are typically due to one or more of the following causes.
When it comes to muscle definition, we’re not all dealt the same hand. “The appearance really comes down to the shape, origin point, and overall placement of the muscles, and all three factors are part of your hereditary makeup, which, of course, can’t be changed,” explains Matthew Scarfo, CPT, Resident Training & Nutrition Expert at Lift Vault. “You may have very well-defined abs with low body fat, but they could still be uneven and asymmetrical due to genes.”
In fact, your six-pack may actually be a four-pack or a 10-pack. “Not everyone can achieve six-pack abs because not everyone has a rectus abdominis muscle that is divided into six segments,” says Dr. Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT, at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. “Some people may only have four, while other people may have eight, 10, or 12 segments.”
Uneven abs could be the byproduct of your posture. “Most people do not have symmetrical shoulders, which ends up having far-reaching consequences on the core. Even a slight tilt on one side can lead to a shift in the overall neutrality of the spine,” explains Michael Julom, CPT, founder of ThisIsWhyImFit. “In turn, the musculature makes compensatory changes. One of these has to do with the realignment of the midline. This makes one side of the abs chronically longer than the other side, which is under less stretching stress.”
3. Sports and Recreation
Participating in sports that emphasize one-armed movements, like tennis, volleyball, or baseball, could contribute to the development of uneven abs over time. “While it goes without saying that sportsmen and women are fitter than the majority of the general population, it is possible that they inadvertently force one side of their core to become much more developed than the other side,” Julom says.
4. Diastasis Recti
Diastasis Recti, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles at the body’s midline, is most common in people who are pregnant or postpartum, but it can also occur in weightlifters who forcefully push out their abdominal muscles while lifting heavy loads. This condition can cause the abs to look uneven, but diastasis recti is more than just an aesthetic concern, says Gasnick. “The separation of the rectus abdominis at midline causes a weakness of the core muscles and can lead to other problems such as back pain and organ prolapse,” she says. For that reason, diastasis recti should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Can You Treat Uneven Abs?
If your uneven abs are due to posture or sports, you may be able to fix them with exercise or physical therapy. “Correcting the posture is usually a good step in the right direction, along with corrective exercises a physical therapist or sports physiologist may recommend you do,” Julom says. In some cases, cosmetic surgery can help correct the appearance of uneven abs by removing or redistributing body fat.
For those with diastasis recti, physical therapy may help close or reduce the separation of the abs. However, in more severe cases, reparative surgery may be necessary.
What Are Some Good Ab Workouts to Do to Get My Abs to Show?
You’ve heard it before: when it comes to achieving chiseled abs, exercise is just one part of the equation. For better or worse, your genes matter, as does your diet. That being said, the following ab-sculpting moves will fire up your whole core and bring your dreams of a six-pack a little closer to reality.
1. High Plank
- Get on all fours with your arms straight, hands below your shoulders, neck in line with your spine, and body straight from head to heels.
- Squeeze your glutes and engage your core to keep your body rigid.
- Hold for time.
- Start in a high plank position.
- Keeping your back flat and core engaged, pull your right knee in toward your chest and tap the floor with your toes.
- As you return your right leg to the starting position, bring your left knee toward your chest and tap the floor with your toes.
- Continue alternating legs with each rep. Repeat on the other side with your left leg.
- Lie on your right side propped up on your right elbow and forearm, shoulders stacked over your elbow, legs stacked on top of each other, and place your left fingertips behind your left ear.
- Raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels. This is the starting position.
- Contract your abs, bringing your left elbow and knee together.
- Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Do all of your reps, switch sides, and repeat.
4. Flutter Kick
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides.
- Engage your core and press your head, shoulders, and lower back into the floor as you raise both legs about 12 inches.
- Keep both legs straight as you alternately lift and lower each foot in a fluttering motion.
- Complete an equal number of reps with each leg.
- Sit on the ground, balancing on your tailbone with your knees bent about 90 degrees, heels on the ground, and feet flexed. Hold your hands together in front of your torso.
- Twist to your right side, bringing your hands down toward your right hip.
- Repeat the movement in the other direction, bringing your hands down toward your left hip.
- Continue alternating sides.
- You can increase the challenge by increasing your pace, lifting your feet off of the ground, or holding a light weight in your hands.
6. Leg Lift
- Lie on your back with your legs straight, neck raised (or relaxed on the floor), and arms out to the sides (or under your butt for back support).
- Engage your core and press your back into the floor. Keeping your legs straight and together, slowly raise them until they are perpendicular to the ground.
- Pause, then lower your legs back to the floor.