Are you struggling to achieve an ab rip? At this point, we’re no stranger to oddly specific visual body “targets.” The thigh gap is perhaps the best known and most enduring, but it was quickly followed by the Kardashian-inspired “thighbrow.”
The focus of these goals isn’t just on the thighs, though. You could argue the much-sought-after six-pack abs were the first body goal trend. Despite doing ab workouts at home, you might not be getting anywhere near that rippling set of muscles — and that’s why the ab crack seems like a more achievable option.
But is this physical trait you see across all Fitstagrammers’ profiles? And is it a good fitness goal? Here’s what you need to know.
What is an Ab Crack?
“An ‘ab crack’ is a line down the middle of the abdomen that gives the appearance of a split between the two sides of the abdominal muscles,” explains Jim White, RD, ACSM EX-P, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studio. Virginia.
If you’ve been on Instagram often, this is the vertical line running down the middle of the stomach that you’ve seen in people’s pictures. This is more pronounced in some people at the top of the abs, while in others, the “ab crack” runs through most of the abdomen straight to the belly button.
Physically, this line results from a fibrous line of tissue, called the linea alba, that runs down the middle of your abdomen. Various ab muscles anchor this tissue. Humans naturally have different widths of linea alba. If you are lean enough, the skin dives into this divot.
How can you get an Ab Crack?
Simply put, genetics. We know that’s not the answer you want to hear. Since the ab crack is dependent on the underlying anatomy of your abdomen, there is no ab crack exercise or diet that can show you if your linea alba is not deep or wide enough to form this divot.
If you have underlying structure for an ab crack, losing fat should bring it out. Unfortunately, that’s where you run into another hurdle. We can’t lose fat, no matter how much we wish we could. If your stomach is where you store fat and where it ends, it may take a long time for your abs to become visible.
Being vulnerable isn’t the answer for everyone, though. “Being lean doesn’t usually guarantee ab cracks or visible abs,” warns White. “Our genetic makeup is ultimately the deciding factor for such a body.”
Dieting for an Ab Crack
If you’re trying to get an ab crack because you’ve noticed signs of it before and you’re genetically predisposed to it, diet will have the most impact. Just as you can get a six-pack purely from dieting, people prone to ab cracks can get one out through intentional fat loss.
The best “ab crack diet” is one that creates a calorie deficit for you that you can maintain. If you’re cutting your calories to achieve this, go slow. Cutting too many calories too quickly can cause two problems:
- If you’re not getting enough calories cut from the plateau
- Loss of metabolically active muscle mass
Is it OK to have an Ab Crack?
There is nothing inherently wrong with someone having a crack line of abs – unless they resort to unhealthy means to achieve it.
Even if you have an ab crack and don’t have to work for it, it may not be healthy in the long run. Ab crunches aren’t sustainable for some people because “it’s often combined with a very low body fat percentage,” White explains.
Keep track of non-aesthetic markers of health such as energy and hunger levels, psychological state and regular menstrual cycles so your health doesn’t suffer in the name of abs.
Can everyone get ab crack?
No, not everyone can get ab crack. This is one of the areas where our genetics determine our destiny. Some people can do ab workouts religiously and never develop ab cracks, while others can get ab cracks without working out.
Ab exercises can help you define your abs
There’s no shortage of challenging ab exercises out there, but first things first: Core workouts have plenty of benefits, but they may not make your abs visible if you’re not lean enough or your genetics don’t support it.
So, tackle these exercises as you work toward visible abs, but don’t lose out on all the other benefits, like less back pain and easier daily movement. “Not everyone can achieve a six-pack or an ab crack if their DNA doesn’t allow it, so strengthening the core and maintaining a healthy weight is the best approach,” White underscores.
1. Plank exercise
Plank exercises have the advantage of being easy to do without any equipment. They also strengthen your ability to stabilize your core and back, which translates into less back pain in your daily life.
2. Weighted ab exercises
Adding weights to core workouts can help you build thick ab muscles. Larger muscles can put more pressure on your skin, making them more visible. Try your hand at new exercises like cable machine crunches or add weight to classics you know and love like crunches, leg raises and planks.
3. Twisting ab exercise
If your body isn’t built to produce an ab crack, you’ll be able to develop and better define the sides of your core. That’s where twisting ab exercises like Russian twists, mountain climbers and bicycle twists/crunches come in. These exercises work your obliques alongside your core.
4. Bonus: Cardio
“Cardiovascular exercise like running can help reduce overall body fat percentage,” says White. This is essential to help your abs look as good as possible. But cardio isn’t just about fat loss. These exercises strengthen core muscles, including the back muscles and obliques, improve core stability and can potentially create more defined abs, adds White.