While uneven abs may be a source of frustration for a professional bodybuilder, to the average gym-goer it means something else entirely: your abs are visible! Achieving a defined six-pack, no matter how asymmetrical, is no easy feat. However, if your inner perfectionist is wondering about the cause of your uneven abs, there are a few possibilities.

What Causes Uneven Abs?

Tennis forehand women

Crooked or uneven abs are usually caused by one or more of the following.

1. Genetics

When it comes to muscle definition, we are not all dealing with the same hand. “Body really comes down to shape, point of origin and overall position of muscles, and all three are part of your genetic makeup, which of course cannot be changed,” explains Matthew Scarfo, CPT, resident training and nutrition specialist at Lift Vault. “You can have very well-defined abs with low body fat, but they can still be uneven and uneven due to genetics.”

In fact, your six-pack could 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 divides into six sections,” says Dr. Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPT, of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. “Some people may only have four, other people may have eight, 10 or 12 categories.”

2. Posture

Uneven abs may be a byproduct of your posture. “Most people don’t have symmetrical shoulders, which results in overextension at the core. Even a slight tilt to one side can lead to a change in the overall neutrality of the spine,” explains Michael Zulm, CPT, founder of ThisIsWhyImFit. “In turn, the muscles make compensatory changes. One of these relates to realignment of the midline. This makes one side of the abs chronically longer than the other, which is under less stretch stress.”

3. Sports and recreation

Participating in sports that emphasize one-armed movements, such as tennis, volleyball, or baseball, can contribute to the development of uneven abs over time. “While it’s not to say that athletes and women are fitter than the majority of the general population, it’s possible that they inadvertently force one side of their core to develop more than the other,” says Zulom.

4. Diastasis recti

Diastasis recti, which is a separation of the abdominal muscles in the midline of the body, is most common in people who are pregnant or postpartum, but it can also occur in weightlifters who strain their abdominal muscles while lifting heavy weights. The condition can make the abs look uneven, but diastasis recti is more than just an aesthetic concern, says Gasnick. “Dissection of the rectus abdominis in the midline causes weakness of the core muscles and can lead to other problems such as back pain and limb prolapse,” she says. For that reason, diastasis recti should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Can you treat uneven abs?

Male Medicine Ball Abs Training Female Coach

If your uneven abs are caused by posture or sports, you may be able to correct them with exercise or physical therapy. “Correcting posture is usually a good step in the right direction, along with corrective exercises that a physical therapist or sports physiologist can recommend,” says Zulom. 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 can help stop or reduce the separation of the abs. However, in more severe cases, reconstructive surgery may be required.

8 Unilateral Ab Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

You’ve heard it before: When it comes to achieving ripped abs, exercise is only part of the equation. “The size, shape and architecture of that muscle is largely determined by genetics,” says Trevor Thiem, CSCS, senior director of fitness and nutrition at Beachbody. “But there are steps you can take to reduce the appearance of uneven abs.”

Thiem recommends unilateral and mobility training to “help eliminate muscle imbalances and improve posture and range of motion—which can help straighten things out. If they don’t, you still have a great consolation prize: a visible six Pack.

1. Windmill

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Turn your left toes straight out to 90 degrees. Reach your right arm up to the ceiling and let your left arm hang by your side. Look up at your right hand.
  • Engage your core and push your hips to your right. Without putting pressure on your leg, slide your left hand under your left leg toward your ankle as far as possible — use your core to stabilize yourself. Your left arm should be perpendicular to the floor the entire time. The right leg should be straight. You can allow a slight bend in your left leg to avoid locking your knee.
  • Pause, then push down through your legs to come back up to start, keeping your core engaged and your spine straight the entire time.
  • Repeat all repetitions, then switch sides.

2. The wood chop is permanent

Wood cutting exercise  uneven abs

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent, holding a suitable weight dumbbell in both hands.
  • Engage the core by slowly lifting the weight diagonally with arms straight above your head, twisting to the right and pivoting on your left leg.
  • Slowly lower the weight (like chopping wood) as you twist to the left. Come into a squat position holding the dumbbell outside your left leg.
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions.

3. Diagonal v-up

  • Lie on your left side with both legs extended, your feet stacked, your left palm on the floor and your right fingertips behind your right ear. This position begins.
  • While pulling your right elbow toward your right knee, lift both legs toward the ceiling so that your torso and legs form a “V.”
  • Pause, squeeze your obliques as hard as you can, and then slowly return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

4. Pallof Press

Pallof Press  uneven abs

  • Tie an exercise band to a solid object at chest height.
  • Interlace the fingers of both hands around the free end of the band and move back from the anchor point to create some tension in the band.
  • Turn your body so that it is perpendicular to the anchor point and the band, hold your hands near the center of your chest and assume an athletic position: feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent, torso straight. This is your starting position.
  • Without moving your torso, slowly reach both arms in front of your chest until they are straight.
  • Hold this extended position for a five-count, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for reps.
  • Turn and do the same number of reps facing the other side.

5. Banded side leg lift

Banded Side Leg Lift |  uneven abs

  • Loop a circular resistance band (without a handle) around both legs just above the knee and lie on your left side with your legs extended. Place your feet one on top of the other.
  • Raise yourself up on your left arm with your elbow directly under your shoulder. Place your right hand on the floor in front of you as a brace. Bend your left leg ninety degrees.
  • Engage your core and lift your right leg into the air with your legs flexed.
  • Raise your legs to maximum height, then slowly return to the starting position. Maintain tension on the band to work your leg muscles. Repeat the movement for your desired reps.

6. Carrying loads

Carrying a suitcase -- arm exercise

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a heavy dumbbell at one side, palms facing up.
  • Draw your shoulders back, and pull your head back. Stand tall with neutral alignment in the spine. Hold this position throughout the movement.
  • Keeping your core engaged and your gaze in front of you, walk for 20-30 seconds to complete one set. Avoid the tendency to sway from side to side.

7. Side plank hip lift

Side plank butt lift  uneven abs

  • Lie on your left side with your left elbow and forearm, shoulders stacked on your elbows, feet stacked on top of each other, and a dumbbell over your right hip.
  • Press your feet into the ground and engage your glutes to raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. This position begins.
  • Keeping your core brace and your glutes engaged, slowly lower your left hip down, tapping it gently on the floor.
  • Return to side plank position, reverse the move.
  • Repeat for reps, then switch sides, performing equal reps on each.

8. Cross crunches

Cross crunch  uneven abs

  • Begin by lying on your back on the ground with your legs and feet in the air.
  • Place your hands behind your head and keep your elbows out to the sides.
  • Begin the movement by lifting your shoulder blades off the floor and reaching your right hand to the outside of your left ankle.
  • Focus on exhaling as you crunch to maximize the contraction of your abdomen.
  • Return to your starting position before going in the opposite direction for your set amount of repetitions.

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