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    Registered User lllllll's Avatar
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    Question Looking for proof that fixing a distended stomach is actually possible

    I've read a lot of theory and seen a lot of advice on how one might fix a distended stomach, but I'm really hoping to hear from people who've personally struggled with it and successfully fixed it.

    Currently 45, been a slender guy all my life 6 foot 0 inches tall, 30 inch waist, 36 inch jacket, and ranging back and forth from 145 to 165lbs from 18 years old to now, and ever since I was a little kid I've had a distended stomach. I usually hover around a 10 to 12 percent body fat when I'm in normal shape. You can see my ribs just a bit when I'm relaxed and very obviously when I take a breath in.

    If I flex my stomach, I have fantastic visible abs and my stomach is flat/concave. If I fully relax my body, my belly pooches out like I'm preggo and there are no visible abs.

    I've read about many ab exercises that supposedly fix this from twists to vacuums etc. But I've never had any true success with them. They do make my abs look even better while I'm flexing, but they don't remove the pooch when I'm relaxed. I will admit though, that I haven't stuck to any ab routine for a very long period of time - as in a year or so.

    I just need to known if this is something I simply have to accept as a limitation/characteristic of my body that can't be changed, or if I can truly change it if I put in the work. I really don't like the idea of investing time in something that will never get better - same as why guys wouldn't lift if they knew they couldn't put on muscle.

    Oh and I've tried many diet changes - diet changes to reduce inflammation, cutting out gluten, dairy, doing paleo, high fat high protein, you name it. No dietary changes made a difference.

    Thanks in advance.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    You have to defloat your stomach. See this thread: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...hp?t=180372853
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You need proof that posture changes are possible?

    Pictures would help but I'm imagining the same old story we always see - not enough muscle, more bodyfat than you think and not doing the kind of low body core heavy exercises (squats, romanian deadlifts, hip thrusters etc) that will tighten your posture.
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    Registered User lllllll's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    You need proof that posture changes are possible?

    Pictures would help but I'm imagining the same old story we always see - not enough muscle, more bodyfat than you think and not doing the kind of low body core heavy exercises (squats, romanian deadlifts, hip thrusters etc) that will tighten your posture.
    Thanks for the reply. I'm open to that, but regarding body fat percentage, are you saying you think it could be higher than I think even if I have very visible defined abs when I flex my stomach? I have done those exercises you mention in the past when I've stuck to a good weight routine for 6-12 months and while it helped grow muscle, it didn't seem to fix this. I am open to the idea of it needing to be longer than 6-12 months of 3-5 days per week but it will be difficult to motivate myself to do that if I don't know I can achieve my goal.
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    Yes, it's common to have abs when you flex but not when you don't - because they aren't large enough to show through the skin when not flexed. I don't think you are going to have a lot more BF% than you think but experience suggests it's always higher than we first believe.

    The muscle gain part is more important because just like we underestimate BF%, we over estimate how much muscle we have. If you have only been training for less than a year and haven't been consistent in the big compound moves then this is hardly surprising to me. It takes longer than that.

    Like I said, a picture would help confirm what is otherwise educated guesswork.
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    Registered User lllllll's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Yes, it's common to have abs when you flex but not when you don't - because they aren't large enough to show through the skin when not flexed. I don't think you are going to have a lot more BF% than you think but experience suggests it's always higher than we first believe.

    The muscle gain part is more important because just like we underestimate BF%, we over estimate how much muscle we have. If you have only been training for less than a year and haven't been consistent in the big compound moves then this is hardly surprising to me. It takes longer than that.

    Like I said, a picture would help confirm what is otherwise educated guesswork.
    Really hate posting pics of my preggo belly as it's been a life-long source of shame for me, but in the interest of getting some good advice, here goes.

    These photos are from today. I have not lifted any weights since right when COVID hit and gyms shut down. I have, however, lost 10lbs of fat I gained during COVID (went up to 162 and now down to 152) through diet and cardio alone and am ramping up my home gym supplies in order to start lifting again.

    First pic is totally relaxed. Second pic is flexed.

    IMG_3819-1024.jpg

    IMG_3818-1024.jpg
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    That is kind of weird... You're certainly not fat at all. Maybe you just need to train your posture. It is possible after all to protrude the stomach and appear to have a pot belly even without being fat, so maybe you're simply doing this by default and have to train yourself out of it, as with those who slouch and have to work mindfully on standing more upright.
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    Did you try doing vacuums yet?

    Work on training your transverse abdominis muscles…. They are the muscle that will keep your gut sucked in.
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    Originally Posted by lllllll View Post
    I've read a lot of theory and seen a lot of advice on how one might fix a distended stomach, but I'm really hoping to hear from people who've personally struggled with it and successfully fixed it.

    ...

    I really don't like the idea of investing time in something that will never get better - same as why guys wouldn't lift if they knew they couldn't put on muscle.
    So you know what you need to do, but you don't want to spend time doing it unless someone can satisfactorily prove to you beforehand you'll be successful? Good thing MJ had proof as a kid that he'd be the best in the game, otherwise we would've all missed out.

    Seriously, when you don't want to look preggo just strut around fully flexed like you would at the beach. Most of us can do that same flex/preggo thing.
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    Registered User lllllll's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    So you know what you need to do, but you don't want to spend time doing it unless someone can satisfactorily prove to you beforehand you'll be successful? Good thing MJ had proof as a kid that he'd be the best in the game, otherwise we would've all missed out.

    Seriously, when you don't want to look preggo just strut around fully flexed like you would at the beach. Most of us can do that same flex/preggo thing.
    No. That's not at all what I'm saying.

    No, I do not know what I need to do. I have read various articles and posts from people saying what to do, but none of these people say they have suffered from a distended stomach and achieved success with those exercises. They simply make claims that the exercises work without offering any proof of results. I'm sure you don't blindly follow a diet, exercise, and supplement regimen that you haven't seen any proof of results for right? All I want is the same. Evidence based research. Evidence based results.

    Nowhere did I say I was looking for anyone else to guarantee my own success. I asked for people to share their own success so that I knew that at least the specific exercises they used weren't just theory, and that they worked. While I realize that what works for someone else isn't a guarantee that the same thing will work for me, it's a hell of a lot better than blindly following workout advice on the internet or in books without any evidence of success of any kind.

    I've walked around fully flexed any time my shirt is off for 30 years. It's exhausting and I'd like to work to where I look like that without flexing hard the whole time. I am also making an assumption that this sagging pooch is evidence of a specific core strength inadequacy and I'd like to find out what that is so that I can specifically target it. The photo of my preggo belly is of me standing upright and relaxed, not sticking my stomach out. Are you suggesting that vast majority of fit people who have a washboard, flat stomach are always flexing it when they appear that way, and that they have a big pooch like me if they relax into a natural state?
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    Originally Posted by lllllll View Post
    No. That's not at all what I'm saying.

    No, I do not know what I need to do. I have read various articles and posts from people saying what to do, but none of these people say they have suffered from a distended stomach and achieved success with those exercises. They simply make claims that the exercises work without offering any proof of results. I'm sure you don't blindly follow a diet, exercise, and supplement regimen that you haven't seen any proof of results for right? All I want is the same. Evidence based research. Evidence based results.

    Nowhere did I say I was looking for anyone else to guarantee my own success. I asked for people to share their own success so that I knew that at least the specific exercises they used weren't just theory, and that they worked. While I realize that what works for someone else isn't a guarantee that the same thing will work for me, it's a hell of a lot better than blindly following workout advice on the internet or in books without any evidence of success of any kind.

    I've walked around fully flexed any time my shirt is off for 30 years. It's exhausting and I'd like to work to where I look like that without flexing hard the whole time. I am also making an assumption that this sagging pooch is evidence of a specific core strength inadequacy and I'd like to find out what that is so that I can specifically target it. The photo of my preggo belly is of me standing upright and relaxed, not sticking my stomach out. Are you suggesting that vast majority of fit people who have a washboard, flat stomach are always flexing it when they appear that way, and that they have a big pooch like me if they relax into a natural state?
    Yes to flexing to show washboard, No to first trimester when relaxed... but I'm implying that your belly doesn't need to be the life-long source of shame that you've turned it into.

    And when most of us started out we took it on faith that BP works the chest, eating less would lead to fat loss, etc. You are your own experiment of what does and doesn't work for you.
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    Registered User lllllll's Avatar
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    Ok, these are the exercises I have heard about over the years that supposedly specifically target stomach distention:
    1. Vacuums
    2. Pelvic floor exercise (apparently this is a thing for men too)
    3. Abdominal twists
    4. Side bends (with dumbell)

    I have read all ab exercises may help, such as crunches and leg lifts and uncountable other ab routines, but the four above seem to be commonly mentioned as specifically focused on tightening the stomach in and reducing distention.

    Have I missed anything known to target this issue?
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lllllll View Post
    Ok, these are the exercises I have heard about over the years that supposedly specifically target stomach distention:
    1. Vacuums
    2. Pelvic floor exercise (apparently this is a thing for men too)
    3. Abdominal twists
    4. Side bends (with dumbell)

    I have read all ab exercises may help, such as crunches and leg lifts and uncountable other ab routines, but the four above seem to be commonly mentioned as specifically focused on tightening the stomach in and reducing distention.

    Have I missed anything known to target this issue?
    Your physique looks great flexed. Wish I could advise something more. Take a look at this vid it might have something useful. Tietz is cringey but much of his content is good.

    Best thing you can do is try, learn, modify where necessary and try more.

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    I don't remember being able to do that when I was 145 @ 5'11". I can pretty much do that though now, as A2F is saying, and/but I'm a bit heavier now. edit: Checking in the morning when I have mostly an empty stomach and I can't really extend it out that far.

    I think it's a matter of specifically poor posture still.

    While we advanced to bipedalism with our glutes, we still centralize around at the CNS.

    All and all I think it's just a sign that you won the fight against gravity. Perhaps you learned it when you were 12 years old.

    Wait a second, what are you supposed to weigh in those pictures?
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    Originally Posted by lllllll View Post
    Really hate posting pics of my preggo belly as it's been a life-long source of shame for me, but in the interest of getting some good advice, here goes.

    These photos are from today. I have not lifted any weights since right when COVID hit and gyms shut down. I have, however, lost 10lbs of fat I gained during COVID (went up to 162 and now down to 152) through diet and cardio alone and am ramping up my home gym supplies in order to start lifting again.

    First pic is totally relaxed. Second pic is flexed.

    Attachment 9349833

    Attachment 9349843
    You are very slender, just building muscle all over will make a big difference.

    I'm sticking to my idea of focusing on heavy compounds and going for large scale changes

    Ab specific exercise on their own are not going to have much impact at this stage IMO - not saying they don't have their place but if it were me, they would not be my top priority right now. You don't have a special or unusual issue - just overall lack of mass. Gain 20lbs of muscle all over your body and I bet this 'problem' vanishes.
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    Thank you everyone for the replies.

    GeneralSerpant, I'm currently at 149-150lbs and am 5'11" barefoot (looks like I've shrunk a half inch in a 5 or 10 years). Both photos were taken on the same day this week at the same time.

    As for extending the stomach out, note that I am not doing that in the pot-belly photo. I'm simply standing normally and relaxed. No effort is being made to push out or hold in. I did used to have some anterior pelvic tilt, but have corrected that over the last few years through posture changes and also regular hip stretches especially deep hip flexor stretching.

    I can definitely focus on compound lifts though was hoping to also be able to target this. I'm not able to pack on 20lbs though. My muscle mass gains have always been minimal no matter what I do, even with supplementation. I also have a really tough time with supplements because I have bad reactions to all the main protein powder sources. I'm ok with it though. Don't need to get big, just want to try to correct this belly issue, increase strength, and add whatever I can (usually limited to around 5lbs or so).
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    Doesn't look like all that much really. Could lose a few more pounds of fat specifically... And posture is a two way street game as well as I was saying.
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    Originally Posted by lllllll View Post
    I'm not able to pack on 20lbs though. My muscle mass gains have always been minimal no matter what I do, even with supplementation. I also have a really tough time with supplements because I have bad reactions to all the main protein powder sources. I'm ok with it though. Don't need to get big, just want to try to correct this belly issue, increase strength, and add whatever I can (usually limited to around 5lbs or so).
    I don't agree at all. Anyone can if they do it right. The problem we see time and again is that people aren't prepared to eat enough to gain muscle in decent quantities. Note I am talking about food not supplements here.

    Yes, you might get fluffier in the short to medium term - you have to break eggs to make an omelette.

    Yes, you do need to get big(ger) to overcome this problem. If you won't accept this, nothing will change, I promise you.
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