Ever wondered, “Why Do My Upper Abs Stick Out?”
Let;s face facts, we all want a great set of looking abs.
However, there’s nothing worse than having some type of ab imperfection, perhaps one that even looks like a deformity.
Something that many of you may “suffer” from is your upper abs sticking out.
I mean it just doesn’t look right.
So, allow me to explain what this is and what you can do about it.
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Why Do My Upper Abs Stick Out?
The most common reason that your upper abs stick out is anterior pelvic tilt. This simply means that your pelvis is rotated forward, which causes your stomach to bulge out and your butt to stick in the air. However, it may also have been caused by recent weight loss, whereby you have lost fat from your chest and retained water in your upper abs. Furthermore, there are certain medical conditions that may lead to your upper abs sticking out including, pectus excavatum, pectus carinatum, or diastasis recti.
1. You Have Anterior Pelvic Tilt
It is estimated that 85% of males and 75% of females have anterior pelvic tilt.
So, in effect, you could say that it’s fairly “normal”.
Anterior pelvic tilt can best be described as the pelvis tilted forward, which in turn sticks your butt into the air, causing the spine to curve, and the upper part of the abdomen to bulge out.
Now there are few schools of thought around anterior pelvic tilt.
If you happen to read a medical publication, or health-related website, then anterior pelvic tilt is always viewed as a bad thing.
You’ll hear that it is typically caused by long periods of sitting and a lack of exercise.
Plus, an individual can worsen this “condition” by not stretching to counteract the effects of sitting all day.
You’ll also be told that this can lead to poor posture, as well as tight pelvic, glute and quad areas.
Eventually, anterior pelvic tilt may lead to lower back injuries.
Now while this may be true of those who live a sedentary lifestyle, it certainly isn’t always the case.
I want you now to consider most professional athletes, especially sprinters.
APT seems to naturally occur in sprinters.
And you can’t really consider a professional sprinter as someone who sits around all day and has a sedentary lifestyle.
So, in essence, not everyone who has APT will have poor posture, and/or is likely to experience lower back pain.
That being said, anterior pelvic tilt can certainly lead to lower back injuries in trained individuals who regularly perform heavy resistance training.
Therefore, it’s important for you to work out exactly where you fall on this scale.
If your upper abs stick out, as well as your butt, and you’re not particularly well-trained, then it may be time to focus more on specific training to fix this.
You potentially have weak glutes and lower abs, as well as tight hip flexors and lower back muscles.
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However, if you’re a fit, healthy, individual, who works out regularly, then you shouldn’t be overly concerned.
2. Have You Lost Weight Recently?
Something else to consider is if you have lost weight and body fat recently.
This is especially true if you were carrying quite a few excess pounds.
It is extremely hard to lose fat from specific places on the body, i.e. spot reduction.
Therefore, fat loss seems to occur as a natural progression in various areas of the body.
As a man, the toughest part of the body to lose fat is typically the lower abs, and for women, it’s the butt, hips, and thighs.
So, if you have lost a lot of weight and body fat recently you may find that your chest has shrunk in size, whereas you may have gained size in your upper abs through water retention.
And to make matters worse, your lower abs probably haven’t even joined the party yet.
Unfortunately, this simply makes your upper abs look far more prominent.
The solution would be to work on building bigger pecs, while losing lower belly fat.
However, I’m sure you’re aware that this is far easier said than done.
In fact, building your pecs up can be a long, arduous task.
Plus, we all know that losing lower belly fat can actually be quite an ordeal.
RELATED====>Why Do I Have Upper Abs But Lower Belly Fat?
3. Do You Have Pectus Excavatum?
This could actually be a case of “rib flare” rather than your upper abs sticking out.
Pectus excavatum is a disorder of the chest wall, sometimes called sunken or funnel chest.
This occurs when the sternum goes inwards and forms a depression in the chest,
So, rather than the sternum and ribs pointing outwards as with most individuals, the chest takes on a concave appearance.
When this happens the lower ribs tend to flare out.
There is no pain or specific injury associated with rib flare.
However, it can be attributed to bad training habits.
Plus, it can actually affect your performance with certain exercises, which may eventually lead to injury.
How to Fix Rib Flare
4. Do You Have Pectus Carinatum?
So, I’ve just mentioned a condition where the sternum caves inward, but it could actually be the complete opposite.
Pectus Carinatum is where the sternum actually protrudes outward.
This is typically a defect that originates at birth, although it often isn’t noticeable until a child goes through a growth spurt, or enters adolescence.
Pectus Carinatum is often referred to as pigeon chest.
However, the condition may not cause any serious health issues, and it may not usually have an impact on the working of the lungs or heart.
That being said, Pectus Carinatum can have the opposite effect in children and may be a worry.
The condition has been known to cause shortness of breath, asthma, rapid heart rate, fatigue, and even pain.
Children are generally treated with a chest brace and this has proven to have excellent results.
As an adult you can’t completely cure “pigeon chest”, but regular exercise will help a great deal.
You can improve your posture, as well as your breathing and general stamina.
Your aim should be to strengthen both the chest and back muscles, which can counteract the appearance of Pectus Carinatum.
5. It Could Be Diastasis Recti
Finally, your upper abs sticking out could be a sign of Diastasis Recti.
This typically happens when the connective tissues of the rectus abdominis become stretched.
When the connective tissues become stretched and slack this will generally cause separated stomach muscles.
And this is why your upper abs appear to protrude from the body.
Now, the most common cause of Diastasis Recti is pregnancy, and this is due to the uterus expanding.
However, it’s also possible for men to have this condition too.
This usually comes about due to poor form when exercising.
This is especially true when performing exercises such as planks, crunches, sit ups, and push ups.
Furthermore, excess weight and obesity can be a contributing factor.
Basically, any one of these things can place undue pressure on the abdominal muscles and cause them to separate.
Unfortunately, this will also mean that your abdominal muscles will be weak.
In fact, during exercise your body will typically have to rely on other muscles, other than the core, in order to stabilize the pelvis.
The muscles that seem to bear the brunt of these are the hip flexors.
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And of course, this can eventually lead to injury.
Fix Your Diastasis Recti
So, I hope you have a better idea of why your upper abs stick out.
For the vast majority of people this is caused by anterior pelvic tilt.
However, if you have lost a lot of weight recently, especially fat off your chest, then your upper abs may protrude more than usual due to some water retention.
It’s also important to note that this may actually be a rib issue, such as Pectus Excavatum or Pectus Carinatum, as opposed to your upper abs.
Finally, another reason could be Diastasis Recti, or a separation of the stomach muscles.
Regardless of what is causing your upper abs to stick out, there are various exercises to help you deal with this.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.