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"Shape" of ab muscles

Do the type of ab exercises you do affect the shape of your ab muscles?
I always seem to end up with more of a muscular looking 6-pack-type result. But, what I really want is just a smooth flat tummy. Is this possible, or is it all pre-determined by my body type?

Fri. Feb 17, 8:10am

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95% of what you abs look like has to do with your diet.
the other 5% is mostly genetics

Friday, February 17, 2006, 10:51 AM

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I think a flat stomache is step #1, then the abs individually showing is a step past there. You are "more fit" than the look that you want. Maybe ease up on the abs exercises a little?

Friday, February 17, 2006, 12:50 PM

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I have no idea what my abs look like. I have never had a six-pack, even when I was really skinny. Now, after having a baby, I am at a healthy weight but my stomach looks awful. No more bikinis for me!

I think it is genetic, but can be improved by diet and exercise.

Friday, February 17, 2006, 1:41 PM

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Everyone on Earth has a "6-pack," in the sense that the rectus abdominus muscle is segmented. NOT everyone can see their 6-pack, though; most people have a layer of subcutaneous fat, even if the muscle is well-developed. To have a visible one you have to have a low percentage of body fat AND you have to be genetically lucky enough to NOT put that last little bit of fat on your tummy.

So you can be thin without a six-pack. However, if you have a visible 6-pack the only way to obscure it is to lose muscle tone and put on weight.

Saturday, February 18, 2006, 5:37 PM

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At least you have a six pack that is visible. Between the stretch marks from two pregnancies and the extra weight I am carrying around my middle, I might have the ugliest stomach in the world. It is one of my most hated body parts.

Saturday, February 18, 2006, 10:00 PM

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Can you give me your six pack? I'd gladly change my buddha belly for your six pack! :-D

Saturday, February 18, 2006, 10:31 PM

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I asked my personal trainer about conflicting information about how often you should do an ab workout - every day or every other day. He said that a hard ab session every other day builds a six-pack, while less intense daily ab sessions produce a toned, lean look.

Monday, February 20, 2006, 12:34 AM

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OP here:

I guess I am doing to much ab work. I don't want the 6-pack look. But, believe me all it's not that great a 6-pack anyways. You can sort of see the top, but the bottom has a little pooch of fat that hides it - I'm finding that part impossible to get rid of.
Unfortunately I really enjoy pilates, but I guess I'm going to have to limit pilates workouts to every other day :( I just really like the feeling of having a strong core - it makes me feel good. But, I really don't like looking too mucular - I already have a "blocky" build I dont' want it to look any worse. I just want to be long and lean - I'm not sure if my body type will allow it :(

Monday, February 20, 2006, 7:20 AM

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One thing I found is that I had to own up to my physical body type. My mom's side of the family is the willowy, slender women, with no body fat what-so-ever.
My dad's side has the women with the buddha belly, and who tend to be stocky and have chunkier muscles....

Of course, my sister is blessed with the slender body, long and flexible muscles-- as a kid, she could do splits without thinking about it-- boom! her butt hit the floor.

Me, on the other hand--My body builds muscles quickly and burns fat slowly.... as a kid, I hated having muscular legs--just thought they were chunky and very unfeminine... That was until I started college and having guys (and gals) compliment me on my muscular legs!... (IT also didn't help that my mom would chide me about having such chunky legs--something that she never had--my legs were a spitting image of my dad's...

So, If you have a muscular body, part of what you may need to do is to re-vamp your own self image-- i.e. instead of fighting what you have and longing to be a different body type, maybe you can find some pictures of women who are similar to you in their "blockiness" but might be attractive (in your mind).

Try as I might, I will never look like the tiny Asian American Women seen in the movies--it's just not in my genes....

Instead, I've re-taught myself to appreciate women who have more of my muscular shape and who are fit as my role models... Even women in gymnatics or other sports where strong muscular thighs are the norm....

I know it's frustrating... (believe me-- I went to Toronto to the Pacific Mall, where not 1 shop carried clothing over a size 10...) But, this is the body I've been given, and I need to work on it in a positive manner vs. fighting a losing battle....

Sorry for the long post, but I hope that the above gives you a little to think about... ;-)

As an Asian American woman, I've taken to a more African-American view about my body-- i.e. appreciating my muscles and curves (when the show up occasionally) and loving what I have, vs. longing to be something that I'm not.

I find that I'm also much happier this way!

Monday, February 20, 2006, 3:03 PM

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OP again:

Thanks. I know what you mean - I just have to accept my body type. And, for the most part I have - I like being mucular it makes me feel fit and healthy. But, I want to know the best way to work out for my body, in order to maximise the assets and minimize the "flaws" (I know there not really flaws, I just couldn't think of another word).
So on that note, here is another potentially stupid question:
I read somewhere that there is actually no such thing as "lower abs", i.e. it's all connected and you can't just work the lower half. Is that true? Or can I work the lower "belly" area more, and sort of avoid the upper "6-pack" area??
I'm sorry if this is a really stupid question. I really have no idea about musculature - I should probably do some research :)
Thanks to everyone for their input. I appreciate it :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 2:53 PM

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With regard to the rectus abdominis muscle, which is the one that runs straight up the middle of your abdomen, that is all one muscle and it's true that you can't really work out fibers at one end without working out fibers at the other end. Below the belly button it does not have tendinous intersections, so you don't get the rippled look, but it's the same muscle.

With regard to the external obliques (on either side, the most superficial of 3 layers) one CAN work out the upper and lower sides of the muscle differentially, because the fibers are running transversely. I did actually see a magazine article about working out only the lower part to create a "loin of Apollo" look, although why anyone would actually want to do that is beyond me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 4:16 PM

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question for Asian girl with muscular legs

Do you have a myspace site?

Sunday, November 26, 2006, 3:28 PM

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I totally feel you, 3:03 poster

I, too, am an asian girl with muscular legs and I'd been ashamed of them since grade school. I've also got quite a bit of junk in my trunk, so to speak, and its been sooooo hard because all my asian friends are just about ass-less with stick legs. Its even harder when grandmas and relatives start to chide you for it. And its hardest when they force feed you some disgusting "tea" or "soup" concoction that smells like sour mud that's supposed to magically "cure" you of your body type!

*sigh* Anyway, I'm so happy to hear there are people out there I can relate to. It gets lonely being a muscular asian girl. lol

Sorry to veer off-topic! My favorite exercise to work the lower abs is the "vertical leg crunch", where you lie on your back and extend your legs up 90 degrees in the air. Then you lower them somewhere between 45 and the floor, then raise your legs back up to 90. Its easier if you're holding onto something (like the legs of a chair), but not necessary. If you have a partner, they can stand up by your head (you hold onto their ankles) and push your legs down. Thats probably a confusing description, but you know what I'm talking about, right? The reverse crunch is also supposed to be good for the lower abs. You can probably google it to get a few explanatory pictures. Good luck!

Sunday, November 26, 2006, 9:14 PM

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question for 9:14 poster

Do you have a myspace site?

Monday, November 27, 2006, 3:28 PM

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