While uneven abs can be a source of frustration for a professional bodybuilder, it means something else entirely to the average athlete: your abs are showing! Achieve a defined six-pack, as asymmetrical as it is, is no mean feat. However, if your inner perfectionist is asking you about the reason for your uneven abs, there are a few possibilities.
What causes uneven abs?
Twisted or uneven abs are usually due to one or more of the following causes.
When it comes to muscle definition, we’re not all treated the same. “Appearance really comes down to the shape, point of origin and general placement of muscles, and all three factors are part of your inherited makeup, which, of course, cannot be changed,” explains Matthew ScarfoCPT, resident-in-training and nutrition expert at Vault Elevator. “You can have very well defined abs with low body fat, but they can still be uneven and asymmetrical due to genes.”
In fact, your six pack may actually be a four pack or a 10 pack.” Not everyone can achieve six pack abs because not everyone has a rectus abdominis muscle divided into six segments”, explains Dr. Kristen Gasnick, PT, DPTat Saint-Nom Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. “Some people may only have four, while others may have eight, 10, or 12 segments.”
Uneven abs could be the by-product of your posture. “Most people don’t have symmetrical shoulders, which ends up having a profound effect on the trunk. Even a slight lean to one side can cause a change in the overall neutrality of the spine,” says Michael Julom, CPT, founder of That’s why I’m fit. “In turn, the musculature makes compensatory changes. One of them has to do with realigning the midline. This makes one side of the abs chronically longer than the other side, which experiences less stress from stretching.
3. Sports and recreation
Playing sports that emphasize one-arm movements, such as tennis, volleyball, or baseball, could contribute to the development of uneven abs over time. “While it goes without saying that athletes are fitter than the majority of the general population, it is possible that they are inadvertently forcing one side of their body to become much more developed than the other,” says Julom. .
4. Diastasis Recti
Diastasis Recti, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles at the midline of the body, is more common in pregnant people or postpartum, but it can also occur in weightlifters who forcefully push their abdominal muscles while lifting heavy weights. This condition can make the abs uneven, but diastasis recti is more than just a cosmetic concern, says Gasnick. “The separation of the rectus abdominis at the midline causes weakness in the core muscles and can lead to other problems such as back pain and organ prolapse,” she says. For this reason, diastasis recti should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Can you treat uneven abs?
If your uneven abs are due to 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 may recommend you do,” says Julom. In some cases, cosmetic surgery can help correct the appearance of uneven abs by removing or redistributing body fat.
For people with diastasis recti, physical therapy can help close or reduce the separation of the abdominals. However, in more severe cases, corrective surgery may be required.
8 unilateral abdominal exercises to strengthen your core
You’ve heard it before: when it comes to getting chiseled abs, exercise is only part of the equation. “The size, shape, and architecture of this muscle is largely determined by genetics,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, senior director of fitness and nutrition content at Beachbody. “But there are steps you can take to minimize the appearance of uneven abs.”
Thieme suggests one-sided and mobility training help “even out muscle imbalances and improve posture and range of motion – all of which can help clear things up. If they don’t, you still have a nice consolation prize left: a visible six-pack.”
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Turn the toes of your left foot straight out to the side at 90 degrees. Reach your right arm up to the ceiling and let your left hand hang down by your side. Look at your right hand.
- Engage your core and push your hips to your right side. Slide your left hand down your left leg towards your ankle as far as you can without putting pressure on your leg – use your core to stabilize yourself. Your left arm should be perpendicular to the ground the entire time. The right leg should stay straight. You can allow a slight bend in your left leg to avoid locking your knee.
- Pause, then press your feet back up to start, keeping your core engaged and your spine long the entire time.
- Repeat all reps, then switch sides.
2. Standing timber cutting
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent, holding an appropriately weighted dumbbell in both hands.
- Engage the core by slowly lifting the weight diagonally above your head with straight arms, turning to the right and pivoting on your left foot.
- Slowly lower the weight (like chopping wood) as you twist to the left. Get into a squat position, holding the dumbbell on the outside of your left leg.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
3. Oblique 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 is the starting position.
- Raise both legs toward the ceiling while pulling your right elbow toward your right knee so that your torso and legs form a “V.”
- Pause, squeeze your obliques as hard as you can, then slowly return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.
4. Pallof Press
- Attach an exercise band to a sturdy object at chest height.
- Interlace the fingers of both hands around the free end of the band and step back from the anchor point to create some tension on the band.
- Rotate your body so it’s perpendicular to the anchor point and the band, hold your hands close to the center of your chest and assume an athletic stance: feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent, torso upright. This is your starting position.
- Without moving your torso, slowly extend both arms in front of your chest until they are straight.
- Hold this extended position for five beats, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for repetitions.
- Turn around and perform the same number of repetitions in the other direction.
5. Bandaged Side Leg Lift
- Wrap a circular resistance band (one without handles) around both legs just above the knees and lie on your left side with your legs extended. Stack your feet on top of each other.
- Stand on your left forearm, keeping your elbow directly under your shoulder. Place your right hand on the floor in front of you like a splint. Bend your left leg at ninety degrees.
- Engage your core and raise your right leg in the air with your foot bent.
- Raise your leg to its maximum height, then slowly return to the starting position. Keep tension on the band to work your leg muscles. Repeat the movement for your desired repetitions.
6. Transport loaded
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a heavy dumbbell to one side, palm facing inward.
- Pull your shoulders back and pull your head back. Stand straight with neutral alignment in the spine. Maintain this position throughout the movement.
- Keeping your core engaged and your gaze straight ahead, walk for 20-30 seconds to complete one set. Avoid the tendency to rock from side to side.
7. Lateral hip raises
- Lie on your left side, supported on your left elbow and forearm, shoulder stacked over your elbow, legs stacked on top of each other, and hold a dumbbell in place above your hip right.
- Press your feet into the floor and engage your glutes to raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your core strengthened and your glutes engaged, slowly lower your left hip, tapping it gently on the floor.
- Reverse the movement, returning to the side plank position.
- Repeat for reps, then switch sides, performing equal reps on each.
8. Cross Crunch
- Start by lying on your back on the floor with your legs and feet up.
- Place your hands behind your head and keep your elbows flared to the side.
- Begin the movement by lifting your shoulder blades off the floor and reach your right hand outward from your left ankle.
- Focus on exhaling as you contract to maximize your abdominal contraction.
- Return to your starting position, before going to the opposite side for the number of reps you set.