What Are Bloated Abs? The Surprising Answer (and How to Fix it)

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What Are Bloated Abs

We’ve all been there: upon struggling through a grueling core workout, we’ve taken a look in the mirror only to see what looks like bloating abs looking back at us.

It doesn’t seem like a fair reward for our efforts, but the reasons for bloated abs aren’t always a result of a lack of effort we put into training them.

Bloated abs can be the result of a number of factors – many of which are under your control. It may be that you’re dehydrated or overhydrated, that your body overheats during a workout, or simply that there’s still a layer of fat preventing your abdominal muscles from showing through.

The quest for six-pack abs is often a journey filled wth doubt, insecurity, and impatience.

It’s rarely simple, and for many of us, it will take a lot of hard work and patience until we reach the day that we can say that we’ve truly made it.

However, there are some tips and tricks you can use along the way to avoid bloating around the abdomen which can make it look like you’re much further from your goal than you actually are.

Here are some of the factors that can lead to bloated abs, so you can have peace of mind that it isn’t your fault if they aren’t as chiselled as you’d hoped.

Hydration Level

One of the most common reasons for bloated abs is a lack of hydration or even an over abundance of it.

As surprising as it may be that your H20 intake is closely related to the appearance of your abs, it makes sense when you think about it.


The appearance of bloating is usually the body’s response to poor fluid intake.

As a result, if you are dehydrated then it’s much more difficult to get an unobstructed view of the abdominal muscles, since the body will retain water in the stomach.

To remedy this, make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.

During a workout, we can sweat an awful lot, and lose a lot of water as a result.

So make sure you always have water nearby, whether it’s a flask you take with you to the gym or a glass of water within reach at home.


Believe it or not, it is indeed possible to take on too much water, which can be another contributing factor for bloated abs.

If you can remember the last time you guzzled a whole litre bottle of water to quench a neverending thirst, you may also remember how bloated you felt afterwards.

To avoid this, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking too much in a single gulp.

Even when training hard and sweating, try your best to just take a swig of water each time you pick up the bottle.

Bulging Abdominal Muscles

It could be the case that your bloated abs aren’t the result of bloating around the midsection, but that the muscles themselves bulge out.

If this is true in your case, then there are adjustments you can make in your strength training plan that could help put you back on course for defined six-pack abs.

The solution could be physical for bulging abs because the problem could be a result of poor lifting technique, improper breathing techniques while exercising, or micro tears in the abdominal muscle walls.

Here are some things you can try in the gym and at home to fix bulging abdominal muscles:

Learn Correct Breathing Techniques

Before anything else, make sure you employ the proper breathing techniques for whatever exercise it is you are doing.

A common mistake people make when training abs is to hold their breath at certain points during the movement.

To give yourself the best chance of avoiding injury and bulging abs, breathe out as you exert your muscles and breathe in on the easier part of the movement.

Work on Isometric Movements

Isometric movements, such as the plank, are useful for building a well-rounded core as they bring most of the muscles together so they all work at the same time.

Another great example of an isometric move to help you work towards defined abdominal muscles is the dead bug.

With both the dead bug and the plank, you can build a solid foundation for your core muscles and work variations into the movements to make them more challenging.

Give Kegels a Go

While kegel exercises might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to training abs, they can strengthen the pelvic floor and bring greater definition to your abdominals.

The magic of kegel exercises is that they can pull ab muscles down towards the pelvis, which should flatten them out and prevent the bulging or bloated look.

Of course, kegels alone won’t get you six-pack abs, but as part of an established routine they can work wonders for your core.


Nutrition always goes hand-in-hand with training, so it should come as no surprise that what you put into your body can affect how it looks.

With this in mind, if you notice that you always seem to have bloated abs, it could just be that you need to make some changes in your diet.

Here are some things to be aware of if you’re unsure why your abs are bloated.


Constipation is uncomfortable and this is partly due to the bloating it can cause.

Fortunately, a spell of constipation doesn’t have to throw your abs of course and cover up the work you’ve done.

A fiber-rich diet is the solution to constipation, although it’s best to slowly introduce the dietary fiber so as not to upset your stomach.

As a general guideline, men should be eating 38g of fibe per day, while women should consume 25g per day.

Food Allergies

Allergies or intolerances to certain foods can also be big contributing factors for bloating abs.

Whether you’re allergic to dairy, wheat, or anything else, the allergy can provoke a negative response in the body.

This can range from mere irritation or an upset stomach to bloating or more serious health issues.

If you think that you may be allergic to a certain food group, it’s worth a quick visit to your doctor to get some tests done.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bloated Abs

How do I stop my abs from bloating?

There are several causes of bloating, and by going after the root cause, you can address the issue easily enough.

Some of the most common reasons you may have bloating include constipation, food allergies, and overeating.

For each of these common issues, the solution is straightforward: watch what you eat and how you eat it.

How do you know if you have bloated abs?

You’ll know you have bloated abs if your stomach looks distended and your abdominal muscles are masked with a layer of fat.

This is usually a sign that you aren’t at the ideal body weight to show off your abs, or you need to train the core muscles more often to make them pop.

Even if you are regularly training abs with targeted workouts, you can still end up with bloated abs, since these types of workouts don’t help you to burn fat.

Is it normal to be bloated after ab workout?

Yes, it is fairly normal to feel bloated after an ab workout, and this could be because of various reasons.

Two of the most common reasons for post-workout bloating are dehydration and overhydration, so you want to make sure you’re on top of your water consumption.

Other reasons for feeling bloated after a workout include the release of cortisol due to the intensity of the training, heat which encourages water retention, and general inflammation in the body.

A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle

It’s perfectly normal to have bloated abs, and just some adjustments in diet, water consumption, and workout intensity could remedy the issue.

It might also just be the case that you need to shed a little more fat before your abdominal muscles really shine.

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Article by:

Energetic Lifestyle Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Energetic Lifestyle Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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