How Flat Should Your Stomach Be? - FIT Human Performance

How Flat Should Your Stomach Be?


June 23, 2013

StomachLook down…there it is, your stomach.  Everybody has one but no two are the same.  There is a  plethora of reasons why each of us has the opportunity to take charge of the appearance, shape, and mobility of our stomach (or mid-riff, gut, breadbasket, belly, front bumper and so on.)

First lets look at what we fear.  The stomach is a muscular organ located on the left side of the upper abdomen.  The stomach receives food from the esophagus.  As food approaches the end of the esophagus, it enters the stomach through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter.  The stomach secretes acid and enzymes that begin the breakdown of foods and start the digestion process.  Ridges of muscle called rugae line the stomach.  The stomach muscles  contract periodically, churning food to enhance digestion.  The pyloric sphincter is a muscular valve that opens to allow food to pass from the stomach to the small intestine.  And by the way, that sphincter is a very small orifice or entryway.  Thus the reasoning for chewing your food thoroughly (my Mom said some gibberish about chewing each mouthful of food 30 times). Now, think for a moment what happens if the body cannot produce enough acids or enzymes to break down an abundance of food … big lumpy food builds up in quantity as undigested food in the stomach or GI (gastrointestinal) track, creating a very rounded and protruded front bumper.  Kind of like those guys on that television show ‘The Soprano’s’, big firm belly’s!  Thus, the heart has to work very, very hard 24 hours a day … and for some that is too much to take.  God Bless their souls.

Now, I recently talked to a few friends about their stability; no not financial, mental, spiritual, vocational or emotional, but rather, their physical stability.  In this case the ability or inability to stabilize their abdominal wall.

For one, the ability to take a punch.  Another, how well she could lay on her back and hold a 50 lb. kettle bell on her tummy and still breath.  And yet, the same common denominator was present, could they intentionally engage their core muscles to stablilize movement.  The movement of these muscles is simply moving the spine or skeleton(s) according to muscles design or function.  Muscles all get weak or strong with or without exercise.  BUT, none of them truly stabilize the core.  The real muscle that does this job happens to be a muscle that creates no movement at all.  Acting like a cylindar, inside the movement muscles and outside our organs, is the TVA or transverse abdominus.  Strong like a bull!  Example, cough and feel your tumm. It will be hard as a rock.  Or laugh out loud, sneeze, or yell … the perfect stabilization!  Now, did you think professional athletes (like in womens tennis) really scream loud when they hit a ball for attenion? Nope, it is to stabilize their core and to transfer the force from the ground more powerfully to the racket head for increased force and speed. Weight lifters scream, babies grunt, seniors do a heavy sigh, and all of us do a deep breath when getting up off the floor.  Natural and critical.

When you stabilize your muscles the stomach pulls up and in doing so leaves the appearance of a flatter tummy … yes, like sucking it in,  but for longer than one breath.  You can also push the stomach out and make it rounded, which is also the muscular system.  My point is this, if you do not stabilize your core when exercising you are leaving the low back and spine to do ALL the work … and nobody wants low back pain!

If you would like some help with stabilization or core work before summer is in full HOT blast, give me a call. Now sit up straight and suck in that gut!

In good health,


Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.” – John F. Kennedy