Male bodybuilders who have trained for a long time will usually have some form of abdominal distention. For some, it will be mild and controllable. For others, it can look like they are pregnant even when they are shredded. Even I had the wrong ideas about why this happened until this year. This means that I spent years thinking it was from other or more obvious reasons. I was wrong.

Let me be very clear and say that not every single person out there will have gut distention for the reasons that I am going to discuss. I will say that the vast majority will, though. I know you are probably already thinking it's GH, insulin, etc. Though those compounds can play a part, not every older bodybuilder has abused insulin and GH for years. In fact, a lot of them have never touched either compound.


Originally, I blamed the massive eating that started in the 90s with the idea of "eat huge to get huge." It worked and it became very popular. Prior to the 90s, guys didn't force-feed themselves to get huge. I deduced that this is why waists in the 80s were smaller and tighter, and rarely was there a top bodybuilder with distention. You might think of Benny Poda but Benny wasn't exactly considered a "top" bodybuilder of that era. And GH was being abused back then just as much at the higher levels, too, and midsections weren't anything like they were when the eating-to-get-big method started in the 90s.

Though this reason seemed logical, I have come to understand that this is not the main reason (though it absolutely contributed in some fashion). How do I know that it isn't the massive eating that caused distention for so many older bodybuilders? I personally have battled with distention myself. In fact, I got to the point where I just accepted it for years because I didn't think there was any way to reverse the process. I fancy myself a pretty bright guy, but my thoughts on this topic for so many years makes me rethink my level of brightness. For years, I thought the lightbulb over my head was basically an LED that was bright as hell, it ends up that it might only be a 15-watter that flickers inconsistently.

I can't say I'm embarrassed to find that the answer was so simple, because I did eventually find the answer. I should get some credit for that, right? I'm just a little disappointed that I didn't look into it earlier vs accepting the situation and thinking there was no way to reverse the process of distention.

There are 3 things that have saved my distention and I am continuing to progress, so I am unsure how much tighter I can get my midsection and how much more distention I can get rid of. However, the fact that I have made so much progress with myself and my clients over the last 8-9 months tells me that every single person responds very well to this protocol. Those of you who have read my coach logs for a long time will not be surprised at these 3 things because I have been discussing them for a handful of months. Only recently have the results been so obvious because I am in a cut phase now and the results are obviously more visible due to lower body fat levels.

Now, please don't think that the reason my distention is so much better is simply from getting lean. Yes, this can help some people but most people with distention can still be very distended while lean. Even if someone looks like their distention is very minimal, they can have a meal and look very distended again. With the protocol that I have, even after eating a meal -- or even a cheat meal -- distention is substantially less than without this protocol. This is not a quick fix. The protocol needs to be used for 4-6 months to get obvious changes and sometimes longer. I can't tell you how long it can continue to work to minimize distention because I am still progressing and I have no idea how much longer I will continue to progress. It could be a couple months or I could continue to progress for a year or two. I just don't know.

The protocol is entirely training-related. It is not diet-related or supplement-related. You have to train 3 different muscle groups because distention is basically a weakness of these muscles over time. These muscles are strong when we are younger and they get weaker the older we get.


This is a big fat "duh," and I am quite sure that no one is surprised by this one. However, the abdominal wall is the least important of the 3 muscle groups as far as controlling distention. Still, it DOES help to control distention. Here's the caveat: It isn't isolation movements that help as much to control distention as it is compound ab exercises. Let me expound.

For years, I was forced to train abs with isolation exercises because of chronic lower-back issues. In fact, it was during this time of lower back issues (and during the recovery for almost 5 years) that I noticed more and more distention. I also noticed that I was strong when doing isolation exercises for abs but when I was able to come back to compound ab exercises years later (after my back was injury-free), I found that I was incredibly weak doing exercises like decline sit-ups (partials, not full ROM), lying leg lifts, hanging leg lifts, reverse crunches, etc. This should have been a neon sign telling me that the supporting musculature of the abdominal walk and hips was weak but instead I simply avoided those exercises because my abs were quite developed.

To help control distention, use compound ab exercises that work the supporting musculature of the abdominal wall and the hips.


This one makes people cringe because back in the late 80s and early 90s it was thought that training obliques would make your waist thicker or wider. Sometimes, it did because people were doing dumb shit like heavy dumbbell side bends. The obliques help to support the torso and help to hold in your guts, basically. If they are weak, distention is very likely and obliques aren't a muscle that gets hit hard enough during other exercises. They need to be specifically targeted.

I would recommend an oblique twist machine, wood choppers, or standing cable side-crunches. I am not a big fan of side crunches on a hyperextension bench because I feel that as much as you want to train the obliques to be stronger, you don't want them to grow like you would want your chest to grow, either. You want them strong enough to support the torso during heavy compound movements, and you want the obliques to be strong enough to hold in your guts.

TVA (transverse abdominis)

This one is the kicker. Though the other two muscle groups are important, this one is the most important of the three. I have written about doing vacuums and how it took three inches off of my waist measurement without losing any scale weight or body fat. My distention when down three inches in just over a couple of months from strengthening my TVA with vacuums. Some people called bullshit but they tried it for themselves and came back to me and told me that they worked incredibly well for them, too.

As we age, the TVA gets stretched as our guts grow and from eating a higher volume of food to feed muscle growth. This makes it that much harder for the TVA to contain the guts and I believe that the weakness of the TVA is the main reason that distention becomes an issue for older bodybuilders. If I had to put numbers on it to make my point, I would say that the TVA is responsible for 60% of gut control, the obliques are responsible for 25%, and the abs are responsible for 15%. Please understand that I have no scientific way to back up those numbers. Those are numbers that I chose to make my point based on how I feel they line up as far as importance for controlling distention.

The vacuum protocol that I have used for many months is right here in this coach log:

If you are battling with distention and you are not training your TVA, obliques, and training abs with compound exercises, you should start this as soon as possible. If you do, I would like to hear about your results in the comment section below.

If you are looking for the best knee sleeves in the industry, click the link below: