Unbalanced six-packs?
December 30, 2007 12:27 AM   Subscribe

Why do some people's abdominal muscles appear to be asymmetrical?

I've noticed (from the couch, comfortably resting my one-pack) that some of the extremely well-defined six-pack abdominal musculature one ecounters surfing the web appears to be asymmetrical - the individual cans of the six-pack are off-set. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4.

It seems to me that the basic symmetry of the body should make this a rare pathology - like having one arm lower than the other, or something. So, is this an optical illusion? A side-effect of bad training? The result of injury? It doesn't seem obviously related to posture.
posted by Quadroonian to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
I'm going to guess "genetics."
posted by rhizome at 12:54 AM on December 30, 2007

not having conducted an extensive study of six-packs, i would surmise that a) everyone's is like that to some extent. they look staggered pretty evenly--perhaps it provides better core support. or b) these guys have just a slight scoliosis that is not significant enough to warrant treatment. nobody's spine is perfectly aligned, after all. unless they are dancers or something.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:07 AM on December 30, 2007

Why do some people's abdominal muscles appear to be asymmetrical?

For the same reason why some people's ears, or faces don't appear to be symmetrical--mother nature I'm assuming.
posted by hadjiboy at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2007

I've wondered about this too. I notice that all four of those men have their abs higher on the right, which makes me think we probably all do, but to different degrees so it isn't always so noticeable.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:58 AM on December 30, 2007

People are not inherently symmetrical. I have a hard time fitting eyeglasses because one of my ears is, in fact, lower than the other... not to the extent that people notice, but if I put a perfectly even pair of glasses on, they will be noticeably crooked. (Good call, hadjiboy)

I suspect, though, that working out tends to move some of the muscle attachments around as strains occur and such, which could make things a little wonky too.
posted by Doohickie at 12:46 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For the most part, people are very symmetrical (symmetry is the basis of cross-cultural beauty, which itself is said to be a marker of health), especially the paired muscle groups of the torso, which necessarily have to work fluidly together. Slight asymmetries such as ear height (maybe 5 millimetres difference?) strike me as inconsequential on first principles and possibly due to environmental damage or sagginess..

Thanks all for your answers, but I think there must be something more precise than genetics or mother nature at work.
posted by Quadroonian at 4:21 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was going to type an answer to this, but unfortunately hundreds of muscle bundles in my left and right hands are imperfect mirrors of each other. Fiddlesticks.
posted by zennie at 10:19 AM on December 31, 2007

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