Can ab workouts cause stretch marks?

Fact Checked

Tonya McIntosh

Tonya McIntosh—The main person behind TGFFitness as its Founder and Chief Editor. Get to know more about Tonya


Ab workouts are crucial to building a strong base and developing prerequisite core strength for many different disciplines. Still, many people just getting into exercising are concerned that ab workouts will give them stretch marks.

In general, you aren’t likely to get stretch marks from doing ab exercises. More often than not, stretch marks occur as a result of fast weight gain, whether it be muscle or fat. Traditional ab training doesn’t accelerate muscle growth to the degree that you’ll see stretch marks.


Do Strong Abs Prevent Stretch Marks?

Strong abs are not necessarily a preventative measure for stretch marks. As noted, stretch marks are caused by stretching the skin, which means that when you gain or lose weight quickly, your skin forms new arrangements of collagen that aren’t perfectly aligned.

If you’re exercising regularly to keep your weight down or trying to build strong abs, then stretch marks shouldn’t be a concern if you’re staying the same weight.

Even weight gain through muscle development or gradual weight loss as a result of a prolonged period of exercise won’t cause stretch marks.

When your body grows, you need to develop additional layers of collagen to accommodate that growth.

If it happens too quickly, your body can’t keep up with the necessary collagen production, and stretch marks may occur.

These generally take one of the following forms:

  • Indented streaks
  • Pink, black, blue, purple, or red streaks
  • Brightly colored streaks that fade colors

Can You Get Abs If You Have Stretch Marks?

There’s no reason why you can’t get abs if you have stretch marks. The presence of stretch marks is only misaligned layers of collagen—nothing more.

Anyone can discipline themselves to build a strong core over time, but the key factors are proper diet and consistent exercise.

The old adage that abs are made in the kitchen is certainly overgeneralized, but there is some truth to it; maintaining a caloric deficit while sticking to a consistent and varied routine will develop your abs.

Keep in mind, however, that the aesthetics of abdominal muscles vary from person to person, and that to target muscle growth (and therefore visibility) for your abs, you need to do exercises that lengthen and contract the abdominal muscles.

These kinds of exercises have been demonstrated by several metaanalysis studies to prompt muscle growth of the abdominals.

Are Some People More Prone to Stretch Marks?

Some people are certainly more prone to getting stretch marks, and depending on your stage in life, your risk of developing them may be higher.

Genetics is the first significant factor that increases your risk of getting stretch marks. In some people, collagen production is much lower, which means that the body will experience a shortage of collagen, leading to stretch marks more quickly when taking on weight or losing weight suddenly.

Similarly, stretch marks are extremely common in pregnant women, given how the abdominal area swells during pregnancy.

There are also other risk factors to keep in mind that may predispose you to stretch marks more easily.

  • Being female
  • Having a family history of stretch marks
  • Being pregnant
  • Growth in teenagers
  • Suddenly gaining or losing weight
  • Using corticosteroids
  • Breast enlargement surgery
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Certain genetic disorders, including Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome

These factors are all related to the cause of stretch marks, including sudden body growth or weight loss and conditions that inhibit the amount of collagen your body produces.

Can You Get Rid of Stretch Marks Permanently?

Since the conditions that cause stretch marks cannot be controlled, there’s no way to completely prevent stretch marks from happening, especially as you age and your production of collagen begins to decrease.

With that being said, several methods are useful for getting rid of stretch marks and can even help with long-lasting stretch marks that have faded to a scar-like appearance.

The only way to permanently get rid of stretch marks on your stomach is through abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck.

This procedure tightens and slims the abdominal area, giving it a flatter appearance. Of course, while a tummy tuck can get rid of stretch marks, it does come with its own slue of risks and side effects that you need to consider.

Before heading down this road, speak with your doctor and cosmetologist to see if they have any helpful insights or if there are any relevant risk factors for you to consider.

Ways to Prevent or Reduce Stretch Marks Appearance

Through the application of topical remedies or certain non-invasive procedures, you can reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the best way to prevent stretch marks from happening is to stick to a relatively stable dietary plan wherein you don’t gain or lose weight rapidly.

On certain medications and as a result of certain treatments where weight loss or weight gain are side effects, stretch marks may be inevitable.

In addition, sudden growth during puberty or swelling of the abdomen during pregnancy can be uncontrollable factors that cause stretch marks—marks that may be more prevalent in people with a genetic disposition towards them.

In any case, preventing and reducing stretch marks relies on a combination of topical treatments, proper diet, and adequate water intake.

Ways to Prevent Stretch Marks

The only way to prevent stretch marks entirely is to avoid sudden weight gain or weight loss. These are, in essence, the only conditions under which stretch marks form.

Try to stay consistent with your diet and stick to a goal-oriented, exercise-rich lifestyle. Not only can this practice help you attain your weight loss goals, but it can also reduce the risk of developing stretch marks.

Ways to Reduce Stretch Marks

It’s important to note that recent stretch marks, which are red in appearance, are much easier to reduce than older ones, which often appear as whitish scar-like streaks.

In addition, stretch marks cannot be removed by natural means, only reduced.

Certain oils, lotions, and creams positively improve the tightness of your skin and reduce the redness of stretch marks.

Combine these treatments with regular exfoliation to remove dead skin cells, allowing the treatment to penetrate your skin more effectively.

Microdermabrasion is another method for removing stretch marks by exfoliating the skin in a very precise manner.

This stimulates the skin to tighten the elastin and collagen fibers.

Can You Reduce Stretch Marks Appearance Naturally?

You can certainly reduce the appearance of stretch marks naturally, but there is no natural way to remove them completely.

White stretch marks that have stayed around for quite a while are troublesome to reduce since they have been dormant for so long that the blood vessels have narrowed, making it more difficult to stimulate the necessary production of collagen.

Topical treatments usually fall under the umbrella of ‘natural’ as well and can have a range of benefits for your skin, in addition to tightening the fibers and reducing the appearance of stretch marks.

How Long Does It Take for Stretch Marks to Fade?

Stretch marks generally fade within 3-6 months, although there’s no guarantee that they will disappear altogether. Sometimes, stretch marks will go from a reddish color to a more white or silver color.

The Takeaway

In short, ab workouts are extremely unlikely to cause stretch marks. The only way you’d expect to see stretch marks as a result of ab workouts is if you combine a whole range of exercise and dietary lifestyle changes that cause you to drop weight extremely quickly.

Going from overweight to losing weight very quickly has its own risk factors, so if you’re looking to lose weight and incorporate lifestyle changes without the risk of stretch marks (and other potential concerns), consult your doctor.

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Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

Finding your main motivator to keep going is easier said than done for Keep Reading.

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