• You're all caught up!

Ab Exercises to Avoid in Order to Get an Hourglass Figure

author image Riana Rohmann
Riana Rohmann has been working for the Marine Corps doing physical training and writing fitness articles since 2008. She holds personal trainer and advanced health and fitness specialist certifications from the American Council on Exercise and a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and exercise physiology from California State University-San Marcos.
Ab Exercises to Avoid in Order to Get an Hourglass Figure
Hourglass figured woman standing outside. Photo Credit Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images

Many women desire having an hourglass-shaped figure; however that shape is largely based on genetics. There are small tricks you can do and exercises to avoid to make your waist appear smaller than your hips and shoulders. Your abs play a large role in your torso shape, so keep them toned and tight. Engage in cardiovascular activity at least five days per week, and eat a balanced and sensible diet to keep your body fat minimal. Excess body fat may gather at the waist and stomach, and take away from your hourglass physique.

Isolation Exercises

Ab Exercises to Avoid in Order to Get an Hourglass Figure
Close up of young woman doing crunches indoors. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In the “Health Fitness Instructor’s Handbook”, Dr. Edward Howley explains that isolation exercises focus on one specific muscle group in a single joint movement. The purpose of these exercises is to specifically shorten individual muscle fibers and strengthen those specific muscles, ultimately resulting in growth. Isolation exercises for the abdominals include basic crunches, sit-ups and leg lifts. These exercises are great for abdominal strengthening, but they may add thickness to the waist.

Heavy Weights

Ab Exercises to Avoid in Order to Get an Hourglass Figure
Woman using free-hand weights. Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Heavy weights stimulate muscle growth, which may make the waist appear thicker. When you train your abdominals, do high repetitions to help tone your existing muscle without adding bulk. If you can do 20 to 30 repetitions of a single exercise without feeling the burn, then add a light weight so you continue to see results. Also, avoid abdominal exercises that fatigue your muscles in 6 to 10 repetitions, which may include incline crunches or hanging leg lifts, because they may also stimulate growth.

Side Bends

Ab Exercises to Avoid in Order to Get an Hourglass Figure
Athletic woman stretching outside. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

According to Dr. Len Kravitz from the University of New Mexico, standing, seated and lying side bends specifically target the external oblique muscles, which run lengthwise down your sides. These exercises are not necessarily beneficial for strengthening the midsection and they may add width to your sides. Instead, try rotational exercises that engage all the muscles of the abdomen to help keep your waist tiny.

Alternative Options

Ab Exercises to Avoid in Order to Get an Hourglass Figure
Woman balancing exercise ball. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

The best abs exercises to do are ones that activate the internal obliques and the transverse abdominus. These muscles lie deeper in the abdomen, under the rectus abdominus and external obliques, acting like a girdle on the entire midsection. Integrated, total body exercises are more beneficial than single joint exercises. Incorporate standing exercises such as light medicine ball twists and woodchops, which engage all your core muscles, allowing them to work together in coordination. Seated exercises such as torso twists, stability ball crunches and bicycle crunches also engage the proper muscles and get your whole body involved.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media

Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please take a moment and read it here.