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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- University of New Mexico; SuperAbs Resource Manual; Len Kravitz, Ph.d.
- “Health Fitness Instructor’s Handbook”; Human Kinetics; Edward Howley, B. Don Franks;
- Hardfitness Online Magazine; Will Compound and Abdominal Exercises Thicken my Waist; Asha Minon