Team “Tiny Waist” Here You Come!

A Guide to keep it svelte in the midsection

There is nothing quite like the look of a tapered waistline in a dress, swimwear or activewear. Everything just fits and seems to look better when we have an hourglass shape with the waist being smaller than the shoulders and hips.

Some women are born with this type of genetic structure. They naturally have a wider collarbone, narrow rib cage and wider hips. Imagine the luck! What if you weren’t born with a naturally small waist? What if your natural shape is more straight up and down or even a little larger in the waist than the shoulders and/or hips? Are those of us not born on “Team Tiny Waist” doomed to simply try to mask it with our fashion choices or sigh in envy of those who won the waist lottery at birth?

Not at all!

There are training methods and tricks which will build an hourglass shape. Yes, it’s true! By concentrating on building certain body parts while not activating others, you can have that coveted hourglass appearance no matter what your genetics. Let’s talk about some Do’s and Don’ts of becoming a part of the Tiny Waist Tribe:

DO: Lift Weights and train your upper body for width

When you weight train your upper body to gain width, you will create a wider top half which will automatically make your waist appear smaller.

Back exercises such as pull-downs, assisted pull ups and one arm dumbbell rows are all examples of exercises designed to widen the back without gaining a lot of thickness in the process. When the back becomes wider, the waist has the illusion of becoming smaller.

Pro Tip: When performing a lat pull-down, think about activating your armpits. Yes, this sounds crazy! However, this mind/muscle connection trick will assist you in activating your lat muscles, rather than using your arms in order to perform the movement.

Working your shoulders will also assist in an appearance of an hourglass shape. By adding a little muscle to the shoulders, the upper body will gain some width which will in turn cause the waist to appear smaller. It doesn’t take a lot, boulder shoulders are not necessary (unless you want them!) in order to create this illusion.

Pro Tip: When working your shoulders, be sure to push them down throughout the movement. This will assure you are activating the deltoids and not the traps. Large traps can appear more masculine, so it’s best not to utilize them in pageant weight training.

DON’T: Train your Oblique Muscles

This one is contrary to what many people believe. Training your oblique muscles does not make your waist smaller. Many feel they are actively burning the fat on top of the obliques when performing side to side movements or weighted side bends. Unfortunately, spot fat reduction is not physiologically possible. When you perform not just these movements but any type of exercise, you are not working the body fat in that specific area; you are activating the muscle underneath. Your obliques are muscles just like any other and when you train them, they grow. Think about this, growth of even just 1/4 inch on each oblique adds up to a 1/2 inch larger waist.

Pro Tip: Be careful when you’re in certain pilates, core and yoga classes. They often include oblique work which can lead to a wider and thick waistline.

DO: Train your Lower Body

If you are thick waisted naturally, you may want to gain some muscle in the lower body in order to make it wider to counteract the waist and make the waist appear narrower. A half inch built in the hips will make your waist appear a half inch smaller. With the body it is all about illusion, so don’t be so caught up in the scary thought of a “bigger lower body” and instead focus on what gaining some muscle on your lower half will do to your overall shape and appearance.

Additionally, many women are afraid to train their lower body because they fear their legs will become too big after one workout. It is very difficult for a woman to gain a lot of excessive muscle size, it takes consistent, heavy weight training designed for this purpose. A vast majority of the time when women blame big legs on muscle, it is instead body fat. So, do not be afraid of lower body training, it is great for your shape and overall fitness level, not to mention some muscle in the legs is what keeps them tight and toned.

If you are someone who tends to gain muscle more easily than others, simply keep the weight light and move quickly between sets with good form.

Pro Tip: If you are looking to widen your hips a tad, perform leg presses with your feet high on the platform and your toes and knees turned out, you will feel the muscles targeted on the outside of your hips.

DON’T: Train without safety in mind

Don’t weight train without a good old-fashioned leather weight belt! Not seen in gyms very often anymore, leather weight belts are a great training tool. Not only will the belt protect your lower back while you train, but it will help keep your waist small.

Every time you pick up a weight you are bearing down on your core. When you do this, your obliques are activated which can lead to growth and as stated above, a wider waist. The use of a weight belt will keep your obliques from becoming activated and assist in keeping your waist small.

Pro Tip: Wear your weight belt around your natural waistline, right where it breaks when you bend to the side. Do not wear the belt down on your hips. Make sure the belt is tight, you should not be able to put your hand in between yourself and the belt.

As you can see there are several ways to become a part of the Tiny Waist Brigade even if you weren’t born with one! Body sculpting and training is all about illusion. By widening the upper body, training the lower body and keeping the obliques from becoming activated, we can all have that coveted hourglass shape. Until next time, keep training!

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