The tiny waist is the type of figure you’ve likely seen on billboard ads, magazines, influencer posts, and celebrities on the red carpet.
Well-known beauty icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Lopez might come to mind when you think about this famous body shape, which typically involves chiseled shoulders, shapely curves, and a whittled waist.
The truth, though, is that having an hourglass shape doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re healthier or more attractive.
And it’s important to remember that many celebrities we see in photographs don’t actually have those perfect measurements.
Instead, they have pricey cosmetic procedures and use the best personal trainers, expensive shapewear, and a professional photo editor to create an illusion of an hourglass figure. If you don’t have those things, chances are, it’ll be really hard to look that way.
If you want to lose inches around your waist, or tone your shoulders, hips, or chest, there are healthy ways to do so, but it’s important to have realistic expectations.
How to work toward an hourglass shape
An hourglass figure typically consists of a smaller waist balanced by a larger bust and curvier hips. That means there are three target areas to work on for more of an hourglass shape:
your upper body
your glutes, upper thighs, and hips
The emphasis of what you work on will depend on your natural shape.
If you’re already slim all around, you may want to start by building muscle around your shoulders and chest area to get broader on top. If you carry weight around your midsection, you’ll likely want to prioritize whittling that away.
How to reduce waist size
Since it’s hard to spot-reduce fat in just one area of your body, it’s important to focus on overall weight loss if you want to drop inches from your waist. But there are some exercises and workouts that have been proven to be more successful at targeting fat around your midsection.
How to tone your hips
If you want to lose weight to shrink your midsection, you may be wary of losing inches from your hips and thighs.
Once you start losing weight, though, you can try the following exercises to help you shape and tone the muscles in and around your hips. Aim to do these toning exercises at least three to four times a week.
Every body is beautiful
Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. That’s part of what makes each of us unique.
It’s important to know that there isn’t an “average” or “typical” body.
Some of us are curvier, some of us have narrower hips or broader shoulders — we’re all a little bit different.
Still, most of us can categorize our shape into a few broad categories.
For example, a 2004 study reported that descriptions of female bodies have historically been described in categories based on shapes, such as triangle, rectangle, diamond, oval, and hourglass.
Some of the most common general categories include:
triangle or “pear”
inverted triangle or “apple”
These are just a few of the different body types that you might hear about.
So what are these different body types?
It’s important to remember that categorizing body types isn’t an exact science.
Oftentimes, there’s a lot of variation within one “type.
A smaller waist is seen as attractive and feminine because it accentuates an hourglass figure and maximises the waist-to-hip ratio. Holding body fat around your waistline increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other health issues, which is why it is important to maintain a healthy waist circumference. Whether you want to achieve a smaller waist to accentuate your hourglass curves or to shed belly fat, here is everything you need to know about how to get a smaller waist.
Small Waist Mistakes
A small waist primarily comes down to lower body fat levels. Strength training exercises for your core will help increase muscle in that area (think six pack abs), but that washboard stomach will never make an appearance if you have a larger-than-average layer of insulation over the top. It doesn’t matter how many crunches you do, if your diet is appalling, you will never see a toned and tight tummy. So your first and most important way to achieve a smaller waist, is to clean up your diet. “Weight loss = 5% exercise, 20% diet, 75% lifestyle & de-stress” NOTE: If you already have low body fat levels, especially on your belly, then losing more body fat is not recommended! According to the American Council on Exercise Body Fat Categorisation these are the recommended body fat levels for women: Check that your body fat levels are in the healthy range with this online calculator.
Can You Spot Reduce Belly Fat?
The short answer is, no. You cannot pick and choose which body part you want to lose weight from – which means: Targeted ab exercises like crunches don’t burn belly fat! Where you tend to hold the most body fat comes down to your genetic predisposition and how you lose it, is largely based on your unique body composition or ‘body type’. Women have higher oestrogen levels which means they tend to hold most of their body fat around the hips, butt and lower belly – it’s evolution’s way of protecting our reproductive organs. When you take measures to lose body fat, you will lose it evenly from all over your body, so wherever you tend to store it most (thighs, butt and belly), will be the last place you see it go from, while other areas seem to get leaner far quicker (usually upper body for women). But this is where lifting weights can give you a head start on getting a smaller waist. Strength training is the most effective way to change your body composition, meaning: increase lean muscle mass and lower your body fat levels (*read: get strong curves in all the right places). The more muscle you build, the easier it is to maintain lower body fat levels. That’s good news for your waistline! More on how to lift weights for a smaller waist, later on in this article. But first, let’s talk about your diet.
The Small Waist Diet
So what’s the best diet to lose body fat to get a smaller waist? Most fitness experts will tell you to go on a low fat, low calorie restrictive diet, but honestly, who wants to count calories for every meal? These types of crash diets never work long term and only leave you constantly hungry, low on energy and miserable. “The plan that works is the one that you can stick to” There is a better way! Forming long-lasting healthy eating habits is only achievable if the diet you choose feels fulfilling, enjoyable and fits in with your lifestyle. That’s why I love the low carb lifestyle. You never go hungry, have oodles of energy, still able to achieve your goals and enjoy treats now and then. Check out my blog post Why LCHF is best for a strength training female to learn more about how this way of eating can help you get a smaller waist. But in a nutshell, avoid these foods if you want to maintain a smaller waist:
Processed and packaged foods
Junk food and take aways
Sugary and fizzy drinks
Refined sugar like, candy and ice-cream
Processed baked goods like cake, pastries, bread and muffins
Trans fats in margarine and other spreads, as well as vegetable oils like canola
Instead what you should focus on eating is nutrient-dense whole foods, just as nature intended. When it comes to diet, here are best fat loss tips to help you get a smaller waist:
Green and cruciferous vegetables\ high in fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer and regulate your digestion.
Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins (sometimes we mistake hunger for thirst and end up over eating).
Increase your healthy fats like avocado, real grass fed butter, olive oil, nuts and seeds to give you sustained energy throughout the day, balance your hormones and keep you feeling satiated.
Get enough protein to sustain muscle growth and cell repair, by eating hormone-free pasture-raised meats and seafood such as salmon, mackerel, beef and chicken.
TIP: a diet high in processed carbs, baked goods, refined sugar and sodium will make you hold more water weight, which can add inches onto your waistline. LCHF is low in carbs and sodium, so people tend to ‘drop’ this excess water which can help your waistline look tighter.
Avoid These Smaller Waist Mistakes
The myth that lifting weights makes you ‘bulky’ is only true if you do the wrong type of exercises. Certain ab exercises can make your waistline get bigger, giving your waist a blockier appearance. If done correctly, strength training will shape and tone your body like no other form of exercise – I’m talking hourglass curves in all the right places. But not all core exercises are going to help you get a smaller waist. Here are the ones to avoid, to keep your waistline small:
Avoid Weighted Ab Exercises
The more you challenge a muscle under load, the more it will grow. So if you smash the weighted crunches or use med balls and plates in your core workouts, your mid section will become thicker and blockier over time. If you want to get a smaller waist, you should avoid these exercises:
Med Ball Russian Twists
Or any Ab exercise with added resistance
Avoid Exercises That Target The Obliques.
The obliques or ‘side waist’ run along the sides of your torso. Many fitness experts will tell you that doing exercises that target this muscle will help get rid of your muffin top – the body fat that sits just above your waistband. But this is so wrong! Firstly, we know that targeted exercises cannot spot reduce fat in specific body parts. But secondly, overdoing exercises that grow the oblique muscles, will only make the sides of your waist grow out, making your waistline even thicker. The result is a blocky looking torso – great if you’re a guy, but not so good if you’re trying to enhance your hourglass curves. So to get a smaller waist, avoid these exercises:
Oblique V crunch
Plank Hip Dips
Side Plank Hip Lifts
The Best Core Exercises For A Smaller Waist
Now you know which exercises to avoid, let’s talk about the best exercises to keep your waist tight and small. The best way is to stick to high rep bodyweight exercises that target the rectus abdominis (six pack) and transverse abdominis.
- Target The Rectus Abdominis
This is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles and typically what people call ‘six pack abs’. They key is to target both the lower and upper part of this abdominal muscle. Most people only do crunches which work the upper part and neglect the lower belly, which is where women tend to hold the most stubborn body fat – also known as the ‘belly pouch’. This lower belly workout will strengthen and tighten your core. Here are all the best core exercises to target the ‘six pack’ muscles to tighten your waistline:
- Target The Transverse Abdominis
The inner core is responsible for helping you balance, perform everyday movements and helps to encourage good posture. So it’s just as important to train this part of your core as well as the superficial ‘six pack’ abs. When this muscle is weak, it can lead to poor posture and low back pain. It’s responsible for holding in all your organs and when you don’t have very good control over this muscle, we tend to ‘let it all hang out’ so-to-speak, which can make our waistline look bigger. So consider this your daily reminder to stand up straight and be conscious of your posture. A great secret technique that works your inner core and can literally shave 2-3 inches off your waistline in just a few weeks, is the stomach vacuum. Watch this stomach vacuum tutorial to find out how you can get a smaller waist by practicing this move every morning. All of the exercises mentioned above, especially the ones that focus on raising the legs, will also target the inner core too. But to really strengthen the abdominal muscles and protect the spine, we need to get good at ‘bracing’ our core (think: ‘stiffening’ your torso if you were to get punched in your stomach!) These moves below are some more ‘bracing’ exercises that are great for the transverse abdominis to help you get a smaller waist:
Foam Roller Knee Tuck
Foam Roller Pike
Strong Compound Lifts For A Smaller Waist
Exercises that isolate the core muscles, like the ones above are obviously great for building strength in your core and keeping your waistline tight. But did you know that the squat, deadlift and hip thrust are also great ab exercises? Crazy, huh? That’s because they are compound movements that require you to use multiple muscle groups as well as, your core. So the stronger you can get in these moves, the stronger and tighter your core will become, which can help you get a smaller waist. And need I tell you that these three compound exercises are also great for sculpting sexy hourglass curves and growing your booty? Focusing on building strong and round glutes will also maximise your waist-to-hip ratio and create the illusion of a smaller waist! BAM. Another bonus is that adding strong compound lifts into your workouts helps you burn more calories and maintain lower body fat levels (yey for small waist!).
- Lifting weights increases your metabolism even after you finish your workout (as opposed to cardio, where you only burn calories for the duration of the workout). TIP: Remember, the more you work a muscle under a load, the more it will grow. And same goes for how often you train that muscle too. So be strategic about where you want to ‘add’ muscle to your body. If you want to create an hourglass figure and maintain a smaller waist, then training your abs every day is way too much. Isolated ab workouts should be kept to two sessions per week maximum – especially if you are doing compound movements in your workout routine, because they work the core tremendously too!
To Cardio or Not To Cardio
Many people believe that increasing your cardio is the best way to lose belly fat. But I believe there is a better way. We already know that lifting weights is far more effective at burning calories. Cardio falls short because although it might aid in weight loss, it does absolutely nothing for shaping and sculpting your body. Lifting weights is the only way you can tone and tighten the muscles of your waistline – and that’s whats going to give you a smaller waist. We’ve also established that you can’t out-train a bad diet and that the key to a smaller waistline is lowering your body fat levels by cleaning up your diet. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do cardio at all, it just means that it doesn’t need to be your primary focus when trying to get a smaller waist. So what kind of cardio is ideal to help you lose excess body fat and shrink your waistline? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is best, but only if you are already fairly athletic and have higher levels of muscle mass. If you do this STRONG HIIT workout, you’ll torch body fat and sculpt curves at the same time. Two sessions a week is more than enough, if you focus on a healthy diet and prioritise lifting weights in your weekly workout regime. On the other hand, if you have quite a bit of body fat to lose, lower muscle mass and poor fitness levels, then the best type of cardio for you is gentle steady state, like a 30 minute walk in nature, some laps of the pool or a leisurely bike ride. However, lifting weights should be your primary focus if you want to boost your metabolism and get into the fat-burning mode. Check out this fat-burning workout, perfect for beginners who want to get a smaller waist.
More Tips For Getting A Smaller Waist
There is no magic pill or quick fix to get a smaller waist. Waist trainers, corsets, belly wraps, skinny teas and fat-burners are all a scam! Don’t be fooled by gimmicky marketing on social media, promising you results that sound to good to be true. You have to be prepared to do the work, be consistent and patient because results don’t come right away.
- Dress To Flatter Your Curves
When we feel good about our appearance, we’re generally happier and more confident. Clothes can either flatter our bodies and boost our confidence or, do the exact opposite. Before you give up and succumb to the scams mentioned above, take a look at your wardrobe and see if making any of these little tweaks can help you create the illusion of a smaller waist, while you start putting in the work in the gym and in the kitchen:
Wrap dresses and A-line skirts that cinch in your waist and flow out over your hips will accentuate hourglass curves and create the illusion of a smaller waist
High-waisted pants and skirts that sit above your hips will hold in your lower belly and muffin top. The higher waistband will draw attention to your natural waistline (belly button level), which is the narrowest part of the torso.
Peplum tops and skirts will create volume around the hips which increases the waist-to-hip ratio and accentuates a smaller waist.
Wide belts that cinch in the waist (at belly button level) will draw attention to your natural waistline and create the illusion of hourglass curves and a smaller waist.
However, there are some styles and shapes you should avoid if you have a naturally wider wider and narrower hips and your goal is to create the illusion of a smaller waist. Baggy and loose ‘tent-like’ clothing will make your waistline disappear and low rise pants and skirts will cut your waist off at the widest part which will only accentuate a thicker waistline.
- Managing Stress For A Smaller Waist
Sounds a bit random, huh? How can managing stress actually help you get a smaller waist? Remember how I said, “Weight loss = 5% exercise, 20% diet, 75% lifestyle & de-stress”? Well, stress is chronic and ever-pervasive in our modern world. It has almost become so ‘normal’ that we don’t even notice it anymore, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is constantly affecting our every day lives and well-being. Mental and emotional stress, as well as, poor lifestyle choices are making us sicker and fatter:
Working 50+ hour weeks in high pressure jobs
Unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships
Relying on convenience foods and too much technology screen time
Not resting and recharging enough.
All these things increase our stress levels (whether physical, mental or emotional) and they have an adverse affect on our physiology. Our stress hormone (cortisol) increases, which down regulates our metabolism, makes us gain body fat or makes it very difficult to lose it. Where we tend to store this ‘stress’ type of body fat is around our torso. To start improving your well-being and keep your stress hormone balanced, you need to look at your mindset. Watch this video on how to get your dream body by incorporating these practical wellbeing tips:
Get into nature daily
Mediate very day for at least 15 minutes
Practice yoga or mindfulness
Prioritise ‘me’ time and cultivate your passions
Start a ‘positive mindset’ journal
How To Get A Smaller Waist In A Nutshell
Lower your body fat levels by cleaning up your diet
Tighten up your waistline by doing the right core strengthening exercises
Sculpt muscles in the right places by lifting weights to give you hourglass curves
Avoid scams and quick fixes:
Dress to accentuate the waist-to-hip ratio * Watch the video:
What factors affect your body shape?
Some elements of your body type are determined by your bone structure.
For example, some people have a curvier, rounder buttocks and curvature in their spine.
Others may have wider hips, shorter legs, or longer torsos.
How tall or short you are will also affect the overall shape of your body.
Genetics also play a role. Your genes determine how your body accumulates and stores fat.
And in many cases, body fat isn’t evenly distributed.
Some may find that they typically store fat in their mid-section, while others may put weight on in their thighs, legs, or arms first.
Hormones can also affect your body shape.
For example, stress can trigger your body to release the hormone cortisol. ResearchTrusted Source suggests that stress-induced cortisol may be tied to fat buildup around your most vital organs in your mid-section.
Estrogen and progesterone, released by sexual organs, can also affect how your body stores fat. Estrogen, for example, can lead your body to store fat in your lower abdomen.
How to Get Perky Breasts Without Surgery
Keep in mind
Surgery isn’t the only thing that can give you perky breasts. Exercise can help fight against gravity, and aesthetic hacks like tape are great when you’re in a bind or need a quick transformation for an outfit. But remember: No hack or exercise is going to give you permanent results if you aren’t consistent.
What you can do right now
Looking for immediate results? Then look around your house. There’s a good chance you already have what you need for these hacks.
- Makeup hacks
Makeup is a great way to give your breasts some oomph without spending a lot of cash. A pearly body cream can make your cleavage pop, while a dark bronzer can add a cup size or two.
For a lighter, natural lift: A shimmering highlighter can make your breasts look fuller and perkier, but not dramatically so. Put a little bit of pearly cream on your pointer and index fingers, and rub it on the inside of your breasts. The shimmer will give your cleavage a subtle boost, especially in a plunging neckline.
For a more drastic lift: A dark contour can create shadows that give off the illusion of bigger breasts. Use a contour stick a few shades darker than your natural skin tone to outline the inside and the top of your breasts, and then draw lines on the top and bottom of each of your collarbones. Trace all the lines with a matte highlighting stick, and then blend using quick, circular motions.
- Bra hacks
Sure, bras are great for keeping your breasts from bouncing a little too much. But play your cards right, and they can also give your breasts a big boost.
DIY racerback bra. You can turn your regular bra into a racerback to give yourself some lift. All you have to do is take your straps and pin them back. You can use a paperclip, short velcro strip, or specially designed clip to hold your bra straps together. Place the clip or strip at the top or middle of your back depending on how dramatic you want your lift to look.
Bra stack. Bra stacking is a classic trick that can make your breasts look bigger and perkier. And it’s simple: Just wear two bras. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it in time. You’ll need two different size bras: One that’s your regular size, and one that’s a cup size bigger. The second, larger bra should be worn over the smaller one.
Sock stuffing. Stuffing your bra with a pair of socks can enhance your cleavage big time. Fold each sock and put them underneath the outside of your breasts. You can use any type of socks you want, but different sizes will give you different results. Larger socks will result in a big lift, and smaller socks will give you a subtle boost. Either way, say no to tissue!
- Choose your outfit wisely
Want perky breasts without a lot effort? Turn to your closet. Shirts and dresses with V-neck, plunging, or sweetheart necklines are the best for showcasing your cleavage and giving the illusion of lift. A great thing about this hack is that you can combine it with other tricks for maximum effect.
What you can do after a trip to the mall
You may have to take trip or two to a department or lingerie store for these hacks, but they will produce results right away.
You can use gaffer tape, sports tape, or specially designed tape to lift your breasts when you want to ditch the bra. (Whatever you do, don’t use duct tape.) Gaffer tape has a strong hold, but may irritate the skin, so if you’re having a reaction, sports tape is a great alternative.
There are two ways to tape your breasts.
For deep V-neck dresses or shirts: Cut a strip of tape long enough to reach from the bottom of your breast to the top of your shoulder. Lift your breast as much as you feel you need, and apply the tape starting from underneath your breast. You should start on the outside of your breast, and add more strips of tape moving inward.
For strapless or backless dresses or shirts: Cut a strip of tape long enough to reach from the outside of one breast to the other. Lift your breast slightly and, starting from the bottom, apply the strip of tape across your breasts. Add more layers of tape moving upward until your breasts are covered and your nipples aren’t visible.
If socks aren’t your thing and you want something more natural, cutlets are the way to go. Cutlets are silicone- or water-filled inserts that you slip inside your bra to create instant fullness and cleavage. Take your cutlets and place one on each side of your bra toward the outside of your breasts. If you want to make your breasts look larger, put the cutlets right under your breasts.
- Get fitted
One 2008 studyTrusted Source found that at least 80 percentTrusted Source of women were the wrong size. A well-fitted bra gives you the most support, lifting your breasts and maintaining a perky shape.
You should get fitted by a professional at least once a year to learn your true bra size. (Most department and lingerie stories offer free bra fitting.) Make sure you talk to your specialist about your breast shape. Whether your breasts are round, asymmetrical, or have a bit of a sag will affect the type of bra you buy.
When shopping, consider the following:
Front-close bras can boost cleavage. A front-close bra with a molded cup will bring your breasts closer together, giving them lift and enhancing your cleavage.
Balconette bras create lift, not squish. A balconette bra lifts like a push-up without squishing your breasts, creating more volume and dramatic cleavage.
Larger busts need support. Bras that have underwire, wider straps, a wider backband, and a full-coverage cup will give you the support you need and lift you want.
- Invest in a push-up bra
Push-up bras are perfect for all breast types, so owning one is an absolute must for any closet. A push-up will give you support and lift, making your breasts look fuller and boosting your cleavage.
Need to add one to your collection? Try these two on for size:
Jezebel’s Amanda Push-up: This push-up bra has a plunge neckline and is lightly padded, giving you dramatic-looking cleavage.
Maidenform Women’s Love the Lift Push-up: This lace push-up bra has a deep plunge with ample padding to give you ultimate lift for a natural-looking boost to your cleavage.
What you can do over the long term
Not every hack for perky breasts is a quick fix. These are some things you have to do consistently over extended periods of time to see results, most of which are longer lasting.
- Massage your breasts
Anecdotal evidence suggests that massaging your breasts may increase blood flow and stimulate collagen production, which could add some lift by tightening muscles and promoting tissue growth.
To massage your breasts:
Start by cupping one hand on the top of your opposite breast.
Squeeze the area gently in a rhythmic pumping motion.
Move your hand down the top of your breast gradually.
Work your hand around the outside, under, and inner part of your breast using the same pumping motion.
Alternate between squeezing and pumping with gentle fingertip circles.
Hydrotherapy is another way to boost circulation in your breasts. Anecdotal evidence claims that hydrotherapy may improve overall blood flow and awaken nerves, which could promote breast firmness.
At least once a day, you should:
Turn off the water after your shower.
Rinse your breast with warm water for a minute.
Switch to cold water and rinse your breasts again with cool water for 20 seconds.
- Targeted exercises
Exercises targeting your upper body will help strengthen your chest muscles and improve your posture, which will make your breasts look perkier.
Pushups, plankups, chest fly, and chest presses, in particular, will help enhance your bust. If you want to add more tone, use 5- or 10-pound dumbbells with each exercise.
To get started, set aside at least 15 or 20 minutes a day for a quick strength-training circuit. You can even do each exercise during commercial breaks.
- Eat a healthy diet
Research shows that a nutrient-rich diet will help you maintain healthy breast tissue, which can keep your breast firm and perky.
To give your breasts a boost, eat:
more nuts, fish, soybeans, and pumpkin seeds to increase omega-3 fatty acids
more avocado and eggs to up the monounsaturated fats to promote breast tissue growth
more high-antioxidant foods — such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, watermelon, and whole grains — to maintain healthy tissue
- Maintain healthy weight
A slimmer waist will accentuate your bust because the proportion of your breasts to your waist is more defined. Eat a diet packed with fruits and vegetables, and exercise 30 minutes a day for at least four days a week to maintain a healthy weight.
In the meantime, shapewear can emphasize your natural curves, thus enhancing your bust.
- Practice proper posture
Maintaining good posture not only keeps your body in alignment, it can also emphasize your bust by giving the illusion of lift.
To practice proper posture, you should:
Keep your feet planted on the floor or a footrest when sitting.
Avoid sitting or standing in the same position for long periods.
Stand straight, with your shoulders pulled backward and your knees bent slightly.
The bottom line
You don’t have to go under the knife to give your breasts a lift. There are plenty of quick tricks that can give you a similar effect. But some of these hacks — like breast tape and the bra stack — aren’t comfortable, so you shouldn’t do them every day. If you’re looking for something longer lasting, you’ll have to look into changing your diet, exercise routine, and maybe even consider surgery.