Defining the waist as being “the area between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the hip bones” Worthington says it’s also called the “lateral core” in fitness circles. The muscles in this area allow the spine to bend to the sides (flexing laterally) while also keeping the spine stable, otherwise known as resisting lateral flexion.
“The key to getting the most out of your waist workout is to choose exercises that train the core to resist movement and remain strong and stable,” explains Worthington. “When we train the core in this way, we are not only working the muscles that we want to work, we’re also training them to protect the spine and improve posture.” Much more than just improving the waistline visually, this kind of training also helps to prevent injury, reduce back, shoulder and neck pain, and even improves how we breathe.
- Get into a hands and knees position, with your shoulders stacked above your hands and your knees slightly behind your hips. Ensure your weight is spread evenly between all four points of contact and that your spine is neutral – there should be a gentle “S” shape when viewed from the side.
- Reach your right arm above your head while simultaneously extending your left leg behind you.
- Push your heel away and pull your toes back towards you as you extend, and imagine you are standing on that leg.
- Fully exhale as you reach the longest part of the movement.
- Slowly return to the starting position, resisting any rotation through the torso and hips.
- Repeat for eight reps on each side.
- Lie on your side with knees bent at 90 degrees (so feet are behind you), and extend your hips to neutral – viewed from above, the body should follow a straight line from your head, through the torso, hips and thighs.
- Maintaining the neutral position, lift your hips off the floor, supporting your weight on your elbow and knee. Try to create a straight line between the head, torso, hips and thighs, when viewed from either above or in front.
- Exhale fully and forcefully five times in this position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Attach a long loop resistance band at chest height to a fixed object. Stand at a right angle to the fixed object and grasp the band in both hands. Set your feet slightly wider than hip width, and allow knees to soften slightly.
- Press your hands away from you, using your core muscles to resist the sideways pull of the band.
- Once you reach full extension, raise your hands up to an overhead position in front of you. Use your abdominal muscles to keep your ribcage down as the hands reach up.
- In the overhead position, exhale fully and forcefully.
- Slowly lower your arms back to parallel and then bring them back to the start position.
- Do 10 to 12 repetitions on each side.
We’ve all heard about the Kardashian-led trend for waist training, where a corset is worn around the waist to help accentuate an hourglass shape. But does it work? Kim Kardashian certainly thinks so, having created one as part of her Skim Underwear Line With flexible boning and a soft-to-touch feel, it was designed with three levels of compression, so you can adjust it as your waist tones. “Our Waist Trainers are a customer favourite because of how versatile they are; they can be worn at home and around the house to tone and support your core, or under clothes for a more cinched silhouette,” says a spokesperson for the brand.
While they might help some people feel more streamlined, Worthington points out that the ways in which many of these products work during exercise is via the wrapping technique, which essentially increases the temperature in the area to promote fluid loss through excessive sweating. “It is possible to see some short term visual changes to the shape of the area after using this technique,” he says, “but that isn’t changing the structure or composition of the area.”