We all know that there’s no such thing as an ‘ideal’ body. Beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes. However, searches for “how to get an hourglass figure” – having hips and a bust that are nearly equal in size and a waist that’s narrower than both – are up 450% over the past year.
This type of figure has been perpetuated as the ‘dream body’ for decades and is now even referred to as ‘slim thick’ or ‘slim thicc’ by younger generations. On TikTok, #slimthicc has almost 240 million views to date, with the term now heavily used in strength training and fat-loss conversations, too.
Whether you have a naturally slim thick shape (or not) will largely be determined by genetics and where your body tends to distribute body fat. In fact, only around 8% of women have a naturally small waist and wide hips. That said, some lifestyle factors that contribute to carrying more weight around the waist are a poor diet (eating too much sugar and processed foods), not exercising enough, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, stress, and a lack of sleep.
Too much excess weight around your stomach and waist can be unhealthy. While having a small amount of visceral fat is perfectly normal, research suggests that carrying too much excess visceral fat around your abdomen can increase the risk of a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. That’s why it’s so important for some people to lose waist fat and achieve a healthy waist size.
How Fat Is Stored At The Waist
In terms of body fat distribution, women with the same body mass index (BMI) as men typically present with around a 10% higher body fat compared to men. However, men are more likely to have too much fat around their waist compared to women. And women are more likely to carry fat around their hips and thighs. This is important since your health is affected by where you store body fat, even if you have a healthy weight or BMI. In fact, research suggests that someone carrying more fat around their waist may have more health problems later in life compared to someone else who carries their extra fat in their thighs, arms, or butt.
Waist circumference is a good measure of fat around your middle and also a good indicator of your overall health. To measure your waist circumference, first locate your hip bone. Then wrap a tape measure around your body, while making sure that it’s level all the way around your waist. Try not to hold your breath or suck in while measuring your waist and don’t pull the tape measure too tight either. Read the number on the tape measure and then write it down.
Women whose waist measures more than 35 inches and men whose waist measures more than 40 inches are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, weight loss can reduce belly fat and lower that risk. And if you have diabetes, you may find that your blood sugar levels are easier to manage after you lose weight.
Types Of Abdominal Fat
There are two types of abdominal fat: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity and presses on your internal organs, which is very dangerous because it can interfere with the functions of your internal organs. Visceral fat also sends hormones, fatty acids, and other chemicals that cause inflammation into your body, which leads to higher cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, and higher levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood).
Subcutaneous fat is the ‘jiggly’ belly fat stored just under your skin. Most people are usually more familiar with this type of fat since it’s visible. Too much fat around your waist is known as abdominal obesity.
Benefits Of Exercising For A Smaller Waist
Most people who have too much fat on their waist (or are overweight) consume more calories (or energy) than they use. Without activity, your body stores the energy as fat. So, eating less and exercising more is one of the simplest ways to lose weight and lower your waist-to-hip ratio since more activity can help you use up some of the energy you take in from food.
Also, when people are very stressed, a hormone called cortisol shoots up. High cortisol levels equal high belly fat. So, if you want a flat belly and a smaller waist, you need to reduce your cortisol levels. Exercise reduces levels of your body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that are your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Regular aerobic exercise also has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, and to counter depression and dissipate stress.
Effectiveness Of Exercises To Make Your Waist Thinner
It’s extremely difficult to ‘spot reduce’ fat or only lose fat in certain areas of your body. Therefore, it’s very hard to only reduce your waist. Specific belly and waist slimming exercises also usually don’t do that much to shrink your visceral fat. So, for best results, you need to really reduce your overall body fat percentage.
And remember: nutrition is key when it comes to losing weight around your waist. A balanced diet that’s high in protein and carbs will be crucial since it will fuel your workouts and also help you with your recovery.
Best Exercises For Slimming Your Waist
When it comes to slimming your waist, some exercises are simply better than others. For example, doing only ab-exercises (aka the part of your body that you’re trying to change) won’t give you a smaller waist. Seriously. It takes 250,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat.
That said, doing whole-body exercises – a balance of resistance training (strength training), cardio, and stretching – will speed up your metabolism and burn calories and fat. So, here are five of the best exercises to get a slimmer waistline.
Hula hooping is one of the best workouts for abs that you can do. In fact, one study found that women using a weighted hula hoop lost (on average) almost 3.5 centimeters from their waist and almost 1.5 centimeters from their hips in six weeks. Hula hoops are able to spin around your body from the momentum you provide by rocking back and forth pushing your hip and belly forward, slightly shifting your weight as it spins around your waist. The movement that keeps the hoop spinning is a forward push motion of your hip rather than a circular hip movement.
Hip raises are a core-stabilization exercise that can help you build a strong, sleek, and flat stomach. To do hip raises, lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for up to 5 seconds in the up position. Then lower your body back to the starting position.
Squats strengthen your lower body and core muscles, burn calories, and may even help you lose weight. To do a basic squat, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your chest up. Then bend at your knees and hips, sticking your butt out like you’re sitting down in a chair. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Pause for a second. Then press into your heels and straighten your legs to return to the upright, standing position.
A plank is a simple and effective core exercise that helps you build stability and strength throughout your entire body. To do a standard plank, plant your hands directly under your shoulders as if you’re going to do a push-up. Then ground your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes to stabilize your body. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back. Hold the position for 20 seconds to 30 seconds.
Burpees can help you strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips, butt, abdomen, arms, chest, and shoulders. To do a standard burpee, start in a squat position with your knees bent, your back straight, and your feet shoulder-width apart. Then lower your hands to the floor in front of you so they’re just inside your feet. With your weight on your hands, kick your feet back so you’re on your hands and toes, and in a push-up position. While keeping your body straight (from your head to your heels), do one push-up. After that, do a frog kick by jumping your feet back to their starting position. Stand and reach your arms over your head. Then jump quickly into the air so that you land back where you started. As soon as you land with your knees bent, get into a squat position and do another repetition.