Are you a man looking for that ‘X’ shaped, super-athletic physique? Or maybe you’re a woman looking for more of an ‘hourglass’ shape. If we look closely, we can see that both of these goals take us in a similar direction and require similar changes. Today we’ll focus on the lower-body elements of this transformation by looking at how to get a smaller waist and bigger hips.
Why A Smaller Waist and Bigger Hips?
Simply put, biology has programmed us to find this attractive. Study after study has shown that men especially prefer an hourglass figure.(1) One particular study from Evolution and Human Behavior showed that even men born without sight preferred women with this body type.(2)
There are many theories as to why this is. Common interpretations include waist-hip ratio as a sign a woman is fertile and likely to be capable of bearing children without incident. And studies have also shown a correlation with low disease risk.(3)
As for the attractiveness of men to women, broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist indicate higher levels of testosterone, a highly desirable trait. And as for bigger hips, there are few signs as definitive of physical power. Just look at any NFL player’s posterior!
Of course, humans are highly developed social creatures and attractiveness is about more than shape. But still, when there are simple tools at our disposal to achieve these highly desirable proportions, it would be silly not to use them!
In the olden days, people would use all manner of corsets, girdles and other tailored solutions to squeeze them into shape. However, while you may get away with a pair of Spanx these days, pulling off a corset is no mean feat.
Common advice to train the waist is to do abdominal exercises, but if we look at most abdominal exercises, their function is to contract the muscles of the belly, causing them to grow. And while stronger abdominals may help us to hold things in, bigger muscles here is still not really what we are after.
Instead, I recommend two less-common exercises that can be game-changers for your abdominal training.
1. Overhead lunges
There are many reasons I love overhead lunges. Firstly, they are an intense metabolic exercise, meaning they raise the heart rate. And while exercising the muscles around the waist certainly comes into the equation, if you have higher body fat levels, it will still be difficult to achieve the shape you are after.
What’s more, by taking the arms overhead you stretch the abdominal muscles, meaning you work them in quite a different way than crunches.
Finally, these are simple to execute. Simply take a weight, or even your empty hands and as you step forward into a lunge, raise your arms overhead with the elbows straight. You will feel a ‘pull’ in your abdominal muscles if you are doing it right. If you feel this in your lower back, then slow down and don’t go so far up and back with your arms.
For an extra dose of abdominal work and calorie burn here, try overhead walking lunges. These are a great way to finish off almost any workout and are a real asset for achieving your goal waist.
2. Abdominal Vacuum
This one is a real ‘old-school’ exercise. It was popular with bodybuilders in the 1960’s and 70’s, the so-called Golden Age, when having a tiny, perfect waist was part of the expectations for any bodybuilder. But these aren’t just for muscle men.
Abdominal vacuums develop the transverse abdominis, the corset muscles that surround the inside of the abdominals. Learn to work these effectively and they will actively pull your waist in.
Do be warned though that the abdominal vacuum may not be suitable for people suffering from high blood pressure or any heart complaints. Check with a physician if you are not sure whether this applies to you.
To perform the abdominal vacuum, take a deep breath. Then breath out forcefully, attempting to completely empty the lungs. I recommend bending forward to help you get all the air out.
Then, without breathing in, stand upright and pull your bellybutton toward your spine. You will feel your abdomen pull up toward your ribcage and you may even see your belly take on a hollow appearance.
Hold this for a few seconds, then breathe in when you need to. Never hold so long you become dizzy and rest several breaths in between each vacuum. I recommend no more than five of these once or twice a day.
Putting the Junk in Your Trunk
Now that you have your waist-training in check, what about your hips? Fortunately, many of the most common exercises are excellent training for your backside. Squats, lunges, step-ups, even the overhead lunges from your waist training are excellent ways to build your bottom.
Still, there are always a few movements that you can add in to really improve your posterior:
1. Shrimp squats
These are actually a type of lunge. The basic version is to do a reverse lunge, stepping one foot back behind the other and bending the knees to ninety degrees. However, to really work your hips here there is a more advanced version.
Instead of stepping your back toes to the ground, point your foot like a ballerina and try to place your knee directly on the floor. Then stand back up from here. This can be very challenging so you may want to start with something behind you to aim for, slightly higher than the floor.
2. Lunge to high knee
This is similar to the previous exercise in that you start by stepping back into a lunge. From there, you lift the back leg up, straighten the front leg and bring the back knee up in front of your chest. You can also swing the leg up straight or even kick the foot out for an added boost.
To make a really killer exercise, you can combine both of these movements, stepping back into the shrimp squat, then coming through with a high knee or kick. You may walk funny for a few days afterwards, but it will be worth it.
Dress for Success
Make sure that once you’ve put these exercises into practice, you don’t hide your results. Wearing clothes that emphasise your waist-hip ratio is a proven way of making you both look and feel more attractive. So make sure if you’re putting in the work you are also dressing in a way that doesn’t hide all of your hard-earned results!
Are You Ready?
All of this advice is straightforward and you can put it into action immediately. Simply plug the exercises into your regular routine in place of something that isn’t specifically designed to get you a scientifically perfect figure and you are good to go.
Within a few weeks, you should notice your waist-hip ration shifting in a good direction, especially if you are also watching your diet. But if there is anything you’re not sure of, feel free to ask!
One thing to be prepared for is that to get a smaller waist and bigger hips is the most desirable outcome from exercise, as proven by science. So don’t be surprised if you get a lot more attention, and a lot of people asking just how you did it!