Even though the fashion industry designs clothing for long and lean figures, women are after the hourglass figure – that enviable shape with a trimmed waist and curves in all the right places.
But not all of us have J Lo’s body, so does that mean we can never have her silhouette?
Not necessarily. There are ways – some better than others – to tweak your shape. Are any of them right for you?
Can You Change Your Body Shape?
Everybody is different, and factors like genetics, diet, exercise and lifestyle all weigh into your shape. So, what’s your body shape?
Women’s bodies tend to fall into five categories: apple, pear, hourglass, ruler and inverted triangle. Obviously, if your body naturally has the hourglass figure, you don’t need this article. But if you fall into the other four categories, read on.
First, let’s break down these body shapes:
- Apple – you have a round mid-section and thin legs
- Pear – you have wide hips and narrow shoulders
- Ruler – you have a straight body, all the way from your shoulders down to your hips
- Inverted triangle – you have narrow hips and wide shoulders
Now, you obviously can’t change your body frame and bone structure, so, if you fall into the ruler category, you’ll probably never achieve an hourglass figure. But other body shapes can play with muscle mass and body fat.
You can build up specific muscle groups, like glutes, thighs and upper body. You can also optimize your body’s natural fat stores, and lose fat in certain areas.
In short, you don’t get an hourglass figure by losing weight and getting in shape. There are specific exercises that you can do – depending on your body shape – to create an hourglass figure.
Body Fat: Should You Use It or Lose It?
The hourglass figure is soft and feminine, so you don’t want to get rid of all your fat stores. It’s natural for women to carry fat in their hip and breast area, and you should aim to have about 18 – 25% fat levels.
And even though you can work certain muscle groups, it’s important that you don’t add too much muscle mass. This increased muscle mass, along with your body’s natural fat stores, will make you look thick and bulky – not the feminine look you’re going for, right?
If you have an apple-shaped body, focus on losing some weight in your mid-section. Then, when you do exercises that trim your waist down, you won’t be adding inches to your circumference.
Similarly, pear-shaped bodies already have fullness in their hips, but if it’s a little too much body fat down there, you can work to slim down that area to create better proportions.
Cardio workouts, like running, swimming, Pilates, and biking can help you lose unwanted fat stores. The most important thing about your cardio workout? Love it! That way you’ll stick with it in the long run.
Work Your Glutes
Exercises that target your glutes are probably the best place to start. These will naturally round and lift your backside.
When you’re doing them, just be sure to concentrate on working the glutes, instead of giving other muscles the bulk of the work. This way, you’ll be sure to get the most out of the exercises.
Good glute exercises are step-ups, squats (both single leg and split), lunges (both walking and stationary) and leg presses.
Avoid These Exercises if You Want to Achieve an Hourglass Figure
Since you want to have a slim, trim waist, be sure that you don’t develop larger core muscles. This will make your waist thicker, instead of slimmer.
So, be sure to avoid weighted ab movements, like weighted side bends, weighted crunches, and wood chops. Instead, try isometric exercises, like lunge twists, toe taps, and reclining knew twists.
Make These Dietary Changes
To help you lose any unnecessary fat, focus on eating whole foods, like grains, vegetables and fruits, along with lean meats and high quality dairy products.
Try to remove processed sugars, because if you consume too much sugar and don’t burn off that energy, your body stores it as fat.
Should You Wear a Corset or Waist Trainer?
Some women are following the lead of celebrities, like the Kardashians, who wear corsets to achieve a gorgeous hourglass figure.
But should you?
Corsets can create that desirable shape, but only when you’re actually wearing them. After that, your body goes back to normal. So, they don’t produce any long-term effects when it comes to your body shape.
Instead, corsets cause serious damage to your physical health. They’ve been known to bruise and even break ribs. They can harm internal organs, disrupt your digestive system, and interfere with normal breathing patterns.
It’s no surprise that with all these negative side effects, it’s also difficult to move naturally and freely.
If you’re going to an isolated event and you’re desperate for an hourglass figure, a corset may be a good, short-term solution. But they’re best to be avoided.
Clothing Shortcuts for an Hourglass Figure
You may not have the perfect hourglass figure, but you do have curves. And with the right pieces and styling tips, you can accentuate whatever curves you have and strut your stuff.
For example, a good body con dress with strategically placed patterns, shapes and paneling will draw attention to your narrowest areas, while also playing up your hips and breasts, no matter how small they are.
Wrap dresses or belted dresses are two easy ways to focus on the narrowest part of your abdomen – your waist – while filling out both your top and bottom nicely.
Crop tops paired with high-waisted pants might seem a bit daring, especially if you’re not ultra-fit, but don’t be intimidated. You can rock this look, too. When you show just a teeny tiny bit of your abdomen, you get people to focus exactly where you want: the thinnest part on your body.
You might not have an hourglass figure naturally. So, why not change your body, or add some new pieces to your wardrobe and achieve that curvy, feminine look?