A small – or smaller – waist has long been seen as desirable, especially in women, as it creates that hourglass look that many consider so attractive. But there are better reasons to strive for a smaller waist; one, for example, is that holding onto too much fat around the waistline increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and other health complications.

There’s been a lot of talk about “waist training” over the past few years, and much of it has centered around wearing constricting devices known as waist trainers. They are basically an updated take on the old-fashioned corsets worn by women in the late 19th century, the kind that often led to crushed ribs, shortness of breath and fainting. Anecdotally, women in Victorian times were not prone to fainting because they were delicate or overly dramatic; they were prone to fainting because their corsets were laced far too tight.

Fortunately, no one needs to resort to such lengths to get a smaller waist these days! Sensible diet and exercise are essential as are fitness and weight loss in general.

The Spot Loss Myth

Trying to get a smaller waist is a great idea for your health as much as for the way your jeans fit. But the fact is that you CAN’T target a specific area of the body to lose weight from, regardless of what you might have read.

Where we hold most fat in our bodies comes down to our unique body compositions and genetics. Due to higher estrogen and an evolutionary mechanism to protect our reproductive organs, women do tend to hold more fat around their hips and lower belly.

When you lose body fat, you lose it from all over the body. Keep in mind that wherever you tend to store it most will often be the last place it goes from, so getting a smaller waist is never going to be an overnight project. But with patience, dedication and the right diet and exercise routine, you’ll get there!

Diet and a Smaller Waist

Well Balanced Diet

No matter how much you exercise, you won’t get a smaller waist –  or flat abs – if your diet is a poor one. A crash diet won’t help either, as very calorie restrictive diets are hard to maintain, and they’re often unhealthy to try. Instead, a sensible diet, one that contains lots of protein, fruits and vegetables and avoids sugary carbs, fried foods, sweets and sodas, is essential. A good diet will help boost your exercise efforts and get you that smaller waist – and overall improved body – that you want.

The Power of Rotation

Before we get to the exercises, I wanted to talk about the power of rotation in terms of exercise. All the moves that will follow have a twisting or rotating component, and that’s for a very good reason. Many exercises are very linear, so they only work the front – or back – of your body. Core exercises that make use of rotation work it all, especially the harder to shape abs and obliques.

All the exercises in this workout will have a twisting and a core component to them! Repeat each exercise in this series for a total of three times through the routine. Do this every other day for two weeks and then see if you notice a difference in your waist!

Lunge with a Twist

Lunge with a twist 1
Lunge with a twist: Step 1
Lunge with a twist 2
Lunge with a twist: Step 2

This exercise is great core booster in general and excellent for building lower body strength as well as helping to shrink that waist!

How It’s Done

  • Stand with your feet set a shoulder width apart.
  • Hold your arms straight out in front of you.
  • Start with your right foot step forward as you would if doing a basic lunge. Take care not to twist your knee and keep it aligned over your right foot.
  • Twist your upper body to the right, making sure to keep your core engaged and your glute muscles clenched.
  • Reach across to the right and then, in a slow, controlled way bring your arms back to the center. Step back and return to a standing position.

Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow

Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow 1
Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow: Step 1
Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow 2
Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow: Step 2

Another great core boosting lunge!

How It’s Done

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and step out with your right foot as far as you can.
  • Engage through your right heel and drop down and back while keeping the left leg straight and brushing your right knee with your right elbow.
  • Push from your right heel to propel yourself back to the starting position.

Side Plank

Side Plank
Side Plank

This a great exercise for working the oblique abdominal muscles, which help create a shapely waist. These don’t get much of a workout from ab exercises like crunches, so these are a must if you want a smaller, better defined waist.

How It’s Done

  • Lie on your right side with your legs extended and your right elbow directly under your shoulder. Keep your left arm at your side.
  • Keeping your head in line with your spine, engage your abs and pull your belly button towards your spine.
  • While exhaling, lift your knees and hips up off the mat. Keep your torso straight and hold the position for a count of up to sixty seconds. Starting out you might not manage that, but that’s the goal to eventually aim for.
  • After you have held the position for as long as you can, exhale and return to your starting position before changing sides and repeating the move.

Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank

Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank 1
Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank: Step 1
Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank 2
Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank: Step 2
Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank 3
Side Hip Lifts from Forearm Plank: Step 3

Every plank variation can be great for building a strong core, but this one is great for getting a smaller waist too.

How It’s Done

  • Lie down on your left side and then prop yourself up on your right elbow and forearm. Keep your legs stacked on top of one another and your shoulders straight over your elbow.
  • Raise your hips off the mat so that your body forms a straight line.
  • Brace your core and squeeze your glutes and then slowly lower your right hip until it brushes the floor.
  • Return to your starting position and then switch sides.

Squat with a Diagonal Knee Lift

Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow 1
Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow: Step 1
Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow 2
Side Lunge With Alternate Knee to Elbow: Step 2

This move will help smooth out those annoying saddlebags as well as help shape your waist.

How It’s Done

  • Step your feet out wider than your shoulders with the toes pointing forward.
  • Place your hands on your head and elbows out to the sides.
  • Lower down into a squat and then press down through your heels to come up.
  • As you come up, crunch your right elbow down and bring your left knee up in front of your chest.
  • Repeat the squat and switch sides.

Weighted Seated Ab Twists

Weighted Seated Ab Twists 1
Weighted Seated Ab Twists: Step 1
Weighted Seated Ab Twists 2
Weighted Seated Ab Twists: Step 2
Weighted Seated Ab Twists 1
Weighted Seated Ab Twists: Step 3
Weighted Seated Ab Twists 4
Weighted Seated Ab Twists: Step 4

This exercise calls for a single weight. A kettlebell, medicine ball or single dumbbell would make a good choice.

How It’s Done

  • Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Contract your abs and hold the weight up directly in front of you.
  • Twist your entire torso to the right and touch the weight to the floor.
  • Maintaining good posture twist back to the center again and then twist again to touch the weight to the floor on the opposite side.


Altogether, a combination of good abdominal exercises (these and others) coupled with a healthy diet will yield you long-term results. In addition to these exercises, if you want to get a smaller waist faster, try adding some simple Pilates moves into the mix. Much of Pilates, which is an effective but gentle form of exercise, centers around building a stronger core and will only help boost your efforts.

And finally, if you feel that we have missed any important or useful tips, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy workout!

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Stephanie Mansour
Stephanie Mansour is a nationally recognized Health & Fitness Expert as seen on Today Show, Dr. Oz, CNN, FOX New York, ABC Chicago, Fox LA, WGN, Fox Chicago, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, PBS, Yahoo, Sirius XM, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Business. She reaches more than 52 million viewers per month. For the past decade, Stephanie has been helping millions of people “Step It Up,” every day in their lives with weight loss tips, lifestyle hacks, and fitness secrets to up their game. Steph coaches you on how to be the rockstar of your own health that you always knew you could be. She gets real and fast results, and provides easy tips and tricks that work no matter how busy you are. She’ll help you finally rid yourself of the weight – both emotionally and physically – to get the life you want. In fact, she coached one reality TV star to lose almost 90 lbs in 3 months!