(UPDATED September 29th-2012 ) How do you get an hourglass figure? The indepth Original article by the original author. More updated information than on Answers.com
(EVEN IF YOU WEREN'T BORN WITH ONE)
VERY IMPORTANT WORK OUT UPDATE September 29th 2012: Hello Hourglass fitness enthusiasts! This past summer I've been working with almost a dozen clients and I have a new trainer (she's mind boggling fit, educated, beautiful puts me in pain!) have some important new guidelines after receiving invaluable feedback. I'm now advising against 95% of Pilates if you are trying to create an hourglass figure. I'd still do split board, foot openers, ankles, parakeet and anything that isolates the legs without making the abs a central focus but that's it. Clients are going to Pilates even twice a week and seeing a wider waist the next day. On an already fit or very hourglassy body the Pilates abs hypertrophy won't be that noticeable but those who have a stomach to re-sculpt and weight to lose off their abs need to stick with my basic 30 waist sculpting moves (available exclusively from me following a consultation) , Gyrotonics, Gyrokinesis, basic weight training combines effective cardio, dance and or and lots of twisting and lateral movement. My recommendations for Calanetics has new guidelines also. OMIT the pelvic scoop aka Legs #1 and the 400 contractions for the hips and behind (Behind and Hips #1 and 2) and skip ahead to the stretch. When Callan Pickney says "you get the hips down to where they look like they've disappeared" she was not kidding, but we WANT hips in this programme. We do not want "childlike behind and hips" as she advocates in her best selling book. The two Hips and behind exercises create a muscle pull in that breaks up the hip lines visually and creates an indentation that looks too modern, masculine and linear for this system. The standing pelvic wave creates a flat butt via the tip up into the flat back posture. There is a way to access the abs, floating ribs, pelvic floor and the obliques by doing a similar standing posture but it is very subtle and does not include gripping and flattening the glutes into a board posture. Women did this hundreds off times a session in Jazzercise and stretch and tone classes during the 70s to the mid 90s usually lifting their butt off of the floor into a lower back irritating bridge repeated dozens and dozens of times rapidly. Ending up smaller and thinner yet with flat butts from overuse of the muscles, too much cardio and not building, sculpting and lifting the muscles instead. Once again for those who are simply fit or already hourglasses there may not be too much concern but others who are sculpting should consider the above. To learn more about how this programme can befit your specific figure, please contact me. For a 25.00 USD Pay Pal donation I can provide you with an indepth figure analysis and guide to getting started on your way to a smaller waist and shapelier hip ratio Pin Up figure. No matter what weight, body type or fitness level you are currently at you can achieve a feminine hour-glassier silhouette. This rate will never be lower and includes specific exercises for your individual body type and goals. You'll be asked to fill out an indpeth questionnaire, E-sign a standard liability waiver and then have me at your disposal for all your hourglass fitness questions and concerns. As with any exercise programme you should consult your doctor before starting.
Author's Note update June 3rd 2012: The article has been updated with a few big corrections and my now more positive take on corset training. I receive about fifty requests a month for workout plans and advice and I apologize for not being able to respond to all of them but I'm getting caught up and establishing a place where I can take donations for my time via the launching of super amanda.com and super amanda.co.uk. The websites will have a section each dedicated solely to my Hourglass fitness programme/education, pre- and post natal waist sculpting secrets and how you can help me get the first " Hourglass Conditioning" and "Hourglass Pilates" Dvds made. If you've posted questions in the past few weeks, I've answered now them. I've also been working with clients who want a bigger (not just toned) but bigger booty and I'm really on to something! I have a average/medium size butt in proportion to my body myself and I've figured out how some new ways to keep the legs leaner without losing your butt and how you can gain size and shape so a new essay is in the works.
Thanks so much and keep checking back. Let's get and keep the bodies we want and make all the effort pay off without buying into impossible media standards and masculine "one size fits all" forms of exercise.
My original and work all of it authored solely by me.
The most googled text article on the Hourglass Figure four years running.
I've updated and added over 1000 words regarding different body types who want to look more hourglassy and answers to fitness questions heretofore unavailable anywhere. I have been getting hundreds of emails and this is here to address many of the questions women and girls around the world have been asking me. These are only guidelines as a woman who is larger framed should follow a different workout than a woman of the the same height who is smaller boned and a physique who tends towards muscular legs should follow different regimen then a physique who's legs tend to be weak and so on and so forth.
A SMALL WAIST EQUALS HEALTH
Huge volumes of research and simple common sense says that getting and keeping weight off of your waist and not having a larger stomach, especially after having children and especially over 30. Teens will also want to avoid what I call "Perma-Muffin." A small waist is the key to better health not simply an aesthetically pleasing dividend.
NO ONE BODY TYPE IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER
So in the spirit of embracing ALL body types, I've renamed the four standard physiques with much nicer names:
Top Heavy= Rocket
Rectangle or Ruler= Column
I repeat, no ONE body type is better than another so it should not be just the Hourglass that has the pretty title.
All feedback appreciated and all my best,
How do you get an hourglass figure?
Determining your figure's symmetry
To get an hourglass figure you ideally should already be starting with a hip to ratio where your waist is over ten inches smaller than your waist and bust measurements or close to that number. To determine if you have an hourglass figure, you should measure your waist at it's smallest point which is above the belly button and below the ribs, measure your hips at their fullest (right across the rear, just above the pubic bone, not at the hip bones). Take your bust measurement braless or in your favourite unpadded bra and at the fullest point across your bust-line. Classic hourglass figure indicators are proportionally small ribcages and a tendency to gain weight in the hips, thighs. bust and upper arms not the waist.
For example, a 36 inch bust, a 24inch waist, and 36 inch hips= 36-24-36
38 inch bust, a 28inch waist, and 38 inch hips= 38-28-38
41 inch bust, a 29inch waist, and 41 inch hips= 41-29-41
32 inch bust, a 23inch waist, and 32 inch hips= 32-23-32
If your measurements fall into a slightly smaller bust and slightly bigger hips or a bust (eg: 39-30-40, 34-26-36 or 42-28-38 that is one to four inches bigger than your hips, then you are still an hourglass and can sculpt and almost perfectly symmetrical figure if you so desire with consistency and the correct clothing, nutrition and exercises.
If you are Rocket, Column, Guitar or Diamond Shaped
To create a true hourglass figure you do need a bust measurements that is also visually and statistically bigger than your waist measurement however if you have a small waist and big hips you can balance out a smaller bust with clever clothing choices and give the impression of an hourglass figure much more so than someone with a big bust and narrow boyish hips. Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez and pin up legend Bettie Page are three examples of smaller busted, guitar shaped women who have given the impression of having symmetrical hourglass figure by accentuating their impressive hip to waist ratios and wearing padded and/or bust enhancing clothing. In fact those three aforementioned women, especially Bettie Page and her awesome wide hips define hourglass to many. One cannot be an hourglass nor create the impression of one without a small waist and markedly bigger hips. Larger breast sizes are not limited to only rockets or hourglasses. In turn, Hourglass figures can often be smaller chested.
If you have a full busted with narrow hips (Rocket), have a rectangular body (Column) or a diamond shaped body with most of your weight around the middle and you want more of an hourglass you CAN , through much patience and getting out of low rise clothing, get a smaller waist. It requires time, fitness knowledge and a willingness put in long term effort. Rockets, Diamonds and Column should avoid the washboard abs style work outs because they will create a toned version of width at the midsection NOT reduce the width of the waist itself.
Keeping your boobs
I am asked often by women who write me how to lose weight without losing their boobs. I've found as a trainer and with my own figure, the slower the work you do on yourself and the more focus on sculpting the LOWER body the more you stay buxom even if like the majority of hourglasses, your boobs can tend to get smaller with weight loss. The current obsession with women training their upper body for "big guns" should be avoided by hourglass figures. Train your upper body for definition and tone just don't over do it or make it more 20% of your training focus.
There are no short cuts to getting or perfecting an hourglass figure. A plastic surgeon cannot create one and neither can crash dieting. Those who are guitar shaped or hourglass and who find extra weight on their hips, thighs and arms have to give themselves months, not weeks or days to get toned. When hourglass figures crash diet or get into extreme exercise they can burn through their boobs as well.
FITNESS AND EXERCISES FOR AN HOURGLASS FIGURE
AND A SCULPTED WAIST TO HIP RATIO
Pilates and core work myths
All those who want an hourglass figures or who are maintaining them, should ideally avoid more than an hour or two of Pilates weekly. If you want a tiny waist and a great waist to hip ratio pilates has to be approached carefully as 90% of the exercises, on or off the apparatus, are working the FRONT of the abdominal muscles and building them up into a six pack which widens the waist visually and physiologically.
Understandably most Pilates aficionados will vehemently deny this. Many claim that "extra fat" and "genetics" will cause a square torso, not core work. If you are seeking a more hourglass figure through Pilates, you should ideally look and see if your teacher has a noticeable hip to waist and/or an hourglass figure themselves and then judge the veracity of their opinions before investing money in private training or dvds. Pilates is a huge investment in time and money if you want to master the system properly and you should get exactly what you want out of it.
"Too much core equals an apple!"
The Wunda Chair, box work on the reformer (eg:climb a tree & the Hundred) and the Barrel especially can create a "hyper-trophyed" abs look and even encourage you to store excess weight disproportionally above the hips if you decide to scale back or stop training.
Even mat work moves like "side plank with twist" and "side kicks" that may seem as if they will sculpt the waist can cause the muscles to build as the amount of effort the obliques have to do to stabilize the body is so powerful . This is true with countless of the classic Pilates exercises. Moreover, the majority of pilates is also taught incorrectly by teachers who have partaken in quicky weekend "certification courses" so proceed with caution if you study pilates and request that your trainer give you FLEXION work to keep your waist sculpted. Another Pilates myth is that it can give you a "dancer's body." In actuality only DANCING can yield the results of dancers body.
The truth about Pilates
I have trained extensively in Pilates and hold a mat certification from the most reputable certifying institutions in the world. I have also invested over 20K into Pilates, Gyrtonics and personal training with strength and cardio, training extensively with four master instructors. I can say with authority that pilates will sculpt and strength you arms feet, ankles, calves and thighs in ways that no other system will. Especially once you learn to use the Cadillac and the reformer, you can change the shape and definition of your legs from toes to hip. Hourglass and Guitar figures can tend to have very wide hips and full thighs, ankles and calves. Pilates leg work on the apparatus and work with therabands, can radically and permanently re-sculpt this area for women who have not found results with weights and cardio.
Sadly and perhaps ironically, I truly believe Pilates main downside is the much ballyhooed core and abdominal work. The fact that it was invented by a man who's own body was his template and who had a clear preference for a built up trunk does not bode well for women who want smaller mid sections. Also Joseph Pilates demanded that the method be practised THREE times a week (not five times) with small amounts of reps, for 30 hours and then the client's body was reassessed. Many of these clients were professional dancers with very low body fat to start out with.
Fast forward to 2012 and much of what Pilates taught has been reinvented, made up, changed or (more uncommonly) passed down as carefully as possible. In any incarnation his core work squares off a woman's waist something fierce when done often. That's why it has become so popular, as you see results in days not weeks. I only did Pilates core work for about a half an hour to 45 mins a week and only after having a baby. I avoided side kicks, side stretch, and all planks (yes, no planks!) Now happy with the results, I've dropped it entirely unless I'm teaching. I do the footwork and leg work on the reformer almost daily. Once again, Pilates represents superiority for leg sculpting incarnate, I just never combine it with core work.
Gyrtonics is superior
Gyrotonic Expansion, also created by a man (Dancer and Yogi Julio Hovgrath) is a far superior regimen as it work on continually accessing the oblique muscles which you need to keep toned for a small waist whereas Pilates hits the Rectus Abdominus and Transverse Abdominus which are the front and deeper ab muscles, in virtually EVERY exercise. When the latter two muscles are built up, the waist becomes bigger even if you are very trim. Both methods, when taught properly have the client pull up the pelvic floor which is crucial to a woa keeping her body together regardless of what results she wants for her tummy.
Gyrtonics has a much more stringent teaching code as well, partially because Julio, the creator of the method is still alive to keep an eye on it. While it too can get as pricey as Pilates, the mat work known as Gyrokenesis is available on vhs or dvd for a low price and no equipment apart from a chair or stool is required. Gyrokenesis is a powerful form of spiral, waist sculpting yoga that all levels can do.
Rating you Pilates instructor
If you search Google images you will note that many well known Pilates instructors and core based fitness advocates (eg: Mari Winsor, Zazunna Light, Jackie Warner and Joesph Pilates himself) have slight to almost no hip to waist ratios because their abs are so built up. Women's waists were much smaller until the Core strengthening revolution which gave way to a six pack abs/narrow hips look which is now considered the most preferable by the media and fitness professionals. Neither fitness philosophy is "bad" but if one does want a tiny waist and big hips then core fitness can't be overdone.
Some Core fitness is fine but it has now been over incorporated into too many types of fitness systems that waist sculpting is being overlooked. Tracy Anderson, Madonna's former personal trainer and of a very similar body type, is so built up through the waist muscles that they actually extend out farther than her hip lines and she sports an Iliac crest similar to a man's. Once again, this is not "bad" but training in that capacity will square you off.
C sections, pregnancies and hourglass figures
If you have had a caesarean however pilates is one of the best regimens to encourage your muscles to heal in the first crucial nine months after delivery because it is so powerful. Once Pilates assists in knitting the muscles of your midsection back together, you can continue to slim it down with consistency, patience and exercise systems that are NOT (or at least less) core fitness based. Sophia Loren, mother of two who had two caesarean pregnancies, still has a small waist at 76 years old and she primarily does old school waist twists and race walking.
Ideal fitness systems and sports for an hourglass figure
For an hourglass fitness regimen, the majority of midsection sport specific work should focus on twisting at the waist and if possible lateral motion. Here are the best fitness choices for a smaller waist and mid section in no particular order.
1.Gyrotonic expansion apparatus and Gyrokenesis mat work
2. Bikram, Iyengar and Kundalini yoga
5. Hill walking or flats
6. Treadmill on an incline or flat
7. Walking/ Running intervals on flat terain
8. Slide board
10. Aerobic, world/jazz/modern dance/Zumba/hip hop dance
12. ice, inline and roller skating
13. pelvic floor work
14. The FIRM dvd collection
15. Calanetics (OMIT both Hips and Behind & the Pelvic tip up aka Legs #1 moves
19.*Strength Training (see below)
20. Horseback riding
21. Hula hoop
22. Belly dance
23. Climbing and descending real stairs
24. Ball room Dancing
Limit but don't avoid:
2. Cardio machines other than the Treadmill
3. Step Aerobics (the lower the box the more you build the front of the thighs and abs. Higher box and lower reps optimal or going over and across the box laterally)
4. Pilates on the apparatus
6. Power Lifting
7. Shadow boxing
1. Astanga Vinyasa flow Yoga (down dog/up dog plank series)
2. Kick boxing bag classes
3. Boot camp classes
4. Heavy abdominal training
5. Pilates Mat Work
7. Wackie Warner Method
8. The Spacey Anderson Method (reduces the hips and legs by building the waist and shrinking the glutes)
These regimens also square off the entire torso and you should never do these fitness programs religiously if you want an hourglass shape. These regimens sculpt men nicely but not women who want hourglass curves. If you want washboard abs then by all means do them as they are very effective at squaring off the waist.
Weight lifting is crucial to a small waist...really.
As for strength training, this is crucial for all women who want to maintain bone density, muscle mass, low body fat and stamina regardless of what body type they want. 2 to 5 hours a week depending on how much weight one wants to drop, broken up ideally into 4 sessions a week is the average amount of time recommended by many trainers for women with excess body fat. Unlike Pilates where the abs are accessed in virtually every single exercise, strength training can isolate areas without using or building the abs and waist. Avoid side tick-tocks with weights, medicine ball crunches and most weighted abs machines. Limit but don't avoid ab rockers, Roman chair work and lower back machines.
Clothing: A CRUCIAL part of having a tiny waist
Clothing is a very crucial part of accentuating an hourglass figure. Finding vintage clothes from the waist conscious 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's , 1980's and early to mid 1990's can be very complimentary to an hourglass figure as are all skirts, pants and dresses that belt or hit at the real waist not at the hip. Those with an hourglass figure should also avoid low rise jeans with a long baby doll top or trapeze dresses with cap sleeves that give a long shapeless (and waist-less) silhouette and was created for very linear, thin women. Always nip in and/or belt at the waist with skirts and dresses.
Low rise jeans can give you "perma- muffin" so keep them high waisted
As for jeans, avoid ALL low rise jeans. You will not get a smaller waist if you wear ANYTHING low rise ESPECIALLY jeans. Very few high waisted jeans look good unless they are boot cut, flared, corset or sailor style, in a darker wash and have very long inseams NEVER tapered as high waisted skinny jeans will usually not flatter the backside and give the dreaded "mom jeans" effect. Throughout her career Sophia Loren has almost never worn jeans.
Hourglass figures should ideally be wearing medium-low rise (about 8 to 10) inches with a boot cut. The best jeans for an Hourglass figure are made by Bernie Dexter or vintage. Avoid any denim (even high rise) cut mid calf unless you are very tiny framed lean legged hourglass with perfect proportions like Bardot or Kelly Brook. A higher heel shoe (3 inches or higher) invariably compliments an hourglass figure because it tilts the backsides, compliments the hips and behind and gives one an 'hourglass walk."
Media Hype and Celebrity Body Lies regarding The Hourglass Figure "stats"
Celebrities known for their figures like like Diora Baird, Elizabeth Hurley, Mel B, The Pussycat Dolls, Cindy Crawford , Katy Perry, Eva Mendez, kate Upton and Nicola Mclean are not hourglasses as they have only very slight hip to waist ratios and are usually photo shopped, padded or promoted via PR as more "curvy" than they actually are. Ignore their PR machines and don't fooled or intimidated by the media when you read the hourglass stats of many famous woman as it's usually 100% fiction. Also ignore the media when they call women like Paris Hilton, Kate Hudson and Kate Moss "curvy" as this is also incorrect.
I cannot stress this enough: the "measurements" issued by PR people are almost always fake Look carefully at any famous star or model and you'll see that even if they have virtually no curves they still lie and claim a tiny waist and hips ten inches bigger.
Ultimate Hourglass Figures
Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Nigella Lawson, Meg Myles, Diana Dors, Lisa Marie Smith, Raquel Welch, Gina Lollobrigida, Lynda Carter, Brigitte Bardot, Kim Kardashian, Jayne Mansfield, Salma Hayek, Jane Russell, a young Anita Ekberg and Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christina Hendricks, Uschi Digard, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Betty Brosmer, Mamie VanDoren, Raven Delacroix, Jessica Simpson, June Wilkinson, Keeley Hazel, Kelly Brook, Somaya Reece and Scarlett Johansson are some examples of truly symmetrical hourglass figures. They range from fuller figures, to average sized, to tiny framed, to toned dancers, to short waisted to long torsos and also to very busty and voluptuous but all have hips and busts that are about ten inches or more larger than their waist lines.
Corset Training and shapewear for an hourglass figure
Many women find that once they cease the low rise jeans and low rise yoga pants and start wearing waist accentuating clothing that their waists pull in naturally without body modification like corset training. I have changed my view on corsets in the past few months after buying my first real corset and waist cincher (shorter version of corset). The corset I wear in all my videos is a mall bought version with plastic stays but now I've graduated to steelbone, European construction etc which looks magificent under vintage reproduction dresses. I still don't think corset training hours a day is realistic mainly because, as with wearing extreme shape wear, if you cut off your circulation it can lead to poor muscle tone, digestion and cellulite. One need only look at some of the nude portraits from the Victorian era to get an idea of what extreme corset training can do to muscle tone. I do think if one wants to wear a corset for back support and shape a few hours a day then they are a nice edition to their Hourglass or other fitness programme.
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