Men tend to put a lot of emphasis on building big muscles so the phrase “slimmer waist” is not often heard in conversations about men’s fitness. Time to reconsider!
A slim waist is a sign of three positive things:
- It is a sign of superior fitness and inner health.
- A slim waist is a sign of youth and virility.
- It makes the shoulders look bigger, so it helps form that coveted T-shape of the upper body.
The 10 Best Exercises for a Slim Waist
It must be said upfront that the exercises that follow are selected because they give the core a good workout. Most common ab exercises are either poor for ab development or they target the wrong muscles to create a slimming effect.
Basic ab exercises like the common crunch build the abs without really activating the deep, ‘corset’ muscles of the abdomen (the transversus abdominis or TVA). Strengthening these muscles will help build that slimmer, tighter looking waist. A slim waist is achieved through a combination of weight loss, tightening the TVA and oblique muscles that lie deep in the abdomen and special add-ons to workouts like a waist trimmer belt that helps your body to sweat out the water from the stomach area. This full guide on waist trimmer belts will help you choose the right one for you.
So far start with these 10 conditioning exercises that will help to make your waist “slimmer”.
10) Myotatic Crunches
Crunches are generally terrible at activating the abs and deeper TVA muscles but the myotatic version is an excellent ab strengthening exercise. To perform these, arch your back over a stability ball (e.g. BOSU) and crunch until you reach the full crunch end position. This movement increases the range of motion of the exercise and it puts more tension on the abdominal wall and removes the risk of back injury from the movement.
9) Figure 8s
To really get a deep ab and oblique hit, you will eventually need a leg raise exercise. While hanging leg raises stand out as the kingpin exercise for core development, Figure 8s is really good variation. Simply lie down on the floor and with straight legs. Perform a figure 8 movement in the air. Create big sweeping arcs with your legs and allow the hips to roll through the movement. This exercise not only gives you a great core workout but it also helps increase hip mobility and as a bonus it strengthens the lower back.
Variation: Windshield wipers — mimic the action of a windshield wiper blade with your legs.
8) Bicycle Crunches
Bicycle crunches is considered to be one of best ab exercises by many sports biomechanists because they have been shown on Electromyography machines (EMG ) to produce superior ab activation compared to other exercises. Like V-ups, you’re using both lower and upper body movements to hit the abs and hips hard. If you do one general ab strengthening exercise, this is it.
7) Cable Rotation Exercises
Aside from stabilizing the upper body, the core is principally involved in the upper body rotation. Performance in many sports requires powerful core rotation, most notably baseball, hockey and golf. It therefore makes sense that you will benefit greatly by adding cable rotation exercises such as chopping and lifting movements. These are great core strengthening exercises and there are many variations to keep your workout fresh and interesting.
Hands down the best conditioning exercise you can ever do. It requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere with a flat surface. Burpees are effective fat burners because they involve many muscles throughout the entire body. As an added bonus, the entire movement from plank/push up through to squat jump involves powerful core muscle function.
5) Mountain Climber
Mountain climbers can be considered a core exercise but this activity is really a great whole body conditioning exercises. The focus of the mountain climbing movement is in core stability while the cross-body variation increases the load on the core. Perform regular mountain climber exercise for a nice conditioning effect and go slow with the cross-body variation for added abdominal emphasis. Mountain climber is a great conditioning exercise and should be a regular part of any athletic or physique building program.
4) Kettlebell Swings
A popular exercise in recent years, the kettlebell swing is used in fitness boot camps, CrossFit, sports and even powerlifting circles. The reason for its popularity is simple — you’ll get a fantastic conditioning workout and develop strength through the posterior chain (vital for correct posture and injury prevention). Use a light kettlebell and do sets of high reps (25-75) for a fat burning, cardio conditioning effect. Men can usually handle a 20kg kettlebell nicely but be sure to choose a weight that allows you to pump out 30-40 challenging reps without losing good form. The swing movement is also a fantastic core conditioner and the high rep regime will produce a powerful fat burning effect.
3) Side Plank
The side plank is a simply one of the best core exercises there is. Planks activate the abdominal muscles, hips and glutes synergistically to stabilize the body. The side plank emphasises the obliques but the intensity of this exercise means you’ll tighten the muscles of the entire core. Any serious ab/core workout will include side planks, so make sure to use them often.
2) Two-Point Plank
Simple planks are great core strengthening exercises, but for extra challenge to the deeper core muscles such as the corset TVA muscle, begin lifting limbs off the floor. The two-point variation involves lifting an arm and the opposite leg. Hold for a count of 3 seconds, lower them back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg/arm. Aim for zero movement of the core and total stability throughout the movement. This variation puts incredible tension on the core musculature, which means a great workout.
1) Ab Wheel Rollouts
Ab wheel rollouts are killer, which is why many exercisers won’t do them. You definitely need to work up to these bad boys because the tension on your midsection is so great. Start by rolling out from a kneeling position and only roll as far as you can, as comfortably as you can. Aim to increase the distance and ultimately perform the movement from a standing position. This may be the toughest core exercise there is, but it must be high on the list.
Variation: Use a Swiss ball for a good ab stretch. The unbalanced base of support further challenges the muscles of the core.
5 Exercises to Avoid If You Want a Slimmer Waist
Now on to the exercises you should be avoiding in your quest for a slim waist. The exercises that follow are not only ineffective but in some cases can cause injury. People will still do them but the fact that there are better exercises that don’t compromise the health of your spine, avoid these at all costs.
5) Sit Ups
Sit Ups are primarily hip exercises and were popular for decades until people realized that they can cause back pain and are utterly ineffective as core exercises. There is really no reason to do sit ups because there are many better exercises for the core and the hips.
Like Sit ups, crunches push the lower back into the floor, which over time leads to back pain. If you must crunch, the bicycle variety will give you the best bang for your buck. Crunch movements on Swiss balls make the exercise easier on the back and allow for greater range of motion.
3) Ab Machine Crunches
These tend to be more hip exercises and it makes crunching awkward. It’s a fallacy that you need weights to properly work the abs. Bodyweight movements where your core musculature is used to stabilize the upper body are much better. Again, if you must crunch, use a Swiss ball or perform the bicycle variety on a soft surface.
Bending down your side with a dumbbell in your hand never really sounded like a good idea. It’s a totally unnatural movement for the body to engage in and it puts shear forces on the spine. A completely unnecessary exercise and potentially dangerous.
1) Russian Twists
Besides being a bad exercise for ab training, they are actually pretty harmful. They involve both spinal flexion and rotation, which puts the spine in a compromised position. If you are a trainer, it is not good to recommend to your clients to perform Russian twists. Twisting with that much tension with so much focus on the spine is not something you want to do on a regular basis, so please don’t!