One of the most common misconceptions about exercise is that you're able to target one area by focusing all your attention there. I hate to break it to you, but that's just not the way things work. This outdated concept, known as spot reduction, "is the farthest thing from the truth and the science of physiology when we apply it to human beings, especially when we talk about such a vital part of your body as the hips and trunk," Michael Olzinski, MSc, Equinox run coach, and Lululemon run coach, told POPSUGAR. Oftentimes, you need to train multiple areas of your body in order to see the results you're looking for in a particular spot. In this case, when we're talking about how to get a slim waist, exercises beyond oblique work are required.
Michael shared that he believes in the training the "largest, biggest, strongest, and most metabolic muscles that are closest to your area of concern." If your goal is to slim your waistline, you'll need to train the muscle group below the waist (glutes, hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings), as well as what lies above (obliques, trunk, lower back, lats, and chest). The secret to zapping belly fat, according to Michael: building both a strong upper and lower body. Cue the gasps. Also, make sure you're staying in a healthy calorie deficit.
Now that we've got the truth bomb out of the way, let's dive straight into which exercises will help you slim out the waistline.
- Front squat (three sets of 10): "This is as perfect of a combination as you can find. This is a perfect exercise to train the hips for strength in coordination with the stability and postural fitness that we need in the core and lower back. I would start with kettlebells and then progress to perhaps using a barbell."
- Burpees (three sets for one minute, rest for 30 seconds in between): "This is actually, again, a perfect blend of the type of work that can help you slim your waist. It blends mobility, hip strength, and a cardiovascular aspect. However, if you want results, you need to do more, do them faster, jump higher."
- Anything using the landmine: "This piece of equipment is KILLER for waist and core training."
- Single-arm rotational press (three sets of 15 for each arm, rest for 45 seconds in between): "This combines a squat into a upper body press. You can start with just the barbell, and then, as you progress, you can add weight. This exercise is guaranteed to get you sweating, push your muscles, and have a huge impact on your body. This will work you."
- Standing cable rotation (three sets of 12 each side): "Using lighter weight, this one is simply about triggering the obliques with stabilization of the lower body. This needs to be with enough weight to challenge you, but not too much that you cannot maintain proper posture. The cable should be at the same height as your sternum."
- Lat pull-down or assisted pull-up (three sets of 10): "As mentioned, you can't/shouldn't get a slimmer waist with a weak upper body. Lats are critical and the biggest muscle we have in the upper body, so strong lats means more burning from above the waist, which is great."
- Cardio: "You need to move blood and do an activity that translates from the hips through the upper body. Proper running progressions or swimming progressions can impact that in combination with these exercises. Ideally, you would do some type of strength-based intervals. A good example for running would be eight one-minute hill runs with one-minute rest. In a swim, it could be 16 50-yard laps with sprints on odd numbers and light swims on even numbers."
These exercises can only do so much, though. Michael says that a balance of these moves, cardio training, and proper nutrition will truly help you achieve the results you're seeking.