Why waist training doesn’t work

Waist ‘training’ is a new trend that is sweeping the fitness nation. It’s everywhere; Hollywood, social media, gyms, but the questions is does it work and is it healthy? I’m no doctor, but ‘training’ one’s waist by wearing a corset type devices for hours a day sounds a bit off to me.

I’ve been intrigued by this topic for a while now. I follow numerous fitness competitors on social media and have seen this trend booming over the past year. I have friends in the fitness industry that wear them, and we seem them worn by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba who swear by them. On a personal level, this waist training trend drives me nuts, and here are the reasons why:

1. It’s not healthy; it wasn’t in the 1500’s-1900’s and it still isn’t now.

Waist trainers, Waist cinchers, ‘Squeems’, or whatever you will call them are all basically a corset. Corsets first were used back in the 1500’s as a way for women to obtain that ‘hourglasses’ figure. Well, they are back and still just as unhealthy as they were in the past! Doctor Mary Jane Minkin M.D., a clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine states, “Medically, it doesn’t make sense that cinching your waist tightly will make it permanently smaller. Once you take the garment off, your body will return to its usual shape. It’s also uncomfortable, restricts your movements, and if you wear it really tight, it can even make it difficult to breathe and theoretically could cause rib damage.” I’m not sure about you, but this certainly doesn’t sound like a good time to me. I am even more confused when people wear them to the gym! If they are restricting one’s movement than how can you get in an effective workout, and more importantly, how can you keep correct form? A waist trainer is NOT a good substitute for a weight belt.

2. There are negative long-term effects, some which can be serious.

Let’s put the short term issues aside for a moment and now think long term. It’s hard to think long term, especially while in prep when we want to see results, but it is important. Everything we do to our bodies now can come back to us later, both the good and the bad. ER Physician Dr. Travis notes a few great points regarding the harm of long-term waist training. “By constructing the midsection of the body, you could potentially harm the major internal organs that reside in that region. When you press those inward, what can’t happen? Your diaphragm, which allows your lungs to expand and contract can’t do its job. It doesn’t help you lose weight. If anything, if you wear it too tight, you’re not allowing your body’s natural core musculature to develop.”

3.There are no short cuts to your goal body.

There are no magic fixes. I’m a firm believer that good diet and training are all you need. Yes, some people given their genetics may have an easier time building muscle, or just have an overall leaner frame. It’s okay that we are all different, our goal bodies should be for ourselves and not to look like others anyway, right? Even if you are lucky and don’t have medical issues with your waist trainer, why even take the risk? You may have problems with your abdominal and back muscles, you can even fracture your ribs or displace your internal organs, is it worth it? If you have a trainer that is telling you to wear one, I highly advise questioning why. I good trainer that cares about their clients’ health should never put them in possible harm.

4. Celebrities are paid to promote these products.

Celebrities promoting these ‘waist trainers’ are very bothersome to me. Young women are especially impressionable and seeing your favorite celebrity modeling a product makes it that much more enticing. “According to Google, searches for “waist cinchers” and related terms have more than doubled in the last year, thanks in part to endorsements from celebrities, including Jessica Alba, Khloe Kardashian and Brooke Burke, who claim that these products are the secret to their toned physiques. Women are documenting their efforts to coach their waist to be teenie tiny in photos posted to social media channels, including Instagram where more than 146,000 photographs have been tagged #waisttraining.” PLEASE keep in mind that these celebrities are getting paid very well to promote these products, some of which they don’t even use. They also have millions to spend on personal trainers and chefs. Their hot bodies are coming from their ability to spend time and afford trainers NOT ‘waist trainers’.

5. There are always other healthier options.

Not everyone may be wearing a waist trainer for weight loss. I have heard of many women wearing them to feel more comfortable in clothing, or post pregnancy to hold in their belly until the pregnancy weight is gone. These are still not good reasons to risk your health and there are other products out there to assist with these types of things. Try ‘Spanx’ or other spandex undergarments. They are meant to give you that slimming look under your clothes without the dangers of a corset. They are warn semi tightly, but not enough to cause any damage, given you order the right size. This is a great option for someone in the process of losing weight or post pregnancy that wants to feel more comfortable in their clothes.

I get it, new fads can be exciting and intriguing. As a competitor myself I have often wished there was a quick fix or a way to get added results without fat burners or other supplements. Maybe you can get away with wearing a waist trainer without the side effects, but what if you don’t? Try to weigh the risks with the benefits. There are very little benefits to wearing these; temporary results that eventually go away and could leave you with long term problems. There is never a substitute for good old fashion hard work.

Melinda Spencer

Powerlifter, Spartan Racer, CrossFitter, Radio Host, Blogger and WNBF Bikini & Figure Pro


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