What do Waist Trainers do and do They Really Work?

You’ve seen the photos of the Instagram models with the perfect hourglass figure and the tiny, tiny waist. So what’s their secret? Most have rigorous workout routines to sculpt the perfect figure, and some of them rely on a few key secret weapons to get that “snatched waist” look.

For many, one of those secret weapons is a waist trainer. This specialized garment provides a unique way to trim your waistline. But while waist trainers may be popular, they also come with their fair share of criticism. 

Keep reading to learn more about waist trainers, their benefits, and their risks.

What are waist trainers?

Simply put, a waist trainer is a garment worn around your midsection to help tighten your waistline. Waist trainers rely on high compression to mold your body into the desired shape. Some trainers use compression fabric to achieve the effect, while others use stiff rods known as “bones.”

These garments are typically adjustable and can be made tighter or looser to fit your shape. Some waist trainers use laces to tighten them, others use eye hooks, and some even use velcro. Many people gradually tighten their trainer as their body adjusts.

What is the history of waist trainers?

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The original waist trainer

While waist trainers are more of a recent trend, their origins span all the way back to the 1500s. Corsets were some of the earliest examples of waist trainers that women used to alter the shape of their bodies. The fashion at the time was to use a corset to cinch your waist and a large skirt to emphasize the shape. 

These early corsets used whalebone and reeds sewn into fabric to maintain the piece’s rigidity. Strong ties were laced through it to tighten the corset to the desired shape. 

What are the different kinds of waist trainers?

As waist training has evolved and adapted over many centuries, different kinds of waist trainers have emerged. Some are used strictly for fashion, while others may be used as part of a fitness routine. 

Some waist trainers use more gentle compression to create an overall slimming effect. These tend to be a bit more comfortable and can be worn for longer periods of time. 

More high-fashion waist trainers or corsets feature heavy-duty boning that creates a more dramatic shape. These waist trainers are popular with celebrities for red carpet events. However, they tend to be wildly uncomfortable and typically are only worn for a short time. 

Workout waist trainers are usually made with material that’s a bit more flexible so you can have more movement in your workout. These are meant to be worn only during a workout.

How are workout waist trainers used today?

More recently, waist trainers have gained more popularity for fitness rather than fashion. Many people use them to help target their stomachs and increase thermal activity.

Fitness waist trainers typically use more flexible material and velcro for adjustability. The fabric of the garment does not breathe, so it increases sweat production in your core area. The goal of these trainers is to shape your midsection and trap heat to encourage more water weight loss. 

When worn during weightlifting, waist trainers can also help encourage proper form by keeping the back flat and the abs engaged. 

Do they work?

When you put on a waist trainer, you’ll see results instantly, much like if you use other compression shapewear such as Spanx. Depending on how tight you make it, you may be able to take multiple inches off your waistline in just a few moments.

Since the waist trainer is used to trap heat in your midsection and increase sweat production, you may notice a more toned core with the loss of water weight. Water loss, however, typically does not last for long and eventually returns to your body when you hydrate.

Research shows that waist trainers do work—but only as a temporary fix. Once you take the garment off, your body will gradually readjust to its original shape. 

Depending on your personal goals for your appearance, a waist trainer may be helpful for slimming you down quickly for a special event. But if you’re looking for lasting results when you take the waist trainer off, you’ll have better luck with a structured diet and exercise plan.

Is it safe?

As with any new trend, it’s important to do your research. It’s also important to consider your own personal health and fitness. Waist trainers can restrict breathing and put pressure on internal organs, so it’s definitely not going to be for everyone or for every workout.

Waist trainers can be safe for short periods of time and while doing weight lifting exercises. However, they are not recommended for high intensity workouts because they can make it harder to breathe deeply. 

Studies have also shown that long-term use of waist trainers can actually cause your abdominal muscles to weaken, as they become dependent on the support of the waist trainer. 

When it comes to waist trainers, it seems the best advice is to use in moderation. They are not going to be the right fit for everyone, and they must be used very carefully as a supplement to a larger workout routine. 

Are waist trainers only for women?

While waist trainers have gained popularity mostly with women, they can certainly be used by men as well. Fitness waist trainers tend to be popular among both genders because they help create a more toned midsection. 

Since women and men tend to have slightly different proportions, you may have to shop around to find the waist trainer that works for your body. 

Waist training is a controversial trend that may not be right for everyone. It comes with some benefits, but it can also come with some risks if not used correctly. As with any diet and exercise fad, be aware of the dangers and only do what feels right for your body.

But if you’re looking for a way to amp up your core burn and get a smaller waist in a matter of moments, it could be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for.