Do Side Bends Increase the Width of the Waist?

by Bari Auerbach, Demand Media
    Side bends targeting obliques can make your waist appear wider.

    Side bends targeting obliques can make your waist appear wider.

    Including side bends in your workouts can increase the width of your waist by building the oblique muscles, located on either side of your torso, above your hips. If want a slimmer, trimmer waistline, don’t waste time performing side bends, especially using weights, advises champion bodybuilder Karen Sessions. She explains that side bends and twisting motions can actually thicken your midsection. Conversely, isolation exercises that build core strength, and exercises for developing back and shoulder width, can make your waist appear slimmer. Keep in mind, there is also a correlation between your current body fat percentage and the effect of side bends on waist width. Before working out, consider health concerns, injuries and consulting with a health care provider to determine which exercises are right for you.

    Exercises for a Wide Waist

    Exercises that promote the development of a wide waist can undermine goals to attain a balanced, V-taper physique accentuating shapely shoulders, a small waist and proportionate legs. Your waistline can start to look blocky if you do exercises that involve dynamic movements such as side bends and twisting ab crunches. Weighted ab exercises and compound exercises including squats and deadlifts that recruit oblique muscles can also make your waist wider.

    Exercises for a Small Waist

    For a trim waistline and flat abs, fitness coach Shannon Clark recommends building core strength with isolation exercises such as reverse crunches, the plank and the stomach vacuum exercise, which involves inhaling and pulling in your stomach as if you were trying to zip up a pair of tight pants. Performing exercises that develop back and shoulder width such as lat pulldowns and lateral raises can also make your waist appear narrower.

    Body Fat and Waist Width

    Muscular obliques combined with a high body fat percentage can create a thicker appearance around the midsection. Personal trainer John Romaniello explains that muscular obliques with excessive body fat on top can make the entire abdominal region appear barrel-shaped and distended. If body fat percentages are too low, pronounced, muscular obliques that protrude around the waistline can also circumvent the goal to have a slim waist. According to the American Council on Exercise, body fat percentages between 21 to 24 percent for women are in the optimal fitness range.

    Waist Width Tips

    Incorporating cardiovascular exercise into your workout plan can help you burn body fat and reduce the width of your waist. Following a healthy diet plan with the right balance of nutrients and caloric intake compatible with your activity level can also help slim and trim your waistline without having to exercise excessively.

    About the Author

    Bari Auerbach writes a fitness column and has won trophies in fitness shows. Since graduating from Florida International University in 1984 with a degree in communications, she has written for national clients; interviewed dignitaries and celebrities for magazines; and has covered topics including business, politics, fashion and food.

    Photo Credits

    • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images