Summertime Slim: Waist Training Tips for the Corset "Off Season"
It's no secret that corsets, cinchers and other waist training garments are the most effective and efficient way to achieve the hourglass figure of your dreams.
However, as much as we'd all love to be able to rock our favorite corset 24 / 7 / 365, sometimes, Mother Nature has other plans. Sticky summer heat or heavy post-thunderstorm humidity might make turn a tight-fitting, often sweat-inducing extra layer of clothing into a dehydration risk or simply render it intolerable even for sleeping. And that's not even getting into swimsuit season.
We admit it, there are corsets and cinchers for practically every situation you could imagine, but complimenting an alluring teeny bikini is not one of them. If you plan to spend your summer on the shore, it's probably best to leave your waist trainers at home.
But wait! Taking a few days or weeks - or even an entire summer - off from wearing your corset or cincher doesn't necessarily mean that you have to press pause on your waist-slimming efforts! In fact, there are a number of ways to keep the pounds down and the inches off when weather, work, or simply unfortunate circumstances conspire to keep you from your corset!
Getting to Know Your Body's "Inner Corset"
The most important part of developing a temporary corset-free waist training regimen is understanding which parts of your body are actually responsible for keeping your waist sexy and trim.
That perfect hourglass figure is primarily maintained by two sets of muscles: the transverse abdominal muscles and the obliques, sometimes collectively referred to as "the body's inner corset". The transverse abdominis, alternately called the "transversalis," is a layer of muscle which covers the front and sides of the abdominal wall.
The transverse abdominal muscles are the primary workers in the part of the body referred to by fitness trainers and exercise enthusiasts as the core. Its frequent comparison to a corset arose from the manner in which it snugly wraps around the abdomen and stomach much in the same way as a waist training garment does on the outside of the body. The primary function of the transverse abdominal muscles is to compress the ribs and internal organs, keeping the torso area straight, stable, and strong. (It is also one of the muscle groups which performs the greatest amount of work during pregnancy and especially the birthing process).
A strong, engaged, active transverse abdominis will prevent any part of the abdomen from protruding, keeping the stomach flat and the waist narrow. Therefore, waist training exercise routines should primarily target the transverse abdominal muscles, allowing the "inner corset" to temporarily perform the function of an absent external one. The transverse abdominis is assisted in the performance of its belly-flattening job by two additional layers of muscle located between the skin and the abdomen: the obliques.
The external oblique is the outermost muscle, furthest from the abdominal wall itself, while the internal oblique can be found sandwiched between the external oblique and the aforementioned transverse abdominal muscles. Like the layers of a particularly stiff corset, these muscles both provide additional protection to the delicate, "squishy" internal organs beneath and keep the stomach flat and waist narrow.
While a number of exercises can successfully target both the transverse abdominal muscles and the obliques, it is important that neither set of muscles is neglected during your regular strength training workouts.
Your exercise regimen during the "off season" should not differ significantly from your standard, trainer-assisted routine. Make sure to balance cardio - raising your heart rate through running, swimming, dancing or team sports - and strength training - exercises targeted at boosting the effectiveness of specific muscle groups, performed with or without the assistance of gym equipment.
However, if you tend to work out 3-4 times per week when utilizing your trainer, you might try increasing to 5-6 weekly workouts. (This is due to the fact that your trimmer or cincher keeps your muscles constantly active and engaged, allowing you to reap greater, faster results than is possible during a non-cinched exercise session). At least one day per week should be entirely dedicated to strength training exercises aimed at the "inner corset" muscles of the abdomen and core described in the previous section.
Additionally, exercises which focus on the hip flexors and glutes, such as squats, can help emphasize the "pop" of your booty, which can also help your waist appear narrower and contribute to the development of your desired hourglass figure. Strength training focused on the core and abdomen usually consists of a mix of planks, leg raises, and twists.
If you miss the intensity provided by your waist trainer, try adding light (between 3 and 10 pound) dumbbells to a workout either at home or in the gym. Additionally, performing an exercise routine while not wearing a waist trainer does offer one advantage - you can safely perform abdominal exercises which bend the torso, such as sit-ups or crunches, without worrying about discomfort, shortness or breath, or deforming or tearing your favorite cincher.
Our fitness-focused guide found here includes an example weekly workout schedule inspired by the actual routines of the [site name] staff as well as instructions on how to perform several simple abdomen and core exercises without using equipment. However, us folks here at [site name] believe there's no such thing as too many great exercises to perform, so we've included even more below! This time, the focus is on ways you can add a light dumbbell or two to your routine to get that intensity you crave!
- DUMBBELL PULLOVERS. Lie down on your back on a flat, comfortable surface with a dumbbell in each hand. (Make sure that the two dumbbells are the same weight. If you are not sure where to begin with choosing a weight, 3-5 pound dumbbells are considered a fairly standard starting point.) Slowly raise both arms above your head until they are completely straight without any bend in the elbow. Focus on keeping your core muscles active and engaged. To start out, perform this exercise in two sets of 10 repetitions before gradually adding a third set.
- DUMBBELL BENDS. While the dumbbell pullovers target the transverse abdominal muscles, these simple side bends will focus primarily on the obliques. Stand up straight, keeping your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand. (You might want to use a slightly heavier weight than in the previous exercise, perhaps something in the 5-7 pound range to start.) Put your right hand on your right hip so you do not rely on it too much for maintaining balance. Keeping your head, neck and back straight, bend at the waist towards the right side. Slowly return to starting position, then bend in a similar manner towards the left side. Complete 10 full sets (right, center, left, center) with the dumbbell in the left hand before switching to the right hand for the same amount of repetitions. If necessary, perform this exercise in front of a mirror so that you can make sure that your posture stays straight and correct.
- DUMBBELL TWISTS. Standing in the same position as before (back straight, feet hip-width apart) hold a single, heavier dumbell in both of your hands. Keeping your neck and head straight and your legs steady, twist your torso to the right, then to the left. For maximum results, focus on taking deep breaths and pulling your abdominal muscles back towards your spine as far as possible. Start with 10 reps before gradually working up to 30 or even 40!
Exercise is great, but, unfortunately, it often isn't enough - especially during the waist trainer off-season. An equally important factor is diet, eating controlled portions of healthy, filling foods in order to prevent bloating or rapid weight gain and keep your waist looking great.
Cinchers and especially corsets can make this step seem easy as they use compression to limit your appetite, preventing overeating, minimizing bloating and making portion control much less of a mental struggle than it can often otherwise be. Without your waist trainer, you might have to put a little more thought and especially mental effort into developing and sticking to a regular, healthy diet plan.
However, the rewards this effort will earn you will be practically uncountable - not only will you maintain your low weight, slim waist and hourglass figure, but you'll feel happier and more energetic too! And that's not even mentioning your skin and hair looking more lustrous, your immune system functioning at peak efficiency, having an easier time falling asleep each night, or any of the other myriad positive effects which eating healthy can have.
Even the most die-hard corset fans who have already narrowed their waist to their desired size will still benefit in so many ways from a healthy diet. If you're unsure what a good goal weight or recommended daily calorie intake for your unique body might be, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a professional such as a diet specialist or nutritionist. (Today, many health facilities such as hospitals, doctors' offices, and even some gyms and spas feature a nutritionist as part of their staff who can be consulted regarding such topics).
However, while we may not be able to provide you with exact details regarding all the numerical aspects, our health-conscious staff has compiled this handy list of diet tips to help keep your waist down even during the hottest of bikini-season summers!
- Make sure to get enough protein on a daily basis. Lean proteins can help you feel full for longer amounts of time than practically any other food available, which can be extremely beneficial in reducing the risk of overeating. Salmon, tofu, grilled chicken, and legumes such as beans and chickpeas are some great examples of proteins which can serve as the centerpiece of a health-focused meal. Add protein to your snack times as well by choosing mixed nuts, dried chickpeas, broccoli or avocado slices rather than sweets or chips.
- Another category of foods which can help you stay full are those containing "healthy fats," particularly omega-3 fatty acids. These include oily fish such as salmon and mackerel as well as a number of nuts including hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds. Alternately, adding a small amount of olive oil to a salad or main dish can provide a similar serving of beneficial omega-3. In addition to their slimming effects, omega-3 acids help promote healthy, lustrous, glowing skin - what's not to love?
- While it's not recommended that you cut out carbs entirely, skip the heavily processed, refined stuff in favor of much more nutritious whole grains. Basically, skip anything that contains white flour and/or sugar - such as white bread, crackers, cookies, or white rice - and instead chow down on brown or wild rice, whole oats, or quinoa. Simple sugars and refined carbs promote bloating, which can ruin your hourglass figure even after a single meal. Whole grains, which don't come with such a risk, are definitely the way to go!
- Get lots of fiber through black beans, lentils, or dark green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts or kale. Other yummy, fiber-dense options include avocados, sweet potatoes, edamame (whole green soybeans), raisins, and bran-based cereals. More so than any other key nutrient, fiber promotes healthy, regular digestion - lessening the risk of both short term bloating and long term weight gain caused by your body accidentally absorbing more "junk" such as excess fats or carbs that it doesn't need. In addition, fiber keeps your bowel movements regular, eliminating another source of unsightly abdomen protrusions.
- Limit or eliminate regular consumption of alcohol. Alcohol tends to be extremely high in calories, particularly "empty" calories such as refined sugars and non-whole grain carbohydrates. A large glass of beer, for example, can cause you to feel full and prevent you from eating the healthy dinner you had planned, as well as leaving you uncomfortably bloated for the rest of the day. In addition, some alcohols can make it difficult to get enough sleep, another danger to your waist training goals which will be discussed in upcoming sections of this article.
- In general, avoid "fad" diets, especially those centered around meal replacements such as smoothies or protein shakes. While these may be effective in the short term, they don't lead to the development of healthy habits and greater understanding of portion control and meal balancing like simply eating good, wholesome foods does. You might even find yourself lacking energy to carry out your essential waist-slimming workouts due to the "meal replacements" ultimately lacking certain key nutrients. Focus on eating whole foods, avoiding anything which is too heavily refined or processed, and you'll be better off in the long run than following any "miracle" diet plan could ever hope to achieve.
The last - but certainly not least important - part of maintaining your waist when regular corseting simply isn't doable may at first seem to be the simplest and most straightforward: keeping yourself mentally healthy.
However, this seemingly easy task can develop a certain complexity when one considers that the definitions of "happy' and "mentally healthy," as well as what helps one achieve those states, are highly individual and can vary greatly from one person to another. On the surface, staying happy and mentally refreshed might not seem to have any connection whatsoever to keeping your waist narrow and your weight down.
However, the simple truth is this: a sleepy, grumpy, stressed individual is more likely to overeat and less likely to be able to maintain a regular workout routine than one who is well-rested, relaxed and generally content. Keeping yourself in a positive mental head space can in fact be seen as the first and most crucial step towards developing a successful waist training program to get you through those long, hot, corset-less summers (or any other season which might potentially be filled with non waist trainer friendly weather).
While every person must walk their own unique path towards happiness and mental health, there are a few key factors which can help just about anyone take those first few crucial steps: First, make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep - most doctors recommend no less than eight hours per night, with eight and a half, nine or even ten hours being even better.
But why is a little thing like sleep so important? you might ask. I spent all of high school / college / grad school / my last job sleep deprived, and I was totally fine! Unfortunately, if you were regularly getting under eight hours of sleep each night - and especially if you were getting less than five hours - you were most likely farther from "totally" fine than you thought you were.
When our bodies are sleep deprived, they respond by increasing the production of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin's function is to remind the body that it is hungry and should eat - it is this crucial hormone which produces the oh so familiar sounds and sensations of a "rumbling tummy". While ghrelin is necessary so that we don't end up starving ourselves or going too long between meals, an excess can encourage overeating and tempt us away from our healthy diets, making lack of sleep a particularly risky gamble to take if you're hoping to keep those inches off your waist.
After all, ghrelin doesn't just make us hungry for any kind of food - scientific studies have found that cravings associated with excess ghrelin production tend towards sugary, salty, fatty, and/or oily foods, such as chips, candy, sodas and coffee. This is due to the body's attempts to restore the energy usually produced by sleep via temporary, significantly less effective solutions: ingesting high quantities of sugar and caffeine.
But, as we all know, there's no sugar rush or caffeine high that can equal the energy boost provided by a good night's sleep - so skip the soda in favor of heading to bed a little earlier tonight! In addition, a sleep-deprived body will also decrease its production of leptin, the hormone which tells the brain it's time to stop eating by providing the feeling of "fullness". Combined with the excess of ghrelin described above, this further pushes the body to overeat and binge on sugary, salty or caffeinated items. We've all been there - after that third night of bad sleep this week. it's so easy to skip your morning workout and head for that third cup of coffee instead.
Don't let yourself get tempted - get plenty of sleep, every night! However, getting a proper night's sleep isn't always as easy as it sounds. Try as you might, you find yourself lying in bed, running over everything you did today and everything you've still got to do tomorrow. There's no one perfect way to guarantee that you'll always get the best night's sleep possible, but these handy tips and tricks can definitely help:
- Don't drink or eat anything containing caffeine 5-6 hours before you intend to go to bed. If you're someone who loves your evening hot drinks, try out some decaffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile or mint.
- Turn off all electronics with screens (such as phones, computers, video game systems, e-readers or televisions) one hour before you intend to go to bed. This will give your eyes time to relax and wind down from staring at these bright light sources throughout the day.
- Designate your bed as a place for only sleeping. Don't bring work to bed, don't browse the Internet or play games, and especially don't eat any meals or snacks while sitting in your bed. Over time, your brain will come to associate your bed with sleeping and relaxing exclusively, allowing it to shut down more easily at the end of each day.
Besides getting a good night's sleep as many nights as possible, it's also important to carefully manage your levels of stress. Similar to lack of sleep as discussed above, stress can leave you feeling hungry, grumpy and less likely to stick to your diet and exercise plans. It can be just as hard to say no to that sweet dessert or late-night glass of wine after a stressful day at work as it is to resist coffee after waking up still exhausted.
Stressed individuals will also find their bodies producing more cortisol and insulin, two hormones which, when present together in higher than normal levels, can cause abrupt and dramatic decreases in your blood sugar level. In turn, this leads you to start craving sugary and fatty foods, which can throw off even the strictest and most well maintained of diets in no time.
Lower blood sugar levels can also leave you with smaller reserves of energy to draw on throughout the day, making it highly likely that you'll talk yourself into skipping the gym or turning your daily run into a walk or even an hour in front of the TV.
Stress relief is an extremely individualized process, and it can take some trial and error to figure out what keeps you calm, relaxed and happy. Some good places to start include yoga, meditation, prayer, and going for long walks, runs or hikes outside. Spending time with family and friends and pursuing hobbies such as reading or photography can also help you stay calm. If you prefer social gatherings, try joining a local sports team or meetup group, or do some volunteer work around your hometown.
For those who prefer solitude, try taking up sketching, starting a new jigsaw puzzle or exploring a park or nature trail in your area. When it comes to slimming that waist or shedding those pounds, we'll always be the first to recommend a high-quality corset, cincher or trimming belt to produce great results before you know it.
However, we know there will always be those times when you can't get in as much training with your favorite garment as you want to, and we hope this guide has shown you that there's no need to despair. With dedication, hard work and a careful awareness of what your body is telling you, you can keep rockin' that hourglass figure all summer long!
Once swimsuit season is over though, it's time to hop back in the saddle and reintroduce a corset or cincher into your healthy, fitness-focused waist training lifestyle. If you're hankering for something new to celebrate your summer successes, head over to our catalog here. We're pretty sure that our huge selection of corsets, cinchers and more will have something that's just right for you!