Some women use a waist trainer to lose weight or get their mid-section back after having a child. There is a lot of controversy over waist trainers and the negative side effects associated with using one. Some doctors and individuals state wearing a waist trainer results in crushed organs, compressed lungs, and fractured ribs. I don’t know about you, but I have never personally worn my waist trainer to the point where my ribs would ever be fractured. Other people believe that if you wear a waist trainer long enough your smaller waist will be permanent. I do agree with experts, however, that there is no such thing as spot reducing. I don’t use a waist trainer for fat reduction or to take 4 inches off my waist.
Due to my genetics and years of training, my lower obliques have developed in size (muscle) which gives the appearance of a wider waist. Bodybuilding requires the look of a small waist because that will give you the desired “x frame.” The smaller the waist the larger you appear, and the symmetry is also more appealing. In the off-season my waist around the smallest part is over 29 inches and is a little over 28 inches during show time. This is mainly due to fat loss as I diet down for my competitions. Although I know I can’t change my natural waist shape, I can try to minimize my lower obliques.
I wear a waist trainer for about 6-8 hours while I’m at my desk job and I wear a workout belt that’s less constricting while I train. I don’t wear a waist trainer while I’m lifting as I feel it doesn’t offer much flexibility. Obviously, you can’t change your bone structure or your natural form—I don’t expect my waist to ever be 34 inches as that’s unrealistic and not humanly possible—but you can atrophy a muscle by either not engaging it or by purposely not allowing it to activate. In my case, I wear my waist trainer and lifting belt just tight enough that it holds that muscle so it has difficulty activating. This atrophies my obliques which in turn will make my waist look smaller. Both trainers are snug, but I don’t have trouble moving or breathing.
I have heard of girls wearing their waist trainer almost 24/7 and only taking it off to shower. I’m not that dedicated nor am I willing to go to that extreme to get the elusive small waist. One side effect of wearing a waist trainer is weaker internal and outer abdominal muscles simply because they are not stabilizing your core as much since they’re partially turned off. Because of this, I implement core stabilization exercises as well as minimal ab exercises that don’t engage my obliques. Some people say it can also cause back issues or pain since it’s once again being held in place. I personally have a back problem and have been dealing with it for several years now, but don’t find that wearing a waist trainer causes any additional back issues. If anything, it actually supports my back and helps on the days where I have aggravated it after pushing myself too much in the gym. I do implement lower back strengthening exercises into my weekly routine, but I was also doing this before wearing a waist trainer. I have not noticed my back getting any worse since implementing it. Quite the opposite, my back has slowly improved over time.
Now for the million dollar question—did I see any results? I took a before picture standing straight on not flexing and in full off-season weight. Three months later, I took another picture standing in the same spot doing the same pose to duplicate the prior picture. The outcome was that my waist was maybe ½” smaller, but my obliques were significantly smaller in size. So, for me, it worked in the way I was hoping it would. I have been a little lax in wearing my waist trainer during my last prep, then I didn’t wear it at all for two months in the fall. Since then my obliques have come back in size, so I can confidently say that the results are not permanent. So it’s back to waist training for me and getting these obliques to shrink down in size again.