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How to Get an Hourglass Figure: Best Exercises and Nutrition Tips

We’ve all seen the much-coveted hourglass figure: balanced curves, a bigger bust, a cinched waist, and a toned backside. But is this body shape achievable for everyone? And, in a world where women's bodies are increasingly scrutinized, is it something we should all be aiming for? This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about the hourglass body, including how to work toward a more sculpted look without restrictive diets or excessive cardio workouts.

What is the hourglass figure, and why has it become a target?

The hourglass figure is one of four female body types including pear/spoon, inverted triangle, and rectangle as defined by the fashion industry. It’s become an idealized body shape across much of the global north, including the U.S. and Europe. Typically, someone described as having an hourglass body will have a wider bust, small waist, and curvy hips that match the width of the bust.

It cannot be stressed enough that very few people are born with this figure naturally, and the hourglass body is something that you have to eat and exercise for — or in the case of many celebrities, pay for with expensive and risky cosmetic surgeries.

According to research, the hourglass body shape is generally believed to be more desired by men in our Western culture. However, it’s important to realize that it really is a cultural issue and not something inherent across the globe. Many other cultures do not place anywhere near as much emphasis on having an ‘ideal’ body shape.

Fixating on hourglass body workouts and how to get an hourglass figure can be detrimental to our body image as women and can have a profound effect on our mental health. It’s not a body type that is achievable or healthy for everyone. Before doing workouts for an hourglass body, it would be wise to prioritize building a healthy relationship with your body as it is. Self-acceptance is powerful, and there’s nothing more attractive than a woman who is comfortable and confident in her own skin.

Common misconceptions about the hourglass figure

Although the hourglass body is coveted as an idealized body shape for women, there are a few common misconceptions that we should take into consideration before attempting hourglass body workouts.

Having an hourglass body will bring you total body confidence

This is a complete myth.

Body confidence and self-acceptance don't come from sculpting yourself into one particular shape. Learning to be loving towards yourself is something that takes practice, especially in a world where our bodies feel like they are under the microscope.

If you do enough hourglass workouts, you’ll get an hourglass body

Another myth.

The hourglass body isn’t achievable for everyone, no matter how much you change your diet or exercise. Your actual skeleton plays a large role in the shape of your body. For example, if you have wider shoulders and narrow hips, you won’t get that round, curvy look worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian. And, it’s okay not to have an hourglass figure, there are billions of us who don’t!

Women with an hourglass body are always happier

Definitely a big myth.

Focusing only on the external shape of your body can lead to unhealthy relationships with food and fixations with fitness. Many women who obsess over how to get an hourglass figure or how they look on the outside are not happy.

We should be teaching women body positivity and how to build internal happiness rather than chasing one particular external shape. True happiness comes from self-love, deep self-acceptance, and having a strong sense of identity and autonomy over your life.

Clothes always look better on an hourglass body

Yet another myth.

The hourglass body can actually be very difficult to dress, especially if the hips and bust are much wider than the waist. It can be hard to find clothes that fit your measurements properly, often leading to frustration and not knowing what to wear. Many women with curvy, hourglass figures have to spend time altering their pants, skirts, and shirts to get a proper fit.

Hourglass figure achievement plan

If you are determined to sculpt your body into a more hourglass shape, then you are going to have to take a multi-pronged approach.

Workouts

There are hourglass workouts that may be helpful in shaping and toning key areas of your body to get a more curvy look. Hourglass exercises focus on bodyweight and weighted workouts rather than just intensive cardio to trim the waist, tone the shoulders, and build the hips and buttocks.

Dietary changes

You won’t get an hourglass body with a severely restrictive diet, so forget about trying to eat way fewer calories. You need to build muscle to create curves, and you can’t do that without adequate nutrition — especially protein.

Mindset, determination, and willpower

As with any exercise program you will need to work on your mindset if you want to achieve your desired results. Hourglass body workouts are not easy, and you’ll have days where you don’t feel like picking up your weights. This is where your mindset, determination, and willpower come in to help you keep going towards your goals.

Best exercises for an hourglass figure

Thankfully, hourglass body workouts are not heavily focused on relentless cardio training, so you don’t have to be on the treadmill for hours every day.

Sculpt your shoulders

To get the hourglass figure look, you’ll need strong, straight shoulders.

Arm raises with weights
  1. Grab a pair of 5 lbs or 2 kg weights and hold one in each hand.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, strong core, and arms by your sides.
  3. Slowly lift your arms out to the sides until they reach shoulder height, keeping a firm grip on the weights.
  4. Lower your arms back down and do 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps.
  5. Gradually build up your reps or increase the weight.

Cinch your waist

One of the defining features of the hourglass body is a toned, curvy, and cinched waist. To get the hourglass figure look, you'll have to focus on tightening the core muscles.

Windshield wipers
  1. Lay on your back with your legs up straight.
  2. Pull in your core muscles so your lower back presses into the floor.
  3. Keep your legs straight and strong, then slowly move them from left to right like windshield wipers. Make sure your core remains engaged.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10–20 reps with a 30-second rest in between.
  5. For more intensity, add ankle weights.

Build your bottom

To truly achieve the hourglass curves characteristic of this body shape, focus on strengthening and sculpting your backside with targeted hourglass bottom exercises.

Weighted lateral lunge squats
  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding a 5 lbs or 2 kg weight in each hand.
  2. Take a wide stride to the right and perform a squat keeping your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Push back up to the starting position and repeat on the left.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10–20 reps with a 30-second rest in between.
  5. For more intensity, increase the weight.

A word on rest and recovery

In order to shape, tone, and build new muscle with hourglass body workouts, your body needs adequate rest. Don’t do exercises every single day or you run the risk of exhausting or injuring yourself. Aim for 4 times per week, and mix it up with a couple of light cardio sessions such as a jog or swimming.

Nutritional focus for the hourglass figure

The path to achieving an hourglass figure isn't solely through exercise; nutrition also plays a pivotal role in how our bodies respond to hourglass workouts. Calorie restriction isn't the primary focus for attaining an hourglass body unless significant weight loss is desired. While there's no one-size-fits-all diet, certain foods may aid in slimming down and building strong, curvaceous muscles.

Whole grains

While it may be tempting to eliminate carbs in an effort to slim down and tone up, this approach isn’t sustainable and won’t necessarily help you achieve an hourglass body. Instead, focus on consuming whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, while avoiding processed grains like white bread and pastries.

Lean protein

You cannot build new curvy muscles without adequate protein. Many studies show that increasing your protein intake along with an exercise regime can help with weight loss and muscle building. Go for lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are crucial in any diet and are essential for our hormones to function optimally. Not all fats are created equal, so you’ll want to focus on heart-healthy fats like avocados, oily fish like salmon, nuts, and olive oil.

Fruits and vegetables

Eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies should be the focus of any healthy diet. They are packed with fiber, vitamins, and essential nutrients that enable our bodies to function optimally.

Final thoughts on how to get an hourglass figure

While this body shape is desired by many women, it's not the be-all and end-all. There are millions of different body shapes, all as wonderful and unique as the next. If you are committed to hourglass workouts and eating a healthy, nutritious diet, your body will naturally tone up and build muscle in places you didn't have it before.

Make your focus on body positivity and self-acceptance rather than a fixation on achieving a body shape that is impossible for millions of women. Remember, you are beautiful exactly as you are and don't let the world of celebrities or fast fashion dictate how you feel about yourself. True confidence, sensuality, and sexiness comes from having a strong sense of identity and loving yourself from the inside out.

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