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The coveted hourglass shape is the type of figure you’ve likely seen on billboard ads, magazines, influencer posts, and celebrities on the red carpet.

Well-known beauty icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Lopez might come to mind when you think about this famous body shape, which typically involves chiseled shoulders, shapely curves, and a whittled waist.

The truth, though, is that having an hourglass shape doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re healthier or more attractive.

And it’s important to remember that many celebrities we see in photographs don’t actually have those perfect measurements.

Instead, they have pricey cosmetic procedures and use the best personal trainers, expensive shapewear, and a professional photo editor to create an illusion of an hourglass figure. If you don’t have those things, chances are, it’ll be really hard to look that way.

If you want to lose inches around your waist, or tone your shoulders, hips, or chest, there are healthy ways to do so, but it’s important to have realistic expectations.

Try to find motivation in getting stronger, fitter, or healthier, rather than striving for the ideal figure. A perfect hourglass shape may be nearly impossible to achieve in a healthy way.

Dietary habits, lifestyle choices, and tweaks to your fitness routine can all influence the way your body looks. This article will cover what works, what doesn’t, and how to trim your waistline without losing your curves.

An hourglass figure typically consists of a smaller waist balanced by a larger bust and curvier hips. That means there are three target areas to work on for more of an hourglass shape:

  • your upper body
  • your waist
  • your glutes, upper thighs, and hips

The emphasis of what you work on will depend on your natural shape.

If you’re already slim all around, you may want to start by building muscle around your shoulders and chest area to get broader on top. If you carry weight around your midsection, you’ll likely want to prioritize whittling that away.

Since it’s hard to spot-reduce fat in just one area of your body, it’s important to focus on overall weight loss if you want to drop inches from your waist. But there are some exercises and workouts that have been proven to be more successful at targeting fat around your midsection.

Yoga

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When it comes to whittling down your waist, yoga is an option that’s hard to beat.

A 2016 study of 60 women showed that 12 weeks of yoga practice resulted in an average loss of 1.5 inches around the waist — and that was without going on a low-calorie diet.

Yoga poses such as Bow Pose, Boat Pose, and Reverse Warrior can activate, tighten, and tone your deep core muscles.

Planks

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According to a 2017 study, planks and other stability exercises have the ability to activate your inner core. This, in turn, may help trim your waistline and improve athletic performance.

As a bonus, planks may help improve your posture as well as your endurance for activities like running or cycling.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Research has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be an effective tool to blast belly fat and burn a lot of calories. This type of cardio workout requires you to do short bursts of intense exercise, followed by a short rest period.

For example, you can do 30 seconds of fast running, followed by 15 seconds of walking. You can then repeat this pattern for 15 to 30 minutes.

If you want to lose weight to shrink your midsection, you may be wary of losing inches from your hips and thighs.

Once you start losing weight, though, you can try the following exercises to help you shape and tone the muscles in and around your hips. Aim to do these toning exercises at least three to four times a week.

Squats

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Squats are a great exercise for building a strong lower body. Squats can help tone your hip muscles, as well as shape your glutes and thighs.

Try to do a couple sets of 10 to 12 squats.

Fire hydrants

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Fire hydrant exercises, also known as dirty dog exercises or hip side lifts, target your hip area and glutes. This exercise also uses your core muscles for stability.

Try to do at least a couple sets of 10 repetitions on each side, and add more as they get easier.

Lunges

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Lunges can help tone and build lean muscle mass in your thighs and buttocks. Lunges work your core and abdominals while giving your buttocks a lift.

Start off by doing 10 to 12 lunges on each leg at a time. You can add more lunges as you build your fitness.

Toning your shoulders and bust may prove to be the most challenging part of getting a curvier shape. Most people want to look solid and fit — not bulky or broad.

Here’s the good news: You can build up your bust size naturally through exercise. And there are plenty of exercises that you can incorporate to give your shoulders a shapely curve.

Wall presses

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Wall presses, also called wall pushups, work your pectoral muscles as well as the “chicken wing” area underneath your arms and your upper shoulders.

You can pump out a few sets of these between commercial breaks to get your blood pumping and to give your chest muscles a workout.

Try to do 10 to 15 of these pushups at a time. Rest for a few minutes, then do another set.

Pushups

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Traditional pushups are a great way to tone your shoulder area without bulking up.

Studies have shown that pushups do a great job of activating your pectoral muscles, and they may also make you stronger.

Try a pushup challenge: Start with just five pushups and increase by one pushup each day — so, for example, five on Monday, six on Tuesday, seven on Wednesday, and so on — to see quick results.

Diet alone won’t be enough to give you an hourglass figure. And contrary to what you may read or hear, there’s no magic diet that’ll change your body shape.

The key to a healthy diet is to focus on eating whole foods in the right portion sizes from many food groups.

The following tips can help give you the vitamins, minerals, and nourishment you need while you work on trimming inches:

  • Try to avoid highly processed foods. They’re often loaded with salt, added sugars, and preservatives. Focus instead on fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
  • Cut back on sugary sodas or other beverages with added sugar. Opt for water, lightly flavored sparkling water, or unsweetened herbal teas instead.
  • Eat healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, avocados, seeds, and nuts. These fats may help balance your hormones and provide you with the fuel you need as you work to trim your waist.
  • Pay attention to your gut health. Digestion issues can affect your overall health and well-being. Probiotics can help improve your digestion.
  • Watch your portion sizes. And ask yourself if you’re really hungry before loading up on seconds.

If you’re looking for a temporary solution, Spanx and similar types of shapewear can help to give you more of an hourglass shape. Worn under your clothes, these products can give you a smoother, curvier silhouette and make you feel more confident in what you’re wearing.

Shop for shapewear online.

It’s best to avoid waist trainers as a way to get an hourglass shape. These tight, corset-like devices can cause breathing problems and even damage your internal organs. They also won’t help you lose weight.

You’re much better off following a diet and exercise routine to get the curves you want.

A perfect hourglass figure may be hard to achieve and, in reality, it’s a body shape that few people have naturally.

Although there are ways to trim inches from your waist and tone your muscles in the right places, it’s important to be realistic and remember that your measurements don’t define you.

Instead of aiming for a desired body shape, try to aim for optimum overall health through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and loving your body.