What Does an Hourglass Figure Mean?

Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022
A women with the hourglass figure.
A woman with an hourglass figure.

The hourglass figure is the idea of a perfect female body shape promoted by the fashion industry. The hourglass shape is based on a woman's body measurements: the circumference of the bust, waist, and hips.

Hourglass body shapes have a wide bust, a narrow waist, and wide hips (the bust and hip have a similar measurement). It gets its name due to its resemblance with an hourglass, in which the upper and lower parts are wider with a narrower part in the middle. Generally, a measurement of 36 inches at the bust and hip and 24 inches at the waist is considered an ideal hourglass figure.

Scientists believe that a woman's figure is an outcome of evolutionary adaptation for reproductive fitness. Females naturally tend to develop more fat than males around the glutes and hips because they need to carry and deliver the baby.

How to get an hourglass body shape

It is not bad to desire an hourglass figure and try working on one’s body shape. However, because of the association of the hourglass figure with the attraction factor for males, the desire may put undue pressure on you to achieve it. This may unknowingly lead to eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.

While it is not impossible to get an hourglass body shape, it is also rare to find one. Celebrities use the best personal trainer, expensive cosmetic procedures, and shapewear to get the hourglass body figure.

Having an hourglass body shape does not mean as much as getting healthy measurements as per your age and gender. If you want to get close to an hourglass shape, you must follow a healthy diet, make small modifications in your lifestyle, and do the workouts that target the right muscles.

Exercises to get a narrow waist

Getting a narrower waste means reducing the fat around the tummy. This means performing exercises that strengthen the core muscles and burn the abdominal fat. Here are a few exercises that can help you:

Exercises to tone your hips

  • Squats
  • Fire hydrants
  • Lunges

Exercises to tone your bust and shoulders

Pushups are the best way to get a toned bust and shoulders at the same time. Planks and mountain climbers also help enhance the strength of your shoulders. You can do alternate upper body and lower body workouts with daily cardio.

Adding whole-body workouts in between aerobic exercises, such as jumping, walking, jogging, and swimming, is the best way to work out. Also, stick to a low-fat, high-fiber, and high-protein diet

If you have additional concerns, speak to your doctor as well as consider speaking to a fitness expert and a certified nutritionist.

Are waist trainers are good for getting an hourglass figure?

Waist trainers are the modern, modified version of corsets. These tight corsets compress the abdomen so tightly that they cause an illusion of an hourglass figure. However, long-term use of such trainers for an hourglass figure can cause digestion problems and in some cases, the deformity of the ribs and the spine.

Instead, you can consider trying whole body shapers that are not tightly fitted to look narrower at the waist and get a curvier silhouette.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022
The University of Pennsylvania. What Your Body Shape Reveals About Your Health. September 03, 2019. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/september/body-shape#

Singh D. Universal Allure of the Hourglass Figure: An Evolutionary Theory of Female Physical Attractiveness. Clin Plast Surg. July 2006;33(3):359-70. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16818094/