The year is 2014. Kim Kardashian just married Kanye West. Barack Obama is still president. Waist-training is all the rage, thanks to the Kardashians, and people are wearing literal corsets to whittle their waists. Now four years later, you'd think we would understand that wearing a restrictive, tight corset is really bad for your body, but alas, the "waist gang society" is still going strong.
Need proof? Last week, Jordyn Woods, Kylie Jenner's BFF, launched a line of size-inclusive fitness apparel, featuring leggings and shorts with a built-in waist trainer. "I started wearing these sweat-bands that helped keep the core tight and maximised the workout," she told Vogue. "So I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and create pants with those built in."
While the Kardashians and Kardashian-adjacent people may have made waist-training popular, there are certainly people outside of their Calabasas circle who wear these waist-trainers, too. In fact, I've personally seen lots of women wearing waist trainers at the gym while they work out. Obviously simply wearing a waist trainer sitting around at home is bad news, but attempting to exercise while wearing one is a really bad, potentially dangerous idea.
There is no science to support the claims that wearing an extremely compressive garment around the waist will instantly strengthen the abdominals and cause specifically abdominal fat loss.
Ashley Fluger, CSCS, PT, an exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery
"Not only would this compressive garment make it difficult to breathe normally, but having the torso locked in a position may change how your body moves during exercise, as well as during activities of daily living," says Ashley Fluger, CSCS, PT, an exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery. If you're trying to do any type of exercise that involves your trunk while wearing a waist trainer, you'll have to compensate your form, which puts stress on other parts of your body. And over time, these poor movement patterns or restricted ranges of motion could lead to pain or discomfort, Fluger says. Think about it: with your midsection in a vice, how could you possibly move?
As for the other claim that these waist trainers help you sweat more, which therefore maximises your workout, that's also very misguided. "There is no science to support the claims that wearing an extremely compressive garment around the waist will instantly strengthen the abdominals and cause specifically abdominal fat loss," Fluger says. The way that our bodies carry fat depends on a few factors including genetic predisposition. And although a few controversial spa treatments claim that they can spot-treat fat cells around the stomach, fewer fat cells does not equal increased core strength. The only real way to have a stronger core is to exercise, preferably with a certified strength and conditioning specialist who can suggest exercises that would be best for your body and skill level, she says.