Do waist trainers actually work?

Waist trainers are the hottest exercise trend sweeping Hollywood, with everyone from Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba  jumping on the bandwagon. The idea of a waist trainer does seem a lot more appealing than sweating at the gym, albeit slightly more painful, but how affective is the corset?

Most women dream of achieving a gorgeous hourglass figure like Marilyn Monroe or Beyonce, and now thanks to the modern corset, it’s becoming a reality more than a dream for those who dare to use the shaping vest. Kim Kardashian has happily flaunted her array of waist trainers on Instagram on multiple occasions, while her sister Khloe Kardashian and former Jersey Shore star Snooki have also pledged their allegiance.

Amber Rose even has a fancy one with images of a woman resembling Nicki Minaj, while Jessica Alba swears by the corset, which she wore to slim down after giving birth to two children, but she does warn that it isn’t entirely pleasant. “I wore a double corset day and night for three months. It was brutal; it’s not for everyone. [It was] sweaty but worth it,” she told Net-a-Porter magazine in 2013.

If it’s good enough for the Kardashian klan to be wearing waist trainers, then surely waist training is something that anyone can try? But do waist trainers actually work. We take a deeper look at the current fitness fad and see what a range of health experts as well as celebrity advocates have to say about it. Waist training may not be for everyone as it requires daily use over a longer period of time to have an effect. Even then, results may not last very long.

Waist trainers, what’s the deal?

Diet and fitness expert Laura Williams told us: “Waist shapers work by literally compressing the area around your waist and abdomen. Die hard waist trainer fans and makers of the product claim they cinch inches off your waist (but they usually go on to say trainers work alongside a healthy diet and exercise regime!)”

“I wore a double corset day and night for three months. It was brutal; it’s not for everyone. [It was] sweaty but worth it,” Amber Rose

Amber rose wearing waist trainers

You would think that with so many celebrities jumping on the bandwagon that the corsets work like magic, but Laura says results – if any – are only temporary so this is not a long-lasting solution to getting a trimmer waist or flatter stomach. She explains: “They may temporarily give the stomach a flattened (squashed) appearance but only for as long as you’re using the trainer. You can’t compress fat, alas, and just hope for the best. Body fat is reduced by creating a deficit between calories in and calories out and increasing your proportion of lean muscle tissue through an effective resistance training programme.”

“The problem is that waist training only makes you look slimmer while you are wearing the corset,” adds Peter Lemon, an expert personal trainer and founder of The Academy of Fitness Professionals. “Once you take it off, your body will soon revert back to its normal shape. This is because wearing a corset will have no effect on the amount of body fat that you have. In order to get long-term results from waist training, you would need to wear the corset all the time.”

 Waist trainers – a case of beauty over pain

In order to “cinch” the waist, the corsets are understandably tight around the midsection and like Jessica Alba revealed, it’s not the most comfortable weight loss method. Can waist trainers actually cause damage to your body both internally and externally? “Some doctors claim excessive use can damage the ribs but more likely problems could include interfering with your digestion and causing lots of sweating,” Laura admitted.

Doesn’t sound too pleasant! While corsets were fashion statement in the 1920s, women have since been able to get into shape without the vest so what other methods can they choose to shift those pounds? “Pilates or Pilates-style exercises that work the core, in particular a muscle called the Transversus Abdominis, will help to create a corset-like effect. There are plenty of simple, effective exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home that are way easier and nicer than sporting a tight fitting corset,” Laura insists.

Our thoughts on the whole craze agrees with those of women’s well-being expert Christina Howells, who wonders: “What happened to just getting the diet right and exercising effectively?”

Medical experts seem to agree that waist training isn’t a healthy way to shape your body. “Generally, the medical community does not support the use of waist training as there isn’t sufficient support for the benefits and too many risks,” says Dr Galyna Selezneva, an aesthetic medical doctor at Dr Rita Rakus, a cosmetic clinic in London. “If you’re going to try waist training be aware of the many risks involved. I would not recommend waist training if you’re looking to achieve long term happiness. There are many long term solutions which are non-invasive and safe to use.”