Blog Fitness Workouts 7 Exercises for an Hourglass Figure and How to Achieve It

7 Exercises for an Hourglass Figure and How to Achieve It

When it comes to body types, one of the most coveted and desired is the hourglass figure. This silhouette features a smaller waist, wider hips, and a fuller bust, which creates an overall curvy and feminine appearance. While genetics play a role in determining your body shape, there are exercises that can help enhance and maintain an hourglass figure. In this article, we discuss seven exercises to help you achieve an hourglass figure and provide tips on how you can incorporate them into your workout routine.

What Is an Hourglass Figure?

An hourglass figure refers to a body shape where the measurements of the bust, waist, and hips are significantly different, which creates an hourglass-like silhouette (16). The ideal hourglass figure has a waist measurement that is approximately 70% of the hip measurement. This body type is often associated with femininity and considered to be attractive in many cultures. The hourglass figure is desirable for many reasons. It is often seen as a symbol of femininity and beauty, with curves in all the right places. 

There may be some health benefits to having an hourglass figure too. Studies have shown that carrying more weight on the hips and thighs than in the waist, like those with an hourglass figure, may reduce the risk of certain health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes (3) (14).

Furthermore, having a smaller waist circumference, which is a characteristic of the hourglass figure, has been linked to lower levels of abdominal fat and improved overall health (15)

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that a female waistline should be no more than 35 inches (89cm), otherwise it may be harmful for your body (1). Measurements of greater than 35 inches may be a sign of a growing amount of visceral fat that is stored inside your abdominal cavity.

That being said, an hourglass figure shouldn’t be used as an indicator of overall health and beauty. There are more important factors to consider, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and body confidence.

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Is an Hourglass Figure Rare?

Yes, the hourglass figure is considered rare among the general population. According to a study by the North Carolina State University involving analyzing the body measurements of over 6,000 women, only around 8% of women naturally have an hourglass figure (12).

This research highlights the diversity in women’s body shapes and emphasizes that while coveted, the hourglass figure is not the norm for most women. The study suggests that women’s bodies can be broadly categorized into four types: banana (rectangular), pear, apple, and hourglass. 

The rarity of the hourglass figure shows the importance of promoting body positivity and realistic beauty standards.

In addition, an article in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education discusses the mismatch between the sizing provided by the fashion industry and the actual body shapes of most women, exacerbating the challenge of dressing a body type that doesn’t conform to the idealized hourglass figure (2). 

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Can You Get an Hourglass Figure by Working Out?

An hourglass figure is largely genetic and bone structure and body fat distribution play a significant role in determining one’s body shape. To a certain extent, you can enhance and maintain an hourglass figure through targeted exercises, but it’s important to have realistic expectations.

Genetics cannot be changed, so while these exercises may help improve your curves and overall body shape, they won’t drastically alter your bone structure or where your body stores fat.

exercises for hourglass figure  

7 Exercises for an Hourglass Figure

The following exercises can help enhance and maintain an hourglass figure by targeting key muscle groups in the waist, hips, and glutes. It’s important to remember that consistency is key when it comes to seeing results. You should aim to incorporate these exercises into your workout routine at least two to three times a week for the best results.

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Achieving an hourglass figure involves exercises that target the upper body, waist, and lower body. Here are seven underrated exercises to include in your hourglass figure workout at home:

Lateral Raises

Lateral raises primarily target the deltoid muscles in the shoulders and the upper arms. Broadening and strengthening these areas can help to create a more pronounced contrast between the waist and shoulders, which enhances the coveted hourglass figure. A well-defined upper body contributes to the balance of the overall silhouette, making the waist appear smaller by comparison.

Steps for execution:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides.
  2. Keeping your back straight and core engaged, slowly lift the dumbbells outward until your arms are parallel with the floor.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Alternating Dumbbell Press

This is a versatile full upper-body workout that engages the chest, shoulders, triceps, and back. It contributes to a well-defined upper body and creates a more balanced overall physique. The engagement of multiple muscle groups helps build strength and definition, which is essential for achieving an hourglass figure.

Steps for execution:

  1. Sit or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height.
  2. Press one dumbbell overhead, extending your arm fully while keeping the other arm stationary.
  3. Lower the dumbbell back to shoulder height and repeat with the other arm.
  4. Continue alternating arms for the desired number of reps.

Russian Twists

Russian twists focus on strengthening the obliques and core. A strong, toned core and defined obliques are essential for emphasizing a smaller waistline, a crucial component of the hourglass figure. This exercise helps sculpt the midsection, reducing the waist-to-hip ratio and further accentuating curves.

Steps for execution:

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Lean back slightly to engage your core.
  2. Holding a weight with both hands in front of you, lift your feet off the ground to increase the challenge.
  3. Rotate your torso to the right, bringing the weight toward the floor beside you.
  4. Rotate back to the center and then to the left for one rep.
  5. Continue alternating sides for the desired number of reps.
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Read more: Thigh Workout Guide: 7 Effective Exercises for Building Leg Strength

Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are primarily focused on the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the buttocks. Strengthening and toning this muscle contributes to a fuller lower body, which is a crucial aspect of achieving an hourglass figure. Enhanced glute muscles add to the curves, which makes the waist appear smaller in contrast.

Steps for execution:

  1. Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Keeping your knee bent, lift one leg up behind you, pressing your heel toward the ceiling so your foot is higher than your head.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the motion, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching legs.

Glute Bridges

Glute bridges target the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. This exercise helps lift and firm the glutes, which contributes to a more pronounced and rounded lower body appearance. The lifting effect can help balance the body’s proportions, emphasizing a narrow waist compared to the hips and creating the sought-after hourglass silhouette.

Steps for execution:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
  2. Press your feet into the floor and lift your hips toward the ceiling, driving through your heels.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement before slowly lowering back down.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

exercises for hourglass figure  

In and Out Jump Squats

This exercise is great for targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus, in addition to the inner and outer thighs. This exercise adds definition and tones these areas, contributing to the fullness of the thighs and hips and enhancing the hourglass figure. The dynamic movement also helps burn calories, which can help with fat loss around the waist, further accentuating the waist-to-hip ratio.

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Steps for execution:

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet together.
  2. Jump out into a wide squat, sending your hips back and bending at the knees.
  3. Immediately jump back into the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps, maintaining a quick pace.


Deadlifts are an exceptional exercise that targets the gluteus maximus and hamstrings. By focusing on these muscles, you can enhance the roundness and volume of your lower body, which is essential for achieving a balanced hourglass figure. 

The exercise particularly emphasizes the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your buttocks, which plays a crucial role in shaping a lifted and rounded derriere. Toning and enlarging this muscle can significantly accentuate the curve from waist to hips, helping create the desired hourglass silhouette. In addition, strengthening the hamstrings contributes to the overall aesthetics and balance of the lower body, further complementing the hourglass shape.

Steps for execution:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. While keeping your back straight, bend at the hips, pushing your hips toward the back wall and bending your torso over so it becomes close to parallel to the floor.
  3. Thrust your hips forward to stand back up. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

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You Need a Low Body Fat Percentage Too

A low body fat percentage, particularly around the waist and hips, can make your curves appear more prominent and defined. By reducing overall body fat, you can better showcase the muscle definition and curves you’ve worked hard to achieve through exercise.

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Below are some science-backed strategies for lowering your body fat percentage:

Clean up Your Diet

A healthy and balanced diet is essential for reducing body fat (6). You should aim to eat a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods, including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Avoid processed foods that are high in added sugars and unhealthy fats, such as fast food, sugary drinks, and snacks. These types of foods tend to be high in calories and can contribute to weight gain and increased body fat (13).

Resistance Training

In addition to targeted exercises for sculpting an hourglass figure, incorporating resistance training into your workout routine can have a significant effect on reducing overall body fat percentage. Resistance training builds muscle (11), which helps increase metabolism and burn more calories, even when you’re at rest (9).

Focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, and push-ups. These types of exercises also engage the core, which contributes to a stronger and more defined waistline.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise is essential for burning calories and reducing body fat. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio (8). This can include activities such as running, cycling, swimming, or HIIT workouts.

Incorporating a mix of both resistance and cardiovascular training into your routine is the most effective way to reduce body fat percentage and achieve an hourglass figure.

Read more: 10 Best Glute Exercises To Add To Your Routine and Why

exercises for hourglass figure  


  • Do squats give you an hourglass figure?

Squats certainly contribute to building a more defined and balanced hourglass figure by targeting the glutes, thighs, and core muscles. However, squats alone may not be enough to achieve an hourglass silhouette. It’s important to also focus on lowering overall body fat percentage through diet and incorporating other targeted exercises for the waist and hips.

  • Is it possible to get an hourglass figure without exercise?

It’s possible to achieve an hourglass figure without exercise through body contouring procedures such as liposuction or breast augmentation. However, these methods are expensive and come with potential risks (4) (5). Incorporating regular exercise and a healthy diet is the most sustainable and natural way to attain an hourglass figure.

  • How can I go from skinny to curvy?

You can go from skinny to curvy by focusing on building muscle in the glutes and thighs while reducing your overall body fat percentage. This will create a more defined hourglass figure. In addition, incorporating strength training exercises that target the waistline can help create a smaller waist and enhance the hourglass shape.

Eating in a calorie surplus (10) and consuming plenty of protein is also essential for building muscle (7) and achieving a curvier figure.

The Bottom Line

Achieving an hourglass figure involves a combination of targeted exercises for shaping and toning the waist and hips, together with a low body fat percentage for showcasing those curves. It’s essential to focus on both diet and exercise to achieve significant and sustainable results.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk (n.d.,
  2. Average American women’s clothing size: comparing National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (1988–2010) to ASTM International Misses & Women’s Plus Size clothing (2016,
  3. Comparison of Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, and Waist/Hip Ratio in Predicting Incident Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis (2007,
  4. Cosmetic Liposuction: Preoperative Risk Factors, Major Complication Rates, and Safety of Combined Procedures (2017,
  5. Current Challenges in Breast Implantation (2021,
  6. Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults (2018,
  7. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019,
  8. How much physical activity do adults need? (2022,
  9. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism (2013,
  10. Is a Caloric Surplus Necessary to Build Muscle? (2022,
  11. Resistance training – health benefits (2022,
  12. The shape of things to wear: scientists identify how women’s figures have changed in 50 years (2005,
  13. Ultraprocessed Foods and Obesity Risk: A Critical Review of Reported Mechanisms (2023,
  14. Waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio as predictors of cardiovascular events: meta-regression analysis of prospective studies (2007,
  15. Waist circumference as a vital sign in clinical practice: a Consensus Statement from the IAS and ICCR Working Group on Visceral Obesity (2020,
  16. What Does an Hourglass Figure Mean? How to Get It & Weight Training (2022,
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