How to Get an Hourglass Figure

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Sophia Loren. Salma Hayek. Betty Brosmer. Kelly Brook. Marilyn Monroe. Scarlett Johansson. Brigitte Bardot. Halle Berry. Lynda Carter. Christina Hendricks. Kim Kardashian.

What do they all have in common?

The hourglass physique.

If you think for a moment about your ideal version of the female physique, it probably resembles something like an hourglass. That is, the shoulders and hips are about equal in width, with the torso tapering to the waist in between the two, and a curvy hip region. It quite literally looks like an hourglass. Throughout the ages, from Ancient Greece to Hollywood icons like Marilyn Monroe, this shape has been coveted and sought after more than any other. No doubt this is for good reason; studies have shown that men prefer this shape more than any other. Even blind men seem to prefer women with this shape. What makes the hourglass figure what it is is the waist to hip ratio. It has been determined that the ideal waist to hip ratio is 0.7. That is, the waist is approximately 70% the circumference of the hips.

kelly brook hourglass

Science has proven that Kelly Brook has the most attractive body size and shape.

As with most things, there is a reason behind this. It’s not that this ratio simply looks best to males, it’s actually what they’re biologically programmed to find the most attractive. You see, a waist to hip ratio of 0.7 is associated with higher levels of estrogen in women. Higher levels of estrogen have a positive effect on fertility, so men looking for a good candidate to help them pass their genes on naturally gravitate toward women with this body shape. It’s really nothing more than science.

That out of the way, a question I often witness women asking their trainers is how to achieve this look. Many women don’t have an hourglass body, but it may be possible for them to acquire one – or at least gain the appearance of one (with the help of the right clothes). Others, no matter how much they exercise and how perfectly they eat just won’t be able to get one. This comes down to genetics, and at a certain point you just have to accept the cards you’ve been dealt.

That said, there are things you can do to help give you more of an hourglass shape if you don’t have one naturally. First and foremost, you must be in total control of your diet. If you want to master your physique, you must first master the kitchen. Make sure you have your calorie intake down cold. Do not consume more calories than you burn in a day. This is absolutely crucial.

Related Reading: How Many Calories Should I Eat?

Once you’ve got your diet under control, you’re going to need to burn off any extra fat you’ve got around your mid section. Since there’s no magical way to isolate and burn only the fat on your midsection,  we’ll rely on good old fashion cardiovascular exercise to accomplish this. How much, you ask? The more the merrier. For weight loss, I’d strongly recommend at least 45 minutes of cardio, 4 times a week. Feel free to bring that up to 60 minutes per day, 6 days a week for better results.

Now, at this point, after you’ve got your diet and cardiovascular exercise under control, there's only one more thing you can do to get an hourglass figure: weight training. I’d be lying if I told you that there isn’t a huge genetic component involved, but weight training can allow you to build muscle in places that mimic a natural hourglass-shaped body. If you have very narrow hips, exercises like squats, deadlifts, and other booty-building exercises should be your new best friend. They are the exercises that will vastly improve your physique. Hourglass figures have a wider chest and shoulders, a defined back, a trim waist, and a curvy, shapely, and relatively wide lower half. The following are the exercises I would recommend doing on a weekly basis to achieve these attributes.

For Chest, Shoulders, or Back:



Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise

For Glutes, Hips, and Upper Legs:




Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

Related Reading: 4 Exercises That’ll Give You a Better Butt Than Squats

Now as far as your midsection is concerned, since the absolute smallest waist is the goal to maximize the hourglass look, I’m actually going to recommend that you don’t do any weight-bearing exercises on your abdominals at all. Working extensively on your abs will only serve to build up the muscle around your mid section, and actually make it wider than it was before – and that is something you need to avoid to get the look you’re after.

As always, feel free to ask any specific questions in the comments section below.

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  • I’m sorry, the top four women look like starved 2×4’s

    • Josh Vales

      I completely agree!

      • the bottom four women look healthy, though. The top four are surfboards, the bottom ones are hourglasses

  • Amy

    Awesome post! Love this! Thank you for spreading the truth! 🙂

  • Jay

    Who in their right mid would want to look like Kim Kardashian? She has short and thick legs. And her butt is to big for her torso making her look completely out of proportion. Plus on top of that she is only 5 feet tall.

    • Josh Vales

      Well lets just say, I know a few guys who would like to meet someone who looks like her.

  • I see Kelly Brooks’ camel toe poking out of her tights!