The tiny waist is a staple of the “aesthetic” body pic, having a smaller waist makes other things seem bigger and broader by comparison and can give your physique a sleek line when hitting that candid pose, whether it’s on stage or lining up the latest #fitspo for your Insta (yeh that’s right, I know social media gibberish).
Waist trainers, electro belts, photoshop, and more are commonly used to achieve this look, and they’re all a waist of money.
... moving on...
You see, it’s not that some people are born with too much midriff and some without - it’s that some have better control of the underlying muscles than others.
Squashing your insides and hoping they’ll stay that way isn’t going to do anything - our organs are squishy, so in the short term they’ll just flump right back to whatever shape they were before getting squashed, and long term they can react badly to the extended external crushing.
By training your core - more specifically, the deep muscles of your core - you can pull your waist in tighter at key moments, whether that be on stage, on the ‘gram (I’ll stop), or when posing in the changing room mirror.
**Notice I say key moments. I’m not saying you shouldn’t engage your core a little throughout the day - this can be great for balance and poise when walking and performing daily activities - but flexing everything as hard as you can is tiring. I can tell you from stage and photoshoot experience that nobody walks around with abs flexed to the max the whole day - there is a time to show off, and a time to relax. The only difference is that those 5 mins of show time are photographed and publicised to the max.**
The simplest and most well known exercise to help achieve this control is known as the Vacuum, which is good (and I’ve detailed below), but I prefer the more dynamic Broomstick Twist as it has better carryover to the physique/modelling stage (hitting the quarter turn poses or bringing attention to various contours), teaching you how to flow seamlessly from relaxed to show time core in a more natural way.
How To: Vacuum
Before diving into the broom cupboard, I’d recommend trying out this vacuum exercise first. Not because I don’t believe in your ability, but this gives you a good idea of what kind of movement/feel we’re aiming to achieve with the twists.
Start by standing up tall (with or without the broomstick across your shoulders), and focusing on pulling your bellybutton into your spine, and breathing out to get a better contraction. Hold this for 3 seconds, then release. Repeat 3 times so you get the feel of it.
To progress or make the exercise a little tougher, you could add extra time contracting - nothing too grand, say 5 seconds, then 8 seconds the next time.
This is you engaging your transverse abdominals. These are the deep core muscles that help keep us balanced, but we never really directly train or engage. Until now.
How To: Broomstick Twist
First off, don’t fret if you don’t have a broomstick. Any lightweight pole will do, it’s just a place to hang our hands and make sure we’re twisting evenly, instead of bobbing side to side as we go.
Broomstick just sounds more interesting, so I’m sticking with it.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, abs relaxed, broomstick across your shoulders like a squat bar and hands holding onto it wherever is most comfortable. From here, we start to twist slowly (imagine a corkscrew, the broomstick/your shoulders being the handle and your spine the screw), standing tall with feet planted (don’t worry if your hips also twist a little, our back is only so flexible) and start to breath out and pull your belly button into your spine.
Twist only as far as is comfortable, we’re not trying to become contortionists here - extra range on the twist isn’t going to make for a better exercise - the goal is always on contracting the abdominals.
By the time you’ve twisted as far as you can, you should be contracting your transverse abdominals as hard as possible. Hold for a second, then begin to twist back to the middle, breathing in and relaxing your abs as you go. Begin to twist to the other side, and start contracting your abs again.
You can use your breathing to keep rhythm, using controlled breaths in and out to set the pace at which you twist. This should be done slowly to avoid injury from over shooting your flexibility.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of that, try to pull all your core muscles into your spine while twisting. Same principle, breath out and contract while twisting, but now we’re engaging even more muscles.
From here, we can progress by adding extra reps each side or by adding an extra pause to hold the contraction at the end of each twist. Remember to always keep a slow and controlled movement. Adding weight to the movement will only add a chance of injury, as the extra weight will add to momentum which could cause you to twist too far.
Where people go wrong
A lot of people dismiss this exercise quickly, saying it doesn’t do anything or they can’t “feel it working”. 99% of the time is because they’re just twisting and trying to work the outer core, so they’re copying the twist part of the movement just fine, but not engaging their transverse abdominals.
Imma say again, the goal is to get a better abdominal contraction - not to increase the weights or speed you move at.
When to fit into workout
As we’re using virtually no load (weight) and we don’t require a huge amount of co-ordination to perform this exercise, we can do it at virtually any point in the workout. So if you’re pressed for time, don’t fret about when to do this exercise - you could even do it at home as we don’t need much in the way of equipment or warm up.
Naturally, this exercise fits well alongside any other ab exercise or circuit, and this is where I’d recommend you perform it for maximum impact. I’d recommend putting it at the end as your core muscles will already have been activated, so you’ll be able to achieve an even stronger contraction.
Hanging Knee Raises: 10 reps
Medicine Ball Twists: 10 reps each side
Broomstick Twists: 10 reps each side
So that’s the Broomstick Twist, one of my favourite and most overlooked ab exercises. I’d love to know how you get on and if you found it useful or not.
Feel free to hit me up on social media (as we know I’m very hip) or drop me a message, and if you’ve any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.
All the best,