How to Build an Hourglass Body 

There are certainly more important things to be concerned with in life than aesthetics, however, it would be naive to not acknowledge how much appearance can improve your self confidence. The latest fixation in mainstream media is the attainment of an hourglass shape, particularly for women-identifying people. This entails a heavy top and bottom shape with a slim waist. This look can be achieved through the interaction of hard resistance training, great nutrition, and optimal recovery… Patience is also a part of the process when going this route. Of course, getting plastic surgery is also an option, however, the “BBL,” brazilian butt lift procedure is one of the most dangerous cosmetic procedures in existence and also has a very tough recovery process associated with it. For women-identifying people who wish to avoid this route, simply adhering to the training, nutrition, and recovery practices outlined below will allow you to mold your body into the hourglass shape you desire. 

#1 Build A Proper Strength Training Routine 

The most important method to adopt in order to build an hourglass body is heavy, progressive strength training. The hourglass body shape can only be sculpted naturally through the addition of new muscle tissue underneath your fat tissue. You have to acquire a foundational understanding of the basics of strength training in order to grow the muscle tissue you desire to build to achieve an hourglass body shape. 


The training principle of specificity states that body adaptations or changes in physical fitness is specific to the type of training implemented. This means that your training must be designed to enhance the specific muscles that create the hourglass shape. The general muscles involved in creating an hourglass shape include the glutes, the lats (as well as other back muscles), and the shoulders. Some chest training can also be added to help give a small uplift to the muscles of the chest region. This training principle is incredibly important to understand as it determines the type of adaptations gained when going through a strength training program. 


Intensity in strength training is another critical component that determines whether or not you will obtain the results you wish to obtain in your program. Intensity in training can be seen as how heavy your lift is relative to the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a given exercise (100% intensity). To keep it simple, on a subjective scale of 1-10, most of your lifts should be done at a 6-10 (60-100%) intensity, depending on the type of lift being performed and how many repetitions you wish to complete in that lift. Ultimately, every lift should be difficult to complete, especially towards the end of your exercise set. If there is no challenge being imposed on the muscle you wish to grow, the muscle will not need to overcome any challenge and thus will not adapt to it and grow bigger. 


Another important exercise principle is the principle of progressive overload. According to, “[progressive overload] involves continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. In order to get bigger and stronger, you must continually make your muscles work harder than they’re used to.” Without progression, there is no impetus for the muscle to grow and you will ultimately be stuck in a plateau seeing no gains in muscular size or strength which is counteractive to the goal of building an hourglass physique. 

Read my two latest blogs to get a more detailed overview of the principles of strength training including specific exercises that can be used to grow the three main muscle groups responsible for creating the hourglass figure: shoulders, glutes, and lats (back muscles). 

#2 Implement Proper Nutrition Habits 

Nutrition is a touchy topic because of the many different philosophies of nutrition that people hold. Even very credible nutrition and exercise science professionals disagree on different aspects of nutrition, however, nearly all credible nutrition and exercise scientists agree on the basics of good nutrition. Good nutrition entails including all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), vitamins, minerals, and an appropriate water intake into your diet. I won’t go into specific details of how many grams of each macro/micronutrient you need to eat to create a good nutrition plan as it is very specific to individual needs as well as out of my scope of practice as a personal trainer to do so. Generally speaking it is important to increase your protein intake, eat enough calories either at your maintenance level or at a slight surplus to aid in muscle building, and to eat enough fat to aid in hormonal balance and vitamin uptake to have a well-balanced diet. Read one of my previous blogs to understand the importance of protein intake for strength training and to get a general idea of how much is necessary to aid in muscle growth. 

3 Reasons to Increase Your Protein Intake:

One important technique to add to your nutrition habits is the idea of listening to your body. Listening to your body simply means not restricting your food choices, eating when you are hungry, and stopping when you are full. Many other techniques can be employed to listen to your body like making note of occasions of stress eating, addressing your feelings (instead of suppressing them), and speaking with a therapist and/or dietitian to address any serious issues you may have that may be masked through the act of emotional eating. This aspect of nutrition is incredibly important because it is fairly easy to slip into the trap of disordered eating in a culture that is obsessed with appearance and social status. 


Recovery is another part of the equation that will help you reach your goal of developing an hourglass figure. Recovery is crucial to the process of building muscle as without it, the stresses of training become too much to adapt to and ultimately leads to a plateau in progress and even regression in extreme overtraining cases. Recovery includes having dedicated days off of training that can include activities of low-to-moderate intensity, sleeping at least 7-9 hours every night to help with muscle recovery and brain function, and maintaining a social life that allows you to recuperate from the stresses of daily life. Recovery, like nutrition, is a very individualized part of training and can be done in so many different ways. Find a few recovery methods that align with your lifestyle and preferences so that practicing them will be easy and second-nature. 

Building an hourglass figure takes a great amount of time and dedication to training, nutrition, and recovery. It’s an on-going process that cannot be completed through a simple 6-8 week “fat-blasting” program or Instagram booty guide. Any great fitness coach will inform you on the importance of patience and discipline when it comes to developing an hourglass figure. It can take many months, oftentimes years, to fully develop a curvy frame through these training methods. Genetics also plays a vital role in how our body fat and muscle mass is distributed so some people may be limited in the amount of curves they can naturally create on their frame. All of this is said not to discourage you, but rather to help you set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and hopefully aid in your commitment to your training program. Remember, nothing worth achieving can be accomplished overnight including building an hourglass shape. Stay committed to the principles outlined in this blog and you’ll be well on your way to developing the hourglass figure of your dreams. 🙂 

Sources and Additional Articles: 

Risks of the BBL – Brazilian Butt Lift – Procedure |

Principle of Specificity |

Principle of Progressive Overload |

Protein Intake | Peer-Reviewed Article,~0.4g%2Fkg%20protein

Intuitive Eating | Listening to Your Body | Gentle Nutrition Resource


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