Setting waist training goals – focusing on proportion

Back in 2010, I made a two-part video mini-series on waist training 101 – the basics that you should know before you start any corset training regimen. The very first thing I mentioned in those videos were setting goals for yourself – what waist size would you like to have, and why? Sometimes a beginner will tell me, “I want to have a 24 inch waist.” Well, do you want that to be your corseted measurement, or your natural measurement? One takes much more work than the other. (I had mentioned in a previous video that if you want a natural 24″ waist, you may have to lace down to 20″ or even less in the corset to be able to maintain that natural waist measurement.)

I also know women who have started out close to a 34″ waist, and want to be able to close an 18″ corset. While that’s certainly aiming for the stars and I don’t want to shoot down your dreams, it will likely take you several years and several corsets to properly train down to that point. Also, have you considered what an 18″ waist would like like on your frame? An 18″ waist may look out of place if you are 5’10” and 180 lbs. But for a petite woman who is 4’11” tall and weighs perhaps 100 lbs, an 18″ waist may not look out of place at all on this  woman. Instead of focusing on arbitrary numbers for your waist training goals, perhaps you should consider proportion instead as a way to determine your ultimate corseted goal. Below you’ll see a few examples (or you can just watch the video above to learn the same ratios):

Method A: The waist circumference = 0.7 x (hip circumference)


Excellent example of where to measure your waist and full hip to determine your ratio. Picture from

This equation has been touted by doctors and athletes for years as being the modern accepted “healthy” and “attractive” waist-to-hip proportion. Women with a natural waist below 0.7x(hip circumference) often have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, as it’s often a marker of carrying less visceral fat (the fat that physically chokes the organs in the peritoneal cavity, and is also metabolically more active than subcutaneous fat, releasing hormones that can lead to metabolic abnormalities). If a woman with a 40″ hip circumference were to calculate her goal waist based on this equation, then her goal waist circumference would be 0.7 *(40 inches) = 28 inches.

Method B: The waist circumference = your thigh circumference

Whether this goal is reasonable/ attainable often depends on your body shape. I have seen many pear-shaped women with shapely thighs (likely between 25-30 inches in circumference) because they gain their weight in their hips, thighs and bottom, often leaving the waist naturally small. In this situation, this method may be quite attainable. However if you are naturally an apple shape and you have a tendency to gain around your middle, while having thin legs and thighs (close to 16-20″ in circumference), this may not be the best goal for you.

Method C: The width of your hips = 1.618 x (your waist width)

This is likely the oldest equation. It’s based on phi, (aka the Golden Mean, formed from the Fibonacci sequence) and it is the ratio/ proportion that animals and humans alike are able to innately detect. This proportion is seen everywhere from the crest of waves and the form of a spiral galaxy, to the seeds in a sunflower and the honeycombs of bees. The closer that a person’s proportions adhere to the Golden Mean, the more attractive they appear and the healthier they seem to be overall. When it comes to setting your goals in this manner, you will need a stiff measuring tape, ruler or pair of calipers, and a mirror or someone to take your picture because this proportion is based on the planar measurement (the width of your hips while facing head-on) rather than the circumference. A woman whose hips are 14 inches wide will calculate their waist width as such:

Waist width = (14 inches)/ 1.618 = 8.7 inches.

With corsets, many of them pull the sides of the waist in primarily, bringing the waist in from an “oblong” shape more towards a proper circle. If you imagine that the waist is a perfect circle, then the width of the waist is also the diameter. From this, you can calculate your goal waist circumference if you wish = (8.7 inches)x 3.14 = 27 inches.

 In this situation, the waist measurement for methods A and C are actually pretty similar, but on you it may not be – method C would depend on how much of your hip circumference is distributed from side-to-side (i.e. hips or “saddlebags”), vs distributed front to back (in a full low-hanging tummy or a protruding bottom).

If you don’t like to crunch numbers, then you can simply invest in a “Fibonacci Gauge” or Golden Mean calipers, which are made with 3 “prongs” – no matter how wide or narrow you hold the calipers, the width of the larger gap in the prongs will always = (width of the smaller gap in the prongs x 1.618) so you will always be able to measure and mark out the Golden Mean. On any given day, no matter what your weight, you can use these calipers to mark out the width of your hips, and then compare that to the width of your waist using strictly proportion, but without having to focus on numbers. I personally love numbers, which is why I find the study of phi so fascinating, but I understand it’s not everyone’s thing. This Ebay store has the least expensive calipers I have found – I’ve already purchased 3 and given two to my friends. Do support a phi carpenter if you can.

So you can see, there are many ways that you can set waist training goals for yourself, using your own body’s shape and frame as a reference rather than using arbitrary numbers (which may or may not be realistic for you). It’s using what you already have to an advantage so you can know on a mathematical (and also a natural, almost subconscious) level, whether your waist is truly in proper balance and proportion with the rest of your body. You can also watch my video on waist-hip proportions and using the calipers in the video below.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 comments on “Setting waist training goals – focusing on proportion

  1. Hi Lucy! Method C sounds very interesting.
    “With corsets, many of them pull the sides of the waist in primarily, bringing the waist in from an “oblong” shape more towards a proper circle. If you imagine that the waist is a perfect circle, then the width of the waist is also the diameter. From this, you can calculate your goal waist circumference if you wish”.
    Do brands such as Timeless Trends or Orchard provide styles that bring the waist in an about proper circle shape like the one you describe? If not what other brands that do do you have in mind? Thank you in advance for both your reply and the wonderful article and video!

    • To an extent, all OTR corsets on the market will create more of a circle cross section instead of an oblong shape, but the person’s body and the rigidity of the busk will also affect how much this happens. I personally have a fairly flat front and a wide waist, and I retain muscle tone easily – so if I wear a CS-426 from Orchard Corset for example, my body will put resistance on the corset more so than another person who is more naturally hourglass shaped – corsets shape our bodies, but our bodies will also shape the corset slightly as well! This is why it’s great to see the same corset on many different bodies/ shapes/ sizes so we can see how it might realistically look.

  2. PoisonTheOgres on said:

    Ha, with my 92 cm hips, my ‘perfect’ waist would be 64 cm

    It is actually 61 (without waist training)… I guess I’m just very much a pear. A skinny pear!

  3. Hi I am 107 lbs and 5’2″ I currently have a 20″waist and can not find any trainers small enough to help give me a more defined waist. Do you know of any for petite women that don’t have to be custom made?

  4. Janeen Cummings on said:

    I’m a very petite woman standing 5’4 105lbs .. I want to waist train just to help with My work out n getting bigger witha defined look. How would I go about that

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Janeen, if your focus is on getting bigger, I’m not sure corsets would be the right tool for you! Corsets can make the bust/ shoulders and hips look bigger by contrast of a smaller waist, but it doesn’t help with bulking up.

  5. Justine on said:

    I’m 5″6 118 lbs and my natural waist is 24″ how can I get to a20″ waist line?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Justine, if you have a natural waist of 24″, then I would indeed recommend you start with a size 20″ corset – but do note that this will give your waist an internal circumference of 20″. Measured over the corset might be slightly larger because of the bulk of the clothing. And obtaining a natural waist of 20″ will require training smaller because the body always bounces back a little when you take off the corset. But start no smaller than size 20″ and move your way down from there. This directory might help if you’re looking for something to fit your proportions.

  6. msexceptiontotherule on said:

    I’m at a point where the remaining squish I have is at my waist; when I gain weight it’s in the bust and hips first, waist last, and when I lose it’s the same thing…don’t know why…but it’s seeming to be a little difficult for me to compress in the upper ribs and lower hip which I’m assuming is bone-structure related but I may be wrong. Also, the ones I’m using now are OTR, while the various corset makers I’m communicating with now do both OTR and made to measure – I’m leaning toward the latter but may go with the former if the numbers work for me. BTW thank you so much for your posts on that subject, I wouldn’t have a clue as to how to make such determinations without that info!

  7. msexceptiontotherule on said:

    I have recently gotten back into waist training, but in all the research I’ve been doing I’ve found that most of those who are doing waist training with corsets like to set much more extreme goals for themselves. Uncorseted my waist is 28″ (29″ one week a month), so the corsets I recently purchased are 24″ and right now the gap is roughly 3″. Once I’ve reached the 24″ fully closed point, that’s where I think I will stop and then maintain. My Fb to Ub is 38″-34″, Uh to Fh is 34″-38″; if I were to get myself down to a 20″ waist the gentle but noticeable reduction I’m going for seems like it’d be lost to one that’s more cartoon-ish. However, one of the corsetieres I’ve been in contact with recently suggested that instead of another 24″ corset, I go with a 22″ instead as I am corseting with waist training in mind. I’m quite a bit of time away until I can close the 24″ ones I have, 3″ reduction takes a little longer for some of us in our 30’s – is it something I should consider (getting a 22″) with regards to my overall goal?

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hello! Firstly, don’t worry if your goals are more moderate or if your training is slower than other people – a person’s squishability is greatly dependent on muscle tone, age, body fat, and also their tolerance to restriction! Our measurements are not far off (my bust and ribcage are a bit smaller than yours) but I’m pretty compressible. It took me 2-3 months to close my first 24″ corset I believe, but for others it may take twice as long. As long as the corsets you have now will accommodate your ribcage and your hips once fully closed, you’re likely to get there eventually!
      I’d generally advise waiting until you’ve closed your 24″ before venturing to a size 22″ corset, but you can always wear a 22″ corset with a gap in the back if you’re not comfortable going down that small. But if the idea of 22″ is really not a goal for you, then remain firm with your maker and don’t let others pressure you into going smaller than you desire.

  8. The fibonacci calipers are BLOWING MY MIND. I love doing corset math like this, so this entire post is full of win in my mind.

  9. Wow … method A and C say my waist should be 35 inches
    Thigh has it at 26″ … methinks that would look a lot out of proportion, but I’m also probably squishy enough that I could pull it off with a properly fitted corset

    I’m working on losing weight, but that’s not going so well 🙁 Also, I’m the weird oddball that my hips are widest at my iliac crest and NOT where the tape measure is shown in the picture, lower down on the body .. there’s a good 2″ difference on me in those 2 measurements

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      You’re already close to 35″ corseted waist, right? 🙂 I wouldn’t worry about having an iliac measurement wider than your low hip measurement; there are many people who have this – it can be attributed to a bit of a low tummy, or a high perky bum! When I was younger, my high hip and low hip measurements were exactly the same, but it was due to having almost no bum at all.

%d bloggers like this: