Waist trainers have really taken off over the past several years, with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Christina Milian and Beyonce wearing one to help them achieve that classic hourglass figure.
However, waist trainers can be used for more than just shapewear. If you are looking to shred a few pounds at the gym, waist trainers can potentially help to reduce lower belly fat as the tight belt or vest makes you sweat more.
This buyer's guide explains what a waist trainer is, how it works, and whether it is safe to use.
What is a waist trainer?
A waist trainer is a modern version of the corset, a device which became popular during Victorian times. This undergarment is made from thick fabric and hard metal boning. It is worn around the midsection and cinched up with a lacing system, hooks, or Velcro. It is intended to be worn much more tightly than shapewear to give you a smaller waist.
Related: 11 of the best trainers for walking
Do waist trainers actually work?
Despite some people wearing a waist trainer to get a smaller waist, it is unlikely to work for that.
Dr Galyna Selezneva, a medical doctor at the Dr Rita Rakus clinic in London, told the Huffington Post: "Formal corset training takes a year of dedication and is not a quick fix to achieve a small waist. People such as Dita Von Teese have spent years training their body and waist through proper use of corsets."
If you wear one underneath your clothes, it may enhance the curve of your waist. However, it will show, in this case, you are better off wearing shapewear instead of a waist trainer.
Are waist trainers safe?
Like most health and fitness trends, there are some factors to be cautious about when looking into the best waist trainers for women. Wearing one will take some getting used to and may not be for everyone. One thing to be particularly aware of is your overall lung capacity and if wearing a waist trainer impacts your breathing. If you can't breathe properly, take it off.
Mary Jane Minkin from the Yale school of medicine says: "Once you take the garment off, your body will return to its usual shape. It's also uncomfortable, restricts your movements, and if you wear it really tight, it can even make it difficult to breathe and theoretically could cause rib damage."
"Medically, it doesn't make sense that cinching your waist tightly will make it permanently smaller," says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D. clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine.
Naturally, it's not really a comfort garment, so be careful and stop using it if your body tells you to stop. It would be best if you also were cautious wearing it while working out at home or at the gym. Whenever you're doing physical activity, you rely on breathing correctly so you don't get injured, again don't wear your trainer if it's impacting your ability to breathe.
Generally, as long as you are not addicted to your shapewear and are not wearing it all the time, you should feel free to enjoy it. However, remove it if it starts to hurt you or restrict your breathing.
So now that you have more of an idea what waist trainers do, here are the best waist trainers on the market today.
The best waist trainers UK
VENUZOR Waist Trainer Belt for Women
Best value waist trainer (Editor's choice)
This waist trainer is constructed from stretchy, neoprene fabric, which offers a snug fit against your midsection, making it an excellent option for under workout or regular clothing.
Sizes available: S-XXL
Colours available: 11
Review: "The product has many Velcro straps for more security. It supports your back and compresses your tummy. It also makes you sweat the abs area while training. I would definitely recommend if you do weight lifting and need to protect your back or if you do cardio and are trying to burn belly fat."
ALONG FIT Waist Trainer Vest
Best vest waist trainer for total coverage
If a vest style waist trainer seems more up your street, this Along Fit trainer comes fitted with a sports bra with a secure zip closure for total coverage. It is made from neoprene material and features an adjustable belt and hook and loop closure. This would be a good pick for anyone who would like to improve their posture, take exercise to the next level, or accentuate an hourglass figure.
Sizes available: S-7XL
Colours available: 7
Review: "I originally bought the 2XL because of the reviews, but it was too big. The XL is perfect! Secures the boobs well, doesn't restrict my arms at all, and the abdominal portion can be as tight or loose as needed. I'm 5'7 and a 36D with a smaller waistline and play basketball, softball and tennis with this on with no issues. I bought the pink and the yellow!"
SKIMS Waist Trainer
Best designer waist trainer
If you are wondering where you can buy Kim Kardashian's waist trainer, you can get Skims waist trainers directly from their website in the UK. This hourglass waist trainer from SKIMS sculpts perfectly to accentuate your body's natural curves. It is designed from ultra-thin, high-tech neoprene that claims to be undetectable under your clothes.
Sizes available: XXS-4XL
Colours available: 2 (black and beige)
Review: "It's easy to put on even though I'm handicapped. It helps my back pain. It looks like I have a waist for the first time in a long time. Thank you!"
Sports Research, Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer
Best waist trainer for working out
This waist trainer from Sports Research uses a thick, flexible neoprene material that is flexible and will make you sweat in your mid-section more. This option has a unique grid lining that helps keep moisture at bay and keeps it from slipping mid-workout.
Sizes available: M and L
Colours available: 2 (yellow and pink)
Review: “I bought this back in July 2020 and never used it because I wasn't working out anymore and decided to start using it today and wow was I blown away with how amazingly it worked. So far no skin irritation, I just patted myself dry and am about to shower up before bed but thought I'd hop on here. Anyway if you want to be a sweaty mess, this is the product for you, so far I'm loving it. If anything comes up I'll be back.”
ECOWALSON Waist Trainer for Women
Best waist trainer for daily use
This classic waist trainer is more of a corset than an activewear trainer. It is made with a cotton lining that absorbs and expels sweat and has a flexible steel bone structure underneath that will give you additional support.
Sizes available: 3XS-6XL
Colours available: 2 (black and beige)
Review: "I found my size on the chart, which would have been a size large, and decided to size down one size to a medium. I secured the waist trainer on the largest hooks right away. Had I not been able to, the trainer graciously included a size extender. The bones are rigid and hold their form but do not restrict your movement. I feel very held when wearing this. I own a much more expensive waist trainer that the Kardashians were peddling a few years ago. I feel very confident wearing this under most outfits when I go out. I'm so happy with my purchase. I will gladly repurchase in a smaller size when needed."
SIHOHAN Waist Trainer Belt
Best budget waist trainer belt
This waist training belt is designed with comfort in mind and is comfortable and adjustable, made from stretchy polyester fabric. It is flexible, durable, easy to clean and won't pitch or irritate your skin. It fastens with Velcro to ensure that the belt is fastened tightly around the abdominal area.
Sizes available: S-XXL
Colours available: 3 (black, pink and purple)
Review:" I've had a few problems with my lower back partly due to poor posture and a history of sciatica. I bought this product after rave reviews, and let me just say this is one of the best decisions I've made. My chiropractor recommended that I straighten my posture, and already after one day of use, I feel an instant improvement. I also want to mention that the belt is so comfortable and discreet, making it perfect to wear to the gym, work, and home; for these reasons, I highly recommend this item."