10 Best Core and Back Exercises for a Smaller Waist

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Back Exercises for Smaller Waist

Solely performing core and back exercises for a smaller waist does not cause shrinkage since they don’t specifically burn fat.

However, by implementing a workout regimen, you can increase muscle size.

Producing firmer skin and a v-taper aesthetic, giving the illusion of a smaller waist.

This’ll also increase your daily calorie burn, ASSISTING in the fat-loss process.

Read on so you can accomplish this using the following exercises.

10 Core and Back Exercises for Waist Tightening

You’ll notice that I only included one rowing-style horizontal back exercise.

This is because vertical pulling movements such as pull-ups and pulldowns are better for building width to give your lat muscles the v-taper look.

Building thickness in the upper back will also help with this, which is why I incorporated face pulls.

There are also zero externally loaded abdominal exercises since body weight variations will give you that tight look without making the abdominal muscles overly thick.

If the ab movements become too effortless, you can either go slower or do more reps/sets.

1. Lat Pulldown

Lat pulldowns primarily isolate the latissimus dorsi muscles.

These are heavily responsible for giving off a Dorito appearance where the top half of the upper body is noticeably wider than the waist.

Of course, the lats also play a significant role in rotating the shoulders and supporting lateral spinal flexion and extension.

But I know you didn’t come for a boring anatomy lesson.

To use a lat pulldown machine:

  1. Adjust the leg pads snugly over your thighs.
  2. Assume an overhand grip on the bar.
  3. Utilize a semi-wide grip (about 1.5x shoulder width) to concentrate the lats.
  4. Sit with your arms straight overhead and trunk upright.
  5. With your core engaged, retract your shoulder blades, and pull the bar toward your chest.
  6. Squeeze before re-extending to the starting position.

2. Side Plank

The side plank strengthens your spinal erectors (lower back) and deep abdominal muscles through static isolation.

These muscles work in unison during side bending movements and protect the spine.

To do side planks:

  1. Prop up on your left elbow, facing sideways.
  2. Straighten your legs with your feet stacked (your body should form a straight line).
  3. Brace your core and glutes.
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  5. Sink your hips to the floor.
  6. Rest for 5-15 seconds.
  7. Repeat 2-3 times before moving to the other side.

3. Rowing Machine

As mentioned above, this is the one exercise where you’ll be performing a horizontal rowing motion.

I figured the rowing machine would be beneficial to include because you’ll be working the back and abs at an elevated heart rate compared to a pure strength training approach.

Rowers provide a challenging total body workout and are effective for increasing the number of calories you burn for promoting fat loss.

I set the rower on a low resistance (3-4) and do 500-1000 meters for 4 sets with 2 minutes rest depending on my mood.

To use a rowing machine:

  1. Set your feet flat on the foot pads and tighten the straps over their midline.
  2. Extend your arms to grab the handles with an overhand grip.
  3. Straighten your legs.
  4. Drive your elbows back, aiming the handle at your belly.
  5. Slightly lean your upper body over your knees as you release your arms back to their extended position.
  6. Once the handle passes your knees, bend your legs forward.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 for 1-3 sets of 100 meters until you get the motion down.

4. Russian Twist

So, it turns out this exercise isn’t Russian (surprised face), however, it will have you rushing to get it over with as your core muscles scream for mercy.

Cue cricket noises.

Anyway, RTs use torso rotation to increase mobility and target the external obliques.

DO NOT rotate too far as this may compromise your lumbar spine.

To do the Russian twist:

  1. Sit on a mat with your feet together and hips and knees bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Slightly lift your heels off the ground.
  3. With your back neutral, tilt backward to a 45-degree angle with the floor.
  4. Clasp your fingers and twist to the right without moving your legs.
  5. Twist to the left.
  6. Continue alternating for 10-15 reps in each direction.

5. Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle crunches are among my all-time favorite core exercises.

They target a majority of the superficial and deep abdominal muscles.

Although there may also be slight hamstring/quad activation, the priority is the former.

To do bicycle crunches:

  1. Lay flat on the floor with your legs straight and slightly elevated.
  2. Place your hands lightly on the back of your head.
  3. Move your left elbow to your right knee by twisting your torso.
    • Perform this by lifting the left shoulder blade off the floor while simultaneously bending your knee toward your chest.
  4. Return to the start and switch sides.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

6. Triangle Crunch

This movement is great for toning the obliques and abdomen.

Over time your core strength and coordination will improve too.

You may feel the glutes being heavily fired as well.

To do triangle crunches:

  1. Plant your right knee into the ground.
  2. Place your right hand flat on the ground.
  3. Set your left hand on your head with the elbow pointed toward the ceiling.
  4. Extend your left leg.
  5. Now, try to touch your left knee to your left elbow.
  6. Stop within a few inches of making contact.
  7. Repeat for reps then switch sides.

7. Pull-Up

Pull-ups suck, at least at first.

But with practice, most people come to find that they’re insanely good at producing wide upper back muscles and promoting good posture.

They also engage the abs for stabilization purposes.

To do pull-ups:

  1. Assume an overhand grip on the bar 1.5x shoulder width.
  2. Slowly lift yourself until your chin is over the bar.
  3. Slowly lower yourself so that your arms are straight and you’re in a dead hang.
  4. Repeat.

8. Face Pull

With face pulls you’ll be using external rotation to hit the rear delts and traps.

Two muscles when trained properly, attribute to the v-look.

Begin the face pull by:

  1. Attaching a rope to your cable pulley and setting it above head height.
  2. Grab the handles with your pinkies against the butts.
  3. Step back to create tension.
  4. Pull the rope to your nose.
  5. Re-extend your elbows to feel a stretch.
  6. Repeat.

9. Chin-Up

If you like the idea of doing pull-ups for that slim core, but are having trouble with them, chin-ups are a slightly easier alternative.

Mainly because the biceps are more involved, so you’ll have extra pulling power.

To do chin-ups:

  1. Grasp the bar using a supinated grip at shoulder width.
  2. Pinch your shoulder blades together.
  3. Begin pulling in a straight line until your chin reaches the bar.
  4. Complete the downward phase by extending your elbows.
  5. Repeat for 5-10 reps or until exhaustion.

10. Cable Pullover

Cable pullovers are a true isolator for the latissimus dorsi.

There’s constant tension with a nice stretch and contract motion.

Best of all (in my opinion) is the mini chest pump these provide.

To do cable pullovers:

  1. Position the cable pully to the top setting.
  2. Attach a rope handle and grab it with your pinkies against the butts.
  3. Step back and hinge your hips.
  4. At this point, your arms should be nearly straight and your hands about the height of your chin.
  5. Without bending your elbows pull the cable toward your thighs using an arching motion.
  6. Pack your lats and shoulder blades at the bottom.
  7. Reverse to the top.

Complete Core and Back Workout

This is a general back and waist workout for you to try and share.

Exercise SetsReps
Lat Pulldown3-48-12
Face Pull412-15
Side Plank330-45 seconds (each side)
Bicycle Crunch210-15

Exercising for a Smaller Waist FAQ

Do Back Exercises Make Your Waist Smaller?

Back exercises can make your waist appear smaller.

As you build lean muscle tissue your posterior upper torso will begin to widen (in a good way), proportionately causing the midsection to look shrunken.

What Exercises Make Your Waist Smaller?

Here are 11 additional exercises to HELP make your waist smaller:

1. V sit-ups
2. Romanian leg raises
3. Lying heel touches
4. Side plank hip lifts
5. Side bends
6. Side crunches
7. Plank hip dips
8. Waist slimmer squats
9. Lying back extensions
10. Bent-over rows
11. TRX rows

How Do I Get My Skinny Waist Back?

An effective way to get your skinny waist back is to create a consistent resistance training workout plan combined with a calorie deficit.

For example, you might do 3-5 workouts per week to hit all the major muscle groups in your upper and lower body for muscular definition.

Alongside this, you’ll focus on burning more calories than you eat 5-7 days per week to support your weight loss goal.

Will Russian Twists Make My Waist Smaller?

Russian twists alone will not make your waist smaller.

However, they can help contribute to an increase in metabolic fat burn, while simultaneously giving your stomach a toned look.

Consuming fewer calories than you burn is another success factor.




Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at edecremer@wildnswole.com!