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5 Best Strength Workouts to Sculpt an Hourglass Figure

Build an eye-catching body with these simple routines.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you want to get into excellent shape, you've come to the right place. As far as specific physique goals are concerned, many women aim to achieve the coveted "hourglass" figure. This means having a smaller waist that tapers toward the lower and upper body and creates a head-turning silhouette. But how do you achieve this body shape? We've rounded up five of the best strength workouts for an hourglass figure that you can implement into your routine starting today.

Before diving in, let's first review what doesn't work: hours of cardio without any strength training. The problem with that approach is you only shed body weight. Instead, it's far better to emphasize lifting weights—while doing some cardio—to create an incredible body transformation.

In this article, we'll break down five great strength workouts for an hourglass figure. These routines will help you blast body fat while toning and firming up the areas above and below your waist so you create a desirable hourglass taper. Keep reading to learn more, and when you're finished, don't miss the 10 Best Low-Impact Exercises To Melt Belly Fat.

Workout #1:

A1) Hip/Thigh Extensions (Sets: 4, Reps: 10 per leg)

These workouts for an hourglass figure kick off with hip/thigh extensions. Lie on your back, bend one knee so that it makes a 90-degree angle, and stick the other leg straight out. With your bent leg, squeeze your glute, push through your heel, push your hips up, and keep your hips level as you rise. Keep your straight leg extended throughout the exercise, and keep it in line with your torso.

A2) TRX Inverted Rows (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

Grab TRX straps from underneath with your feet closer to the anchor point. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull yourself up while keeping your body straight like a plank.

A3) TRX Pushup (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

Face away from the anchor point with TRX handles in each hand. Get in a pushup position with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your lower back flat, and don't let your hips sag. Lower yourself, and keep your elbows close to your body as you descend.

B1) TRX Jump Squats (Sets: 3, Reps: 5)

Grab the TRX handles, and stand far enough where there's some tension in the straps. Squat down, and jump as high as you can while pushing down on the straps to give you more lift.

B2) TRX Jackknifes (Sets: 3, Reps: 8)

Get into a pushup position with your shins on a TRX (or suspension trainer). Drag your knees to your chest while keeping your upper body as still as possible.

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Workout #2:

A1) Romanian Deadlifts (Sets: 4, Reps: 6 per side)

barbell deadlift

Next up on this list of strength workouts for an hourglass figure, we'll begin with Romanian deadlifts. Start with your feet hip-width apart while holding a barbell in your hands at the front of your hips. Push your hips backward, keep your back neutral, and descend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Drive through your heels, and return to the start position.

A2) DB Scaptions (Sets: 4, Reps: 6)

Grab two dumbbells, and hold them at your sides. Stand tall with your shoulder blades squeezed together and your glutes tight. Raise the dumbbells to your sides and slightly in front of you (about 30 degrees in front of you). Repeat.

A3) Three-Point Rows (Sets: 4, Reps: 6)

single-arm dumbbell row illustration

Facing parallel to a bench, place your right hand and right knee on the bench, getting your torso parallel to the ground. Grab a dumbbell with your left hand, squeeze your shoulder blades, and row.

B1) Lateral Squats (Sets: 3, Reps: 6 per leg)

woman doing lateral lunges

Start with a very wide stance and your feet straight. Sit back into one hip, and push that knee out. Repeat on the other side.

B2) Stir-The-Pot (Sets: 3, Reps: 6 in each direction)

Get into a plank position on a stability ball. While keeping your torso still, move your forearms in a circle. Then, switch directions. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and don't let your lower back sag.

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Workout #3:

A1) Reverse Lunges (Sets: 4, Reps: 5 per side)

reverse lunge illustration

Take a long step back—long enough so that your knees make two 90-degree angles at the bottom—and pull yourself back up with your forward leg. Start with dumbbells and advance to a barbell in either the back squat or front squat position.

A2) Dumbbell Bench Presses (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

Dumbbell Chest Press

Lie on a bench with your chest up, shoulders squeezed together, and feet flat on the ground. Drive the dumbbells upward, keeping your shoulders back. Drive through your heels as well, keeping your glutes on the bench.

A3) Single-Arm Cable Rows (Sets: 4, Reps: 6)

Set a cable handle to chest height. Grab the handle, take a step back, and stand facing the cable. Start the movement by pulling your shoulder blade toward your midline, and row without twisting your torso. Once you finish all your reps, switch sides.

B1) Hip Bridges (Sets: 3, Reps: 12)

glute bridge

Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Drive through your heels, and squeeze your glutes to push your hips up. Repeat. Do not use your lower back you pull yourself up.

B2) Dead Bugs (Sets: 3, Reps: 5 per side)

dead bug

Lie on your back with your arms and your knees in the air (like a dead bug), press your lower back into the ground, and lift your glutes. Reach out with your right leg and left leg at the same time while keeping your lower back flat on the ground, keeping your hips off the ground, and exhaling all of your air. Switch sides, and repeat.

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Workout #4:

A1) Step-ups (Sets: 4, Reps: 6 per leg)

illustration of step-ups

Place one foot on a box or bench. Pull all your weight on that foot, and drive yourself up by pushing through your heel. Avoid pushing off with your bottom leg.

A2) Pushups (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

illustration of pushups

Get in a pushup position with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your lower back flat, and don't let your hips sag. Lower yourself, and keep your elbows close to your body as you descend.

A3) Lat Pulldowns (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

lat pulldown illustration

Sit at a lat pulldown machine, grab the handle about shoulder-width apart with your palms facing away. Keep your torso upright, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull the bar toward your collarbone. Keep your chest up as you pull.

B1) Barbell Hip Thrusts (Sets: 3, Reps: 10)

illustration of barbell hip thrust

Lie with your shoulders on a bench, your body perpendicular to a bench, and your feet on the floor. Rest a barbell with weight plates on your hips—and use a thick pad to cushion the barbell on your hips—and drive your hips to full extension. Push through your heels, and squeeze your glutes at the top. Lower the barbell back to the ground, and repeat.

B2) Bear Crawls (Sets: 3, Reps: 15 meters)

illustration of woman doing bear crawls

Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.

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Workout #5:

A1) Goblet Squats (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

dumbbell goblet squat illustration

The last of these strength workouts for hourglass figure kick off with the goblet squat. Grab the end of one dumbbell in both hands, and hold it by your chest with your elbows underneath. Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels, and keep your knees apart.

A2) Bent-over Rows (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

Woman doing Dumbbell bent over row

Grab a dumbbell in each hand, bend your knees slightly, and bend at your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the ground. Keep your lower back flat, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and row.

A3) Dips (Sets: 4, Reps: 5)

Get on a dip bar, keep your chest out, and lower yourself until your elbows make a 90-degree angle. At the bottom, drive back up. To keep pressure off your neck, look at a spot on the ground a few feet in front of you.

B1) Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts (Sets: 3, Reps: 6 per leg)

illustration of single-leg romanian deadlift

With dumbbells in your hands, slowly bend forward, and pull one leg behind. Once the weights are below your knees, drive back up, and squeeze with your glute. Don't twist your hips to the side—keep them square and face forward.

B2) Tall-kneeling Pallof Press (Sets: 3, Reps: 10 per side)

Get on both knees, and set a cable handle to chest height. While facing perpendicular to the cable, bring the handle to your chest. Brace your core, squeeze your glutes, and keep your shoulders and hips directly over your knees. Push the handle straight forward. Once your arms are fully extended, pause for three seconds, then reach directly overhead while keeping your arms straight and pause for three more seconds. Don't let your body lean or bend. Bring it back to your chest, and repeat. Then, switch sides, and repeat.

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony