So you’ve developed your corset training routine, you’ve been following it consistently, and you’ve started to notice some results, either in how you feel or how you look. Wonderful! This is all going so well, and the corset is so comfortable, you can’t help but wonder if maybe you could stand to carry on waist training while working out. After all, isn’t a regular waist trainer supposed to exercise their core so as to keep their abdominal muscles strong? And wouldn’t that stretchy athletic top look oh-so-nice over a cinched waist at the gym? The better question to ask, though, is this: Is it really a good idea to wear your corset while working out?
As a daily waist trainer and recreational athlete, I’ve spent enough time combining the two to be able to identify the drawbacks, potential benefits, and precautions to be taken. Currently, I refuse to work out while wearing a corset. I have done so regularly in the past, though, particularly while doing moderate, steady-state cardio (i.e. elliptical, jogging). However, I came to an important realization a few years ago:
If I am not already wearing my corset for 23-24 hours per day (I'm not), then why should I use my allotted daily hour of physical activity to also waist train when I would be better off to get that extra hour of waist training in when I am not partaking in vigorous activity?
It’s vital to emphasize this. All-day-every-day trainers (also called "23/7" training) excluded, would we not be minimizing the quality and/or reduction of our waist training if we were to try and continue on with it while exercising? And would we not interfere with the intensity and thoroughness of a workout by doing so?
Let me use myself as an example: If I waist train for 12 hours a day and workout for 1 hour a day, I have two options:
So which of these scenarios seems most sensible to you? To me, it is clear: the second! I can stand to get those 12 hours in outside of the gym, be it at the office, while sleeping, or even out running errands. Not while working up a sweat.
Are you still wondering if maybe you are one of those individuals who could make use a corset while working out? Perhaps it’s worth considering a few of the questions in the infographic below before committing yourself to being laced up at the gym.
(Click image to download the PDF.)
So are you going to keep your waist training and fitness training separate?
Even when you choose not to work out while wearing a corset, you may wish to review these helpful guidelines for waist trainers in the gym (again, while not wearing a corset):
• Transitioning from being laced up to working out in a short timespan (less than 10 minutes) can generate a bizarre feeling, though I personally have never experienced any adverse effects from this quick change in activity. You are most likely to notice the sensation of your shifted tissues resettling into their uncorseted positions. Again, I've not suffered any ill effects from expediting this transition, nor have I heard accounts of any, but giving yourself at least 15 minutes between unlacing and working up a sweat is recommend. If you are changing all of your clothes, make a point to loosen and remove your corset first. Then, by the time you are ready to go, enough time is likely to have passed for your body to adjust to the lack of restriction.
• Be sure to include strength training (such as squats push-ups), aerobic training (i.e. cardio), core-specific work (like sit-ups, crunches, or hanging leg raises) in your routine. For those of us who spend the majority of our time in steel-boned garments, keeping our midsections strong is vital. It is also worth noting that a strong core will aid you in your strength and aerobic progression as well!
• If you want to get right back to wearing your corset after a workout, be sure to shower first. Or, if you are limited to exercising during a lunch hour or while your young ones nap, be sure to at least thoroughly wash your midsection with a wet, soapy washcloth.
• For those serious about building a stronger core (as opposed to just maintaining) be prepared for slow progress, both in waist training and abdominal strength. The two activities have the potential to "fight" one another. A very watered-down way of putting it is that the former aims to compress the muscle fibers while the latter promotes (good) growth. If you are interested in learning more about how waist training affects muscular development, I highly recommend this article by Lucy Corsetry.
Or have you decided to wear your corset while working out?
Certainly there are some scenarios in which it is acceptable to take part in physical activity while staying laced up. For example, a light stroll that requires minimal exertion wouldn’t necessarily require the removal of your corset for you to experience the benefits of walking. In fact, most exercises which do not require core strength or midsection mobility and during which you can still hold a conversation easily would not likely be impeded by being laced up. Regardless of the activity, keep in mind these suggestions when taking your waist training to the gym:
• It is ideal to have a corset made specifically for the physical activity you choose. A “sport corset” may be made of a sturdy but lighter and more breathable material than standard waist training corsets. It is also likely to be cut higher on the hips to allow maximum mobility. The reduction also may not be as substantial as a regular corset for a given individual.
• Wear a wicking liner beneath your corset. Opt for manmade fabrics with the capability to pull moisture away from your body. During physical activity is when your corset is most likely to chafe uncomfortably, and keeping the environment around your waist dry will minimize this risk substantially. It will also protect your corset from direct exposure to sweat or body oils.
• Do not target your core muscles when exercising in a corset. Having the rigid “exoskeleton” of a corset to aid your abdominal muscles does not offer any benefit when trying to strengthen your core. Exercises like crunches or leg raises can also damage your corset by bending the bones in ways they were never meant to be. Static moves, like holding a plank position, are also ill-advised. You will not reap the benefits of exercising your core muscles if you are allowing a corset to do the work for you. In fact, this may be counterproductive to the goal of keeping your back and abdominals strong and non-dependent on your corset for support.
• Monitor your breathing. If you ever find yourself strained to catch your breath, stop what you are doing immediately. Regain your normal respiratory pattern, assess your state, and then either end the activity or complete it at a markedly slower pace or volume.
• On occasion, clean the corset you exercise in with a damp wash cloth and a minimal amount of mild soap. Let it air dry in an open, warm space. In between cleanings, spritz your corset with isopropyl alcohol or unflavored vodka to disinfect the fabric and eliminate odor. Again, let it air dry.
What do I do for physical fitness?
You may not actually be wondering this, but it seems appropriate for me to provide some context for my advice. After all, the suggestions I offer are shaped by my personal waist training and athletic experiences, and I believe it necessary for me to share what it is that I, personally, do to reach my fitness goals.
Other than the times when I am obliged to travel (often cross-country), I stay considerably active by exercise 60-90 minutes 5-6 days per week. My routine is a combination of running, as I am continually training for some race or another; body weight strength training, powerlifting, and gymnastic movements, often in a CrossFit type environment; and stretching, which usually consists of foam rolling and hatha yoga. The goal is not just to look trim. The goal is to be strong.
Whatever your goals or activities are, remember, just as corset training for a short period of time won't get you lasting results, neither will any fitness regimen. You need to keep at it, and, most importantly, be consistent! The more diligently you pursue either or both, the more successful you will be.