If the whole world of bikini bodybuilding seems strange to you, it’s about to get even stranger. Today, I am introducing you to the world of waist training.
Now, if on the other hand you’re a competitor, and you know all about this waist training mumbo jumbo, welcome to my experienced-based opinion. You can begin to make assumptions about said opinion based on the fact that I use the phrase “mumbo jumbo” in the previous sentence.
So what is waist training?
I will allow Kim Kardashian to demonstrate. Because Kim Kardashian.
So is waist training wearing a corset? Well, yes and no. Before I go into my own experience, let’s discuss what waist training is in its simplest terms. Waist training is the act of wearing a corset-like device with the aim of decreasing the size of one’s natural waist. Basically the thought is that by wearing a waist training device hours a day, over time you will alter your waist permanently resulting in the ever so desired, ever so feminine hourglass shape. Proponents of such devices claim that the rigid compression achieved through latex and boning helps sculpt the body along with natural increases in heat. They’ll also tell you that with diet, exercise and time a waist trainer is the final key to the body you’ve always wanted.
In the world of NPC and IFBB bikini – and other divisions including some men’s (yup, a few dudes even wear these) – waist training is one of those seldom talked about, but very prominent prep tactics. Here we don’t call them corsets or waist trainers. We cutely call them squeems. And lots of girls wear them, have worn them and will wear them in an attempt to achieve the ideal bikini physique defined by full glutes and a tiny waist. Many will be instructed to do so by a coach or seasoned competitor swearing a waist trainer is the final addition to the equation that is proper nutrition and exercise. Most will also be told to wear it at least 8 hours a day. Some will sleep in them. Some will even workout in them. All in pursuit of the perfect ratio of shoulders-waist-booty.
When I first started competing I had never heard of a squeem. In fact, for the first nearly two years of my bodybuilding journey I had no clue that women wore waist trainers at all. Blissfully unaware, I managed to place just fine with a waist totally unrestricted by latex and eye-hooks. It was in preparation for my first national show that I was introduced to the idea of wearing a squeem to achieve a shape I had always wanted. Being of one of those body types they like to call “straight” or “athletic” in women’s magazines the idea that I could manipulate myself into curves was mesmerizing.
I went online and purchased my squeem immediately from a website featuring Latin women and lots of Spanish.
And I proceeded to wear it religiously for the next year. If I wasn’t sleeping or working out I was wearing my squeem. If this sounds totally awful, that’s probably because there were parts of it that were just that. Awful. It was hot and restricting and defined what I could and couldn’t wear. Outfits and activities were planned around wearing the squeem. But was it brutally uncomfortable? Honestly, no. This is why I say parts of it were awful. Naturally small framed, even the smallest size never really hurt. Other wearers certainly haven’t been so lucky. I was an exception in my experience, not a rule.
But the question remains; did I see results? Well that’s the thing, I wasn’t really sure. In addition to my new squeem I had a new coach, new workout split and new nutrition. While my physique was changing rather dramatically the waist training part of things was only one of many new variables. That’s why, one day, after my squeem had spent a week suddenly giving me huge blisters (and going from only marginally uncomfortable to totally unbearable), I just stopped wearing it. Cold turkey.
And guess what. Nothing changed.
I went to Junior Nationals.
I place in the top 10.
No squeem required.
Until recently, I spent the past year on my squeem-free, no waist training path. This week, playing the normal mind games a woman in preparation for bodybuilding competition tends to play with herself, I suddenly decided I should wear it again. Monday and Tuesday I returned to the world of restriction and carefully planned outfits. Through my discomfort all I achieved was making the two workweek days that always seem the longest seem even longer. I hated every minute
When I took it off Tuesday night I already knew I wouldn’t be putting it back on Wednesday morning. Instead, my cat used it as a bed.
Do I think waist training is necessary to NPC bikini success? No. I have worn one and done well. I have not worn one and done equally well. If it did make a difference it was so minuscule it wasn’t worth it. While it’s something that will continue to exist and only be whispered about in the competitive world I have chosen, I will not be among the faithful. I did my time and I am free.