Simple Fitness, Food and Health Hacks

Hey, I'm Julien. Each week I share a newsletter designed to make you fitter. It's short, smart and actionable16k read it, I'd love you to join too. It's free.

Is A 20-inch waist possible with sport? The answer might surprise you!

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

We may receive a commission from our affiliate links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures page.

Do you want to get a smaller waist? We all know that we can’t reduce fat in our body. In spite of this, is it possible to get a 20-inch waist? In this article, we are going to tell you about a 20-inch waist. Also, we are going to teach you how to measure your waist size and provide you with our tips to obtain a 20-inch waist. Let’s get started.

How to Measure Your Waist

Many people believe that their waist circumference is the waist size of the trousers that they purchase but this isn’t strictly true. It’s important to get correct individual waist measurements in order to assess your risk of future diseases. So, here are 2 ways to correctly find your waist circumference.

A woman measuring her waist to know if she reached a 20 inch waist
  • Save

Method 1

  1. Firstly, take a tape measure. 
  2. In order to find your waist circumference, you want to be able to identify where your waist is by finding the space between your lowest rib and the upper crest of your hip bone.
  3. Identify where your ribs end at the bottom.
  4. The other marker you want to be able to find in your body is the top of your pelvic bone. It can be felt by putting your hand at the lowest rib bones and simply sliding it down the abdomen until you reach the top of the pelvic region.
  5. Then you want to go halfway between these two landmarks.
  6. Then you’re going to run the tape measure around through this circumference. For most people, it will be passing through the belly button. However, it depends on your body.
  7. Make sure that your tape is perfectly horizontal all the way around. Make sure that your tape measure is snug but not squeezing your waist.

Method 2

  1. All you need to measure waist circumference is a tape measure. 
  2. Wrap it around the smallest part of your waist. It’s important to make sure that the tape is snug but not too tight. 
  3. Take the measurement at the end of expiration, when your diaphragm is in its neutral position. So, exhale and then read the number. 
  4. Then record the numbers on the tape measure.

It doesn’t matter if you read centimeters or inches. Just write down whichever unit you’re more comfortable using.

A woman measuring her waist outside
  • Save

Waist-to-Height Ratio Calculator

You may have heard the adage to keep your waist to less than half your height. This correlates to the waist-to-height ratio and is measured by dividing your waist in inches by your height in inches.

What exactly does that mean to your overall health? A score of above 0.5 indicates a higher health risk. Waist to Height Ratio is effective in identifying diabetes risk and cardiovascular disease.

It is noteworthy that these measurements may also be challenging to produce an accurate measurement if you do them yourself, so we advise you to ask a health professional for assistance. Also, be aware that the accuracy of these tools declines if you are shorter than 5 feet or have a BMI of over 35. 

By the way, studies indicate that waist circumference is more accurate than BMI, especially in regards to predicting cardiovascular disease risk. Since BMI cannot determine actual body composition, this measurement is limited in terms of its accuracy. 

You can use this waist-to-height ratio calculator to determine your health risks.

How Is Obesity Measured

Many researchers are transitioning from measuring body mass index or BMI towards measuring waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio as an indicator of body fat weight.

Circumference is a more direct measure of central obesity as a marker for visceral fat or the deep belly fat that plays a causative role in the development of many chronic diseases with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Being overweight or obese also raises your risk for more than 12 types of cancer. 

Waist Size Statistics

Average Waist Size for Women

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the average waist size for an American woman is 98.4 cm or 38.7 inches.

AgeAverage Waist Size (inches) Average Waist Size (cm)

Average Waist Size for Men

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the average waist size for men is 102.9 cm or 40.5 inches.

AgeAverage Waist Size (inches) Average Waist Size (cm)

What Does a 20-Inch Waist Look Like?

A 20-inch waist is what size? In fact, a 20-inch waist (or a 50-cm waist) is extremely small and rare even among tiny women.

Here is what a natural 20-inch waist looks like:

image 236
  • Save

Is It Possible to Have a 20 Inch Waist?

A 20-inch waist circumference has been achieved by some women using surgery or wearing corsets. But it is highly unlikely that most women could achieve this teeny waist size. It’s absolutely impossible for men.

Does Waist Training Work?

Wearing sweat belts, slimming garments, or corsets can help you to reduce your waistline. They bring your waist in and make it a little bit smaller for a short period of time. But if you are not wearing that waist trainer regularly, your waist is going to go right back to where it was.

You can wear it not only for support while lifting heavy weights. It’s more about reminding you to activate your core when you work out. 

Our Tips to Obtain a 20-Inch Waist

Here are our tips to obtain a smaller natural waist:

1. Perform Vacuum to Strengthen Your Core Muscles

Here is the traditional form of the stomach vacuum:

  1. Breathe out all the air and then pull your belly button back towards your spine or just suck it in;
  2. Draw your belly button in as far as you can;
  3. Hold the stomach vacuum as long as you can. 10 seconds is a reasonable goal if you’re just starting out.

That’s one of the best ways to train your core muscles, especially for women that have their abs separated after giving birth.

2. Wear Weight Belts

Wearing a weight belt can support your spine when you are lifting heavy weights. You can wear it whether you do an upper body or lower body workout. It’s not just to hold you in or train your waist to be small but to remind you to engage your core muscles.

3. Build Muscles

Your big shoulder muscles and glute muscles can make the appearance of a smaller waist. That’s going to be your best bet if you’re looking for something to obtain a smaller waistline.

A woman eating healthy to reach a 20-inch waist
  • Save

4. Eat Properly and Do Cardio

The only way to have a permanent solution to a smaller realistic waist size is to eat properly and do some cardio. Literally, work out! Burn that layer of fat. It will make a narrow waistline.

What Is a Healthy Waist Size?

There are a lot of factors that affect true waist size. For example, age, gender, body composition, etc.

There’s no international consensus on the criteria of healthy waist size or abdominal obesity using waist circumference. American organizations define abdominal obesity as a waist circumference greater than 35 inches in women and greater than 40 inches in men. 

The International Federation of Diabetes uses different waist circumference values by ethnicity to account for variations in body composition. 

The World Health Organization uses the waist-hip ratio by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. 

Generally, women should aim for a natural waist that’s less than 31.5 inches. Men should aim for a waist that’s less than 37 inches. 

Talk to your doctor about ways to get and maintain a healthy weight. Also, perform cardio and strength training and maintain a healthy diet to reach your fitness goal.

A man trying to reach a 20-inch waist
  • Save

20 Inch Waist: FAQs

Is a 20-inch waist skinny?

If you have a 20-inch waist, you are below the 1st percentile. A 20-inch waist is normal for a 4-year-old child. And it’s not healthy because many of your internal organs are located near your waist and they have to go somewhere.

What is a nice waist size?

For a 25-year-old man, a waist below 37 inches (94 cm) is nice and ‘low risk’, 37-40 inches (94-102 cm) is ‘high’ and more than 40 inches (102 cm) is ‘very high health risk’.

For a 25-year-old American woman, a waist below 31.5 inches (80 cm) is nice and ‘low risk’, 31.5-34.6 inches (80–88 cm) is ‘high’ and more than 34.6 inches (88 cm) is ‘very high health risk’.

What is a waist-to-height ratio?

Waist-to-Height Ratio is an anthropometric marker. It’s a way you can measure the proportions and sizes of the human body to determine health risks.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

Share via
Copy link