How To Get A Lean Strong Waist 

That’s a snapshot of Don's lean strong waist on November 30, 2016 at 55 years of age.  It measured about 31.5 inches in circumference.  I use a macrobiotic diet to keep it lean and resistance training to make it progressively stronger.  


To keep my waist lean I eat a whole foods plant-based macrobiotic diet consisting of whole grains, legumes, seasonal vegetables (mostly cooked), sea vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  At the time of this photo I haven’t eaten any animal flesh, milk or eggs for 5 years.  

Many cuts of animal flesh are calorie-dense,  so it is easy to over consume calories when eating meat liberally.  In addition, eating animal protein can increase your insulin response to meals to favor fat storage. 

You don’t have to completely eliminate animal products to get or stay lean, but limiting animal food consumption to a maximum of 15% of calories will help you get and stay lean.  If you eat animal products, we recommend wild or sustainably farmed fish or poultry as the best choice.  This chart from my book Essential Macrobiotics shows how much lean animal flesh constitutes 15% of calories at various calorie intake levels.

Note that I suggest this as the upper limit for animal protein intake based on research (discussed in Essential Macrobiotics) indicating that adverse effects of animal protein consumption may occur when animal protein exceeds 10% of total calories. 

Intermittent Fasting

Second, I fast for roughly 16 hours every day, and only two meals daily both within an 8 hour feeding window.  I eat a large breakfast, generally between 8 and 10 a.m., and another meal between 2 and 4 p.m..  

In my book Intermittent Fasting I discuss research that suggests that if you want to get a really lean strong waist, it is best to eat a most of your food early in the day, as food eaten late in the day triggers lipid storage mechanisms favoring body fat gain, insulin resistance, and elevated blood lipids.  

This same research indicates that most people feel less hunger and more satiety when they eat more of their food in the early part of the day rather than in the evening.  


Diet is the key to getting a lean waist.  Resistance training is the key to getting a strong waist.  You should train the waist musculature with progressive resistance.  You can train the waist fully with 2-4 exercises.  For full training of your waist your routine needs to include each of these movements once or twice weekly:

  •  Waist flexion for the rectus abdominus
  •  Waist extension for the erector spinae
  •  Waist rotation for the obliques

Here's an example of how I have fit the waist-strengthening exercises (in bold) into my full-body routines. 

Day 1

  1.  Handstand holds
  2.  Hollow body holds (rectus abdominis)
  3.  Shoulder bridge (erector spinae)
  4.  Weighted Cossack squats
  5.  Weighted supinated chin-ups 
  6.  Dips in L-sit  (rectus abdominis)
  7.  Ring rows
  8.  Windshield wipers (rectus abdominis and obliques)
  9.  "Jefferson curl" deadlift  (erector spinae)

Day 2

  1.  Feet-supported crane pose
  2.  Straddle V-ups (rectus abdominis)
  3.  Shoulder bridge (erector spinae)
  4.  Weighted Cossack squats
  5.  Chin-ups in L-sit (rectus abdominis)
  6.  Weighted dips 
  7.  Ring rows
  8.  Twisting back extension (erector spinae and obliques)
  9.  "Jefferson curl" deadlift  (erector spinae)

In these routines, the Jefferson curl deadlift is done with a very light weight for improving mobility and flexibility.

I do only one set per exercise, training to fatigue or close to it.   Day 1 involves 3 direct sets for the rectus abdominis, 2 direct sets for the erector spinae, and 1 direct set for the obliques.  Bear in mind that the obliques are also trained indirectly in all movements for the rectus abdominis.  Day 2 involves 3 direct sets for the erector spinae, 2 for the rectus abdominis, and 1 for the obliques. 

Here's a video discussing and demonstrating some of the exercises mentioned above:

If you have any questions regarding fitness, and how to get a lean strong waist, please let us know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading and have a great life!

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