T Nation

The Lengths Competitors Go To: Crazy or Not?


Just wondering what other women are seeing, and what the general consensus is (if there is one) on the crazy things figure and bikini competitors do to get on stage. What is too much? And is a trophy worth it?

The “squeem” for instance is one of those questionable things. It’s the corset-type thing figure competitors are wearing now during competition prep. I’m not a fan. I’ve heard stories of displaced organs, incontinence, and the need for surgery. If there’s fat to lose around the waist, does moving it with a corset make it stay off of the waist?

It’s also called “waist training”, but it kinda seems more like organ training because it smashes vital organs into places where they’re not supposed to be.

Crazy or worth it?

CRAZY! Definitely wouldn’t catch me wearing one of these.

I agree with you here, I am not a fan of these either. I’m not sure how many women are actually using them but as trending thing one can only assume it will come and go. Anyone actually using one of these who can give their opinion… Did you see any results??

Waist-training… More like waist murdering!!! A good diet and training program along with good overall abdominal control(24/7) should do the trick.

The crazy thing is, men are using them now too. It kinda reminds me of foot binding in China – deforming a part of your body for aesthetic purposes. And you’ve gotta wonder what the unintended consequences are if your organs actually do change shape or move to places where they’re not supposed to be. Plus diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing) is a good thing. But is it even possible with a corset on?

If I felt the need for a squeem in order to compete, I might take that as a sign to shoot for a later show and try to remove more fat (slowly and steadily) in that area. But I’m not 100% sure… it would be interesting to hear from someone who uses one.

I absolutely can not stand these things!! Not to mention as I was reading how it can atrophy your back muscles. Why can’t people just work to develop more lat and shoulder to make their waist appear smaller? I get heartburn as it is…I’ll never waste my money on one.

Hadn’t thought of back muscle atrophy or heart burn, coffeebean4, and you’re right about wider lats and bigger delts. Great points.

The company claims these are the results from using the squeem:
Users report 1-4 inches sustained loss after 30 days
Visibly reduced waistline. Look 1, 2, even 3 sizes thinner!
Raised bustline resulting in fuller looking breasts
Firmed and flattened midriff
Corrected, more confident posture
Reduced back pain
Smoothed back bulge

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! And for the price tag I think I’d rather buy myself some Se7en!!!

Se7en or Carbolin 19 or Finibars or Plazma… and then a good dose of focused training. Women need to give their bodies more credit. We can create beautiful shapes without damaging ourselves.

[quote]Dani Shugart wrote:
Se7en or Carbolin 19 or Finibars or Plazma… and then a good dose of focused training. Women need to give their bodies more credit. We can create beautiful shapes without damaging ourselves. [/quote]

Mmmmmmmmm Finibars!! Yes, I agree!!

A woman wore one to my ballet class. Try working on flexibility in that! Our instructor told her that they aren’t effective and to please not wear them to class.

I guess people are inspired by corseted waists like Dita Von Teese? I’d be interested to know if Dita’s waist measurement is permanently smaller from corseting. I’d guess so. At any rate, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I like to breath.

Hey Powerpuff, your last comment – I like to breathe – reminded me that deep breathing is associated with lower blood pressure. Might this mean chronic shallow breathing is associated with high blood pressure? Looks like another unintended consequence of waist cinching.

So here’s an idea. Instead of squeems, why don’t we just bring back the “vacuum”? Pretty cool stuff:

Arnold did it. Yogis do it. Why not figure athletes?

[quote]Dani Shugart wrote:
Hey Powerpuff, your last comment – I like to breathe – reminded me that deep breathing is associated with lower blood pressure. Might this mean chronic shallow breathing is associated with high blood pressure? Looks like another unintended consequence of waist cinching.

So here’s an idea. Instead of squeems, why don’t we just bring back the “vacuum”? Pretty cool stuff:

Arnold did it. Yogis do it. Why not figure athletes?[/quote]

I have done these, but they’ve fallen out of my repertoire for some reason. Thanks for the reminder, Dani!

Oh, and I stumbled upon your fitness blog! You’ve done a great job writing, and congrats on your recent progress and contest success! Next time I’ll leave a comment instead of just lurkin’ ya.

I’m flattered you lurked! :wink: Thank you for letting me know you dropped by, and I’m interested in hearing more from you on here! Plenty of serious female lifters read T-Nation articles, and more should post.

It’s not just for ladies.


I’m not surprised anymore, 1 Man Island, and it’s weird that the model is a thin guy who obviously doesn’t need to cinch his waist. The same can be said for the multitude of competitors who are getting in tip top shape and then wrapping these things around themselves.

A bonus of working out and eating with awareness is not having to resort to these measures.

I got ready for a show with a coach who swears by these squeem things ? I lasted one day, it was absolute torture! Many girls actually were training with these things on, even sleeping in them!

Apparently there is something to it. I did a little research on Dita and Waist Training.

They’ve done x-rays on women who wore corsets and they see structural changes to the bone. I don’t know how long or how often you’d have to wear one to have that effect.

BTW, Dita has been wearing a corset since she was 18. I believe she’s 41 now. Height 5’3", 115 pounds and she has a 22 inch uncorseted waist. When she was younger and thinner, she would cinch it to 16.5 inches,and now more like 19 inches. Not considering it, but i do have a “sprung/ asymmetrical ribcage” from having kids. The hazards of a petite, short-waisted woman smuggling 8.5 pound baby under there! I have a 23" exhaled waist, but on one side my lower ribs stick out further than on the other side.

I read a trainer talking about trying to pull it back in with exercises very similar to the vacuum ones Dani linked to. Trying to train the muscle there. I don’t compete, so it isn’t a deal, but I wonder if women with that issue could corset it back in. Possibly. But still, there’s that “I like to breathe” thing.

http://www.celebitchy.com/257731/dita_von_teese_has_worn_a_corset_for_22_years_her_waist_gets_down_to_165_inches/

[quote]Powerpuff wrote:
Apparently there is something to it. I did a little research on Dita and Waist Training.

They’ve done x-rays on women who wore corsets and they see structural changes to the bone. I don’t know how long or how often you’d have to wear one to have that effect.

BTW, Dita has been wearing a corset since she was 18. I believe she’s 41 now. Height 5’3", 115 pounds and she has a 22 inch uncorseted waist. When she was younger and thinner, she would cinch it to 16.5 inches,and now more like 19 inches. Not considering it, but i do have a “sprung/ asymmetrical ribcage” from having kids. The hazards of a petite, short-waisted woman smuggling 8.5 pound baby under there! I have a 23" exhaled waist, but on one side my lower ribs stick out further than on the other side.

I read a trainer talking about trying to pull it back in with exercises very similar to the vacuum ones Dani linked to. Trying to train the muscle there. I don’t compete, so it isn’t a deal, but I wonder if women with that issue could corset it back in. Possibly. But still, there’s that “I like to breathe” thing.

http://www.celebitchy.com/257731/dita_von_teese_has_worn_a_corset_for_22_years_her_waist_gets_down_to_165_inches/ [/quote]

Amen to that… Smuggling a baby is no easy task! When I was pregnant with my first son I had diastasis recti (where the ab muscles separate down the center) and this was hell when I was trying to start back up in the gym again. I could see it being helpful for something like this for sure. When I started to train my abs I actually was holding them together with my hands so I could do the exercises to start to strengthen them again. I think it could potentially work for the ribcage as well.

There seems to be a time and a place for the squeem based on individual cases but they are being promoted to fitness athletes for reasons that are not always necessary.

[quote]Bron Sapir wrote:

[quote]Powerpuff wrote:
Apparently there is something to it. I did a little research on Dita and Waist Training.

They’ve done x-rays on women who wore corsets and they see structural changes to the bone. I don’t know how long or how often you’d have to wear one to have that effect.

BTW, Dita has been wearing a corset since she was 18. I believe she’s 41 now. Height 5’3", 115 pounds and she has a 22 inch uncorseted waist. When she was younger and thinner, she would cinch it to 16.5 inches,and now more like 19 inches. Not considering it, but i do have a “sprung/ asymmetrical ribcage” from having kids. The hazards of a petite, short-waisted woman smuggling 8.5 pound baby under there! I have a 23" exhaled waist, but on one side my lower ribs stick out further than on the other side.

I read a trainer talking about trying to pull it back in with exercises very similar to the vacuum ones Dani linked to. Trying to train the muscle there. I don’t compete, so it isn’t a deal, but I wonder if women with that issue could corset it back in. Possibly. But still, there’s that “I like to breathe” thing.

http://www.celebitchy.com/257731/dita_von_teese_has_worn_a_corset_for_22_years_her_waist_gets_down_to_165_inches/ [/quote]

Amen to that… Smuggling a baby is no easy task! When I was pregnant with my first son I had diastasis recti (where the ab muscles separate down the center) and this was hell when I was trying to start back up in the gym again. I could see it being helpful for something like this for sure. When I started to train my abs I actually was holding them together with my hands so I could do the exercises to start to strengthen them again. I think it could potentially work for the ribcage as well.

There seems to be a time and a place for the squeem based on individual cases but they are being promoted to fitness athletes for reasons that are not always necessary.[/quote]

Bron, I’m glad you were able to heal your diastasis up alright, or at least didn’t have any problems. Surprised that happened to you, since you’re so tall!

I ended up with an umbilical hernia with mine. Apparently once those muscles split apart, there’s nothing but a very thin layer of fascia supporting your belly button. Add lots of lifting and WHAM! I was fortunate that the surgeon went in and stitched my diastasis recti up while he was in there, instead of just doing a small hernia repair at my navel. Internal stitches from a few inches above my belly button all the way down, with a low c-section incision. It normally isn’t covered by insurance, but he was really cool to do it right for me. Anyway, it brought my waist measurement back to my prebabies size. I think wearing that squeem just after pregnancy might help the abs heal back together. In hind sight, I’d have tried it if I could have avoided that.

I want to share a blog post of Molly Galbraith on “the crazy things figure competitors do”. Part 2 is about the ugly side of competing:
mollygalbraith.com/2013/07/extreme-leanness-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-part-2/
I think health is always the most important thing, even for figure competitors.

Definitely a bad thing!! Ever wonder why women complain of incontinence and how things “aren’t the same after birth” well one thug is your baby just rearranged your inside. Pelvic tilt is another and tight muscles throwing off skeletal alignment and imbalances. I’m in school for pre physical therapy so I like to geek out on this stuff. I’m also super interested in women’s pelvic health and from what I understand even holding in your stomach can cause pelvic floor issues. This seems like a terrible idea and not worth it!!