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How to Gain Curves

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
How to Gain Curves
A healthy diet also helps ensure the weight you gain comes from muscle tissue. Photo Credit Tetra Images/Tetra images/Getty Images

How you work out and eat encourages some change in your physique, but you are limited by your genetics. If you're naturally lean and lanky, you won't be able to develop the dramatic curves of a pear-shape body type through lifestyle. But if you're underweight, extra calories and exercise will help you become stronger and more fit so you can make the most of the curves you can create.

Avoid Excessive Weight Gain

Unless your doctor has told you you're underweight, you probably don't need to focus on weight gain to get curves. Putting on weight -- especially if you gain it quickly -- can make you accumulate excess fat, which can increase your risk of chronic illness, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When you gain weight, you can't be sure where that weight will settle, either. You may desire bigger breasts, ample hips and a booty like Kim Kardashian's, but there's no guarantee your body will add fat in a way that gives you that shape. Look to your mom, sisters and aunts to get a sense of the genetic potential of your body.

Build Muscle in the "Right" Places

If you're at a healthy weight, work on building muscle mass all over with an emphasis on those certain areas that you wish to be a little more shapely. A comprehensive weight-training program helps you fill out evenly and improves your overall health.

Do at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise for each muscle group twice per week on non-consecutive days. Use weights that are heavy enough to make it hard to finish the last couple of repetitions To this routine, add an extra exercise or two for the areas you want to build most. For example, create shape and tone in your buttocks by adding squats, step-ups, bridges and lunges to your routine. While you can't change the size of your breasts with exercise -- they're composed mostly of fat tissue -- you can work the pectorals which lie behind them with pushups and bench presses.

Eating to Get Healthier

Eating a little more to support efforts at the gym encourages the growth of healthy muscle mass, but only if you actually need to gain weight. If you don't work out when adding calories, you'll add mostly fat, and if you're not underweight, gaining weight won't benefit your health.

You don't need more that 250 to 500 extra calories per day, and you can only realistically put on 1/2 pound of muscle per week. If you gain fat easily, stick to the lower end of this spectrum, and, if you need to gain weight for health, aim for the higher end. Make the calories come from whole, unprocessed foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy. Some unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds and avocados, can also supply extra calories.

A healthy diet also helps ensure the weight you gain comes from muscle tissue. Stick to healthy, whole foods from all the major food groups at meals. Instead of adding 250 to 500 calories per day, you might subtract them to encourage modest fat loss of 1/2 to 1 pound per week. This slower rate helps prevent your body from burning your hard-earned, curve-making muscle as you drop pounds.

A protein snack after your weight-training sessions helps seal in the results of your workout and accelerates recovery. Go for Greek yogurt with berries, a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread or a smoothie made with whey protein powder and milk. If you're trying to gain weight, add extra calories to this snack with nuts, avocado or ground flaxseeds.

Dress the Part

Ultimately, you've got to make the body shape you have the healthiest and fittest possible; attaining the one you see in magazines and on billboards may just not be realistic. How you dress helps show off curves too. In addition to flaunting what you have, certain clothes can make it appear as if you've got an enviably shapely bod. Choose clothes that hug, rather than hang. Get a bra fitting and cinch in your waist with a belt to create the illusion of a larger chest. A-line skirts and peplums make you look hippier. Low necklines and blocks of solid color at the waist further contribute to a curvaceous appearance.

You can dress with these tips in mind, even if you're naturally lithe, to visually create curves. Use clothing tricks as one part of your overall plan -- including diet and exercise -- that will help you attain a healthy shape.

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