While most women covet the traditional hourglass figure, many women won’t achieve it, even with exercise. This is because your natural body shape is determined by your skeletal structure and the distribution of muscle and fat within your body. If you are a pear-shaped woman, you won’t shift to a banana shape by working out, but you can balance your body shape with the right exercises. An exercise program that combines aerobic exercise, strength and endurance training will decrease body fat, enhance your natural curves and improve your health.
Exercise for Health
According to a study conducted at North Carolina State University, only about 20 percent of women are pear-shaped. The majority of women are actually rectangular-shaped, with their waist measuring less than 9 inches smaller than their hips or bust. Women with a pear shape have often been consoled by the belief that carrying weight in their buttocks, hips and thighs is “healthier” than carrying it in the abdomen. Unfortunately, a different study published in the "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" demonstrated that people with a pear-shaped body may be at a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Regardless of your body shape, it is important to exercise to maintain good health.
Build a Well-Rounded Exercise Program
If you have a pear shape, you store more fat in your lower half. By building strength in your upper body, you'll provide visual balance. Building muscle throughout your body will increase your metabolism and burn fat throughout the day, so you should also work the muscles in your lower body with muscle endurance training. Balance out your program with aerobic exercise to prevent metabolic syndrome, improve your body composition and increase energy. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, most adults should strength train two to three days per week and exercise aerobically at a moderate intensity 150 minutes per week.
Define a Strong Upper Body
Your workout routine should include exercises that build on your strengths and improve the weaker parts of your body. If your body is pear-shaped, you want to develop muscle mass in your upper body. To do this, use heavier weights and perform fewer repetitions of strength-training exercises that define your shoulders, chest and back. Good exercises to include are rows, lat pull-downs, overhead presses, chest presses, flys, lateral raises and planks.
Improve Lower Body Muscle Endurance
Including muscle endurance exercises for your lower body will help define the shape of these muscles and improve their ability to maintain work for a longer period of time. To increase muscular endurance, do more repetitions at a lighter weight. Performing these exercises will improve functional strength and help you be more active throughout the day. Include plies, squats, lunges, inverted flyers and step-ups in your workout.
- The Independent: The Shape of Things to Wear: Scientists Identify How Women's Figures Have Changed in 50 Years
- Desert Southwest Fitness: Fat Metabolism and Gender Differences
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Increased Chemerin and Decreased Omentin-1 in Both Adipose Tissue and Plasma in Nascent Metabolic Syndrome
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise