You have your mom to thank for your pear-shaped body. That is, where your body stores fat is largely determined by genetics. But that doesn't mean you're destined to have thunder thighs and saddlebags. Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise can help you whittle your fat stores in all the right places for the slimmer shape you desire.
You can slim a pear-shaped body with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Body Shapes and Fat Loss
Hundreds of genes in your body determine where you store fat. People with apple-shaped bodies tend to store fat around their midsection. They may have slim arms and legs, but a little extra padding at the waistline.
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Pear-shaped bodies tend to hold onto fat in the hips, thighs and butt. Your upper body may be slim, but your lower body is heavier and thicker than you would like. You can change this.
If you commit to doing what's necessary to burn fat and have patience, you'll see your measurements begin to shrink and your clothes will fit better. However, it's necessary to be realistic about your expectations. If you have a wide pelvis, you may still have wide hips after slimming down because you can't change your skeletal structure. Even thin pear-shaped women tend to have wider hips.
The Truth About Spot Reduction
Everyone wants to find the magic bullet for their problem areas. Apple-shaped people may do endless crunches in the hopes for a flatter tummy. Or you may do a ton of cardio but not see any change in your lower body, even though your arms and face are thinner.
This is because you can't target specific areas of your body for fat loss. As you burn calories and fat, you will lose total-body fat. But that fat may come from everywhere else on your body before you see slimming in your hips and thighs.
Pear-shaped weight loss can be frustrating because the areas where your body holds onto fat are often the last places it lets go of it. That fat is your body's safeguard. Just in case there is an energy shortage, your body wants to make sure it has reserves. It's not going to give those up so easily.
Create a Calorie Deficit
Fat loss is complicated. It's affected by genetics, age, gender, stress, hormones, health conditions, medications and many more factors. However, a surplus of calories plays a major role. Your body uses calories from food as energy. What it can't immediately use, it stores as fat for future needs. And it stores it where it is genetically predestined to store it in a pear-shaped person.
To lose fat, you have to reduce your calorie intake so that your body stops having a surplus of energy and starts digging into the stored fat that's already there. Reducing the calories you consume and burning calories through exercise, creates the required deficit. When you maintain this calorie deficit over time, you will see your fat stores in your hips and thighs begin to shrink.
Burn Calories Through Cardio Exercise
Exercise is crucial for your overall health, but it's also the main way you can control your energy expenditure and balance it with your calorie intake. If your daily calorie needs are 2,000, but you are consistently consuming 2,500 calories each day, burning 600 calories through exercise can kick-start weight loss, even without making any changes to your diet.
However, exercising in addition to eating fewer calories can create an even larger deficit. If you work out 30 to 60 minutes per day, you can burn between 200 and 1,000 calories daily, depending on your activity and the intensity at which you exercise.
Here are some estimates of the calories a 155-pound person can burn in 30 minutes doing various activities:
- Aerobics: 260 calories
- Running at a moderate pace: 300 calories
- Cycling at a moderate pace: 300 calories
- Jumping rope: 372 calories
- Running at a fast pace: 400 calories
Intensity Is Key
The harder you work, the more calories you'll burn and the faster you'll achieve pear-shaped weight loss. Although you don't have to start out sprinting, or kill yourself with cardio every day, understand that just taking a walk every day isn't going to get you the results you desire.
Each workout, try to up the intensity just a little bit more. Purchase a heart monitor and keep your eye on your pulse. The higher you can safely get it, the more calories you'll burn.
A relatively easy way to increase your intensity is to do interval training. Hop on a treadmill or an exercise bike. After a warm up, pump up the intensity to an all-out effort. Run or bike as fast as you can for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, bring the pace back down to a comfortable level to recover. Once your heart rate is steadier, repeat the interval, trying to push a little harder this time.
It doesn't matter if right now you only have the fitness to walk. Use the workout interval to walk as fast as you can, then return to your normal pace. Interval workouts are not only effective for burning fat, but many people also find them more interesting than steady-state workouts because they aren't as monotonous. Work two or three of these into your weekly cardio routine, alternating with more moderate steady state cardio sessions.
Build Total-Body Muscle
Why would you lift weights if you want to reduce the size of your thighs and hips? For many reasons:
- Weightlifting will not make you bulky unless you are following a specific exercise and nutrition program aimed at increasing muscle size.
- Pound for pound, muscle takes up less space than fat. Losing fat around your hips and thighs, and replacing it with lean muscle mass will make your pear-shaped body appear slimmer.
- Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. The energy your body expends maintaining and building muscle accounts for up to 20 percent of your total daily energy expenditure. Fat only accounts for 5 percent.
- Thus, the more lean muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism.
- Resistance training is good for your health, reducing your risk of chronic diseases, improving cognitive function and mood and helping you sleep better.
Do Total-Body Exercises
Now that you're convinced, it's time to plan a routine. The spot-training myth applies to strength training as well — simply doing butt and thigh exercises isn't effective. To rev your metabolism and achieve a strong, healthy body, you need to train all the major muscle groups — arms, shoulders, chest, thighs, glutes, abs and back.
At least two days per week, do a total-body workout. Some of the most effective exercises include:
- Dead lifts
- Mountain climbers
- Jump squats
- Step ups
- Box jumps
All of these exercises use two or more large muscle groups at a time. Not only do you get more work done in each set, you also burn more calories while you're doing these exercises because they take so much energy to perform. When your goal is pear-shaped weight loss, using these compound exercises is much more effective than doing isolation exercises like leg lifts.
Circuit Train to Blast Pear-Shaped Body Fat
Circuit training combines cardio and resistance training in one high-intensity workout that gets results. Choose six to 10 exercises targeting all the major muscle groups. Perform one set of each exercise without resting in between; then repeat the round.
You can choose to do a certain number of reps for each exercise, or you can set an interval timer for 30 or 60 seconds, doing as many reps as you can in that time period. In addition to strength moves, add in a few cardio moves, such as high knees, jumping jacks or jumping rope, to really get your heart rate up.
Read more: Full-Body Circuit Workout for Women
- American Society of Human Genetics: Genetic Variant Shown to Influence Women’s Body Shape and Diabetes Risk
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- Harvard Health Publishing: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Peak Fitness: Why High Intensity Workouts Are Best for Weight Loss
- ACE: 4 Myths About Strength Training for Women
- Compass Nutrition: True or False : Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
- University of New Mexico: Controversies in Metabolism
- ACE: 7 Benefits of Heavy Resistance Training
- Bodybuilding.com: Compound Exercises Bring Compounded Results: Get More in Less Time!