A pear-shaped body type is characterized by voluptuous hips, thighs and buttocks. It's the enviable body type you see on celebs like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey, and it's something to be proud of.
As with any body type, weight gain is frustrating. For the pear-shaped, fat primarily collects in those aforementioned voluptuous areas, making them a bit more voluptuous than you may desire.
It may feel like no matter what you do, you just can't seem to get the bulge to budge. But don't lose faith. It may take a little longer to lose fat from those areas because of your body type, or you may need to tweak your current exercise and diet program.
About Body Types and Weight Loss
Genetics largely determines where you are prone to fat gain. There's not a thing you can do about that. Once the fat collects in those problem areas, it can be very stubborn. Typically, your problem areas are the spots where you easily put on weight, and from which it's hard to lose it.
Because of that, even if you are eating right and exercising, it could take quite a while before you see the fat melt away. You'll probably notice fat loss from your face, upper body and abdominal region before you notice fat loss in your lower body.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can't change your body shape. Even if you lose weight from your lower body, you're still going to have the characteristic voluptuousness of a pear shaped-body. But your hips, thighs and buttocks with be trim, toned and healthy.
Cardio, Cardio and More Cardio
A major part of weight loss, no matter where you tend to store fat, is getting your body into a calorie deficit. This means you burn more calories each day than you eat. In order to lose stubborn lower-body fat, you need to eat less, and burn more calories!
If you're not currently doing some type of cardiovascular exercise, starting a regular routine including cardio workouts most days of the week, will help you create the deficit necessary for fat loss. Swimming, biking, jogging, taking an aerobics class, even dancing are all effective forms of cardio. The point is to get your heart rate up and keep it up for a period of time — 30 minutes to 60 minutes is a good goal.
If you're doing cardio and not seeing the fat loss in your lower body that you'd like to see, you might not being doing enough cardio to offset a too-high-calorie diet. In that case, you should tweak your diet first, then add more cardio or up the intensity of your cardio.
Whether you're just starting out on a cardio program, or you've been doing cardio and not seeing results, upping the intensity of your workouts can make a big difference. The harder you work, the more calories and fat you'll burn. For example, running burns far more calories than walking. Sprinting burns even more calories than running.
One of the most effective types of cardio for budging stubborn body fat is high-intensity interval training. HIIT, as it's also known, involves alternating periods of vigorous activity with periods of recovery. For example, sprinting on a bike or treadmill as fast as you can for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then recovering at an easy pace for the same amount of time. A workout lasts from 20 to 30 minutes, repeatedly alternating between intense and easy effort.
Research shows that this type of activity is better at mobilizing fat stores for oxidation than steady-state cardio. It might be just the ticket to melt away your lower body fat.
Include a few of these HIIT sessions in your weekly workouts on non-consecutive days. On the other days, do longer steady-state cardio at a moderate intensity.
Build Muscle, Burn Fat
Cardio is important, but it's not all. The other part of the exercise equation for getting rid of stubborn lower body fat is resistance training. Lifting weights or doing body weight exercises like squats and push-ups builds lean muscle mass. Not only does lean muscle mass take up less space than fat mass, making you slimmer, but it also revs your metabolism. The more muscle you have the more calories and fat your body burns all day long.
This doesn't mean you have to become a competitive bodybuilder or look like the Incredible Hulk. It just means adding in some form of strength training for your whole body twice a week.
Here's the key: You have to train your whole body, not just your lower body.
Why? Because there's no such thing as spot reduction. In order to lose weight from one part of your body, you have to lose total body fat. Building muscle in your upper body as well as your lower body will give your body double the fat-burning power.
Two or three days a week, do a total-body strength training routine that targets your arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs, butt and legs. Doing compound exercises that use two or more muscle groups at one time helps you get in a great workout in a short time. Some examples include:
- Shoulder press
- Bench press
Lower-body exercises like squats, lunges and step-ups are excellent for toning your problem areas; once you lose body fat, you'll be able to see definition in your buttocks and thighs. Building upper body muscle helps balance out the appearance of a heavy lower body.
While pear shapes easily put on body fat around their hips, thighs and buttocks, they also put on muscle easily in those areas too. There's a tendency to "bulk up" when lifting heavier weights. To build longer, leaner muscles, keep the weights lower when doing squats, lunges and other lower-body exercises, but increase the repetitions you do. Ultimately, you still want to be working hard by that last rep, and increasing the reps will get you there without the extra weight.
And, don't forget to work your core — your lower back, abs and obliques — with exercises like crunches, planks and Supermans.
You Are What You Eat
No amount of exercise will erase a bad diet. If you're exercising and not seeing lower-body fat loss, your diet could be to blame. In order for your exercise efforts to pay off, you have to control your calorie intake and fuel your body with nutritious foods.
If you're determined to lose lower body fat here are a few Dos and Don'ts:
- Do curb your caloric intake
- Don't eat foods high in sugar and fat
- Do eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains
- Don't eat processed foods
- Don't eat refined grains like white rice, bread and pasta
- Do eat lean sources of quality protein, such as chicken, fish and beans
- Don't drink sweetened beverages
- Do drink plenty of water
- Do choose healthy sources of fat from plant sources, including olive oil, flaxseeds and avocados
- Do eat three meals a day
- Don't skip meals, especially breakfast
- Do snack on low-calorie foods like carrots and celery to curb between-meal hunger
Schedule an appointment with your doctor or with a nutritionist who can help you determine your daily calorie needs to weight loss. Once you have that number, stick to it.
You Can Do It
Losing weight — whether it's from your lower body, stomach, arms or face — can seem like an uphill battle with no end in sight. If you've tried everything, and the weight still isn't budging, visit your doctor. Sometimes there's a health reason behind stubborn body fat.
More often, though, it comes down to making a commitment and working your butt off. (Literally, in this case.) Keep tweaking your diet and exercise routine, until you see the weight start to budge. Each pound of fat lost will be a little more motivation to go the distance.