Finding a pair of jeans that fit properly can be a challenge when you have a pear-shaped body -- a smaller upper body and waist, with most of your weight in your hips, thighs and butt. Although it is tempting to try to spot-reduce your lower body with targeted exercises such as squats and leg raises, it is not possible to lose weight in only one area of the body. Combining a regular exercise regimen with a healthy eating plan will help you lose weight over your entire body and trim down your pear shape.
Engage in total-body circuit training workouts two to three days per week to build muscle and burn stored body fat. Perform one weighted exercise per body part such as barbell curls for biceps, barbell bent-over rows for your back, bench press for your chest, triceps dips, lunges for your legs, military press for your shoulders and Russian twists for your abs and core. Execute each exercise for one set of 15 to 20 repetitions. Include 30 to 60 seconds of cardiovascular activity to keep your heart rate elevated and increase the amount of fat burned per workout. Repeat the circuit of exercises for 30 minutes.
Perform a leg-specific workout one to two times per week. Perform a variety of compound exercises that recruit several muscle groups at the same time such as dumbbell squats, walking lunges, jump squats and step-ups for four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per set. Include isolation exercises to target specific areas of the lower body such as leg extensions for quadriceps, lying hamstring curls, glute bridges and standing calf raises for four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
Participate in 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to five days per week to burn excess body fat. Use cardio machines such as the treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bike or step mill. Add variety by taking a group fitness class such as step aerobics, cardio kickboxing or indoor cycling. Change your cardio choices often to keep your body responding to the workout.
Use interval training to increase the calories burned during workouts. By walking for two minutes, then running for two minutes, you increase your calories burned not only during the running portion of your routine, but also while walking. Your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate than it does when just walking.
Decrease your daily calorie intake to encourage weight loss. Track your calories using an online food journal such as The Daily Plate. Reduce your calorie consumption by 500 to 750 calories per day to help create a calorie deficit. Combined with your exercise routine, you can create a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories or more, allowing you to lose at a safe rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Make healthy food choices to help you cut back on calories and lose weight. Consume complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and healthy fats, such as nut butters and olive oil, which require longer digestion time so you feel full longer. Enjoy poultry, fish, lean beef and low-fat dairy products to fulfill your body's protein needs. Stay away from processed or refined foods such as pre-packaged desserts, frozen dinners and deli meats that are high in sodium, refined sugars and fats.
An apple- or pear-shaped body begins with your own genetic makeup. While you can't control your basic body shape, you can reduce your weight to a healthy range and use exercise to keep your lower body toned and firm. While the extra fat on your hips and thighs doesn't respond as quickly to a diet and exercise program, belly fat is worse for your body and metabolism. Keep on track and you'll lose the fat as you firm your muscles.
Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program or diet.
- Personal Fitness Trainer Manual: Fundamentals; National Federation of Professional Trainers
- ACE Fitness: Fit Facts -- Interval Training
- ACE Fitness: Fit Facts -- Circuit Training Basics
- Sports Nutrition Manual; National Federation of Professional Trainers
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Eating Plate and Healthy Eating Pyramid
- Harvard Health Publications: Belly Fat Worse than Hip and Thigh Fat