The hourglass figure is usually a desired one. The body is in proportion, with the shoulders and hips being near the same width, but with a small waist separating them and envious curves in the chest, hips and bottom. An exercise program generally involves fat loss, but do not fear that you will lose your curves. There are strength exercises that will build muscle in the appropriate areas so you keep your hourglass shape and firm up your curves.
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If you want to get in shape and keep your figure, you have to build muscle to replace the fat you lose. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends lifting a weight heavy enough to fatigue your muscles in three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for optimal muscle growth. Work out your major muscle groups at least once or twice per week on non-consecutive days. Combine strength workouts with moderate cardio to help burn fat three to five days per week for at least 30 minutes.
To keep the hourglass shape, your shoulders need to be almost as wide as your hips. Strengthen and tone the shoulders to add shape and definition to replace the fat you burn. Do overhead shoulder presses with a relatively heavy weight to add size. Do frontal, lateral and rear raises with dumbbells to add shape.
Your back muscles add width to the upper body, creating a v-shaped taper to make your waist appear extra small. Wide-grip lat pulldowns target your latissimus dorsi, the muscle right under your arms and shoulder blades. Also, incorporate seated rows to strengthen your rhomboids, the muscle between your shoulder blades. Other exercises include pullups, assisted pullups and single arm bent-over rows.
The gluteus medius, maximus and piriformis muscles are responsible for lifting and rounding out the bottom and hips. The American Council on Exercise conducted a study examining the most effective exercises for targeting the glutes and found that step-ups and hip extensions were the best. For maximum benefit, perform step-ups on a 24-inch platform holding dumbbells in each hand. To do hip extensions, position yourself on your hands and knees and alternate kicking one leg out behind you and to the side.
Keep the legs toned so you have nice shape stemming from your hips. Squats and lunges are the best exercises for targeting all the muscles of the legs. Tone the calves to add symmetry and balance out the hourglass shape. Do single-leg calf raises on an elevated surface, dipping your heels below the surface, and rising up onto your toes as high as you can.
Your hourglass figure will be further accentuated by a tight midsection. Your abdominal muscles include the rectus abdominus, and the internal and external obliques. Abdominal exercise can also improve your posture. To tone your obliques, you can do exercises like side bends or oblique extensions are. You can also incorporate some weightless twisting exercises, such as bicycle crunches and seated trunk rotations. Target the main muscles of the core, which act as a girdle on the midsection, by doing plank variations