Great Workouts to Make the Most of your Body Shape

Women come in all shapes and sizes and we celebrate that. However, you may not always love your shape, or you want to just focus a bit more on other areas of your body. So, let’s discuss the classic four shapes women often are so beautifully packaged as Pear, Hourglass, Apple, and Straight/Rectangular.

If you aren’t certain which category you fall into, ask a friend. We also have some celebrity examples that might help you decide.

Pear shape.

This means you are “all about that base.” You have curves, and most of them are happening from the waist down. Your shoulders may be a bit narrow, and your girls are naturally a bit more A and B than C or D. Your toosh, hips, and maybe the upper thighs are a bit larger. Celebrities that fit this shape include Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian (and the other K ladies), and Kelly Clarkson. If you have that strong base and don’t feel comfortable with it grabbing all the attention, we know just what to do.

First, don’t despair, if you noticed those celebrity names, you know they are among those that are considered to be very sexy. The biggest trick with having a pear shape is making sure your upper body is strong. So, wear clothes that draw some attention to the areas above your waist and get great attention for that too. The other trick is to keep the lower half of your body toned without building a bunch more muscle. So, on the days you aren’t doing the muscle enhancing upper body moves, you might consider some stretching routines like Pilates or Yoga that focus on lengthening the muscles in your lower body.

Here’s the workout circuit we suggest focuses more toward the upper body. Do it three times a week. You’ll need some free weights, but if you don’t have them handy, use a few cans of food, one for each hand. Do 3 rotations through the circuit without resting (or only minimal resting) between the exercises during on rotation. Between each circuit, only rest 45-60 seconds before starting the next round. Once you complete the 3 circuits, add in a cardio workout of your choice for another 30-45 minutes. Your workout should not go more than 60 minutes.

Try for 3-5 reps of each move to begin with before going to the next. But, allow yourself time to build up to that level if you need to. Add more reps as you get stronger – up to 20 reps of each exercise per rotation. For your cardio workout, whenever possible use equipment or do activities that work both the upper and lower body to enhance your upper body work.

If you want to add in the stretching workouts, do those 1-2 times a week on the days you aren’t doing the circuit and cardio.

Pear-Shape Circuit:

  1. Push up
  2. Spiderman
  3. Kettlebell squats
  4. Push-up mountain climbers
  5. Dumbbell stability — skull crusher
  6. Mountain climbers
  7. Sandbag walking lunge
  8. Side plank with leg lift on each side

Hourglass Shape.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Scarlett Johansson arrives at the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

This shape is just like it sounds . . . great chest, great hips, and small waist. Celebrities sporting this shape include some of the most iconic female sex symbols of the last 50 or more years: Rosalind Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Scarlett Johansson, and even more recently Sofia Vergara. If you gain weight, it will typically be fairly evenly distributed over your body. And, because areas of your body are pleasingly curvaceous, sometimes showing muscle definition is a bit more difficult. So, your workouts should combine interval training with total body strength workout.

Here’s the workout circuit we suggest focused for a full-body workout. Do it three times a week. You’ll need some free weights. Do 3 full times through a circuit of all the exercises without resting (or only minimal resting). Between each circuit, only rest 45-60 seconds before starting the next round. Once you complete the 3 circuits, then do work that stretches the muscles to make up a full workout of 45-60 minutes. You can try some classic yoga moves or Pilates ones. There are even some great DVD programs that can walk you through these type of moves at a faster pace. Chalene Johnson has one called PiYo.

For your circuit, start with a few reps of each move to begin with before going to the next. Add more reps as you get stronger. Your goal is to get where you do 20 reps of each exercise per rotation.

Hourglass Shape Circuit:

  1. Burpees
  2. Curtsy lunge
  3. Spiderman
  4. Balance Skull Crushers
  5. Pushup
  6. Squats press with dumbbells

On the days you aren’t doing the circuit/stretch workouts, add in another 2-3 days of the following cardio workout – it is called the Cardio Sprint Pyramid.

Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

Run, bike, or row: During the work periods, you should have a rate of perceived exertion (RPE of 8 to 10, followed by 30 seconds of active recovery.

Build and taper the workout like this:

30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover

1 minute sprint/1 minute recover

2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover

4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover (you may have to work up to the 4 minutes over time)

2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover

1 minute sprint/1 minute recover

30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover

Then finish your workout with a 10-minute cool-down.

Straight/Rectangular Shape.

This body type is more “boyish” and, if you are in shape, will show that you are an athlete. If you aren’t in shape, you may have more of a low-key vibe. Celebrities with straight shape include Kate Hudson (and her mother Goldie Hawn), Gwyneth Paltrow (remember her slim fitting pink Oscar dress), and Keira Knightley.

Your challenge, if you have this shape . . . your workout should be focused on building some curves. That means building some muscles and toning to create as much of an indent to your waistline as possible. The good news is that the cardio you do can be just about anything and, if you add in muscle building elements to your cardio work, even better. And, since you may not have so many curves to get in the way, some of it might be easier for you to do. Some ideas include kickboxing, Tabata, spin, or any HIIT workout DVD will do the trick too. These cardio workouts should be for 15-30 minutes and done no more than 2-3 days a week.

For your circuit training days, the same rules apply here as for the other shapes. You’ll need free weights. Do the circuit training 3 days a week. Do 3 rotations through the circuit with no rests between exercises per circuit and 45-60 second breaks once you finish one rotation before starting the next. Combine this with another workout of your choice to total no more than 60 minutes.

Straight Shape Circuit:

  1. Deadlift overhead press
  2. Walking lunges
  3. V-raise
  4. Fencer’s lunge extension
  5. Side to side plank push-ups or just plank push-ups
  6. Diagonal lunge and curl.

Apple Shape.

An apple shape is rounder in the middle section, shoulders and hips are often smaller than the waist, and legs and arms can be thin. Some apple-shaped celebrities include Oprah Winfrey, Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Apple shaped usually means you want to reduce the belly fat and size.

The workout regime for an apple shape usually includes fat burning cardio workouts and strengthening and toning moves to reduce the size and appearance of the middle body. So, the circuit information is the same as you’ll find for the other shapes: 3 workouts a week, 3 rotations through the circuit, etc. You’ll need free weights. Here’s the circuit.

Apple Shape Circuit:

  1. Weighted bird dog
  2. Rear lunge chop
  3. Pull-down extension
  4. Push-up mountain climbers
  5. Windmill split squat
  6. Weighted walk up

Recommended cardio workouts for your shape are actually much the same as the straight shape. Try kickboxing, Tabata, spin, or any HIIT workout DVD. These cardio workouts should be for 15-30 minutes no more than 2-3 days a week.

Change up your workout routine from time to time.

No matter what your body shape is, once you are working your exercise routine regularly, about every three to four months you need to change it somewhat. Otherwise, your muscle memory kicks in and the muscles stop working hard to do the same tasks. You can make changes in a number of ways. Slow the moves down or only do part of the movement for an exercise. You can deepen the intensity by tensing the muscles completely for the entire time you do an exercise. You can also switch out to different movements that work similar muscles.

Don’t forget your eating plan.

No matter what workouts you do or how consistent you are about them, if you are eating unhealthy most of the time, you won’t get the outcome you want. There is no need for you to be crazy about it unless you have an underlying health problem that requires you to stick to a strict eating plan. If you want to lose weight, figure 85-90% of the time you should be eating healthy with 10-15% of the time allowing some treats or extras. If you are not trying to lose weight but get your body in better shape, figure on 70-80% healthy and 20-30% of extras or treats.

Final thoughts.

You are amazing and you should feel great about yourself, no matter where you are on your fitness journey. See the beauty in yourself and accept that some of what makes you truly beautiful is found in your flaws. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to enhance some things and play down others if it helps you feel more comfortable in situations. Study ways to dress for your body shape. Check out what the celebs are doing and consider whether you would like wearing something similar or if you wouldn’t wear that even if someone offered you a small fortune. It’s all up to you. Choose what makes you feel at ease and then go out and own it.

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