Your Best Body
Accentuating the positive is sometimes easier said than done, especially when it comes to accepting your body type.
Whether you’ve been blessed (or cursed) with curves or a ballerina-esque body (i.e. long and lean) – our guide takes you through the four most common figures and offers fitness and food plans for each; because when it comes to exercising and eating, one size doesn’t always fit all.
Your body is naturally bigger in the breasts and hips than the waist, so aim for allover muscle tone and give arms and legs a good going over – just like the Queen of Curves, Beyoncé.
“Having more curves in a particular area does not mean we cannot work on toning those specific areas through strength training,” says Noelle Ritter, certified athletic trainer with Roseville Health and Wellness Center (RHWC). “Pair strength work with low [to] moderate intensity cardio for 30 minutes to boost metabolism and burn fat.”
*Perform each exercise three to four times a week for results. Moderate exercises as needed.
Exercise: Swing Squat with Kettle Ball
Keep legs wide enough to swing a weight between them, then, using a 10-pound kettle ball or weights, do three sets of 10 reps.
Exercise: Reverse Lunge Alternating
Using your own body weight, do two sets of 10 reps (or, with 5-10 pound weights at your side, two sets of 15 reps).
Exercise: Plank with Single Leg Climb
Start in plank position, bend knee up toward chest (like you are climbing), then fully extend leg back (glute extension); repeat using your own body weight one leg at a time for 10 reps on each side.
Exercise: Lunge Stance with Single Arm Row
Using your own body weight and tubing, row as you stand. Complete two sets of 10 reps (if using cable equipment, use 10-20 pounds to complete two sets of 15 reps).
Exercise: Side-Lying Donkey Kick
Keep top knee pulled into the chest, then kick out with the heel. Using your own body weight, do two sets of 10 reps on each side, or two sets of 15 reps, alternating kicks slightly forward and slightly behind.
THE EATING PLAN
Shed pounds: “Focus on complex carbs (whole grains, quinoa, legumes) and lean proteins (turkey, eggs, chicken breast), with minimal fats (a handful of nuts, healthy oils when making your own salad dressings),” Ritter advises. “Seek to stay ‘full’ from hearty grains and fiber from fruits and veggies.”
Stay trim: Steer clear of processed and salty foods and, when possible, animal fat.
You’re a “bombshell” body type that, proportionally, is wider on the bottom, smaller on top. (But don’t worry, Marilyn Monroe was too.)
“Alternating days of circuit training and cardiovascular training is ideal for the pear-shaped body type,” says Lisa Marrero, general manager of RHWC. Circuits should combine strength training and fat burning simultaneously and be done five days a week. Can’t get outside? “Try cardio equipment like the stationary bike, treadmill or stair stepper,” Marrero adds, or her workout below.
*Perform one weighted exercise per body part for one set of 15 reps. Include 30 to 60 seconds of cardiovascular exercise (jumping rope, step-ups or running) after each set. Rotate through the exercises in the circuit for 40 minutes. Moderate exercises as needed.
Start by doing push-ups on your knees or at an incline, using support if necessary.
Exercise: Bicep Curls & Shoulder Press Combination
Start with a bicep curl. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with palms facing forward, arms at your sides. Bend elbows to bring weights up to shoulders. Turn hands so palms face forward again, push up and straighten arms above the head. Lower hands back down to shoulders, rotate palms toward you, and lower hands back down.
Exercise: Tricep Dips
With fingers overlapping the edge of a bench (buttocks in front of it), walk your feet forward until you can lower your hips straight down in front of the bench. Stop when shoulders are even with elbows, then press the arms up and return to the starting position.
With feet wider than hip-width apart, toes turned slightly out and arms at your sides, slowly bend knees, pushing the butt and hips out and down behind you. (Always keep head and shoulders aligned over the knees and the knees over the ankles.) Come down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. As you lower, raise your arms up and in front of you no higher than parallel to the ground. Straighten the legs to come up, and lower your arms to your side.
Lying on your back, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, place your hands on each side of your head, without interlocking your fingers. Slowly curl the shoulders toward the pelvis, raising shoulders approximately four inches off the floor. Contract abs and exhale on the way up. Hold the contraction for one second and inhale as you lower yourself.
THE EATING PLAN
Shed pounds: Consume an array of low-fat proteins (lean cuts of steak, whitefish, skinless chicken breasts and tuna) and complex carbohydrates (fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains). Incorporate a small amount of healthy fats (natural peanut butter, olive oil).
Stay trim: Avoid foods high in saturated fats and refined sugars (typically found in fast food and baked goods).
Narrow hips, broad shoulders, and a strong physique mark the athletic body type. (Hello, Jessica Biel!)
“Very few people fit exclusively into one body type,” says Lisa Packheiser, fitness director of Spare Time Clubs. ”Many of us are a blend of at least two types.” Sculpting the glutes is a good way to give this area shape. Thicker-waisted athletic types should focus on tightening the tummy. Packheiser advocates interval training as a “better cardio option because it tends to burn more overall calories.”
*Do two sets of 14-20 reps of the following exercises, three to four days per week. Moderate exercises as needed.
Exercise: Stability Ball Pass
Lying on your back, ball in your hands, reach up to a “V” position, with your legs and your feet meeting in the middle; pass the ball from hands to feet. Do 10 to 15 reps.
Exercise: Reverse Lunges
Using a medicine ball (or any light weight of 2-8 pounds), step backwards with the right leg, while simultaneously reaching the weight up and over your head to the left. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg while reaching right.
Exercise: Push-Ups with Side Knee Tucks
Whether on the floor for a straight leg push-up or at an angle with hands on a bench, perform a push-up followed by a side knee tuck. Lift your left leg just off of the ground and bring your knee toward your left elbow. Repeat on the right side.
Exercise: Sumo Squats
Standing with your legs wide and your toes slightly pointed outward with weight in your hands (8-15 pounds), squat down to 90 degrees with your knees pointing in the same direction as your toes. Squeeze your glutes and inner thighs as you come back up to a full standing position.
Exercise: Stability Ball Knee Tucks
In a push-up position with your legs on the stability ball, pull knees in toward the chest and return to the starting position.
THE EATING PLAN
Shed pounds: “Eat smaller, more frequent meals to bump up your metabolism, and cut out junk food and sweets from your diet to prevent quick weight gain,” Packheiser recommends.
Stay trim: Low-calorie foods and fresh veggies are key for athletic-shape weight loss. Include complex carbohydrates in small portions to keep calories down.
Refuse to take “stick figure” literally – what you lack in curves, you make up for in versatility. (Is there nothing Cameron Diaz can’t wear? She’s your type, too.) Like guys, boyish builds can form a little potbelly, but building muscle can be tough.
Focus on giving more shape to your silhouette. Increase weight training to add lean muscle mass (especially to a curve-less backside), build up the shoulders for a stronger looking physique, and give love to the abs and obliques for a cinched-looking waist.
*Do the following exercises in a circuit two to three times, with no rest in between, three times a week. Perform workout four to five times per week. Moderate exercises as necessary.
Using your own body weight and, if necessary, a support (bench, stairs, stability balls, stacked steps, knees) do 10-12 push-ups per circuit.
Exercise: Squat and Overhead Press
Tighten your glutes, shoulders and abs with this allover toner. With a dumbbell in each hand and elbows bent in front of your torso, stand with your feet in a wide stance, toes pointed out. Bend your knees and squat down, being careful not to extend the knees over toes. Come back up and repeat.
Exercise: Stability Ball Abs
With your back flat on the floor, arms at your side, legs at 90 degrees with calves on a stability ball, lift your head and shoulders off the floor, while simultaneously bringing arms up and pulsing them while breathing. Count to 100.
Exercise: Carving Curl
Lie flat facing the floor with head resting on folded arms and a dumbbell tucked behind a bent knee. Keep the foot flexed and slowly lift the bent leg about three to five inches off the floor; lower and repeat. Do 20 reps on both sides.
Exercise: Swaying Bridge
Lie flat on the floor with feet slightly larger than shoulder-width apart (arms at your sides, heels on the floor, knees bent). Lift the hips until a line forms from rib cage to knees (your bra line stays on the ground). While hips are raised, sway from side to side then lower. Do 10-12 reps.
THE EATING PLAN
Shed pounds: Although naturally more slim, fight flab (especially near the tummy area) and keep bloat at bay by eating fresh veggies, leafy greens (kale and Swiss chard), lean meats and whole grains.
Stay trim: Stay away from refined sugars and foods high in saturated fats. Snack on superfoods like pumpkin seeds and immunity-boosting fruits like kiwi.