Pear-shaped women tend to gain weight in their hips and thighs, but stay relatively lean in their upper bodies. The good news is this weight distribution is healthier than if you gain weight in your abdomen. You're at lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic disorders. However, the bad news is the fat on your hips and thighs is much harder to get rid of. The body protects this “womanly” fat, and therefore it's the last place you'll lose it. But don't lose hope -- you can still get the lean lower body you want, you just have to work on changing your shape with proper exercise.
The most effective way for a pear-shaped woman to lose fat is with high-intensity cardio. Don't waste your time doing an hour of cardio every day; instead, spend 20 to 30 minutes doing intervals that really challenge you and raise your heart rate. The Idea Health and Fitness Association affirms that this style of training raises your overall metabolism in the long run, helping to keep the weight off. It also raises your growth hormone levels. This hormone has high fat-burning qualities while acting to preserve your precious muscle tissue. Hit the high-intensity intervals at least three times per week.
Since your weight distributes to your lower body, you need to balance it out by growing your upper body. Focus on shoulder and back training with heavier weights. Increase your upper-body muscle to make your waist appear smaller, and your lower body more proportional. Bodybuilding.com recommends focusing on lat exercises such as lat pulldowns to widen your upper back. Also add in various shoulder presses and lateral raises to cap your deltoids for a nice V-shape. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, optimal muscle building requires you to lift a weight that thoroughly fatigues your muscles in eight to 10 repetitions. Start with three sets and progress up to five.
Don't neglect your lower body. Building muscle in your legs will tighten them up, reduce the appearance of saddlebags and minimize the width of your hips. Focus on large muscle group exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts and step-ups to keep your calorie burn high, rather than small-muscle-building exercises like leg curls and extensions. Lift a weight that fatigues your leg muscles in 15 to 20 repetitions.
Plyometrics comprise jumping exercises, and like high-intensity intervals, they are ideal at building and preserving muscle while burning a ton of calories. Fitness RX for Women recommends jump rope as an easy form of plyometrics. Add jump-rope circuits into any weight-training program to increase your heart rate and metabolism. For more advanced plyometrics, start with one day per week of box jumps, squat jumps, lunge jumps and tuck jumps. Do three sets of 10 to start off each, and progress up to 20 repetitions. After about a month, add a second day of plyometrics into your workout routine.
- Idea Health and Fitness Association: Short-Burst Training
- Bodybuilding.com: Don’t want to be ripped? Then it’s time to shape an hourglass body
- FitnessRx for Women: Jump Into Quick Fat Loss
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association; Thomas R. Baechel and Roger W. Earle
Riana Rohmann has been working for the Marine Corps doing physical training and writing fitness articles since 2008. She holds personal trainer and advanced health and fitness specialist certifications from the American Council on Exercise and a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and exercise physiology from California State University-San Marcos.