Anatomy takes partial responsibility for the destiny of your body shape. Even the best workouts can't alter the shape of your bones and change your genetic predisposition toward weight gain. However, you can enhance your body's appearance by reducing body fat and accentuating the development of specific muscle groups and minimizing development of others. The resulting sense of muscular proportion will make people think you were born that way.
Your ability to lose body fat and build muscle depends on your body type, according to the American Council on Exercise. Mesomorphs tend toward muscularity, while endomorphs tend toward fat storage. Ectomorphs have that slim, linear, model-on-the-runway figure. Mesomorphs build muscle mass faster than their ectomorphic sisters in fitness. Endomorphs only notice change in muscle shape after they lose a considerable amount of body fat. In addition to body type, the female form comes in a variety of shapes. Understanding your body type and shape helps you plan a realistic workout strategy.
If you have narrow shoulders and wide hips, you have a pear-shaped body. Thanks to a lack of proportion between your upper and lower body, you seriously believe you have big hips. But you are incorrect. Some women wear jackets with shoulder pads to make their upper and lower body look proportional. Shoulder muscles do the same thing. The dumbbell lateral raise strengthens the lateral or outer muscles of your shoulders. Stand upright with your knees relaxed and hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Raise your arms to shoulder height, until they form a letter "T" with your upper torso. Do three sets of eight reps.
Your weight accumulates around your belly and breasts, but your friends envy your slender legs. Congrats, you're an apple shape. Abdominal fat poses a heart health risk, so choose your favorite aerobic activity and burn baby burn. Better yet, choose a few aerobic activities and cross train different programs on different days. Examples include outdoor running, indoor elliptical training or dance-oriented group exercise classes. Aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, notes the American College of Sports Medicine. To create a sense of muscle proportion, body builder Karen Sessions suggests a leg-muscle-building program consisting of squats, leg presses and deadlifts. Do three weekly workouts consisting of three sets of eight reps.
Your friends are envious because you can eat what you want and never gain weight -- but you would do anything for a few sexy curves. Your body shape is known either as the ruler or the celery stick. Create the illusion of a curvy waistline with the lat pull-down. It works the muscles that run down the sides of your back, creating a V-shape, which makes you look like you have a tiny waistline. The bench press and chest fly won't create the silicone boob effect, but the added muscle will make you look fuller.
- Exrx.net: Women's Weight Training for Legs and Hips
- American Council on Exercise: How Women Build Muscle
- Weightwatchers.com: Shape Up: Pear
- Weightwatchers.com: Shape Up: Apple
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Critical Bench: Learn Your Body Frame and Reshape It
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.