Strength Training for Pear-Shaped Body Types

Strength Training for Pear-Shaped Body Types

According to MayoClinic.com, pears -- those who carry extra weight around the hips and thighs -- are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease or other metabolic disorders than apples, who carry extra weight around the waist. While that's good news, it won't change your jean size or how you look at the beach. To some extent, your body type is your body type, and it's better to just learn to love it. However, tightening muscles in your lower body while building your upper body can make you appear more balanced.

Upper-Body Workout
Pears aren't just big on the bottom; they're narrow on top. Exercises such as flyes, pushups and bench presses build the pectoralis major muscles in your chest and the anterior, or front, deltoids in your shoulders. To make your shoulders appear broader, also work your lateral deltoids with overhead presses or lateral raises. Keep in mind that working these muscles without equally working your posterior, or back, deltoids will cause your shoulders to round, which defeats the purpose. Counter this with reverse flyes or bent-over rows with your elbows out and make sure to stretch your pecs tight by lifting your straight arms out to the side and pressing them back.

Hip Abduction
Sometimes called "outer -thigh" exercises, hip abductions actually work higher gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles that can give your hips a tighter appearance. These exercises will place resistance on your outer-leg area by pressing or lifting your leg away from your body. You can do this with abduction machines at your gym, a cable machine with the pulley set low. You can also lie on your side, using only your body weight or adding resistance with a band or dumbbell placed against your outer thigh. To counterbalance abductions, you must also do adductions, which means squeezing your legs together against resistance.

Buttocks and Thighs
You can save time by working your thighs and the rear end of your pear body -- the gluteus maximus -- at the same time. Leg presses, squats and lunges all work the quadriceps at the front of your thighs, the hamstrings at the back and your gluteus maximus. You can also work these muscles separately with leg extensions for your quads, leg curls for your hamstrings and simple butt squeezes. For an added challenge, try a back-lying hip extension. This is a combination of lifting into a bridge position while simultaneously lifting one straight leg until it is approximately parallel to the opposite thigh. This exercise provides the added benefit of working your core.

Abs
Some people associate their pear shape with weak "lower abs" and concentrate on exercises like leg raises. In reality, there is no such thing as lower abs. Your rectus abdominis runs down the middle of your torso, starting just under your ribs, and it's all one muscle. Leg raises and similar exercises actually work primarily on your hip flexors. That doesn't mean you can't tighten your tummy, you just have to work on the entire muscle at one time with exercises like situps, crunches and planks -- front and back. Gradually increase the challenge for your situps and crunches by moving from a flat surface to a stability ball and then to a declined bench. Also try reverse crunches that involve curling your pelvis up. You can do these on a mat, a decline bench with your legs facing down or in a captain's chair. The captain's chair is best if you have any lower-back issues.