Weight Loss Exercises for Your Body Shape

by Annie on June 14, 2010 · 8 comments

in Exercise & Injuries,Weight Loss & Body Image

A while ago I talked about using your measurements to find your body shape. In this post, I want to talk about the type of exercises to avoid for your body shape.

Exercise for weight loss vs maintenance mode

In most cases the exercise you do for weight loss and for weight maintenance can be different depending on your body shape. For example, if an hourglass is on weight maintenance mode, she can use heavier weights than when she is in weight loss mode.

As a ruler body shape, when I want to lose weight I usually drop about 8-10 pounds with 3 days of intervals for cardio (40 minutes) and 2 days of aerobic weight training (40 minutes) for a 1.5-2 month period without any changes to my diet. But when I am trying to build strength, I often follow a low rep and heavy weight exercise plan such as ChaLean Extreme.

Strength and problem areas for your body shape

If you have not yet determined your body shape, you might want to read my previous post before you continue reading.

Your body shape only determines where your body distributes your weight. One body shape is not better than the other. All of us have strength and problem areas. The goal is to emphasize the strengths and not obsess about the problem areas.

Ruler

Strengths

  • Naturally “thin” if not overweight
  • Do not have to work as hard as the other body shapes to lose weight

Problem areas

  • Excess weight stored in the stomach (which protrude forward rather than get wider) and butt areas
  • Do not have a lot of muscle mass, but have a lot more body fat proportional to your weight (the perfect example of a fat skinny person)
  • Tendency to have bad posture and back pain (hence need to strengthen shoulders, abs, and back).
  • Tend to get gain a lot more weight during menopause than other body shapes (it is due to the low muscle mass ratio for the ruler body shape).
  • Tend to develop bone fractures and osteoporosis as you get older (once gain, it is because the ruler has a low muscle mass ratio)

Hourglass

Strengths

  • Good flexibility
  • Look lighter than actual weight (because of how evenly weight is distributed between the upper and lower body)
  • Naturally strong abs (lucky you. I would love to not have back problems)

Problem areas

  • Back of upper arms
  • Inner and upper thighs
  • Tend to bulk on upper and lower body (not like the Hulk, but enough to be more muscular than most women)

Pear

Strengths

  • Great looking arms (since the least amount of body fat is stored in your arms, a pear body shape can have great arms in a shorter time period with strength training than any other body shapes.)
  • Good flexibility and coordination in your lower body

Problem areas

  • Look heavier than actual weight (because excess weight is distributed mainly to the lower body)
  • Will bulk on the lower body (use only your own body weight for lower body strength exercises!)

Cone

Strengths

  • Great looking legs (since the least amount of body fat is stored in your legs, a cone body shape can have great legs in a shorter time period with strength training than any other body shapes.)

Problem areas

  • Stomach tend to protrude forward like the ruler
  • Potential for back pain because of poor hamstring flexibility
  • Bad posture due to weak abs
  • When overweight, tend to look shorter than you actually are

Weight loss exercises for your body shape

Ruler

Use only your own body weight for abs exercises.

High reps, low weights for both upper and lower body for weight loss (low reps and heavy weight ok after losing most of your excess weight).

Of the body shapes, a ruler must do strength training on a regular basis to build up their muscle mass (see problems area above for rulers if you skip that part).

Hourglass

High reps, low weights for both upper and lower body.

Pear

Use only your body weight for strength exercises on the lower body (ie. think ballet inspired types of exercises or calisthenics).

Low rep and heavy weight for upper body strength exercises after losing most of your excess weight.

Cone

Low rep and heavy weight for lower body strength exercises after losing most of your excess weight.

High rep and light weights for upper body strength exercises.

Stretching the lower body to increase hamstring flexibility is a must to prevent back pain

Final thoughts about exercising for your body shape

If what you have been exercising for years without any noticeable difference to your body shape, why not give these ideas a try. The worst that can happen is that 2-3 months of fussing with low reps, highs reps, etc and you still look the same. But if it works…

Personally I have always gotten great results from high reps, low weights strength exercises when I am trying to lose weight. But because of my naturally lower muscle mass, I cannot follow my weight loss exercise plan during maintenance mode.  Sometimes it seems like it takes forever for me to gain any muscle.

In addition, I also have a tendency to eat more when I exercise more. Unless there is a goal like my wedding, I usually do not have the discipline to have net negative calorie intake. A break-even is good enough for me.

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sagan June 23, 2010 at 7:29 am

Love this; thanks for a great guide! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m interested in learning more about.

I’m a ruler shape too, and I’ve definitely found that using my own body weight works really well for me.

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Dr. J June 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I never thought about different ways to work out for different body shapes, thanks!!

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asithi June 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm

@Sagan – I like body weight exercises too when I am not training to gain more strength. Thanks for the comment.

@Dr. J – There is a reason why there are so many training philosophy out there. Each of us is different enough that one size does not fit all. Thanks for the comment.

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Rachel June 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

What a great blog! Not only did you describe my body shape to a T, I actually understood what you were talking about! I am a ruler as well, and the facts from mid section fat to posture and back pain were dead on. I’m taking your exercise advice starting now! Thank you for posting!

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