Pear-shaped individuals tend to have hips and thighs that are proportionally wider than their chests and shoulders. For some, this may be due to the shape of the skeleton or the size of the muscles in the lower body; for others, it may be due to the location of body fat deposits. While exercise can correct a pear shape caused by excess body fat, some exercises may make a pear shape worse.
Squats and Lunges
Squats and lunges work the glutes, hamstrings and the muscles of the inner thigh. If these muscles become bulky, they can make a pear shape worse. While it is a good idea to maintain, and even build, some muscle mass in your legs, focus on high repetitions of low weights to build endurance, rather than bulk. Also consider exercises that focus on lengthening the muscle, such as ballet exercises or Pilates.
As with squats and lunges, the stair climber bulks up the muscles that contribute to the pear-shaped profile. While stair climbing is an efficient cardiovascular workout, according to the American Council on Exercise, do these exercises sparingly. Hill climbing on a treadmill, elliptical trainer or while walking on the street can have the same effect. Consider incorporating exercises, such as rowing, which will give you a good cardiovascular workout without bulking your hips and thighs.
Cycling has the potential to bulk up the gluteus muscle, especially if you ride a lot of hills. As with the climbing exercises, cycle up hill sparingly and incorporate plenty of flats and downhill runs. Also consider working in an easier gear so that your glutes don't have to work as hard.
Keep in mind that the shape of your body is due, in large part, to genetics. Even if you avoid doing any exercises that bulk up the lower body, you may still have a pear shape. Rather than completely avoid such exercises, consider incorporating exercises that enhance your upper body, such as shoulder presses and lat pulls, and wearing clothing that helps balance your look.
- Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Physiology of Sport and Exercise; Jack H. Wilmore, PhD. & David L. Costill, PhD.
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.