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Beyond the Bikini Body

A Guide to Body Type

It’s that time again — the water is beckoning and a beach body is in high demand. How to get one, however, is more about body type than quick tricks.

Looking good — and feeling good — is not about starving yourself or reaching a new low on the scale, which are both dangerous strategies. A balanced diet, positive mindset and consistent, enjoyable workout routine can keep your body healthy and in prime shape whether you’re in a swimsuit or a sweater. Even so, personal preference sometimes calls for a tune-up, or a tone-up, before we bare it on the beach.

Know your strengths and struggles for your best body.


A larger lower body and smaller upper body characterize pear-shaped bodies, sometimes called triangle types. People with pear shapes tend to carry weight in their hips, thighs and butt.

  • Strengths: Research suggests that passive, pear-zone fat, while not fully understood, has a protective effect against heart disease and diabetes, reducing insulin resistance and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • Struggles: Losing weight is hard for pear shapes because the body burns fat around the middle first. Good for risk reduction, bad for dropping pounds.
  • Nutrition Tip: Keep an eye on fat intake — your body is more likely to store fat and burn carbs.
  • Workout: Aerobic exercises like running or biking that work your lower body can slim hips and thighs.


A slim lower body and a thicker middle is known as an apple shape.

  • Strengths: Belly fat breaks down faster than other fat, meaning apples may find it easier to lose weight.
  • Struggles: Risk of heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer all increase when belly fat raises blood sugar levels. Inflammation, chronic disease and weight gain are also risks.
  • Nutrition Tip: Carbohydrates can raise insulin levels. People with an apple body type, particularly those with high blood sugar, should choose healthy fats over carbs.
  • Workout: Cardio-heavy exercise will rev up metabolism and increase calorie burn.

Chili Peppers

If there’s no real difference in the size of your hips, waist and shoulders, you may be a chili pepper body type.

  • Strengths: Narrow body types are less likely to gain weight than other shapes.
  • Struggles: When chili peppers do gain weight, it’s typically around the middle, which increases their risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Nutrition Tip: Remember to eat healthy even if weight isn’t an issue. Healthy fats will reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
  • Workout: Strength-training builds muscles, which can help create curves and definition.