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Busting Body Type Workout Myths

Can You Really Exercise for Your Body Type?


What’s your body type?

  • Pear: wider on the bottom.
  • Banana: same width from shoulders to hips.
  • Hourglass: tapered waist.
  • Strawberry: wider on top.
  • Apple: wider in the middle.

Body types each come with their own unique strengths and struggles. Can you really work out for your specific body type? If you’re pear-shaped, will lunges lead to leaner legs?

Not on their own.

If you’re looking to get in better shape, many factors need to be considered; your body type is just one of them.

Northwestern Medicine Athletic Training and Sports Performance Manager Kevin M. Pennington, ATC, MBA, explains why you should work out for your entire body, not just for targeted areas.

Body Types Are Real…

If you’ve ever lost or gained weight, you know that it seems to happen faster in certain areas of your body. That’s your body type at play.

“We are predisposed to have a certain body type,” says Pennington. “Knowing your body type will help you prevent injury and give you a better picture of your fitness progress.”

…Workouts for Body Types Are Not

You can target muscle groups when exercising, but you can’t choose where you burn calories.

“If you really dig in to workouts suggested for specific body types, you’ll find that the exercises are essentially the same for each,” says Pennington. “This is because the more muscular development you have, the more calories you burn, no matter where your muscles are.”

If you’re apple-shaped, you could crunch until your core is sore, but may never have a visible six pack if you’re not incorporating cardio into your routine. A well-rounded fitness routine will increase your endurance and overall well-being. It will also help prevent injury and imbalance.

“Your body likes a variety of exercises and needs it in order to create change,” says Pennington. “Be aware that strength in one area of your body could lead to weakness in another. Incorporate back exercises, chest exercises, leg exercises, upper body exercises and core exercises. A well-rounded exercise plan will keep you happy, healthy and more energetic.”

Other Tips

Burn More Than You Eat

“Working out isn’t reason to overeat,” says Pennington. “Eating more calories than you burn can derail your fitness plan.”

Consistency Is Key

Pennington suggests starting by doing cardio or some sort of strength training three to five times a week for 20 minutes. He’s also an advocate of one to two rest days per week.

“Work fitness into your schedule in a way that’s doable and challenging,” he says. “As you progress, you’ll find that you’re willing and able to work out for longer.”

New to Fitness?

If you’re returning to fitness after a break, or starting your fitness journey altogether, get a physical from a physician first. Once you’re medically cleared, sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer to nail down the basics and come up with a plan you can stick with.

“If you don’t know where to start, find a certified personal trainer to make sure you’re exercising safely and to find exercises that are appropriate for your lifestyle and fitness goals,” says Pennington.

Find a Northwestern Medicine fitness center near you.