The best workout for your body type
So the holidays are just about here, and it’s time to slip into that sexy little two-piece you bought specifically for your summer vacation at the beach. Feeling a little less than supermodel confident? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Get rid of those last stubborn wobblies and say hello to the beach bod you’ve always wanted with this easy-to-follow summer workout guide, tailored to suit each specific body type.
Just as clothing is rarely a one-shape-suits-all thing, the same can be said for exercise. Apple, pear, inverted triangle, hourglass or ruler, each needs a specific approach. For example, those thigh-burning lateral lunges might not necessarily work as effectively for a slim rectangular shape as they do for the shapely pear, and the last thing an inverted triangle needs to do is bulk up the shoulders.
Luckily for us, Virgin Active’s biokineticist and personal trainer, Richard Woolrich, has devised a simple summer workout plan for each different body type. “Training for your own shape not only means that you get to set more realistic and attainable goals, but also that you get to balance out your physique in a way that adds confidence,” he explains. The first step is to identify which shape you are. From there it’s as simple as focussing on the right areas to get the results you’re after!
The apple’s claim to fame is a slimmer lower body, with lean legs and buttocks. The apple’s body weight is usually stored around the middle, making this the key area to focus on.
CONCENTRATE ON: Good news for those who love cardio – this is a fantastic route to go if you fall under the apple category. To kick up the number of calories burnt, instead of doing regular cardio, opt for high-intensity cardiovascular interval training. It simply means continually alternating the pace at which you do cardio. For instance, take a brisk 30-second walk, followed by a 60-second jog, a 30-second sprint and then a slow 60-second walk, before repeating the process. Since the biggest muscles in the case of the apple are the legs, targeting this area will burn the most calories. But don’t stop at only exercising your legs. “You should focus on the body as a whole and strengthen all the muscles. The plank exercise, as well as Pilates, play a big role in increasing core strength,” Richard says.
This shape boasts beautifully balanced curves and is said to be the most envied body type. The shoulder and hip areas are more or less equal in width, with a well-defined waist. This doesn’t mean hourglasses can just sit back and relax though! We all need exercise to stay in tip-top shape.
CONCENTRATE ON: Fantastic posture. Strengthen the back muscles and focus on maintaining the shape around your shoulders. “The double arm row exercise and reverse fly will create shapely shoulders and strengthen the back muscles.” Don’t forget the waist. The plank exercise is an effective way to achieve rock-hard abs. Also, try combined exercises, where you work two different areas in one step. “Compound exercises like a step-up with a bicep curl are super effective.”
Also known as the rectangular shape, the ruler is usually a naturally athletic body type. The shoulders, waist and hip area are usually more or less even, with little or no curves.
CONCENTRATE ON: For the arms and shoulders, think exercises like the chest press or various types of rowing exercises, done moderately. For your midsection, simply keep up the core work. Pilates is great for developing a strong core and toning the abdominal area. For the lower body, stick with tried and trusted glute exercises like deadlifts, step-ups and squats. If you want to maintain the slender shape and athletic balance of a ruler, work towards toning all three areas (shoulder, waist and hip), instead of only focusing on one. However, if you would like to add more of a curve to your lower half, concentrate on the buttocks. “Glute exercises should be the focus if you want to add more shape around the hips – deadlifts, step-ups and squats are all great for the lower body.”
This body shape is also known as the triangle, and usually carries extra kilos around the lower part of the body i.e the hips, thighs and buttocks. The pear shape generally has a petite upper body – think narrow shoulders and a defined waist area.
CONCENTRATE ON: According to Richard, exercises that target your back, like rowing exercises and the reverse fly, will help tone and develop your upper body.
To target the extra weight around your lower body, focus on exercises such as deadlifts and lunges. “Deadlifts will help tone the large muscles of the buttocks, while static lunges allow you to focus on maintaining good form. Lateral lunges will help shape your quadriceps muscles and inner thighs.”
The Inverted Triangle
The inverted triangle shape is basically the opposite of the pear. This body type generally has a more slender lower body than upper body – think narrow hips and wide shoulders. The trick is to increase the muscle in the lower body and create more balance.
CONCENTRATE ON: Richard’s top exercises for the inverted triangle? Squats, lunges and deadlifts. These are great for achieving increased muscle mass and tone in the legs and glutes. Also, pay attention to those stomach muscles. “Twisting exercises play a role in improving shape and tone around the midsection and also help sculpt oblique muscles.” To get toned without bulking up, opt for lighter weights and increase the number of repetitions.