With so many women seeking to tame their apple shapes these days it’s easy to forget about those struggling with the reverse body issue: The pear shape. Have you ever been told you have a pear-shaped body? Do you know what that actually means?
What Is a Pear Shape?
The pear shape is a term loosely used to describe a body fat distribution that is localized to the lower half. This essentially means that the vast majority of fat tends to be stored in the hips/buttocks, thighs, and legs. Pear-shaped women generally have slim upper bodies with narrow shoulders, small busts, and tiny waists.
Interestingly, due to the voluptuous nature of an augmented lower half and widespread popularity of “the badonk”, most pear-shaped women have absolutely no complaints about their bodies, at least until they gain weight.
When it comes to having a pear shape, weight gain is generally a two-fold problem. First, there is a buildup of subcutaneous fat, which is located just underneath the skin. There is also an overgrowth of fat cells within two additional “reserve” fat layers that are situated just beneath the subcutaneous fat. These fat cells greatly contribute to the second problem, cellulite.
Cellulite generally manifests as bulges and dimples around the hips/buttocks and thighs. This problem develops when fat cells in the reserve fat layers grow and push up against the subcutaneous fat. Now, luckily, lower-body fat accumulation is largely a vanity-related concern for pear-shaped women.
Unlike visceral (belly) fat, neither subcutaneous nor reserve fat are significantly related to the development of obesity-related diseases.
What Factors Contribute to a Pear Shape?
Having a pear shape is closely linked to genetics; however, several other factors play a role including age, gender, pregnancy, hormonal status, and lifestyle behaviors. In general, young women tend to exhibit pear shapes due to a predominance of the female hormone estrogen.
However, as women age and approach menopause, estrogen levels begin to decline causing a shift towards the apple shape distribution.
And then there are those lifestyle-related behaviors, which play a huge role in the manifestation of the pear shape.
In fact, regardless of how your body fat is genetically distributed the three factors that have the most profound impact on your total body fat are 1) the amount of daily calories you consume, 2) the overall nutritional quality of the foods you eat, and 3) the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis.
How Can You Optimize Your Pear Shape?
A buildup of subcutaneous fat is closely linked to physical activity (or lack there of) while over-development of reserve fat is often associated with dietary behaviors. As such, with the right combination of exercise and sensible eating habits you can greatly reduce subcutaneous and reserve fat thereby optimizing the overall appearance of your pear shape.
The best combination of exercise involves cardiovascular (cardio) activity coupled with resistance (weight) training.
High-to-moderately-high-intensity cardio activity is critical for pear-shaped women as the lower body houses very large muscle groups that must be taxed accordingly for significant results.
Some of the many effective exercises include jogging/running, elliptical training with hills or high resistance intervals, bicycling outdoors with high gears or stationary cycling with hills, stair climbing, and intense group exercise formats (cardio kickboxing, spinning, and step aerobics).
Resistance training is essential for strengthening and sculpting the lower body muscles, which greatly reduces the appearance of cellulite. This type of training is also necessary for keeping your metabolic rate in check, thereby fueling the fat burning process.
For maximum results, make an effort to perform lower body exercises that specifically target your hips, butt, and thighs including squats, lunges, deadlifts, and step-ups. For a slimming effect, train with low weights and a high number of repetitions.
Now, don’t limit your resistance training to the lower body. Since cardio exercise tends to cause upper body weight loss among pear-shaped women, you should also perform exercises for your chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and abdominals in order to keep your upper and lower body balanced.
Finally, to adequately fuel your pear shape, incorporate a healthy, portion-controlled diet that’s rich in nutrient-dense foods like high-quality carbohydrates in the forms of raw or lightly cooked vegetables, beans, and whole grain products as well as fresh fruits on a daily basis.
You should also incorporate sensible portions of healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds) into your everyday diet, as these greatly support weight management and estrogen balance.
In addition, be sure that you’re taking in enough protein, as this nutrient is especially crucial for maximizing fat burning and preventing muscle wasting. Remember, pear-shaped women carry a lot of muscle in their lower bodies and wasting is one of the primary causes of a saggy butt.
While some factors that contribute to a pear shape aren’t necessarily controllable, you can help stop your lower body from expanding out of control by being physically active and monitoring the quality and portions of any and all foods you consume.
For more strategies geared towards enhancing your pear-shaped figure, my book outlines specific information about sensible eating and exercise fundamentals that are critical for the pear-shaped body. I also include an actual exercise training program that you can implement today.
You’ll find my book beneficial even if you exercise regularly. If you’re constantly battling a pear shape, in spite of your workout efforts, chances are you’re doing the wrong things.
You Can Do It!
I’ve been training and advising folks for over 15 years and I’ve helped hundreds of pear-shaped women during this time. Trust me, if you implement the strategies listed both here and in my book you can greatly enhance the appearance of your beautiful pear-shaped body.