3 Workouts to Balance (Not Fight) Your Shape: Pear, Apple, Chili Pepper!

By The FIRM Master Instructor Tara Judge

I’m sure you’ve seen as many magazine articles as I have about common female body types. But there’s one problem with most of these stories that compare your body to a piece of produce: they often advise that the ideal exercise routine for you is one that focuses mainly on your trouble spots. Trouble spots include the thighs for pears, belly for apples, lack of curves for string beans (I like to say chili peppers).

While we should all learn to embrace the beauty that is uniquely ours, it is possible to make the most of what Mother Nature gave us by training to even out our body’s cosmetic imbalances — not just slim down in a single zone.

I’ve mapped out a seven-day workout plan for each of the three body types — pear, apple, and chili pepper.

Pick the shape that’s most similar to yours and see how a workout routine customized to your particular body type can even out your proportions and balance your shape, not fight it.

Best workout if you’re a PEAR body type

Pear-shaped women carry most of their body weight below the waist, so often their primary goal when exercising is to shrink their hips, thighs, and glutes. This emphasis on shaping up the lower body frequently results in the neglect of upper-body training.

In reality, an exercise program for the pear body shape should incorporate a healthy dose of heavy upper body weight training to help make the upper half more proportional to the lower.

Don’t worry…we definitely won’t neglect your hips, thighs and glutes. And of course there’s also plenty of cardio in here to burn fat everywhere.

Day 1: Start with a whole-body cardio-sculpt workout. Remember that all-over workouts are excellent fat burners — and while you’re hefting those weights, focus your mind on the fact that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat does. Try the 1-2-3 Total Body Workout. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Total Body Makeover.

Day 2: Turn on the calorie burn with an intense cardio routine. Go for a run, hit the elliptical, take a class at the gym or try this calorie-burning cardio on the go workout. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Cardio Overdrive. In addition to burning fat and calories, this workout also contains light four-limb sets that tone the upper and lower body as well as the core.

Day 3: Rest. Time to let those muscles recover!

Day 4: OK, you’ve rested, so now it’s time to tone your upper body. Try trainerChris Freytag’s Tank Top Toner Workout, or incorporate some arm-sculpting yoga poses into your regular routine. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Jiggle Free Arms. The name says it all!

Day 5: Ditch the weights for now to give your upper body time to recover. You’ll still burn lots of fat and calories (not to mention shake your booty!) at a dance class or with this mini dance workout from Patricia Moreno. DVD recommendation:The FIRM Cardio Dance Express.

Day 6: Back to cardio-sculpt again. We love this cardio circuit workout from trainer Jillian Michaels. DVD recommendation: Reebok: Cardio Tone.

Day 7: Take a day off and start again!

Best workout if you’re an APPLE body type

Apple-shaped women carry much of their body fat in their mid-section. But the best way to burn fat from the mid-section is to burn fat from all over the body. So this apple routine includes plenty of calorie-burning cardio. Besides adding some extra core-shaping exercises, we’ll also emphasize heavy lower body muscle-building to help balance out the top half. And of course we’ll shape up those shoulders and arms as well!

Day 1: Begin with an efficient cardio+sculpt workout like this cardio circuit workout from trainer Jillian Michaels. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Complete Body Sculpting. Don’t be afraid to heavy up (i.e., go for the heaviest weight you can lift while maintaining proper form)!

Day 2: Mix up your cardio workout with moves that tighten and tone your midsection. You’ll reshape your least favorite zone while also burning calories and fat. Try this four-minute cardio-core workout from Pilates expert Mari Winsor. DVD recommendation: Mari Winsor’s Flat Abs Pilates.

Day 3: Rest — you’ve earned it!

Day 4: It’s time for a heavy lower body sculpt workout that you’re sure to feel. What you’re after here is a routine that creates toned shape in your lower body to help balance out your middle, while burning fat and calories at the same time. Have some fun with this Balance Ball Workout for a Better Lower Body. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Tight Buns and Killer Legs.

Day 5: Now that your upper body’s well-rested, put all the above together in a single time-saving workout. You’ll burn lots of calories and shape your lower body and core all in one maximized routine with the 1-2-3 Total Body Workout. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Total Body Makeover.

Day 6: Back to cardio and sculpt. End the week the way you began it with another cardio and toning workout from Jillian Michaels. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Cardio Sculpting Balls Kit.

Day 7: Take a day off and start again!

Best workout if you’re a CHILI PEPPER body type

You’ve probably also seen this body type compared to a string bean; I happen to fall into this category and I definitely prefer chili pepper! If you’re naturally thin with few curves to speak of, then you’re right here with me.

Our goal is to create curves everywhere by adding muscle. We’ll do lots of heavy lifting for both the upper and lower body, and our cardiovascular exercise will come as a result of The FIRM’s signature form of aerobic weight training as well as through moderate cardio sessions.

Day 1: Kickstart your shape-shifting workout plan with an intense total body cardio-sculpt workout like this five-minute total-body shaping workout from The FIRM Master Instructors team. DVD recommendation: Cardio Burn Sculpt with Tanja Djelevic.

Day 2: Cut loose and have fun with a freewheeling, no-weights dance or cardio class, or workout from home with this mini dance workout from Patricia Moreno. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Cardio Party.

Day 3: Take a load off — you’ll need it to prepare for tomorrow!

Day 4: Here’s your tough heavy sculpting day! Muscle up with the 1-2-3 Total Body Workout and use the heaviest weight you can manage while still maintaining proper form in each exercise. DVD recommendation: The FIRM 5 lb. Kettle Bell Kit.

Day 5: Get in and out of your workout fast today with a quick yet efficient cardio on the go workout. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Fast & Firm Series Express Cardio.

Day 6: Finish your workout week with a sculpting session. Try this pushup variation workout to build your upper body, or work on below-the-belt curves with this cardio circuit workout from trainer Jillian Michaels. DVD recommendation: The FIRM Dangerous Curves Ahead.

Day 7: Rest up and get ready to start again tomorrow!