Best exercises for your body shape

Candice Chung
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Apple, pear, hourglass or celery: which exercise is right for you?
Before you swear off exercising altogether, it could all come down to one simple factor — you have picked the wrong exercises for your body type.
Candice Chung

When it comes to shaping up in the long run, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your body type is half the battle, finds Candice Chung.

It's a horror story no-one wants to experience: Hours of spin classes and not an inch off your rear end. In fact, a quick look at the scales brings even bleaker news — it appears you have put on weight since you started hitting the gym.

So, where did it all go wrong? Before you swear off exercising altogether, it could all come down to one simple factor — you have picked the wrong exercises for your body type.

Which body type are you?

Most people belong to one of four categories: apple, pear, hourglass or celery. Fitness expert Libby Babet ( offers her tips on recognising which body type you are and how to choose work-outs that would get you the best results.


Appearance: Weight is stored around the tummy and bust area and people with this shape can have delicate wrists and ankles.

Key features: With the right training and nutritional guidance, apples tend to get results faster than other shapes. However, they could also gain weight back easily if they stopped exercising and eating right.

Libby's apple work-out
High intensity circuits alternated with a weights program works best for this body type.

Cardio: For beginners, try walking or cycling for at least half an hour on most days. Once you are ready to take it up a notch, add intervals to your program to induce faster fat loss. Try running as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then slip back into a walk or slow jog for the next 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat eight to 12 times for best results.

Resistance: Try to fit in three resistance-based training sessions a week. If you don't have access to a personal trainer or gym, try the following: Warm up with a light jog, then complete 10 of each of the following exercises — bodyweight squats, push-ups, walking lunges, tricep dips, back extensions, bicycle crunches and reverse crunches. Rest for one minute and repeat three or four times.

Bonus tips: Heavier apples should substitute running with cycling, rowing or swimming to avoid joint pain and injuries in the lower body.


Appearance: Curvy hips, bottoms and thighs, but narrow shoulders and thin arms.

Key features: Weight stored in the lower body is typically not dangerous when it comes to heart health. Women with this body type are also likely to have slim arms and a flat tummy.

Libby's pear work-out
Pears need a mix of interval-based cardio and resistance work to create leaner lower halves while building muscle in the top half to create a more even symmetry.

Cardio: Amp up your running program by going as fast as you can for as long as you can, then dropping right down to a slow jog or walk. When on a bike or rowing machine, try alternating 30 seconds of intense speed or resistance with 30 seconds of a slow speed or lighter resistance.

Resistance: Try eight to 12 reps of squats with an overhead press using dumbbells, bench press or push-ups, sumo (wide leg) squats with lateral (forward) arm raises, tricep dips and extensions, dumbbell rows or back extensions. Add some fitball crunches and reverse crunches at the end to target your abs. Repeat the entire circuit three or four times.

Bonus tips: Extra fat held on the bottom and thighs could indicate problems with oestrogen levels. Ditch all preservative-laden foods, as they would encourage your body to hold on to oestrogens. Avoid long, slow cardio work-outs jogs and spin classes as they will cause your body to hold on to fat in these areas rather than flush it from the body.


Appearance: Classic curvy figure, with similar-width shoulders and hips.

Key features: Can handle the greatest variety of training without getting fatigued. However, hips, bottoms and arms can become "fleshy" with a lack of exercise.

Libby's hourglass work-out
People with hourglass figures need to change their training programs frequently to avoid reaching a plateau.

Cardio: Try two or three sessions of 20-minute interval training with a combination of running, cycling or rowing. You can also mix up the length of the intervals to keep your body guessing (eg: two minutes on, one minute off one day and 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off the next).

Resistance: Keep your curves under control by challenging your bottom half with weights work. Add dumbbells for extra weight when completing leg exercises like squats, walking lunges, side lunges, step-ups and sumo (wide leg) squats. Stick with lighter weights for your arms to create tone but not bulk. Good exercises for your upper body include push-ups and bench press, tricep dips and extensions, shoulder presses and lateral raises and bicep curls.

Bonus tips: Get rid of unsightly "muffin top" and any upper-back fat by regulating your insulin levels. To do this, eat more frequent meals and reduce your simple carbohydrate intake. At the same time, stock up on colourful vegies, lean proteins as well as nuts and seeds.


Appearance: "Straight up and down" figure, usually fairly slim.

Key features: People with celery figures typically have a higher metabolism than their curvier counterparts, but are more prone to osteoporosis and wrinkles as they age.

Libby's celery work-out
Celery body types generally need to focus on training with weights to improve musculature.

Cardio: Fitter celeries should challenge themselves by mixing up their cardio routine on a regular basis. Try a combination of interval training, running, cycling and gym classes.

Resistance: Celery body types generally have more "slow twitch" (endurance) muscle fibres, so stick to higher reps and light weights when resistance training. Mix it up with either eight to 12 or 12 to 20 rep ranges and go for a full-body toning program that creates a defined waist and shapely shoulders, hips and bottom. Top exercise choices are squats, lunges, push-ups, bench presses and shoulder presses, as well as ab exercises that will give you a defined waist, such as the plank, side plank and bicycle crunch.

Bonus tips: Celeries need plenty of protein and calcium in their diets. This means lots of green vegies, unsweetened dairy and good quality bony fish. Add supplements such as fish oil and zinc to support skin strength.

Have your say: have you ever hit the gym regularly with little results?

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