Often, fitness programs are created based on desired weight outcomes and personal health issues. Some may wish to burn calories while others hope to improve performance. One person may work to lower cholesterol; another might be building bone density.
When paving a path to your fitness destination, keep in mind the “fruit” of your labor. “Following a generic exercise program is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. No matter how hard you try, it won’t work,” shares Fitness Director Chris Barlics, CSCS.
Accentuate the Positive
Most body types fall into three distinct categories. When developing an exercise program, consider your body type for the most effective and efficient workout. A proper regimen works your entire body, with intervals of cardio and strength training. “It’s impossible to ‘spot reduce’ using resistance exercises. If it were, more people would have six-pack abs with all the crunches they do,” informs Chris. Rather, stomach crunches are meant to build muscle. In turn, building muscle turns your body into a fat-burning machine by increasing your basal metabolic rate. “It’s important to work all major muscle groups so you burn fat all over,” Chris says.
However, focus on your less developed areas and turn a cookie-cutter routine into a personalized quest for success. You’ll still accomplish the overall goal (weight loss/muscle sculpting/energy increase/fill-in-the-blank). It will be achieved by working with what you’ve got and not against it. Chris suggests recognizing your “trouble spots” and performing more resistance exercises that focus specifically on them so the lean muscle you build targets those areas.
Pear (bottom heavy)
Whether your necktie keeps inching upward or you “wear” your ice cream on your hips, you know who you are. Balance a heavier lower half by sculpting your upper body.
- Focus on toning your back, shoulders, and chest. Perform fewer reps with heavier weights during upper-body segments.
- Firm the gluts and leg muscles by performing more reps with lighter weights in these areas.
Using your natural shape in this way increases lower-body endurance, builds upper body bulk, and creates a balanced frame that can take on any swimsuit.
Suggested Group Fitness classes: Group Power with light weights, Muscle Definition, X-treme Sculpt, and Step. Also, coming soon: Boogie Box!
Apple (weight around midsection)
Love handles don’t help get a handle on your health. Bust this bulge by burning fat all over, with extra focus on your waistline.
- Develop a strong core. Work your core to build muscle throughout your body.
- Perform more reps with lighter weights when working your upper body.
- Perform fewer reps with heavier weights when working your lower body.
- Increase intensity of cardio intervals to burn resistant ab fat.
Suggested Group Fitness classes: Pilates and Zumba.
Chili Pepper (narrow shape)
Lanky, long, and lacking definition. You might find a little too much sag in your jeans or a limited ability to bulk up.
- Go for fewer reps with heavier weights.
- Allow extra time between reps to recover from the additional weight.
- Be sure to accomplish a thorough warm-up and cool-down to avoid strains.
- Focus on shoulders, butt, and legs where adding lean muscle will create the angles you’re seeking.
Suggested Group Fitness class: Group Power with heavier weights on the bar.
It’s How You Do It
A quick glance at these tips proves the age-old theory. What you do is not as important as how you do it. The actual exercises are similar. The focus is often the changed element.
Each of the workout’s segments should be alternated. The upper body gets worked, then the lower; reverse it. This allows maximum results by giving muscles a break at every other interval. It also increases the cardio nature of the workout, helping to build stamina and heart health while sculpting trouble spots. Studies indicate that high-intensity interval cardio is more effective at burning fat than steady-state cardio for more than 30 continuous minutes.
Peak cardio capacity can be determined by monitoring heart rate (e.g., taking pulse). A general rule: At high intensity, speaking more than a few words at once will be challenging.
For ideas on specific weightlifting techniques, or to further customize a program, consult with a personal trainer. Prepare a list of goals, and note your body type. A prep sheet prior to your initial meeting might appear like this:
Body type: apple shape
Fitness goals: Create a balanced frame by increasing upper body lean muscle, toning lower body, and blasting midsection fat.
Health goals: Prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol. Predisposed to these concerns by genetics and body type.
Feel-good goal: Find my waist and lose the elastic waist bands.
In addition to weightlifting moves, a trainer can advise which equipment best meets your exercise requirements and how to effectively use it. For example, an elliptical machine can achieve a lower body workout. Adjust it on an incline to take your session to the next level. (By the way, this cardio and lower-body combo is great for tackling an apple shape. Give circuit training a try!)
According to Chris, resistance training is the best way to reduce overall body fat, but it is important to do it correctly. A personal trainer can share the correct range-of-motion, tempo, weight, rep count, and set ranges for your particular level (which is determined during your initial assessment process). Once this is established, constantly evolve your workout to maximize results and avoid plateauing.
The Center offers many unique and customized resources for meeting fitness needs. Teaming with the Center is a personalized fitness solution. Take advantage of this asset.
We are all unique. Revel in your individuality. Enjoy your style and accept your shape as you strive to improve. Be happy in your own skin.
“Get in Shape with Weight Training,” by Paul Rogers at www.about.com.
“The Love Your Shape Workout,” by Carey Rossi at www.fitnessmagazine.com.
Shape sorter (introduction photo): www.flickr.com/photos/ellasdad/425813314
Pear-shaped pears: www.flickr.com/photos/arendle/169762498
Reflected apple: www.flickr.com/photos/artnow/393162384
Chili peppers: www.flickr.com/photos/hzeller/4164718864