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Body Shape & Weight Loss

By Luann Voza ; Updated July 18, 2017

While weight loss may be viewed as a general goal, specific weight loss goals often depend on your body's shape. When planning a workout as part of a weight loss program, the program type should be based on your body's shape. Having a definite plan based on a specific goal may help you achieve weight loss success.


There are five classified different body shapes. These include the hourglass, pear, apple, triangle and ruler, or banana, shapes.

The hourglass shape shows a balance between your upper body and your lower body, typically termed as proportional. In addition, the waistline is narrow, enhancing the overall appearance. Excess weight is typically evenly distributed between the upper body, lower body and midsection.

The pear shape is disproportionately balanced, with the upper body appearing significantly smaller than the hips and thighs, and a narrow waist. Excess weight is stored in the hips and thighs.

The apple shape may have a balance between the upper and lower body. Excess weight is stored in the waist and abdomen, which may give the upper body a larger appearance compared to the lower body.

The triangle shape is disproportionately balanced, with the upper body appearing larger than the lower body. Excess weight may be stored in the upper body.

The ruler, or banana, shape maintains a balance between the upper and lower body similar to the hourglass shape. However, the waist is not narrow, and excess weight may appear in the waist and abdomen.


Factors contributing to your specific shape include genetics, race, age, gender and hormones. Most individuals with a pear shape tend to be females, as high levels of estrogen are linked to this shape. Apple shapes can be both male or female as the production of testosterone is linked to this shape. Chances are that if one of your parents is a triangle, hourglass or ruler, you will also be one of those shapes.


Where you store excess fat determines the extent of your risk for illness and injury. Apple shapes are more at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Fat is stored deeper in the waist and abdomen, which will affect internal organs and insulin levels. Alternately, in the pear shape, fat stored in the hips and thighs is closer to the skin and increases the risk for movement issues. For the triangle, ruler or hourglass figure, excess fat is a health risk if the fat percentage is high enough to be clinically diagnosed as obese.


Training for weight loss should be geared to the type of body shape that you have. All training should combine weight training and cardio training with proper nutrition. For specific body shapes, weight training may be geared toward increasing or decreasing muscle size. For example, pear shapes should use higher weights and lower repetitions to increase upper body size. Apple and ruler shapes should plan small, frequent meals to avoid bloating the abdominal area. Hourglass and pear shapes should avoid losing large amounts of weight quickly. This may cause decreased upper body muscle mass, making the upper body smaller than the lower body. Triangle shapes should not weight-train upper body muscles, as that can create increased muscle mass in the upper body, making the body's shape disproportionate.


First-time exercisers should consult a physician prior to starting an exercise program.

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