The academics call the body types mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph. Most people call the body types apple, pear and skinny (hard gainer). A lot has been written on how to work out for your body type and specific moves will aid reshaping the common trouble zones.

Overall, men have a wider upper frame to support their musculature while women have less overall body mass. This means more body fat to prepare for motherhood, but also a less active metabolism. While men tend to deposit more body fat around their waist and women around their hips, the pattern changes to all quite apples – abdominal body fat- after women reach menopause.

Just cardio won’t be enough

Oftentimes, people think cardio when looking for a body change. However, aerobic exercise is just one part of the equation. Cardiovascular activity will stimulate caloric burnout but won’t help to “shape” your body.

The Kettlebells Workout

Through my years of experience working with women and men of all body types, I’ve identified common complaints about problem areas for men and women and how to address those areas through exercise.

Women’s body matters

1. Narrow shoulders and back, but wide hips: Complex moves that work several muscles at the same time will boost growth hormone and testosterone, which are needed to increase body mass. Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights on the upper body move to give you a better shape for the shoulders and overall wider back.  Even though, you can’t change your natural hips anatomy, more often the problem is not the size of the muscles rather than the fat that gets accumulated around this area.  Exercises that combine upper and lower body muscle engagement will increase the caloric burnout providing tone to this zone but not adding muscle mass.

2. Wide back and shoulders, but narrow hips: Probably you did a lot of swimming when you were a teen or simply genetics play a role.  For the upper body, you don’t want anything that adds more body mass. It won’t be possible to shrink your frame but you can definitely reshape it.  Working the triceps along with the pecs will give you more balance. Body weight exercises are great to tone this area. The legs compromise the biggest body musculature so the best way to work them is with an exercise that emphasizes all the corresponding muscles at the same time while heavily targets the gluteus and the hips muscles. These exercises must be done using heavy weight to increase the anabolic response for the muscles to grow.

Men’s matters

Men’s body issues can be narrowed to two main ones:

1. Narrow shoulder-back-chest: upper body multi joint exercises are a must. These two exercises below will hit these three muscles (shoulder, back and pecs) while others such as the arms will assist in some of the moves.

2. Skinny legs: known is the problem with some men’s disproportionate emphasis to work the upper body so the legs quite sure have been procrastinated to work out or at the most a few leg extensions and leg curl moves are done. And, the calves? Who trains the calves?

Three Must-do Moves

Non gender- specific problems

The belly fat is without any doubt one issue that concerns everyone regardless the gender, studies show that to decrease body fat (specifically belly fat) these methods below work the best:  

Aerobic: When doing cardiovascular exercise, sprint interval training, 4-6, 30 s maximum effort, followed by 4 minute recovery for 30 minutes total workout, including warm-up improve aerobic capacity and decrease body fat better than the traditional low-intensity and long-duration aerobic activity.

Circuit training: When comparing single sets of weight lifting with circuit training (3- 6 sets of 8-10 reps and minimal recovery time in between moves) significant body fat reduction was shown in the group who performed the circuits.

And if you’re pressed on time grab a kettlebell. The University of Wisconsin found that kettlebell snatches (an exercise that starts in a knees bent position and goes into an upright row to a shoulder press in a single smooth and powerful move) can burn up to 20 calories per minute. This is more potent than the elliptical (10 calories per minute), Spinning (15 calories per minute) or running at a 7-minute miles pace (18 calories per minute).

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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