There’s a lot of noise out there in the fitness industry. Headlines like “Get Jennifer Aniston’s 6-Pack Abs Now” or “How to Get a JLo Booty in 10 Minutes” lead us to believe that if we do the same exact exercises, we can achieve the same exact goals. But we know the one-size-fits-all method hardly ever works.
We’re all built differently with varying physiques. And if we’re being completely honest, we all have different desires on what our end goal is too. For example, a ballet dancer will want to do different workouts than a track runner to strengthen the key muscle groups involved in her performances, and vice versa. Focusing solely on what A-list celebrities are doing doesn’t necessarily yield the results you may be looking for.
It’s time we break the rigid molds and find what works best for our own goals, body types, and overall well-being. Below are some of the most highly sought-after athletic bodies women admire and how to attain them through effective workouts.
For a Ballerina’s Body
Ballerinas are blessed with graceful, lean, and toned bodies. Actually, I shouldn’t say they’re blessed – they train hard for them! Even so, it’s a beautiful figure. If you’re going for a ballerina body, you’ll want to engage in workouts that lean and lengthen with a focus on strong legs, a toned tummy, and sculpted arms.
The best fitness program to start with for a ballerina physique is pilates:
What Is Pilates? Pilates is a low-impact workout effective at strengthening, lengthening, and toning your muscles through controlled, repetitive movements.
Benefits: Increases flexibility, develops muscle tone, improves posture, increases energy, strengthens the mind-body connection, and is easily adaptable to all fitness levels.
Focus Areas: Pilates trains the body as a whole, targeting the abs, lower body, and upper body.
Frequency: Average recommendation of three times a week for general health and benefits.
For a Runner’s Body
Runners go for an air of “lightness.” They want a body mass that’s lean and toned so as to not put too much pressure on their joints and, of course, optimize their speed. Runners obviously want to focus on building their stamina and endurance above all else. They also want toned muscles and flexibility.
The best fitness program to start with for a runner's body is cardio:
What Is Cardio? Cardiovascular exercise is any form of movement that gets your heart rate up, such as running, dancing, biking, jump roping, hiking, climbing, etc. If you’re going for a runner’s physique, then the good ole art of running will be perfect.
Benefits: Burns fat, expands lung capacity, strengthens the heart, and promotes weight loss.
Focus Areas: Full body with emphasis on the lower body.
Frequency: Average recommendation for general health is for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. This will vary depending on intensity and specific goals.
For a Swimmer’s Body
Ever notice the wingspan on swimmers? They typically have powerful, broad shoulders and very lean bodies. This is because they ultimately want to increase their stroke ranges and have a swift pace in the pool. The primary fitness methods to focus on here are building the shoulders and upper body as well as burning fat.
The best fitness program to start with for a swimmer’s body is resistance training:
What Is Resistance Training? Resistance training is any exercise where you push, pull, or otherwise try to work against some type of resistance. This can be done with physical weights or bodyweight.
Benefits: Improved physical performance, better movement control, and increased muscle tone.
Focus Areas: Choose exercises that focus on the shoulders like overhead shoulder presses, lateral raises, back flys, pull ups, and push ups.
Frequency: For general health and benefits, it’s recommended to perform resistance training every other day and to alternate areas of the body on those days.
For a Boxer’s Body
It’s a myth that the power behind a boxer’s performance comes from their upper body strength, although it may appear that way. The truth is all the power behind those masterful punches and kicks come directly from the core. You’ve probably noticed the wow-worthy 6-pack abs boxers have? That’s why. Their upper and lower body strength come as a byproduct of the resistance they receive from hitting targets.
The best fitness program to start with for a boxer’s body is ab workouts:
What Are Ab Workouts? Any exercise devoted to targeting the abdominal muscle area located on the front of the body between the ribs and the pelvis qualifies as an ab exercise. The ab muscles support the trunk of the body, allowing full body movement and stability.
Benefits: Improved performance, prevents back pain, slims the waistline, and improves posture.
Focus Areas: Target abdominal muscles with exercises like crunches, sit-ups, planks, and leg raises.
Frequency: For general health and benefits, it’s recommended to perform ab exercises 2-3 times a week.
For a Bikini Pro’s Body
When you set aside the Caribbean-inspired spray tans and glittering bikinis, female bodybuilders have insane muscular physiques. Maybe you’re not going for that extreme (as it’s not attainable long-term anyhow, given the intensity of the training and diet restrictions), but perhaps you are looking to exude more muscle definition and a peachy bum.
The best fitness program to start with for a more muscular body is weight training.
What Is Weight Training? Weight training is a type of strength training that uses weights for resistance. Weight training provides a stress to the muscles that causes them to adapt and get stronger. Weight training can be performed with free weights or machines.
Benefits: Increased muscle mass, age-related muscle deterioration prevention, strengthen bones and joints, improve heart health, burn fat, balance hormones, reduce depression, and reduce risk of injury.
Focus Areas: Full body.
Frequency: At least 3 days per week to see general improvements.
It’s a myth that women will automatically get bulky from weight training. Leading fitness institute, NASM, explains why women can’t bulk up like men: “Generally, females tend to have smaller muscle fibers, a lower concentration of type-II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers, and a much lower (approximately one-eighth to one-tenth) serum level of testosterone (the most potent anabolic hormone) than their male counterparts. These factors allow for more significant muscle hypertrophy (growth) in males as compared to females even when placed under similar training volumes (Miller et al., 1993). It is also important to note that building very big muscles requires a great deal of targeted high volume strength training with meticulous nutrition practice.”
The differences in the female body make it highly unlikely that your strength training will make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s twin sister. (Not even professional female strength trainers, like World Champion weightlifter Loredana Toma, look like that.)
As you can see, there are numerous versions of body type ideals and ways to achieve them. One of the most obvious ways to get the physique you admire is to do the same activities as the person who has that physique. However, this isn’t about forcing yourself to fit into a certain criteria. It’s simply guiding you toward the best practices to attain these optimized physiques for enhanced performance and to avoid fitness routines that will work against your goals. Ultimately, you’ll want to play within your strengths based on your natural body type and then integrate what fitness routines bring you the most joy.
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