It’s a myth that you can’t change your apple or pear shaped “body type.”

If you’re pear shaped or apple shaped, you can change this “body type.”

Even though the pear shape or apple shape “body type” has been linked to certain chemicals in the body, this doesn’t mean that you cannot change this “shape.”

Compelling research comes from the University of Edinburgh, linking higher presence of the protein 11BetaHSD1 to the apple shaped body type, versus the pear shaped.

More of this protein is stored in midsection body fat. The fat that’s stored in the hips and thighs is considered to be a healthier form of fat and has lower levels of this protein.

The next step is for researchers to develop a drug that inhibits the protein. (more about the research in Diabetes, 2011.)

If you’re apple shaped, this is not healthy, as excess abdominal fat means excess fat around vital organs. In a pear shape, excess fat is around muscle.

Just because the pear shape isn’t as unhealthy as the apple shape, doesn’t mean that the pear shape is a satisfactory state of the human body.

In both cases, a person has excess fat. The solution is to force the body to burn this excess fat. Think of this excess fat, be it in your middle or hips/thighs, as untapped energy.

If you’re already exercising, it obviously isn’t sufficient enough to force your body to burn up this untapped energy (fat).

I rarely see a pear shaped, overweight woman doing strenuous weight routines, and have never seen a pear shaped woman doing high intensity interval training.

Same for apple shaped women. I’ve seen a few pear shaped men doing regular cardio and run-of-the-mill weight workouts.

And most apple shaped men do not hang in the gym’s free weight area.

The pear and apple shape do not prevent a person from performing intense weight routines or high intensity interval training.

So what’s going on?

It’s simple: If you have the pear or apple shape “body type,” and don’t do intense weightlifting or high intensity interval training, you will continue to have your particular “body type.”

And I keep quoting body type because it’s not quite accurate to refer to it as that, because it doesn’t have to be permanent.

The tendency that one’s body has for a particular fat distribution is not set in stone.

Research (e.g., Epel et al) shows that when a person has excess abdominal fat, it’s linked to the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes fat storage in the midsection!


Chronic mental stress in the absence of strenuous exercise will likely lead to this condition.

A woman (or man) under chronic stress, who regularly exercises, may still suffer from a stubborn apple shape – because the exercise isn’t intense enough!

Mild exercise produces no hormonal effect. Moderate exercise raises production of cortisol.

Intense exercise also raises production of cortisol. However … intense exercise also raises production of lactic acid, testosterone (yes, in women), and human growth hormone (e.g., Kraemer et al).

These three hormones are powerful fat-burners. Furthermore, they counteract the effect of the cortisol that’s being produced! You have, essentially, a cancellation effect of the cortisol.

This is how intense exercise can blast away excess fat in your midsection.

Chronic mental stress raises cortisol levels. Primitive man endured a lot of mental stress (e.g., frequently having to escape from danger or chase after his family’s next meal).

Shutterstock/ Teguh Mujiono

The emotional stress involved with this ancient lifestyle produced a lot of cortisol, but early man promptly executed intense exercise (to fight danger or flee from danger), and this intense exercise counteracted the cortisol!

In modern society, this doesn’t happen. Our emotional stress comes from the workplace, where we are forced to sit and stay still.

It comes from waiting in the dentist’s or doctor’s office, waiting in long lines at stores, sitting in traffic jams late for appointments – we are trapped, immobilized, day in and day out, allowing cortisol to run amok in our bodies and promote fat storage in our bellies!

So what can you do? After sitting all day at the workplace under emotional siege … hit the gym, and hard!

Shutterstock/ Reshetnikov_art

Undo all that chronic stress with intense exercise, to drive down the cortisol, and hence, result in burning fat out of your abdominal region.

If you’re pear shaped, do the same thing! Intense exercise will force the body to plunge into fat stored in your thighs and hips.

Excess fat in the thighs and hips is linked to estrogen production, which is why it’s very rare for men to be pear shaped.

Pear and apple shaped women (and men) can drastically alter their “body type” over time with intense weight workouts that include the super fat-burning deadlift exercise, and also high intensity interval training.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
Top image: Shutterstock/bus109