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In dressing rooms across the country, women are cursing their trouble zones and wondering if it's possible to make the most of what Mother Nature gave them. It is, okay? And you can do it before beach season. This plan tackles your entire package, using the latest thinking from trainers who recognize that when it comes to workouts, one size does not fit all. "By building up weaker or less developed parts of your body, you'll maximize your natural shape," says Laura Mak, owner of Mak Attack Fitness in Marina del Rey, California.
To start, find a body type most like your own: a pear (bottom-heavy), an apple (rounder in the middle), or a chili pepper (a narrow frame from head to toe). Do the basic routine designed by Mak with the prescribed regimen for your type. As our testers discovered, in just a few weeks, you can lose inches, sculpt muscle, and be in your best shape ever.
How it works: All three body types follow the same basic strength workout, but each will complete a different number of sets and reps. Do your strength routine twice a week; do the recommended cardio three times a week.
What you'll need: A stability ball and a set of 5- to 8-pound and 10- to 15-pound dumbbells.
Your plan: To balance a heavier lower half, focus on adding muscle definition to your chest, back, and shoulders by lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions. At the same time, improve lower-body endurance and sculpt your butt and thighs by doing more reps with lighter weights. One of the fastest ways to achieve this is through triple supersets -- back-to-back-to-back exercises with three moves for the upper body, three for the lower body, and three for the upper body and core -- with no rest between sets. (Take about 30 seconds to rest between supersets.) "It's a great way to boost your heart rate and burn fat while building lean muscle," says Mak.The Pear Workout
Your goal: Burn flab everywhere, with an emphasis on moves to work your waistline.
Your plan: "Apples need to focus on developing a strong core and building lean muscle in the lower body to help balance the top half," says Mak. The key is to use lighter weights with more reps for your upper body and heavier ones with fewer reps for your legs and butt. Do triple supersets to increase your heart rate and blast fat, and since abdominal fat is particularly stubborn, increase the intensity of your cardio sessions.The Apple Workout
Your goal: Create curves by building muscle.
Your plan: Focus on doing fewer reps with heavier resistance to add more lean muscle throughout your body -- especially your shoulders, butt, and legs. Because you'll be using heavier weights, you'll need more time to rest and recover, so Mak recommends doing supersets of just two exercises back to back and resting 30 to 60 seconds between each set.The Chili Pepper Workout
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2008.