Apples & Pears: Body Shape Specific Training and Nutrition

Nutritional Therapist and Award-Winning personal trainer Rob Suchet (MSc) explains why weight loss is impossible unless you’re getting your exercise and nutrition right for your specific body shape.

Men and women, can be broadly categorised into one of the two most common shapes: apples & pears.  Apples tend to store their body fat around their middle, while pears tend to store it around their hips and thighs.  Hormones are responsible for this ergonomic phenomenon.  Hormones are chemical messengers that allow our body to communicate with itself.  Hormones control whether we are storing fat or burning it.  Weight loss is not simply about counting calories and burning more energy than you consume.


Fat that accumulates around your organs raises internal inflammation and increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers (e.g. colorectal and pancreatic cancer).  This pattern of fat storage is caused by high levels of insulin and cortisol production, caused by a diet high in carbohydrates and/or prolonged levels of stress.


Having a lean torso but heavy legs indicates oestrogen dominance and higher likelihood of having irregular/heavy periods, mood swings, fibroids and a predisposition towards hormonal cancers (e.g. breast, ovarian, uterine cancer).


You have your parents (and their parents) to thank for bodyshape, but whether you’re an apple or a pear, there’s much you can do to address your bodyshape and long term health.  With an understanding of the best nutrition and training for your body type you’ll be able to reduce your body fat (particularly in your “problem areas”) and re-direct the course of your long-term health.  Conversely, if you’re the person who trains regularly and eats a typically healthy diet but can’t seem to lose weight, it’s likely that you’re not getting it quite right for your type.



✅ Apples need to be doing exercise which increases insulin sensitivity without raising cortisol (stress hormone).  This includes high intensity interval training and strength training with relatively heavy weights and short rest intervals.  Whole-body “hypertrophy” training works well for apples.

❌ Long steady state exercise lasting longer than 60mins is the worst kind of exercise for apples.  Wonder why pot-bellied cyclists cant lose their tummies? The accumulation of stress hormone cortisol causes the body to retain fat around the middle rather than burning it.


✅ Pears also respond well to high intensity interval training and resistance training, but exercises should focus more on muscles which are less susceptible to hypertrophy (growth) such as hamstrings and core, to avoid your jeans feeling even tighter.  Pears often have relatively slight upper bodies so should therefore focus more on upper body strength training.

❌ Avoid too many quad-dominant exercises which make the thighs larger, such as high volume squats. Endurance cycling is another classic exercise which actually makes your legs larger, not leaner as the body as the body adapts to this type of exercise by increasing intra-muscular fat storage.



✅ Increase the amount of protein, fat and fibre at every meal. Fat is the key here – ignore what you’ve been told over the past 35 years about fat being bad for you, it’s nonsense. Make sure the fats in your diet come from natural sources (coconut oil, butter, ghee, nut butter, olives and olive oil, fish, nuts, seeds, full fat dairy and a little animal fat).  You literally can’t eat enough fibre, so vegetables should make up at least half of your plate at every meal, including breakfast!

❌ Don’t touch sugars and keep the carbs on the absolute minimum.  Yes, even “healthy” carbs like wholegrains, bread, cereals, rice, pasta, potato will make you store body fat, just by looking at them!  All carbs raise insulin, the hormone that makes YOU store fat around your middle.  Ironically the more fat you eat the leaner you’ll get (see above). Don’t eat/drink sugar. Don’t overeat fruit as these contain sugar. Don’t be fooled into thinking “natural sugar” is any healthier that processed sugar. Sugar is sugar.  One or two pieces of seasonal fruit per day is fine, preferably as part of a meal which also contains protein and fat, but five a day? You’ve gotta be crazy.


✅ Significantly increase the amount of fibre in your diet.  Soluble fibre is present in oats, flax seeds, green banana, brown/wild rice. Soluble fibre binds to oestrogen and helps it leave the body.  You can get away with slightly more carbs than Apples, but don’t go mad and stick to low-glaecemic carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, beans and pulses.  It’s also important to increase the amount of green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, box choi brussel sprouts, cauliflower) as these vegetables contain chemicals which assist in the detoxification of oestrogen in the liver.

❌ Avoid plastics coming in contact with your foods or drinks and never heat foods in their plastic packaging.  Bisphenols and phthalates are hormone-disruptors and should be avoided where possible.  Pre-menopausal women should avoid soy products (no soy lattes for you!) as these foods are high in plant oestrogens which can have a similar effect as human oestrogen in your body if consumed in high quantities.  Finally, dairy is naturally high in oestrogen, so try to move away from milk, yoghurt and cheese in favour of dairy free alternatives (almond/oat milk).  Alcohol should be reduced to an absolute minimum to enable your liver to efficiently detoxify oestrogen.  Booze in all its forms competes with the oestrogen detoxification pathways in the liver.


Donohoe et al. (2011) Visceral adiposity, insulin resistance and cancer risk

Apples and Pears: semi-private exercise classes in Bath.

“Apples & Pears” is a semi-private exercise class at Health, Bath’s boutique personal training studio. Over twelve weeks we will help you transform your body shape using specific training and nutrition strategies that are appropriate for apples or pears.  The small classes (max six) make this an exclusive opportunity to really take control of your body shape and have a serious impact on your long-term health.  Find out more here…


Rob Suchet is the founding director of HEALTH. Personal trainer and Nutritional Therapist, Rob has helped hundreds of people achieve life-changing health and bodyshape transformations. He has been featured in the Guardian, Red Magazine, FHM, and in 2014 the Express described him as “one of the UK’s best personal trainers”…read more


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