Escape Your Shape : How to Work Out Smarter, Not Harder

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Copyright: 2001-08-20
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping Icon Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • eCampus.com Logo Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $9.99 Save up to $1.45
  • Rent Book
    Add to Cart Free Shipping Icon Free Shipping

    *This item is part of an exclusive publisher rental program and requires an additional convenience fee. This fee will be reflected in the shopping cart.

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


The Individualized Fitness Prescription for Your Body TypeDo you wonder why the latest fitness fad doesn't work for you? Have you lifted weights for months, dreaming of toned, defined muscles, with no results? Have you exercised regularly for months -- or even years -- without seeing any changes in your body? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are your exercise routine is incomplete and wrong for your body type.Everyone -- men and women alike -- has a natural shape:Hourglass Spoon Ruler ConeAnd there's a right and a wrong way to exercise for each. By exercising right for your body type you'll finally see stubborn problem areas start to change in a matter of weeks -- the kind of change that will motivate you to continue until you meet your goals and beyond.You don't need to buy expensive equipment or devote hours a day to this program. Whether you're twenty-two or seventy-two, a regular at the gym or making a serious commitment to exercise for the first time in your life, the manFitmagazine calls the "Shape Master" puts the most important tool for success in your hands: a detailed step-by-step workout for your body type that you can perform anywhere. With consistent workouts fueled by quantifiable results, you will dramatically change your body for the better and for the rest of your life.


Chapter Two: Identifying Your Body Type

Everyone naturally has a body type or shape -- Hourglass, Spoon, Ruler or Cone. These shapes are for the most part genetically predetermined. Recognizing and understanding your shape is the key to a successful fitness program. To achieve a leaner, more toned and better proportioned body you must recognize what you were born with and adjust your exercise plan accordingly. In my previous book, I articulated as no one had ever done before the difference between a standard cookie-cutter exercise program and a targeted exercise regime that would yield the desired results.

Here is an example of why understanding your body type before you begin exercising is critical to escaping your shape. It also explains why most people who are currently exercising fail to meet their goals. Say your wife playfully tweaks your ever-growing love handles or you find you no longer fit into your favorite jeans. What is your first reaction? If you are like the majority of Americans, you hit the gym and shell out good money for the advice of a personal trainer who looks like a clone of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He leads you through a series of exercises as he explains in a vague way what his particular exercises will do for you. You vow to attack the newest wave of steppers and lift weights for 2 hours every day. Simultaneously, you declare that nothing will pass through your lips save a carrot stick and tofu until the weight is lost. The experience of throwing yourself headlong into an exhausting physical and mental realignment without a clear sense of the results you have a right to expect leads, understandably, to failure. What's missing? Since you have decided that fitness will be a priority in your life, you need an exercise program that will deliver results! The first step in achieving these results is to recognize and identify your unique body type. The next step is to create an individualized plan that you will enjoy and master.


If you took a hard look at thousands of people's bodies, you'd notice the same thing I have: that people fall generally into 4 categories. Some people are bottom heavy, some are top heavy, some are naturally well proportioned and curvaceous and others have few curves. You too are either a Spoon, a Cone, an Hourglass or a Ruler. Whatever your body type is, it is basically determined by genetics. As you enter adulthood there are certain factors that influence how your body looks: how active or inactive you were growing up and are currently, the sports you participated in, your childhood and adolescent diet, how much time you spend sitting, and, most important, the variety of exercises you have performed over the years that have either enhanced or bulked certain regions of your body.

Your body type has nothing to do with how tall, short, skinny or fat you are. It has nothing to do with how much you weigh. Nor does it have anything to do with your innate athleticism, age, agility, coordination or fitness level. In fact, even your diet (food intake) has nothing to do with your body type. For example, if you are a Spoon and you are 5 foot 6 inches and weigh 140 pounds, you can diet and lose 10 or 15 pounds. But you won't significantly improve the way your body looks, especially your problem areas, by dieting alone. The only way I can transform you from a ladle to a demitasse spoon is by getting you to exercise properly for your type. You can be a fat Ruler, a thin Spoon or a skinny Hourglass, for example. No matter what your type, weight or fitness level, you can improve them.

Identifying your body type is simply a matter of observing how your weight is distributed on your frame. No one body type is better or worse than another. While you cannot change from one body type to another, you can improve your shape and make the best of your body type through proper exercise. Some of you may want to lose weight and inches throughout your body; others, just inches. Some will want to trim their thighs, stomach or other specific areas. Whatever your goals, it's paramount to identify your shape in order to exercise appropriately.

Identifying Your Shape

First use the following questions to determine what your body type is. Then take a look at the illustrations of the four types. Do you recognize yourself? If you're still unsure, read the detailed profiles for each body type.

Determine Your Body Type

Do you tend to carry weight in both your upper and lower body, yet are more slender through the waist? Is there a significant difference between the circumference of your chest and your waist (or between your hips and waist)? Does your body appear balanced and curvaceous when you look in the mirror?

If so, you are an HOURGLASS.

Do you carry most of your weight in your hips, thighs and buttocks? Are you more slender on the top? Do you tend to gain weight or carry extra weight from the hips down? Do your eyes go directly to the lower half of your body when you look in the mirror?

If so, you are a SPOON.

Are you pretty much built straight up and down with very few curves? Is there little difference in the circumferences of your chest, waist and hips? Do you tend to put on weight around your midsection?

If so, you are a RULER.

Do you tend to carry most of your weight in your back, chest, arms and stomach? Are you more slender from the hips down?

If so, you are a CONE.

Important Facts and Tips

  • Most women are either Spoons or Hourglasses.
  • Most men are Rulers or Cones.
  • If you are overweight, it may be more difficult to determine your actual body type. You may be caught between body types.
  • You can be thin or fat for your body type, as well as short or tall for your body type.
  • Although it is not very common, some women are flat-chested Hourglasses. Remember that determining your body type is about proportion. It is the total circumference of your back and chest that is relevant, not the size of your breasts.
  • Some female Rulers naturally have big breasts, though it is not the norm.
  • Although Spoon women are relatively small to medium chested, you could be a busty Spoon, though your hips and thighs will be comparatively larger.
  • Your "diet" has very little to do with your body type, but it does directly influence your scale weight.

Still Not Sure?

If you are having problems determining your body type, it is probably because you are carrying extra weight. Fear not, simply follow the Hourglass workout until you shed off some of that weight. As you become slimmer and your natural shape begins to emerge, you can start adding some resistance and weight to your exercises. I find that many women look in the mirror and have eyes only for their problem areas. I can't tell you how many women misdiagnose their body type as a Spoon. They are all obsessed with the size of their thighs. A woman who is 5'8" and 170 pounds, who bulks in the arms and the thighs and is more slender around her stomach may think she is a Spoon because she has very big thighs. But in reality, she is an Hourglass with a tendency to bulk down below a little faster than she does up above. I call this type of woman a bottom-heavy Hourglass. She bulks both above and below but more on her bottom half. Because she is overweight by at least 20 pounds, a lot of that extra weight is emphasized below. She only thinks she is a Spoon because she dislikes that part of her body so much.

In truth, you're only temporarily caught between types. Deep down you are a pure Hourglass, Spoon, Ruler or Cone and you're overweight. You cannot be anything else. For example, you can't be a top-heavy Ruler, because someone who bulks only on top by definition is a Cone. Nor can you be a top-heavy Spoon, because that would make you an Hourglass. If you are larger throughout any one part of your body, you are either overweight and/or bulkier due to the type of exercises you have been performing.


I strongly recommend you take measurements prior to starting your body-type fitness routine. (See the section below for directions.) If possible, have a friend or colleague take them for you because it is very difficult to precisely or accurately measure yourself. Each time you turn and twist to get a measurement, it throws off the reading. Your measurements are important because they're a definitive indication of your body type. They are also a good way to track your progress so you can make adjustments to your workouts as necessary. You may find that quantifiable improvements come in inches, but not scale weight. If you are overweight, and need to lose both inches and weight, you may need to adjust your caloric intake and/or diet. Once you see your problem areas start to shrink, you will become even more motivated to continue with your workouts. I suggest that you record your measurements every 30 days.

Keeping track of your measurements will help you adjust your workouts to meet your goals. Let's say you are an Hourglass and two months into your workouts you notice that while you're losing inches from your hips and thighs, your upper arms and back aren't responding as well. That typically means that you are not doing enough of your upper-body routine and/or aerobic exercise. Knowing that, you can adjust your workouts so that your upper body begins to change at a faster pace. You may also find that after losing a certain number of inches throughout your body that you don't need to lose as much weight as you first thought. You may have started out thinking you needed to lose at least 15 pounds, but after two months find you have dropped two dress sizes though lost only 5 pounds. I have seen countless clients, both men and women, lose just a few pounds but more than 10 inches from their body.

How and Where to Take Your Measurements

Hand a friend a tape measure and record the circumference of the following:

CHEST. Place the tape measure across the middle of your breasts or chest and around the circumference of your back; exhale before the measurement is recorded.

WAIST. Place the tape measure around your midsection, 1 inch above your belly button.

HIPS. Place the tape measure just below your hips, at the widest spot but still above your buttocks.

THIGHS. Measure the circumference of your upper thigh at the widest point, just barely under your buttocks.

KNEES. Measure 1 inch above the top of your kneecap.

CALVES. Measure in the middle of the calf, at the widest point.

ARMS. Measure on the upper arm just under the armpit, at the widest part.

Guidelines to Help Determine Your Body Type

1. HOURGLASSES will find that there is at least a 6-inch difference between their chest and waist and between their hips and waist. The girths of their chest and hips are within a couple of inches of one another. Common Hourglass measurements for chest, waist and hips respectively are 33-26-33, 36-30-38, 34-28-35, 39-32-38, or 42-35-44.

2. SPOONS will find that there is not a significant difference between the girths of their chest and waist but a significant difference between the girths of their hips and chest. For example, 34-30-38, 36-30-44, or 32-28-39.

3. RULERS will find that their chest, waist and hips are relatively close in measurement. Rulers are similar to Hourglasses but are less curvy and not as slender through the waist. For example, 34-30-35, 36-33-37, or 40-36-42.

4. Lastly, CONES will find that their chest and waist are relatively close in measurement and that their hips and thighs are significantly smaller than their chest. For example, 36-32-30, 40-36-33, or 34-30-29.

Remember, if you're overweight, you could be "caught" between body types. If you are, please follow the Hourglass workout until you trim down and your true body type is revealed.


As an Hourglass, you will notice that you tend to put on weight or mass in both your upper and lower bodies while staying more slender through the waist. This applies whether you are a female or male. Generally, Hourglasses are trying to lose weight, mass or inches from both their upper and lower bodies. My Hourglass clients typically want to slim, tone and streamline their legs and the back of their arms (triceps). A lot of Hourglass women incorrectly label themselves Spoons. They either focus excessively on the size of their hips or thighs or are bottom-heavy Hourglasses. In other words, they bulk in both their upper and lower bodies, but do faster on the lower half. Hourglasses have to be especially careful with the type and amount of resistance exercise they perform with their lower and upper bodies.

One advantage of being an Hourglass is that you tend to lose and gain weight and mass evenly. Though it goes on fast, you can lose it quickly, too. Hourglasses can and should carry more scale weight than any other body type because your weight is distributed pretty evenly throughout your entire body. That's why a gal who is 5'6", large framed and well toned can look slender even at 150 pounds. Believe it or not, she'll look only about 135 if she exercises appropriately for an Hourglass. This is a classic case of someone who needs to lose inches rather than weight, a feat that cannot be achieved by dieting alone. In fact, losing inches, especially off your problem areas, can only be accomplished through proper exercise. So if you are a large-framed person, don't despair. True, you'll never be willowy, but you can be slender and fit and wear a size 8 with room to spare. As I tell many men and women who fall into this category, don't worry about your weight. The scale doesn't show inch loss, so you could be losing significant mass while the scale shows no improvement. Don't get depressed; for encouragement, rely on your shrinking waist and hips.

Let's look at an Hourglass named Melissa, who happens to be 40. She carries her 160 pounds on her 5'7" frame well, but could afford to lose 10 pounds. She thinks she should weigh 140 pounds, but she is very muscular and busty and her measurements prior to exercising for her body type were 38-32-40. She could easily shrink to 37-30-37, but years of exercising improperly have bulked her up. My assessment is that 150 pounds is a good weight for her. She will be able to maintain that weight easily without having to starve herself and, more important, maintain an exercise program in spite of her hectic lifestyle.

The trouble with Melissa's original weight-loss goal is that she hasn't weighed 140 since she was 19 years old, and she was a lot more active then. Today, it's unrealistic to think she can work out more than 4 days per week. She needs to separate reality from fantasy. The reality of the situation is that given her lifestyle, she has a limited amount of time to devote to exercise. To achieve her original target weight, she would have to exercise 6 days per week, go on a strict diet, quit going out with her business clients at night and stop eating and drinking out 5 days per week. That's just not going to happen. Sometimes what we want and what we are really able to do consistently don't match up. You need to be honest with yourself and make the best of your situation. At 150 pounds, Melissa will look better and healthier, improve her self-image and exude energy. At 140 pounds, she will be miserable, deprived and focusing on her weight rather than on being fit and healthy.

Problem Areas and Characteristics

Hourglasses are fortunate because they typically have strong bones and good muscle tone and are less susceptible to osteoporosis than other body types. As a group, senior Hourglasses have fewer fractures resulting from falls; they are built for high-contact and impact sports that require power, strength and speed. Also, sports or movements that require both upper- and lower-body strength are easier for Hourglasses than other body types. For very slim Hourglasses, jogging or running can be enjoyable, but for most, it is uncomfortable. They also tend to have good (sometimes excellent) flexibility throughout their entire body and generally do not have back problems because their abdominals are naturally strong. They have tapered legs and small ankles, though their calves may be muscular. Their problem areas tend to be the backs of the upper arms, the inner and outer thighs and the saddlebag region (just below the hips on the outside of the upper thigh). Some Hourglasses tend to put on weight around the lower portion of their abdominal region, which tends to add to their hip measurement. Most Hourglasses bulk and put on weight easily in both upper and lower regions and must be very careful not to add weights or resistance to their workouts.

If you're an Hourglass who's trying to slim down, hold off on adding weight or resistance to your exercise routine until you lose weight and mass. Even then you may notice you're bulking up more than you'd like. If so, cut back. Hourglasses almost always weigh considerably more than people think because of the way their weight is distributed on their frames.

Best Exercises for Escaping Your Hourglass Shape

  • Jumping rope with a speed or peg rope

  • Stationary biking with light to moderate resistance and high RPMs (90 to 120)

  • Fast walking with little to no incline

  • Jogging or running for distance slowly (5 to 6 MPH without resistance or hills)

  • Ski machine at high speed with little to moderate tension for both upper and lower bodies

  • Elliptical machines with no resistance (only if you're not overweight)

  • Jumping jacks

  • Standing knee to opposite chest, L-kicks, leg-outs, one-legged leg lifts, and vertical scissors

  • Cybex, Nautilus or other weight machines with light weights and high reps

  • Upper-body routine with a 4-pound aerobic bar, doing push-outs, behind-the-neck presses, front presses, upright-rows, bicep curls, and tricep kickbacks

  • Dead lifts with little or no weight

  • Angled squats (if you're not overweight)

  • Leg extensions and leg curls with light weight and high reps

  • Swimming for distance (crawl stroke only)

Exercises to Avoid if You Want to Escape Your Hourglass Shape

  • Step classes

  • Spinning

  • High-impact aerobic or exercise classes

  • Kick-boxing

  • Squats, lunges, and leg presses

  • Inner-outer leg machines with high resistance

  • Stationary biking with high resistance

  • Walking, jogging or running on an incline, especially with hand weights simultaneously

  • Ski machine with high resistance for both upper and lower bodies

  • Versa climbers

  • Jumping rope with a weighted rope

  • Stepper/stair climbers with resistance

  • All exercises using ankle weights

  • All lower-body exercises using high resistance or weights

  • All upper-body exercises using high resistance or weights

  • Roller blading on hills

  • Rowing with high resistance


As an Hourglass, your mantra is high reps, low resistance and low weights for both upper and lower bodies. High reps mean at least 25 to 50 repetitions for each of your exercises. As you slim down and lose weight and mass, you can increase resistance and weight. But you still must maintain your high reps for each exercise. Hourglasses who bulk very easily may have to keep the resistance and weights at a low level forever. If you currently engage in any of the above exercises and you're not willing to cut them out entirely, try to cut down on the number of times you perform them during the week. As you trim down, you can ease back into them.


Spoons tend to put on weight or mass in their hips and thighs and behind the knees. Those who are very overweight may even carry extra weight in their calves and ankles. Their upper bodies are not necessarily small, but considerably smaller than their lower bodies. Typically, if a Spoon is not overweight, the lower part of the leg, from the knee down is her best asset. Although it is rare, there are some male Spoons. Another distinctive feature of Spoons is that, unlike Hourglasses, they look heavier than their actual scale weight. Because most of their weight is concentrated in their lower half, others' eyes focus and fix primarily on this part of their bodies. It is important to note that as a Spoon, you bulk the fastest of all the body types from the hips down, so it's vital that each and every time you exercise you do so with absolutely no resistance or weights. I have seen thousands of women increase the size of their hips and thighs considerably by performing the wrong type of exercises. It's a horrible thought, but it's possible to bulk up from a size 10 to a 14 with the wrong exercises! A typical Spoon's measurements are 34-30-42. As I often tell Spoon women I work with, my goal is to take you from a ladle to a teaspoon. Your measurements should be 34-29-36. And you can do it! By exercising right for your body type. I have also found that generally sedentary Spoons who sit a lot can increase the size of their hips and thighs simply with the pressure and weight that they put on that region of the body. If they're not overweight, Spoons usually have very nice upper bodies and great upper abdominal muscles.

Problem Areas and Characteristics

Spoons typically have sleek upper bodies and have the best-looking arms of any of the body types. But because their upper bodies are considerably weaker and smaller in girth than other body types they're at greater risk for osteoporosis there, too. The flip side is that most Spoons, because of their muscle mass and weight below, are less likely to develop osteoporosis in their hips and lower limbs. Spoons typically have excellent lower flexibility and are good with sports or movements that require lower-body strength and coordination. Ballet dancers, tap dancers, and ballroom dancers are good examples of in-shape Spoons. They also typically shy away from sports that require upper-body strength because of their weaker upper bodies. If not vastly overweight, Spoons make good joggers, but unfortunately, jogging will not alter their bodies for the better. Nevertheless, it's a wonderful way for Spoons to lose and maintain weight loss.

Spoons usually have shortish legs and a long torso, thus making their legs appear larger than they actually are. If they lack good hamstring (back-of-the-legs) flexibility, they have a propensity for lower back pain. Overall, though, most Spoons do have great hamstring flexibility because of a higher fat content in that region. Their good flexibility means Spoons can work out vigorously with little risk of injury. They tend to carry the most mass on the saddlebag region (just below the hips and on the outside of the thigh), and some carry a lot of weight or mass in their hips. The good news for Spoons is that it is relatively easy to reduce these problem areas. Because of the disparity between their lower and upper bodies, once they start to slim down, the change for the better is hard to miss. The key is to perform a lot of light-resistance aerobic exercise combined with loads of lower-body calisthenics. With time and perseverance, Spoons can completely alter their shape for the better, but most likely will forever need to stay away from lower-body exercises with any resistance or weights.

Best Exercises for Escaping Your Spoon Shape

  • Jumping rope with a speed rope

  • Stationary biking with light resistance only and high RPMs (90 to 120)

  • Jumping jacks

  • Ski machines with light resistance for lower body and high resistance for upper body

  • Standing knee to opposite chest, L-kicks, leg-outs, one-legged leg lifts, and vertical scissors

  • Side leg lifts

  • Marching in place on toes

  • All variations of push-ups

  • Chin-ups, pull-ups

  • Dips

  • If overweight, fast walking or slow jogging with no incline or hills

  • If not overweight, all or any upper-body exercises with moderate to heavy weights and dead lifts with no weight

Exercises to Avoid if You Want to Escape Your Spoon Shape

  • Squats

  • Lunges

  • Leg presses

  • Leg extensions and leg curls

  • Ankle weights

  • All ellipitical machines

  • All stair climbers/steppers

  • All step classes

  • Versa climbers

  • Long-distance running at high speeds

  • Sprinting

  • Roller blading

  • Sliding

  • Skating

  • Swimming

  • Kick-boxing

  • Spinning

  • All high-impact aerobic and exercise classes

  • All lower-body exercises with moderate to high resistance or weights

  • Walking or jogging on any sort of incline

  • Rowing with lower-body resistance

  • Jumping rope with a weighted rope

  • Inner-outer leg machines

  • Cross-country ski machine with lower-body resistance


As a Spoon, the rule of thumb is high reps and low resistance for all lower-body exercises, and moderate to high resistance for all upper-body exercises. If you're overweight, the resistance should not be too high for the upper body. You don't want to push out the fat as you build muscle underneath. Until you are at a weight and size you're happy with, do not increase the resistance or weight on any exercise, but rather increase the frequency and number of repetitions to continue to burn off fat and inches.


Most Rulers are fortunate when it comes to finding clothes that fit. They are similar to Hourglasses in that their bodies are pretty much in proportion, but they are not as tapered in the midsection, with no significant difference between the sizes of their chest, waist and hips. They're built straight up and down. Fashion and runway models examplify skinny Rulers. Rulers tend to carry excess weight on their stomachs and butts. They don't get wider, but rather protrude fore and aft. When a Ruler gains 10 pounds, it is very visible. Most Rulers have small to medium frames and do not possess a lot of muscle mass, hence their need to keep their weight lower than any other body types. Typically, Rulers bulk the least of any body type, and if not overweight, can perform virtually any exercise without the fear of unwanted mass in any region of their bodies. Rulers, however, possess less strength and need to work out extra hard to build muscle, strength and power. Although most Rulers are small to medium chested, occasionally you'll find a woman Ruler with big breasts. It is imperative for those women to perform a lot of upper-body and abdominal exercises to help support the back, shoulders and arms in order to avoid poor posture and hunching. Rulers give the appearance of being "thin." And on a scale they tend to weight even less than they appear to. Rulers also may tend to be underweight and overfat, which means they may be carrying too much body fat and not enough lean mass (muscle).

Problem Areas and Characteristics

Rulers are fortunate in the sense that if they're not overweight, they do not have to work out as often as the other body types. Losing weight or mass requires frequent exercise; changing your shape does not. The typical Ruler needs to work out no more than 3 days per week to change his or her body. But he or she needs to exercise intensely, really taxing the muscles. Because the Ruler's workout is typically more anaerobic than aerobic, more rest is required between these intense workouts. Rulers make the best joggers and long-distance runners because of the way their mass is distributed over their frames. They simply put less stress on their joints. They also excel in any movements or sports that require long and sustained aerobic actions. Have you ever seen a world-class Cone, Spoon or heavy-Hourglass long-distance runner or swimmer? Of course not, and now you know why. On the other hand, because it is more difficult for Rulers to build mass, you don't see professional Ruler bodybuilders. Often, because of their poor hamstring flexibility and weak lower abs, Rulers experience lower back pain. As they age, their bones and joints are more susceptible to osteoporosis and bone fractures than other body types. Because Rulers need to work extra hard to build muscle mass, it's vital that they do not allow that muscle mass to fade. In fact, Rulers generally have no problem losing mass throughout their upper and lower bodies (unlike Hourglasses, who need to work hard at it).

Of all the body types, Rulers seem to exercise the least. Perhaps because many Rulers are "naturally thin," they feel they can get away without exercising. It is quite common for Rulers reaching their 40s and 50s to suddenly gain a lot of weight, especially in their midsection. And because they've often been inactive for most of their lives, they have a hard time adjusting psychologically to the fact that they need to exercise regularly. Most men are Rulers and should focus on trimming their midsection and increasing hamstring flexibility to avoid back problems later in life.

Best Exercises for Escaping Your Ruler Shape

Unless you're overweight, all of these exercises are recommended. If you need to reduce your weight, use light to moderate resistance and weights until you reach your ideal weight.

  • Stretching, especially hamstring and quadricep muscle groups

  • Full sit-ups without locking feet, upper and lower abdominal crunches, and leg-outs

  • Step classes

  • Spinning

  • Squats, lunges, and leg presses with moderate to high weights

  • Hand and ankle weights

  • Stationary biking with moderate to high resistance

  • Walking, jogging or running on an incline or on hills

  • All ellipitical machines with moderate to high resistance

  • Stepper/stair climbers with moderate to high resistance

  • Push-ups

  • Chin-ups, pull-ups

  • Dips

  • Chair push-ups and introverted push-ups

  • Sprinting

  • Water aerobics

  • Swimming

  • Ski machines with resistance for both upper and lower bodies

  • Roller blading on hills

  • Kick-boxing

  • Jumping rope with a peg or weighted rope

  • Inner-outer leg machines with moderate to high weights

  • Rowing with moderate to high resistance for both upper and lower bodies

  • All upper- or lower-body exercises using moderate to high resistance or weights

Exercises to Avoid if You Want to Escape Your Ruler Shape*

  • None


  • Vertical scissors

  • One-legged leg lifts

  • Side leg lifts

  • Dead lifts

  • Leg lifts


As a Ruler, you pretty much have free rein to perform any kind of exercise provided you are not overweight. If you are overweight, ease up on the weights and resistance a little bit until you start to trim down. Then you can incorporate both. Protect your back! Don't skip your stretching routine before you work out and stretch your hamstrings lightly at the end of all of your workouts. Focus on increasing the intensity of each exercise and to prevent injury pay careful attention to your form and body alignment. Do your abdominal work in the beginning of your workouts when your motivation and energy is highest to ensure that you do it every time.


While only 10 percent of women are Cones, the same body type describes 30 percent of all men. Cone men, especially those who exercise with weights, generally look out of proportion because they neglect their lower bodies. Cones are the polar opposite of Spoons. Their upper bodies are considerably larger and stronger than their lower bodies. Typically, a female Cone's best asset is her legs while a male Cone's is his chest. Miniskirts are a must for Cone women because they draw the viewer's eyes away from the breasts and stomach. Usually short-waisted and long-legged, Cones benefit from abundant aerobic exercise combined with abdominal and upper-body endurance exercises, which are crucial. They strengthen and protect the back and shoulder regions. Overweight cones look even more so because most of that extra weight is concentrated on top. That, of course, creates an even greater disparity between the upper and lower bodies. Cones have a propensity for tight hamstrings (just as Rulers do) and their abdominals are usually weak because Cones don't typically work on this region. They tend to look shorter than they actually are, especially when overweight. Cone women who slim down their upper bodies, especially their abdominals, will start to look more like Hourglasses. A typical female Cone's measurements are 40-35-32. With proper exercise, that cone woman could be 36-30-32.

Problem Areas and Characteristics

Cones carry a lot of weight and mass in their upper back and chest. Their arms are usually large as well, and have excess fat, especially on the backs of the arms (triceps). Their stomachs usually protrude, an unwanted natural tendency that is especially noticeable in both men and women. As they grow older, their posture seems to worsen unless they strengthen their abdominals and increase their hamstring flexibility. Movements or sports that require upper-body power and speed -- such as racquet sports and track events including the javelin throw, discuss and shot-put -- come easily to most Cones. Any sport that requires quick and short movements and requires upper-body strength is agreeable to Cones, whereas jogging or running for long distances can be very uncomfortable. I find that most Cone women are very self-conscious of people leering at their upper bodies when they do any kind of impact sports or activities. Male Cones who frequent the gym look very out of proportion. Most need to switch from heavy weights to much lighter ones when they work out and focus more on their lower bodies. Cones who exercise rarely develop osteoporosis in their upper bodies, but because they are more susceptible to lower-body injuries, especially hip fractures, it's important to strengthen and add some mass to their lower bodies as a preventative measure. Most important to protect is the upper and lower back. This can be accomplished through weight loss on top and lots of stretching and abdominal exercises.

Best Exercises for Escaping Your Cone Shape

  • Spinning

  • Squats

  • Lunges

  • Leg presses

  • Leg extensions and leg curls

  • Stepper/stair climbers

  • Stationary biking with moderate to high resistance

  • Full sit-ups, leg-outs, and upper and lower abdominal crunches

  • Hamstring stretches

  • Upper-body stretches

  • Jumping rope with a speed rope

  • Dead lifts

  • Kick-boxing using lower body only

  • Ankle weights

  • Low-impact step classes

  • Ski machines with light tension for upper body and moderate to high resistance for lower body

  • All lower-body exercises using moderate to high resistance or weights

  • Slow walking on an incline or on hills

  • Inner-outer thigh machines with moderate to heavy weights

Exercises to Avoid if You Want to Escape Your Cone Shape

  • Bench press with moderate to heavy weights

  • Decline push-ups

  • Triceps k-backs with moderate to heavy weights

  • Triceps extensions with moderate to heavy weights

  • Hand weights

  • Rowing

  • All upper-body exercises with moderate to heavy resistance or weights

  • Aerobic and exercise classes that use Heavy Hands or weights

  • Kick-boxing classes using upper-body movements

  • Jumping rope with a weighted rope


As a Cone, the rule of thumb is high reps and low resistance or weights for the upper body and high resistance and moderate to heavy weights for the lower body. Although unusual, a few Cones may bulk down below a bit if they are overweight. Typically, Cones shy away from abdominal exercises and lower-body exercises. It's important to focus on these areas so the body becomes better proportioned. Cones, especially male Cones, have a harder time than other body types giving up the heavy weight lifting for their upper bodies. I suggest switching to more natural exercises such as push-ups, dips, chin-ups, or upper-body exercise routines with low weights and higher repetitions. You'll still possess great upper-body strength and your body will look much better proportioned.

Copyright © 2001 by Edward J. Jackowski, Ph.D.

Excerpted from Escape Your Shape: How to Work Out Smarter, Not Harder by Edward Jackowski
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Reviews for Escape Your Shape : How to Work Out Smarter, Not Harder (9780743217484)