How do you find the right exercise? Do you answer the quizzes in the magazines, watch other people in the gym, listen to your best friend, or try the latest crazes? Has anything worked?

I prescribe workout plans to the simple idea of body type. Are you a banana, apple or pear? All three types have their own characteristics that include body fat and muscle. Your body type is determined genetically and truly can be enhanced by your type of workout.

The banana, or the ectomorph, is characterized by higher body fat and has a difficult time building muscle. They generally have long limbs, feet and fingers, and do not gain weight very easily. They are considered “skinny” and often times too skinny. We see many of them running long distance races, which unfortunately only enhances their body type. I recommend resistance training programs for the banana to build more muscle mass and create strong bones, since this is the body type more prone to osteoporosis. The banana should cut down on their cardio to build muscle and may create more curves by swimming, using the water as resistance.

The apple, or the mesomorph, is characterized by an up-side-down triangle shape. They are those “fit” people that we see in Southern California. They are generally more lean and muscular, although if they do gain weight, it is in their upper body. A common belief is that mesomorphs have it made, with their strong and athletic builds. However, women especially, find themselves being too bulky too easily. I recommend a combination of equal cardiovascular exercise combined with weight training for the mesomorph, to keep a good combination of lean muscle mass and body fat. The mesomorph is able to keep their muscles longer and less bulky by adding yoga or Pilates into their program. The combination of movement, posture and breath control in these two types of exercise can create a less bulky look.

The pear, or endomorph, is a body type characterized by a smaller upper body with more curves or body fat around the hips and upper thighs. This body type has strong legs and a smaller, less muscular, upper body. Most women and some men fall in to this body type. While endomorphs have a tougher time than other body types in losing fat, they are often just as fit as other body types.

For pears, who usually carry extra fat around the lower abdomen, hips and thighs, the key is to start with a program that burns calories instead of a lot of strength training. The extra weight they carry can cause increased pressure on lower joints such as knees, hips and feet, so it is important for pears to at first avoid engaging in exercises that can add stress to these areas. That means trading high-impact exercises like tennis, jumping rope or other activities that involve intense and repetitive movements for low-impact cardio workouts like walking or biking. Light weight training is also important to increase mid and upper back strength.

The most important aspect of any effective exercise program is to find the one that is right for you, mentally and physically. By doing the appropriate exercises for your body type, you will achieve your desired goals faster, and you will find yourself motivated to stick with it.