Our body type plays a big role in what we are and are not able to do physically. This has to do with genetics, diet and exercise. This article is going to focus on how to train for your specific body type.
There are three main body types and everybody has a combination of each with usually one being dominant, namely:
- The Ectomorph:
Ectomorphs are classically defined as thin, slim with relatively little muscle and fat (often referred to as the ruler). They generally have a very fast metabolism and struggle to put on weight. Ectomorphs will generally struggle with high volumes of exercise and are usually better at flexibility exercises or cardio.
This is due to a high level of type one muscle fibers (highly oxidative), they are smaller and produce less power than type two muscle fibers. However, they are more resistant to fatigue.
Training tips for Ectomorphs:
- Set realistic goals and don’t try to be Hercules on day one,
Goals serve as a very important way of measuring progress remember it will often take a few weeks before you can see the results physically. Goals help to show you that you are achieving and allows you to experience some satisfaction along the way. Goals should be distinct, exact and have a time frame. Remember to challenge yourself while at the same time being realistic.
When you start off first keep to the basics and don’t lift too heavy or too often. Set basic goals that you would like to achieve short medium and long term.
- Increase tolerance for weighted training
- Increase lean muscle mass and strength
- To put on 500g a week
- To lift 2 kgs heavier
- Put on 2 kgs
- Increase chest circumference by 1cm
- Lift x kgs
- To weigh x kgs
- To be able to squat xkgs
The heavier the weight, the more damage that it does to the muscle so be careful.
- Keep it simple
Don’t try fancy workouts with overly complex set combinations, just keep to the basics and allow your body to get used to lifting weights slowly do not do too much cardio in between if you are trying to put on weight.
- Short workouts are key
Ectomorphs don’t tolerate large amounts of exercise well especially weight training. The Shorter workout will be more intense and decrease the risk of overtraining.
- Change the exercises every two months
Your body is likely to plateau if you do not change the exercise, also you are likely to get bored if you do the same workouts week in and week out.
Ectomorphs require a lot more consistency in order to gain weight. If they stop for a period of time, gains are lost quickly. The body needs to be trained to handle the stress of the weights and higher intensity.
- Rest days are important
It is very important to get enough sleep and rest. Rest is the time when the muscles grow after they have been damaged. If you do not get enough rest, overtraining will result and your results will suffer. In the beginning try not to train more than 4 days a week allowing the body to recover in between sessions.
Make sure that you are eating enough calories in your diet. Using protein shakes and meal replacements is an easy way to supplement your calorie intake and ensure that your protein intake is adequate. Calorie intake should be 10-15% higher than your daily calorie expenditure. Try to eat unrefined natural foods as these are much better for you. Be sure to have something to eat or drink directly after training ideally a protein shake like 100% whey as this decreases the muscle breakdown and immediately refuels the muscles for repair. Eating at regular intervals helps muscles to have access to the amino acids they need to decrease breakdown throughout the day.
- Exercise all the main muscle groups
Ensure that your program involves exercises for each muscle group either in combination or on their own. Doing all the exercises with the correct form to decrease risk of injury.
- The Endomorph:
Endomorphs are the opposite of the ectomorph and are generally large and round with high levels of body fat and muscle (The apples and pears). Endomorphs usually struggle to lose weight especially fat.
Endomorphs generally have a high percentage of type two muscle fibers (glycolytic) which produce a lot of power but fatigue quickly as the energy produced is usually anaerobic.
Training tips for Endomorphs:
- Set realistic goals
lose 500g per week
Decrease body fat by 2%
- Just because there is fat doesn’t mean there isn’t muscle
Endomorphs generally have a large muscle mass covered by fat, therefore they can start by lifting heavier weights with lower risk. Again you need to be sensible and not try too heavy or too much to begin with as the body still needs to adjust.
Nutrition is very important if you are trying to lose weight or fat. Not eating will cause your body to preserve as much of its stores as possible and slow down metabolism. The best way to do it is to eat a marginally calorie deficient diet but calories consumed should not be more than 15% less than those expended per day. A healthy weight loss is 500g a week as this is sustainable and does not negatively affect the body. Ensure to eat post workout in order to sustain muscle.
- Cardio, Cardio, Cardio
Cardio is very important in order to lose fat. There are two techniques ideal for endomorphs.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Low and Slow
HIIT makes best use of high intensity for a short period of time maximising use of type two muscles for a short period of time in order to preserve muscle and maximise calorie expenditure. This usually burn more calories from carbohydrate but total calorie expenditure is higher.
Low and slow involves very low intensity exercise for a long period of time. This uses less calories but all the calories burned come from fat because the intensity is not high enough to move into carbohydrate metabolism.
Try not to do cardio too close to weight training as it will negatively affect the outcome of training especially if doing HIIT cardio.
- The Mesomorph:
Mesomorph are characterised by a muscular frame with low amounts of body fat. They are generally involved in demanding sports or train regularly. They generally have a high metabolism with a mixture of type one and two muscles. Their bodies are best suited for exercise and usually recover the quickest.
Training tips for Mesomorphs:
- Setting Goals and tracking (diet, exercise and sleep)
Set realistic goals making sure you are specific and include a timeline. Track all possible variables in order to be able to show improvement or where things are going wrong.
- High Intensity is a must
Mesomorphs require the most intense workouts to maintain or grow the muscle. The muscles should need to rest after each set and should be pushed to their limits at least once during the workout.
- Use a variety of workout techniques
Techniques such as drop sets, negative training, supersets etc make workouts more challenging and prevent the muscle from reaching a plateau. Hey are great for increasing intensity to overload your muscle.
- Use a variety of workout Styles
By changing the number of reps, speed reps and the exercises, you challenge the muscle in different ways forcing the muscle to improve and adapt.
A very important part of any training is maintaining good nutrition. If the muscles are not fed properly they will not grow or be maintained. Calorie intake should match training goals for example if in a bulking stage intake should be slightly higher than expenditure maintenance intake and expenditure should be the same and cutting intake should be slightly lower than expenditure.