Make your workout work out for you! Train according to your body type
Written by Hannah Warne
We hope you enjoyed our last blog on harnessing your hormones and getting the best from your exercise routine during your menstrual cycle (link at the end of this blog). Have you managed to have a go at putting some of the information into practice? The next logical step to help you get the best from your training is looking at how your body shape can influence how it responds to exercise.
There are 3 main body types. I’m not talking about apple, pear and hourglass. Those are out-dated and less than flattering terms used by the fashion industry. It’s healthier, more positive, not to mention more constructive, to know them scientifically; ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. It’s unlikely you’ll fit solely into one shape and you will likely fall between somatotype (body-shape) but you will be predominantly one. This is predetermined by your genes (not your jeans!). If you know your body type you can maximise the benefits of your eating and training to achieve your goals. Are you ready to learn more? Then read on…
Identify your body shape
Let’s start by looking at the Ectomorph. Ectomorphs are typified by their long limbs and slight frames. There is a danger of being “skinny fat” however, which means although they may be slim, there can still be a high percentage of body fat. They can struggle to gain muscle mass.
Endomorphs are more or less a direct opposite of an ectomorph. They are softer, rounder and have a higher level of body fat, however they can build muscle far easier.
In between Endomorphs and Ectomorphs we have Mesomorphs. Generally, proportionally built and can build muscle super-easily (arguably the body type we’d all like to have, no?!).
How to train according to your shape
Once you’ve identified your somatotype, you need to know how to get the best from your training. It’s also a good idea to know the best thing for you to eat.
As we said above, Ectomorphs are typically slim, and as you might expect, are able to eat whatever they like. Their high metabolism means they’re unlikely to gain weight. “Lucky ectomorphs!” I hear you cry! Not necessarily. Being resistant to weight gain also means they are resistant to build muscle mass as well.
For an Ectomorph looking to build muscle, you need to increase your calorie intake and focus on eating good quality fats and regularly consuming protein (3-4 hours). In terms of exercise, you need to be looking at fewer reps of heavier weights. You should be able to do 10-12 reps of an exercise, but no more, without losing form. If you can do that, you’ve hit the right weight/intensity. Focus on power and resistance to build strength.
Remember how we said mesomorphs have the most enviable body shape? Well not only do they lose weight and gain muscle easily, they can also gain weight easily so it’s not all plain sailing!
Mesomorphs are best build for power and speed – explosive sports. They have more fast-twitch muscle fibres and can gain muscle mass much more quickly.
The best training for a mesomorph is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), plyometrics (jump training) or moderate endurance training.
The diet for a mesomorph can change depending on what their goals are, but generally speaking, think about good quality fats, moderate carbohydrates and timing protein intake around workouts.
As an ectomorph making a conscious effort to exercise daily is really important as is eating the right food to fire up your metabolism. Good quality fats (do you see a theme here? Good quality fats are so important for women!!) – although fewer of them – and protein are the food you should be seeking and limiting the intake of carbohydrate.
As far as exercise goes, you want to be doing plenty of cardiovascular exercise. If you need to lose a lot of weight first, make sure this includes non-weight bearing activities such as swimming or cycling since jumping straight into a lot of running can cause joint issues in hips, knees and ankles.
Once a good level of cardio fitness has been achieved then adding HIIT workouts and cross-training will be very beneficial as it increases the metabolic rate after the exercise session.
In summary then…
- Tend to be tall and slim, although risk being “skinny-fat”. They struggle to gain muscle mass.
- The best exercises are those that involve power and/or resistance.
- Need to increase your calorie intake and focus on good quality fats and carbohydrates with a moderate intake of protein.
- Gain and lose weight easily but also build muscle mass quickly.
- Have strong and athletic body type so excel at explosive sports that use power and speed.
- The best diet includes good quality fats, moderate carbohydrates and well-timed protein and BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) intake.
- Are softer and rounder in shape with curvy fuller figures, however build muscle relatively easily.
- Need to make a conscious effort to exercise daily and should focus on cardio before moving to HIIT which fires up the metabolism for longer. Moderate endurance training is also good.
- Need to limit carbohydrate and focus on good quality fats and protein.
Next time you head out for a workout, think about what you’ve read here today and whether your workout is the most effective for your body-type and how you could change it.
As promised above, here is the link for our last blog, Harness your hormones – Ruby Fury. We would love to know over on our community group on Facebook whether you’ve been able to put any of this into practice and if it’s made a noticeable impact on your training!
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