If you’ve ever tried a fitness routine that worked wonders for someone else but after sweating it out for months, isn’t doing a damn thing for you, ask yourself if you’re exercising for your body type.
We all have different bodies, but we can almost always be categorized as falling mostly into one category of body type: namely, mesomorph, endomorph or ectomorph. Each of these types has its own unique characteristics that inform how to exercise for best results. But again, very seldom are people completely one or the other. Most of us are a mix of two or three.
So, once you are able to identify your body type, it becomes exponentially easier to train for that type.
It also becomes easier to learn to eat for that body type. To learn all about how your body type influences your diet, read our insanely popular blog,Macro Measuring Made Easy.
You have mesomorph traits if you:
Gain muscle easily
Have an athletic body
Have defined muscles
Have a strong, hard body
Can gain fat without much effort
Variety will be the spice of your training life, as will cycles of intense activity (like HIIT and HIRT) for three to four weeks followed by lower intensity exercise (like jogging, swimming and yoga) for a week or two.
In your higher intensity weeks, aim to do heavy compound movements to start a session followed by isolation moves to burn out muscles for solid results. For example, if you’re training your upper body, start your session withdecline push-ups, pull-ups, bench-presses, underhand barbell rows and cleans.
Then, finish with tricep extensions, single arm back flyes, bicep curls, chest flyes and lateral and front raises.
Since mesomorphs have a natural bodybuilder genetics, keep your rep ranges in the standard range of 8-12 reps, except for calves which can go up to 25 reps.
You will need to keep your exercise fresh to avoid plateaus, so change up exercises, reps, sets and rest to see the best results. Also change up timing, doing slower reps (ex: 3 counts down and 3 counts up, or 1 count down and 3 counts up) sometimes as well as explosive plyometric moves.
Learn more about plyometricshere.
Learn more about rep timinghere.
As for cardio, mesomorphs don’t require much of it--with the exception of those explosive, plyometric movements which will concomitantly train your cardiovascular system and your muscles. Otherwise, 20 minutes of cardio two to three times a week is enough for you to see the benefits to your heart and lungs.
You may have an advantage when it comes to building lean muscle mass, but unless you take the time to rest and rejuvenate, you won’t see all the gains.
Aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night and respect your sore muscles by not training a muscle group that is not fully recovered. So if you’re in pain, don’t train (that muscle group).
It’s also important that you mind your energy levels and motivation. If you’re finding yourself devoid of desire to train, then take a day off--it doesn’t matter if you planned to train that day or not. Your body can work hard, but it needs to rest hard too.
You have ectomorph traits if you:
Have a slight frame
Have difficulty gaining weight
Your muscle mass is lean
Have smaller shoulders
Ectomorphs will often see sustainable benefit from split training. This is when you focus on one or two muscle groups per workout. For example, one day you train your chest and back. Another day, core and shoulders. Another day, legs and glutes. Another day, biceps and triceps.
You would only want to target each muscle group once a week and make sure you get plenty of rest between sessions.
As an ectomorph, you will also want to ensure your training has a lot of variety. In addition to increasing weight, you can add a few extra reps or more sets.
Aim to make as many movements as possible compound movements (ex: tricep dips, which work triceps as well as your chest, shoulders and back) as opposed to using a lot of isolation moves (ex: tricep kickbacks, which only work your triceps). This way, you work more muscle groups at once and will see more lean mass on more of your body.
Since ectomorphs don’t gain muscle mass easily, challenge yourself with your resistance. It’s okay if you can only do 6 reps of a move!
Cardio training is not a huge priority for an ecomorph, but it is still important to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Aim to cardio train at a moderate to low intensity 2-3 times a week for 20 minutes.
The high metabolic rate of ectomorphs means at least 8 hours of sleep a night is essential for muscular growth. Don’t train when you feel low on energy (not to be confused with just not feeling like exercising!).
You have endomorph traits if you:
Have a rounder body
Are shorter and stocky in build
Find it difficult to lose fat
Gain fat and muscle easily
Have wider hips than shoulders
Have more fat on upper arms and thighs
Have thinner ankles and wrists
Train your whole body for the first month if you’re new to lifting. Start with compound movements, then after that first month, incorporate some split training.
In general, endomorphs are going to want to switch up their training every four to five weeks to avoid plateaus and keep seeing results.
Your training focus is high-intensity (no more than 9-12 reps for upper body and 10-20 reps for lower body) with short periods of rest (no more than one minute).
Use supersets (pairing two exercises that work different or opposing muscle groups) to burn more fat and help chisel more defined muscles.
While endomorphs need to train consistently to see results, there should also be two days rest between training the same muscle group.
Endomorphs need 7-8 sleep for ideal recovery.
SO WHICH BODY TYPE ARE YOU?
Remember, we often don’t fit neatly into just one category but we are usually more of one than another and by using these training paradigms as a guideline, you can start exercising more effectively for your body type.
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