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How To Train For Your Body Type

When you look at your birthday suit in the mirror, what do you see? Unless you are some sort of genetic muscle mutant, your body will fall into one of the three typical body shapes. American psychologist William Sheldon popularized three broad categories of body in the 1940s. Since Sheldon’s conclusions were published it has become widely recognized that most people have a body type. These are:

  • Ectomorph:

     Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle.

  • Endomorph:

     Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat.

  • Mesomorph:

     Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells.

But what do these three terms mean in reality? Concisely, ectomorphs stay lean despite hours in the gym, endomorphs struggle to shift their gut, and mesomorphs pack on muscle with ease. Learning which body shape you were born with, and understanding what that means for your training and diet plans, will help you train smarter to maximize your potential and get closer to building the body that you’ve always wanted.

Falling between categories

Although there are three clear body types, it’s important to be aware that these aren’t set in stone. The three body types exist but probably never in their pure form, We all have some aspects of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy. The Heath-Carter method is a system for rating what mix of type your are. You can waver outside the range, but it's typically within the numbers. You are scored in an order with endomorphy first, then mesomorph, then ectomorphy. A 1-7-5 would be a mesoectomorph – a tall muscular person with little fat

Under the Heath-Carter system, an extreme mesomorph would be rated 1-7-1, an extreme endomorph 7-1-1 and an extreme ectomorph 1-1-7. Almost everyone is a mix, so it’s a case of identifying your own body type and how it fits into each category. You could be a mix of mesomorph and endomorph where you gain muscle quickly but also put on weight easily if you relax your diet. Or the Ideal mix: a muscular mesomorph who can strip fat rapidly from just a couple of daily practices.  The chart below shows where athletes from various sports fit in the Heath-Carter system. It’s a good starting point for identifying your own body type.

Whatever your characteristics, you should know that regardless of your body type, anyone can get lean or put on considerable muscle mass – and, equally, get fat if they’re not careful. It might be harder for a skinny guy to become Mr Universe, but it’s not impossible. You will find more information on how to identify your own body type – or mixture of types – and learn how to tailor your fitness tactics to it: what you should be doing in the gym and the kitchen, where you might be going wrong, what to eat, what moves make the biggest difference and how supplements can help you improve further. At the very least, you will gain a better understanding of why your body is the shape it is and know how to get the best out of your genetic make-up.

The Importance Of Sleep

Whatever your body type, to get the most out of your training you need to focus on your nutrition  and recovery – key to the latter is sleep. The positive effects of getting enough sleep is vital. Most of us tend to associate testosterone and growth hormone with pure muscle growth. However, they are equally important in aiding fat loss and recovery from exercise. Sleep has a massive say on your body’s production hormones.

A University of Chicago study found that if your levels of sleep fall below eight hours a night over the course of a week, testosterone can be lowered by 10% or more. Your body’s levels of testosterone and growth hormone are also regulated by the amount of sleep you gain within a daily cycle known as a “circadian rhythm”. You should aim to synchronise your circadian rhythm with daylight and night-time.

Your sleep can be negatively affected by unusual or additional light at night. A great step you can take to alleviate any light interaction with sleep is to switch off lights and electronic devices at least one hour before you go to sleep.

Want to know your Body Type?

Train for the right body shape and you can outsmart your genes

  • Ectomorph Body Type
  • Endomorph Body Type
  • Mesomorph Body Type
  • Ectomorph Body Type

    You’ve got the build of a marathon runner – lean, but short on muscle. It can be a challenge to add mass despite hours in the gym.

    Ectomorphs are good at processing carbohydrates into energy and your fast metabolism means that burning fat is second nature to you. The downside is that you struggle to add muscle because your fast-twitch fibers are underdeveloped. To become more muscular keep your cardio sessions to a minimum and focus on intense workouts using compound exercises to maximize growth hormone release. You’ll also shoud consider to take on about 3,000 calories a day including plenty of starchy carbs and whey protein, possibly from a supplement.

    You are because…
    The number of cells surrounding your muscle fibers and your ability to add more by strength training. In one study of 66 people, the top 17 “responders” experienced a 58% gain in muscle cross-sectional area, while the bottom 17 gained nothing. Unfortunately for ectomorphs, they tend to be the worst “responders".
    Why my approach may need to change…
    The first thing you should do is minimize your cardio-vascular activities. Think and act differently. Ectomorphs often get emotionally connected to long, slow distance runs. Your goal is add muscle, it’s the worst thing you can do. Additionally, the seduction to add classic isolation exercises, such as the biceps curl to your daily practice is counter-productive Your focus should intently involve compound movements, such as the squat. It's an holistic exercise which involve more muscles and give you the hormonal boost that helps build muscle. Isolation exercise is recommended, but they are supplement to your main practice exercises – 80% of exercises should be working big muscle groups.
    What should I doing…
    Strength training for three days a week coupled with two days of low-intensity cardio.  Great abs exercises to start include the bicycle crunch and exercise ball abs crunches. Compound exercise which consists of sets in the eight-to-12 rep range and quite a lot of volume. Ten sets of ten reps in primary exercises such as the bench press or barbell squat. Also, there’s no need to live in the gym to add muscle. Conversely, If you’re practicing four, five days a week you will be speeding up your metabolism too much. Limit yourself to three practices a week, keeping the actual training time after a warm-up to 45 minutes or less.
    What's my diet like…
    In terms of nutrition, a diet that is high in calories, carbs, protein and fat will aid you in your quest for muscle gain. This should not be mistaken for eating precisely what you like. Rather, it just means you should eat more of what is healthy. Good news: you don’t have to steer clear of carbs such as oats, wholemeal bread and potatoes. Fats found in nuts, seeds and avocado will also bring about the right results. You should respond well to carbs, which will spike blood sugar and help to drive protein to your muscles. Focus on complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice. Aim for 2g per pound of bodyweight per day of protein minimum, but be wary of overdoing it. 

    If you are sub-15% body fat shoot for 8g carbs, 4g protein and 1g fat per lbs. of bodyweight on practice days. On rest days reduce the carbs to 7g. A high carb diet will spike blood sugar, helping drive protein to your muscles without elevating insulin resistance.

    Money Moves...
    Deadlift are your best friend: people with long arms should find it relatively easy, and it uses the entire body so it’ll pack on mass. Although squats and benching will do wonders for your physique, taller ectomorphs might find them difficult. Your longer extremities might give you trouble getting below parallel in the squat,  the leg press is highly recommended. 

    Cheat Sheet

    • Train with compound moves
    • Get enough protein
    • Use isolation moves as finishers
    • Overemphasize isolation moves
    • Do too much cardio
    • Ectomorphs have to work harder on the weights in order to gain a toned physique
  • Endomorph Body Type

    If you have trouble shifting weight, the chances are you’re an endomorph, characterised by a relatively high amount of stored fat, a wide waist and a large bone structure.

    Endomorphs are adept at storing fuel, with muscle and fat concentrated in the lower body. The endomorph is the hardest body type to have in terms of managing your weight and overall fitness, but to get a more balanced physique, you should focus on developing your shoulders and stripping away excess fat from your lower body. A low to medium intensity cardio plan will help you shift fat, as will a 1,750-calorie a day diet that’s high in fiber.

    You are because…
    The good news is that, in terms of evolution, you’re a badass: when food was scarce, natural selection favored humans with fat-storing metabolisms. The bad news is that, now sofas and milkshakes are readily available, those genes are hampering you. Some experts suggest heredity factors might account for as much as 70% of your body mass index (BMI).
    Why my approach may need to change…
    First, stop the long, slow, steady-state cardiovascular work and the hundreds of hundreds of crunches to try trim your gut. Spot-reducing fat doesn’t work. You need to lose it from everywhere to see results around your waistline. You should be doing more interval-based conditioning to strip away fat. Sprints and box jumps are great, but if you’re heavy to the point of being worried about your joints, then moves like the sled push are slower but just as intense.
    What should I doing…
    While much of your focus should be on shedding fat through aerobic exercise, however, weight training is best because it carries on burning calories long after your final set. What’s more, the calories you ingest during the recovery period will help your muscles grow rather than fueling your gut. It's recommend doing four days a week of hypertrophy training (heavy weight, low reps) alongside your cardio. Combine  muscle-building – with conditioning to strip away unwanted body fat.
    What's my diet like…
    a low-carb diet that still includes oats and brown rice should be complimented by a high protein and fiber intake. Nutrients such as green tea and spinach will help with the fat burning process. You’ll have to watch what you eat more strictly than people with other body shapes. Get your carbs from vegetables and steer clear of white bread and rice. Avoid sports drinks! They are full of carbs, and they will spike your blood sugar . Finally, minimize your alcohol intake.
    If you are sub-15% body fat should aim for 2.5g carbs, 3.5g protein and 1.3g fat per kg of bodyweight on training days. On rest days reduce the carbs to 2g. You are more susceptible to gain fat on high carb diets, so start low and only increase carbs if progress stalls.
    Money Moves...

    Get used to using your body. Work on bodyweight exercises such as the press-up or chin-up, and exercises that force you to use good technique.

    Cheat Sheet

    • Train with intensity
    • Watch your carb intake
    • Build your shoulders
    • Do endless crunches
    • Jog for hours
    • Drink sports drinks


  • Mesomorph Body Type

    If you are, you’ll know it from the envious looks. You look well built without setting foot in a gym, and pack on muscle the instant they pick up a dumbbell. If this sounds like you, you’ve hit the genetic jackpot – but you can make the most of your DNA with some tactical practice tricks.
    You have the body type that finds it easiest to gain new muscle and not likely to store much body fat. Mesomorphs are more inclined to take their naturally athletic builds for granted, which can result in watered-down practices and substandard diets.  Your sporadic approach to eating and training prevents you from becoming the best version of yourself.  The fundamental intention is to take advantage of your body shape. This means following a dynamic journey that will make you stronger and more athletic by increasing your power without getting too bulky. To fuel your practices, you’ll need around 2,500 calories a day, getting plenty of wholegrains but limiting your total fat intake.
    You are because…
    The same research that particularly unfavorable to ectomorphs presents plethora of positives for mesomorphs. While the worst responders in the study mentioned above saw no change in their regulation of myogenin – a vital gene responsible for muscle growth. The mesomorphs on the same program saw theirs ascend up to 65%.
    Why my approach may need to change…
    Because you think there isn't more to gain. You usually won’t train as hard as you can. 
    What should I doing…
    The objective is to train athletically. Because you respond well to low reps and power exercise try sprints, box and vertical jumps or other plyometrics. As another option, interval sprints will speed up your metabolism and trim away fat. Creatine responds well to your body type It will promote recovery from athletic practices and help you practice harder.  Althletic practices are explosive in nature, which reduces the eccentric [lowering] section of your exercises and helps stave off muscle soreness. In regards to your recovery, consider some light exercises on your rest days, it will help get the blood flowing and energized.  
    What's my diet like…
    Even though the usual caveats apply, the good news is that your body will respond well to whatever healthy food you put into it. You can eat a moderate amount of carbs. When it comes to protein err on the side of more . A basic guideline for mesomorphs to follow would be to consume meals that are 40% complex carbohydrates, 30% lean protein and 30% healthy fats. So, for example, a plate that contained vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, grilled chicken and olive oil on wholegrain bread would represent a staple dish for this body type.
    If you are sub-15% body fat should aim for 6g carbs, 4g protein and 1.2g fat per lb of bodyweight on training days. On rest days reduce the carbs to 5g. More healthy fats will make up for the reduced carbs without risking insulin sensitivity that can make you store fat.
    Money Moves...
    You’ll respond well to power exercises. Try pairing a strength exercise with a power exercise that works the same muscles. For example, superset five reps on the deadlift with five on the power clean.
    •  Train like an athlete
    •  Time your practices 
    •  Set personal bests
    •  Take your body for granted
    •  Eat whatever you like 

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