WE ARE NOT ALL CREATED EQUAL: TRAIN RIGHT FOR YOUR BODY TYPEAugust 06, 2016 08:24 AM
There are many different reasons we are all shaped so differently, from our genetic makeup and ancestry, to how we were fed growing up, as well as how active or sedentary our lifestyles were and are now. The general consensus is that there are 3 main categories for body types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. Most of us fit into just one of these categories but some can argue that they are a combination of two. Depending on my training and diet, I can personally fluctuate between an Ectomorph and Mesomorph. I definitely prefer being more of a Mesomorph so I “Tailor” my workouts in a fashion to keep density and muscle mass with strength training and smart cardio. To achieve your ideal body composition is less about how many hours you put in at the gym, but the quality of your training. Once you understand your body type, what causes you inflammation, and what makes you thrive, then you’ll be able to workout smarter, and with an effortless flow. Here are the main body types and the best ways to train to either gain, stay fit, or lose some inches.
Ectomorphs are the prototypical tall skinny creatures walking around eating whatever they want without gaining an ounce. They are very lean, have long limbs, and an incredible difficulty in building muscle mass. They are hard gainers with smaller, delicate frames, flat chests, and can metabolize food very fast. They can usually crush carbs like no ones business, and still pinch their belly to just pull skin. The downside of this is they struggle to pack on muscle because their fast twitch muscle fibres are underdeveloped. This means that when they train these muscle fibres tend to be less responsive in multiplying to create more muscle density. It’s all about adding more of these muscle fibres with the proper training techniques.
Ectomorphs should focus more on strength training and compound lifts that will release more growth hormone, while also keeping cardio to a minimum. If you want to put on more muscle then your days of 6-10 mile runs and everyday spin class are over. Smart cardio like a slow burning uphill climb with a controlled heart rate, or letting your cardio count for an increased intensity in your lifting session is more than enough. I recommend two days of low-intensity cardio with high resistance, focusing on strengthening muscle groups, controlling your heart rate, and keeping your inflammation down. Also, get your core nice and strong with variations of planks and V sits for long holds and with a present breath pattern. Its ok to isolate muscle groups here and there, with some curls for the girls, but make sure that a bulk part of your workout comes from compound lifts that engage more muscle groups, like squats, leg press, dead lifts, and incline press to give you more of a hormonal boost.
The best part is that you don’t have to live in the gym, less is more. Working out too much will speed back up your metabolism and you’ll be back at square skinny one. You can really get away with 3 days a week, and around 40 minutes a day, with a couple chill cardio days. Make sure you stay present and really focus on your compound lifts, don’t rush through the workout. The more your muscles have to work, the more fibres will multiply in order to take on the workload that you are forcing upon them. Lastly, get some BCAAs and glutamine in your stomach directly after, followed by a protein shake, and then a real meal. Ectomorphs have a tendency to be more catabolic, meaning they are always breaking down, so its important to eat right and on time in order to switch your body back to an anabolic state to recover faster and build your muscle back up. To gain muscle you’ll need to be consuming around 3000 calories a day but smart calories, and at the right time. Post workout is a crucial time to replenish so don’t mess this up!
Mesomorph body types are blessed with very athletic and chiseled physiques. Its like they hit the genetic lottery, but this can be a blessing and a curse. Usually when you don‘t have to work for it, you tend to take it for granted which will result in unproductive workouts and poor diet. When I was playing college football there were plenty of genetic freaks on my team that could eat McDonalds breakfast, lunch, and dinner and still look like an action figure. They pack on very symmetrical muscle and their builds were usually harder, denser, and stronger. Instead of taking this gift for granted and slipping into years of poor dietary choices and going to the gym to socialize, make the most out of the cards you were dealt by following a tactical plan to enhance the quality of your life.
The skeletal muscle-specific gene myogenin is a key developmental regulator for skeletal muscle formation and is one of the better studied tissue-specific genes. When mesomorphs do the same compound strength training workouts as Ectomorphs, Mesomorphs enjoy a 65% increase in myogenin, while Ectomorphs see no response. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a prime example of how a mesomorph can maximize their myogenin potential. Even though its obvious he had other contributing factors, he used it all to make the most out of his ability to multiply these muscle fibres. If you are a mesomorph girl and want to get leaner, then the best workouts would be athletic type movements, high intensity interval (HITT) training to strip away fat, and supersets with weights to stay shredded overall. Muscle density will always be there so its up to the individual if they want to lean out or get denser. I fluctuate back and forth between a Mesomorph and an Ectomorph and it has everything to do with my workouts. I’ve noticed that too much cardio increases my chances of being an Ectomorph, where I’d much rather be a Mesomorph and work on packing on more hard muscle. Therefore, I do a combination of power lifts, athletic moves, and heavy lifting until failure in order to get more of my myogenin to respond.
Unfortunately, endomorphs have the strongest tendency to hold onto weight and store the most body fat. Some experts are saying that their genetics might make up around 70% of their body mass index. If you are having trouble shifting your weight and feel hopeless because you’ve worked so hard and dieted so well, then chances are your’e an endomorph. This isn’t the end of the world, its just that your journey will be different then that of a blessed mesomorph, and if you stay present everyday and chip away, you’ll come out the other end with so much strength and way more growth. Your journey is all about earning every inch and when you do, you will be so much more grateful then any other body type.
Endomorphs tend to store a bulk of their weight in the stomach, hips, butt, and thighs. Its important to focus on building your upper body, especially your upper back to even out your weight distribution. Since they store fat easily they need to have will power when it comes to sugar and high glycemic foods to stay insulin sensitive and keep their cortisol levels balanced. A lower calorie diet full of good fats and fiber, moderate protein, and tons of green foods, accompanied by some intermittent fasting will help their bodies burn more fat for fuel. When it comes to training I have a backwards approach to what most endomorphs think they should be doing to burn stubborn body fat. Most endomorphs think they need to slave away at a cardio machine or treadmill for hours, which sounds absolutely dreadful. I want you to weight train, and I want you to weight train heavy! You might be thinking but wait, isn’t that just going to bulk me up? In my experience working with overweight clients, as long as their diets are on point with a higher fat/fiber and low sugar approach, then a hypertrophy workout of heavy weights and low reps will stimulate more lean muscle growth, fat burning, and a controlled stress hormone. Heavy lifting forces the body to recruit more muscle fibres to take on this foreign new load. When this happens you’ll burn more calories during your workout and for the rest of the day.
Dedicate 2 days out of the week to these heavy lifting days, 1 day for upper body and 1 day for lower body. This is one of the best kept secrets in changing your body composition to that perfect V shaped look. Its very important on these days to get adequate amino acids for recovery like BCAAs and Glutamine, as well as a good protein shake following right after. Don’t load up on carbs and instead let your body secrete more growth hormone so you can burn more fat. Endomorphs can afford to be exercising 4-6 days a week and on their off days they should be intermittent fasting. 2 days heavy lifting, 2 days of cardio, and 1 day of full body circuit training with high reps, lower weight, concentrated movements, and a controlled heart rate. Don’t “spaz” out at the gym going crazy from machine to machine because that will only kick your cortisol levels way up! It’s all about having patience and realizing that you are on a journey everyday of self improvement. The 2 days of cardio need to be doing something that you enjoy. Concentrate on having fun so that you benefit from kicking up your serotonin levels and keep your stress hormone in check. if you are competitive, play some pick up basketball until you are drenched in sweat, or go on a nice long hike with a friend that you’ve wanted to catch up with, but please don’t walk on the treadmill for hours perusing the explore page for hot chicks on Instagram. Use up these cardio days in the early morning on an empty stomach so your body can utilize your fat storage for energy.
Lastly, intermittent fast on your days off and take advantage of a spa day or massage. To reduce overall body inflammation look into places in your area that have cryotherapy, a cold plunge and hot sauna, or take it to the next level with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Recovering faster by staying anabolic is important for every body type but especially crucial for Endomorphs.
(image from https://duniafitnes.com)