Know Your Body Type
When training for results it is important to know your body type.
This will help you understand how your body stores fat, builds muscle and reacts to different types of training.
There are three general categories of body types; Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph. Many people think that “body type” just describes the way a person looks, but your body type can also provide information about how you respond to food intake and exercise.
Understanding your body type will help you to strategically & successfully plan your training and diet. Once you establish your body type, you can adjust nutrient intake to maximise your fitness composition and health related goals.
Most people have a body type that marks them as an ectomorph (lean), an endomorph (higher body fat), or a mesomorph (muscular). However, is important to note that not everyone falls perfectly into one of the three categories. It is possible and probable that you are a mix of all three however one type will usually be more dominant.
No matter what body type you are, training along with good nutrition can completely change the appearance of one’s body. Here I explain all three body types in detail so you can accurately determine your own body type and how to train and eat in a way that is best suited to you, ensuring you get the best results from your training regime.
Are you the type?
Ectomorphs have the build of a marathon runner – lean, but short on muscle. Usually they have long thin limbs with stringy muscles and narrow shoulders. With a fast metabolism, this body type is the most resistant to weight gain and are often able to overeat, while gaining little, to no extra weight.
Workouts should be short, lifting heavy and have longer rest periods between sets. If you are not trying to lose weight cardio should be kept to a minimal.
Strength training with limited cardio is best for Ectomorphs, and it is recommend to use simple routines with heavy compound movements, sets in the 6-10 rep range and minimal isolation movements per muscle group. Ectomorphs would benefit from incorporating a shock technique day using supersets.
Rest time should be kept between 2-3 minutes and at least 1 rest day should be taken in between the last lifting day and the optional superset day.
If you are an ectomorph wanting to build muscle or tone up, you might think you will need to live in the gym, however it is quite the opposite. Strength training also burns calories. If you’re working out too many times a week you will be speeding up your metabolism too much. Try limit your training to three strength training workouts a week, keeping the actual training time after a warm-up to 45 minutes or less.
What to eat:
Ectomorphs struggle to add size to their frame. Because of their fast metabolic rate and a high carbohydrate tolerance they burn calories too efficiently, preventing them from putting on weight, so diet is especially important.
Ectomorphs should eat more food and eat more frequently, aim for 6-8 meals spread over the course of the day, and always eat breakfast. This should be your largest meal, consisting primarily of complex carbohydrates and protein.
Ectomorphs should respond well to carbs, which will spike blood sugar and help to drive protein to their muscles. With a high carb tolerance, you should be eating a greater percentage of high carb foods. With more carbs during/post workout than any other time of the day.
Carb timing should include starchy, whole grain, unprocessed, complex carbs such as sweet potatoes and brown rice. Veggies and/or fruits should also be eaten at each meal. Consume quality sources of protein and healthy fats. Fats found in nuts, seeds and avocado will also benefit ectomorphs. Aim for up to 2 grams per kilo of bodyweight per day of protein, but be wary of overdoing it. Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them.
If muscle building is your goal, use a high calorie weight gainer shake to help build mass. A carb/whey protein shake before and during your workout is recommended. Casein protein is also recommended and should be eaten before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night.
The look: Lean and long
Typical traits of an Ectomorph:
Small “delicate” frame and bone structure
Lean muscle mass
Finds it hard to gain weight
Low body fat
The look: Pear-shaped
Typical traits of an Endomorph:
Soft and round body
Gains muscle and fat very easily
Is generally short
Finds it hard to lose fat
Muscles not so well defined
Are you the type?
The endomorph body type is solid, generally soft, and gains fat very easily. If you have trouble shifting weight, chances are you’re an endomorph.
Endomorphs are usually a shorter build with thick arms & legs. Their muscles are strong, especially the upper legs, and are naturally strong in leg exercises like squatting.
When it comes to training, endomorphs find it very easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, a large portion of this weight is fat and not muscle. To keep fat gain to a minimum, endomorphs must always train using cardio as well as weights. Around four days of weight and cardio training throughout the week is recommended to ensure that the increased metabolic response from each training session will spill over into rest days. Include cardio into each workout, and no matter if an endomorph is bulking or cutting, weight training should be the main focus. An increased amount of muscle mass will increase their base metabolic rate, decreasing their chances of storing fat.
Train in the 15+ repetition range at a fast training pace with 30-45 second rest periods between sets. Focus on compound lifts to burn more calories.
What to eat:
Endomorphs typically do best on a diet with a higher fat and protein intake with carbohydrate intake being controlled and properly timed after exercise. The ideal intake of daily macros is around 25% carbs, 35% protein, and 40% fat.
Because endomorphs are not very carb tolerant, the best tactic is to avoid high carb/starchy carb foods for any time other than after a workout. This means consuming only proteins, fats, veggies and fruits outside the workout window. Nutrients such as green tea and spinach will help with the fat burning process. Endomorphs have to watch what they eat more strictly than people with other body shapes. They should get their carbs from vegetables and steer clear of white bread and white rice.
Endomorphs should portion meals appropriately (1 fist size equals one serving) and divide their daily calorie intake between 5-6 meals a day, ensuring they take in 200-500 less than their BMR (Base Metabolism Rate - your maintenance calorie intake).
The look: Well-built
Typical traits of a Mesomorph:
Generally hard body
Well defined muscles
Rectangular shaped body
Gains muscle easily
Gains fat more easily than ectomorphs
Are you the type?
The mesomorph body type responds quickly and easily to weight training. Gains are usually seen very quickly, especially for beginners.
A mesomorph has a larger bone structure, a naturally athletic physique and they typically have a considerable amount of lean mass. Mesomorphs find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong and tend to be testosterone and growth hormone dominant, which leads to a predisposition for muscle gain and the maintenance of a lower body fat.
Mesomorphs are naturally strong and respond quickly to exercise. Usually a combination of weight training and cardio works best for mesomorphs. Multiple weekly resistance training sessions using moderate to heavy weights with limited rest between sets help mesomorphs build size. Do upper and lower body compound exercises using two to three sets of 8-12 repetitions each, resting between 30 and 60 seconds after each set. Combine weight training with cardio to ensure you keep body fat low while increasing muscle mass.
What to eat:
Mesomorphs typically do best on a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. A macronutrient split of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat can work well for mesomorphs.
The downside to mesomorphs is they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs. This means they must watch their calorie intake. Mesomorphs tend to have a moderate carb tolerance and should minimise high starchy/sugary carb foods outside the workout window, except for breakfast after an overnight fast. This means eating higher carb/starchy carb foods in the morning, as well as during/post exercise. The rest of the meals would consist of less dense carb foods and more lean proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Meal times should be broken into 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day and they should be sure to consume enough calories to maintain muscle mass.