Kiss goodbye to fat or skinny, tall or short. These body type descriptions are a thing of the past when it comes to writing an effective training programme. Within seconds of meeting you, your Personal Trainer has not only judged you but put you into one of three categories. Contrary to popular belief, however, this time it’s not a bad thing, this one's for your own good.
We all know, everybody is different. Break it down, every body is different. Every body, therefore, responds uniquely to any given training regime. Though each body is unique, fitness professionals use three categories to define bodytype and build a programme which will maximise your results accordingly.
Which Body Type am I?
Let’s take a look at the three different body types, as you read through each profile you should be able to recognise traits in yourself. The three different body types used are defined as somatotypes.
Introducing the Ectomorph
Typically, an Ectomorph will have a small build and a linear physique which can be described as resembling a rectangle. Their frame is ‘delicate’ and they have little fat or muscle.
Key features to look for:
- Small Chest
- Long limbs
- Finds it difficult to gain weight
- Low body fat
Celebrity Example: Mo Farah / Paula Radcliffe
Ectomorphs are often referred to as your ‘hard gainers’, this group of people struggle to gain muscle and have a fast metabolism, meaning they are less likely to gain fat as well. These are the people who seem to eat and eat and never gain any weight. Lucky. Ectomorphs fast metabolism also requires a higher carbohydrate intake than other body types, as they burn energy quickly. Endurance sports and events are where the ectomorph will dominate as this body type is better at thermoregulation.Typically their body type means they make the perfect runner's, light and agile. If running isn’t for you, ectomorphs light frame is well suited to aerobic activity such as gymnastics due to their lower body weight. In order to support this lighter frame typically ectomorphs will require Hypertrophy (muscle building) training. Lifting weights will help to increase their bone density and enhance the strength of their naturally weaker build, which is more susceptible to injury. Female ectomorphs may use hypertrophy training to build curves on their naturally slight frame whilst male ectomorphs will require hypertrophy training if they want to gain size.
Meet the Mesomorph
Mesomorphs are thought to have the body most aspire for. They typically have a medium sized frame and boast a high percentage of natural lean muscle. Male mesomorphs are often described as having a ‘V’ shape. Broad shoulders which taper into a small, lean waist.
Key features to look for:
- Naturally Muscular
- Medium/ Low body fat - evenly stored throughout the body
- Females: Defined hourglass figure
- Males: Large shoulders and a small waistline
Celebrity Example: Arnold Schwarzenegger / Jennifer Lopez
Mesomorphs are generally regarded as your ‘athletic’ body type. These people find it easy to gain muscle and burn fat. Their proportionate and muscular physique enables them to gain strength easily and makes them perfect athletes for sports which require strength and power such as weightlifting or rugby. Mesomorphs can afford a moderate level of carbohydrates to fuel their training and should keep their protein intake high to maintain lean muscle mass. Mesomorphs physiques respond well to both resistance and cardiovascular training, however, to enhance a mesomorphs power further they should favour interval training and shorter distance runs. Hypertrophy training rep ranges of 8-12 are ideal for mesomorphs to maintain their lean physiques, however, their ability to adapt rapidly to new stimuli means a variety of training methods can be employed such as German volume training. Flexibility can often be an issue in mesomorphs which is why yoga is a good choice of exercise to keep toned and limber.
Meet the Endomorph
Endomorphs have the greatest tendency towards ‘roundness’. These are the people often described as ‘big boned’. The ‘easy gainers’, mesomorphs gain and hold weight easily.
Key features to look for:
- Round body shape
- Shorter arms and legs
- Higher body fat percentage
- Wide hips and wide shoulders
Celebrity Example: Brian Shaw / Oprah Winfrey
Endomorphs have the hardest job when it comes to maintaining low body fat and good fitness. In the sporting world, we see mesomorphs where their bulk weight can be used to enhance their power in events such as ‘World’s Strongest Man’ or Sumo wrestling. Their slower metabolism means they gain fat easily but find it hard to shift. Due to this mesomorphs need to watch their carbohydrate intake and ensure they expend the calories they eat. Cardio is key for a mesomorph to maintain a healthy level of body fat. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is perfect for the mesomorph as it encourages the body to utilise fat for energy whilst preserving muscle. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat and enhances our metabolism, so we don’t want to lose any. Weight training should be fat burning specific, meaning 15+ reps, however, these should still be a heavy weight as endomorphs tend to be naturally stronger. Compound movements should feature in every training session in order to maximise muscle recruitment and burn more calories. Though it may seem more difficult, a plan can be implemented for mesomorphs to achieve a good level of fitness.
I seem to be a little bit of all of them?
Don't panic, not everyone will fall clean cut into one of these categories, in fact, most people will portray elements of all three. By recognising the traits you do have from each somatotype you can combine these factors and apply the training principles to your regime to maximise your results.
Whether you are ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph, if you put the right training plan in place you can achieve a healthy and active lifestyle, it just may take some a little more work than others.