Ok so up until this week I didn’t even know there were body types, let alone what mine was! It wasn’t until I was doing some research the other day on how to gain more muscle that I came across some info about how knowing your body type can help with putting together a successful training and nutrition plan. I have been really trying to get stronger, leaner and more muscular over the past year and I took a solid step in that direction after completing my 5th workout program over the weekend, Hammer and Chisel. This program really focused on powerlifting moves in order to shred some fat and replace it with lean muscle. My hope was that I could further develop the baby muscles I had begun to see over the past couple years and the previous four programs I have under my belt. While I did get some fantastic results from Hammer and Chisel (you can see my before and after shots here), I am steadfastly continuing my mission to figure out how I can up my gains game even further.
Despite significantly upping my protein intake, focusing on strength training and even adding creatine to my regular routine I have been finding it pretty slow going in the muscle development department. In doing some research and talking to a friend of mine who is in fantastic shape and is #bodygoals, I quickly learned that what I had been neglecting to factor into my own nutrition an fitness plan is how my body type could be influencing my results, or lack there of. I also learned that body types go much deeper than our physical appearances. They describe not only how we looks but also how our bodies perform, react to different types of food, how high or low our carb tolerance is, and even how our hormones behave. Pretty cool right?! I thought so too, so of course I wanted to share some of what I learned with my favorite people (you 😊) because I found it not only very interesting but also potentially really helpful in trying to work with and not against my body. So let’s start first with the basics:
What are the 3 body types?
These are the smallest, leanest people. An Ectomorph generally has the least amount of body fat, a delicate frame and they may even have trouble gaining weight if they are trying. The reason they have trouble gaining weight is because of their fast metabolism, which hey, doesn’t sound like such a bad thing to me! But because of this, they also have trouble gaining muscle even when they are making the effort to do so. Other characteristics of Ectomorphs are:
- Small Frame
- Lean Muscle Mass
- Low Bone Mass
- Narrow Shoulders
- Long, thin limbs
- Small Joints
So if Ectomorphs = Small, Mesomorphs = Medium. These, in my opinion, are the lucky ones that have an athletic build. They are naturally strong individuals who can both gain and lose weight easily. So with Mesomoprhs the plus is they can gain muscle quite easily, but then that also means they can gain fat just as easily. Mesomorphs do, however, have the perfect body for body building! This may be because they tend to have higher levels of testosterone as well as the growth hormone that make these folks naturally strong. Other characteristic of Mesomorphs are:
- A rectangular shaped frame
- Well-defined muscles
- Athletic and Strong
- Medium Bone Structure
- Larger Muscle Mass
And if Mesomorphs = Medium, Endomorphs = Large. These are the folks with the larger bone structures and higher amount of body mass. As opposed to mesomorphs who have a pretty straight up and down shape, endomorphs are rounder. They gain weight more easily than the other two body types and also have a harder time losing it. They have the slowest metabolism of the bunch which accounts for the difficulty in losing weight. The good news is they are strong. Their muscles, especially the upper legs/quads are solid and naturally dense. Other characteristics of Endomorphs are:
- Generally Short and Stocky
- Softer Body
- Round in Shape
- Thick Arms and Legs
- Slow Metabolism
Time for my usual line now guys….like everything health and fitness related you may not fit nice and neatly into one of those 3 categories above. Actually, there is a good chance you won’t. There is a 4th category just generally referred to as a Combination Body Type that I myself think I fall into. This body types may describe you if you kinda feel you have traits from more than one of the standard choices above. An example of a combo type is for instance an Ecto-Mesomorph who would be someone who might be mostly mesomorph so athletic and more rectangular in shape but have a few ectomorph traits such as small joints or longer thinner limbs. Another example is an Ecto-Endomorph who is someone who might be pear-shaped in that they have a lean upper body but store all their fat down below in their stomach.
Now that we know what our body type is what can we do with this info?
Well like I mentioned above, identifying your body type can go a longgg way in figuring out how to best approach working out and eating if you are looking to either lose weight or gain muscle. The following is a general breakdown of how the 3 body types respond to exercise and nutrition:
- Diet: Ectos again are our friends who have a hard time gaining weight but also a hard time gaining muscle. Because of their faster than average metabolism, ectomorphs want to eat to a high carb and higher (healthy) fat diet. They also want to eat more often, think at least 4 meals a day, in order to get a few extra calories in they need to combat how quickly they burn through them. Now my Ecto people out there, just because you lose weight more quickly and easily than the rest of us, please don’t think you have a free pass to eat junk food all the time just because you won’t pack on the pounds. You still want to eat a balanced, nutrient rich diet in order to maintain good health and because honestly as you get older you metabolism will inevitably slow down a bit so you want to develop good eating habits early to avoid the later in life weight gain.
- Fitness: When it comes to fitness, for Ecto’s resistance and weight training are a must. Ecto’s have the hardest time putting on muscle so you really want to make sure you are picking up those weights on a consistent basis if your goal is to define muscle and sculpt some curves. Make sure you are lifting heavy weights at lower reps so as to really focus on deep muscle fiber growth. You still want to incorporate a bit of cardio into your routine for the sake of your heart health, but try to limit it to about 30 minutes, 3 times a week at most.
- Diet: Good news for all my mesomorphs out there, you can not only lose weight quickly but gain muscle more easily than the other two body types. Your bodies respond really well to proper nutrition so when fed properly, the sky is the limit for setting and crushing body goals. Because mesomorphs tend to have more muscle mass than the others, incorporating protein into your meals is important for maintaining that athletic physique of yours. Also due to your higher ratio of muscle, mesomorph’s tend to need a bit more calories per day to sustain those muscles became after all muscle weighs more than fat an takes more calories to sustain. A good rule of thumb when filling your plate, go for thirds. Shoot for complex carbs taking up a third or your plate, healthy fats taking up another third and finally lean protein making up the rest. Now for a word of caution, just as mesomorphs can shed weight quickly with a nutritious diet, you all can gain it just as quickly if they you reaching for unhealthy food choices too often. Fuel yourself with the right stuff and again there is no stopping a mesomorph who is on a mission to get fit!
- Fitness: Our natural athletes, mesomorphs are perfectly created to be strong and fast. Due to being blessed with thick, dense muscles and the ability to add muscle mass quickly and relatively easily, mesomorphs seem genetically blessed and one step ahead of the rest of us when it comes to getting and staying in shape. A well-rounded training program that incorporates moderate weight training (think longer sets of about 12 reps at a heavy enough weight that you are struggling a bit by the last few) with about 3 days a week of moderate cardio should do the trick. Cardio is important for all my Meso’s because again while you are naturally blessed to be able to lose weight quickly, gaining weight just as fast is also a concern for you if you aren’t careful. Adding Plyo and HIIT routines into your program will also be beneficial to keep that slim, but toned physique we are all envious of!
Diet: Where are all my J Lo’s out there?! If you are an Endomorph I am a bit jealous because you are naturally curvy and I am, well, the exact opposite of that! Unfortunately, what comes along with those curves is a very strong propensity to gain weight rather quickly. With the proper diet and dedication to a fitness routine, however, Endo’s are more than capable of achieving great results. Staying away from processed, simple carbs (cereal, white rice, pasta, crackers) is a must for Endo’s who want to lean out and build muscle. Endo’s are especially carb sensitive so limiting your carb intake and upping your consumption of protein, vegetables and healthy fats is imperative if you want to see results. Oh and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Focus on getting plenty of fiber and washing it all down with a lot of water (stay away from those sports drinks, Endos’s!) to keep things moving and your metabolism running as fast as it can.
Fitness: The good news for my Endo’s out there, you can gain muscle pretty easily! The not so good news, you can also gain fat very easily. So what does this mean in terms of structuring a workout program? Glad you asked!! Endo’s, you have to fight your natural tendency to want to stay sedentary. Cardio is essential if you are an Endo body type. The most beneficial kind of cardio for my Endo’s is HIIT training because it will burn the maximum amount of fat in the shortest amount of time. Spinning is another good option as is a brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 times a week. Equally as important is strength training. Lifting moderate to heavy weights is a great way to boost your metabolism which is key to Endo’s who unfortunately tend to have the most sluggish metabolism of all the body types. Much like everything else fitness related, staying consistent for Endo’s is very important. Incorporate as much variety as possible into your fitness routine so you don’t get bored and tempted to taper off or quit and commit to making it a lifestyle!
Knowing your body type and taking into consideration what the different aspects of each are can go a long way in helping to tailor a successful fitness and nutrition game plan. It can also help you set realistic expectations as to what you should expect so you don’t get frustrated and wind up throwing in the towel before seeing any meaningful results. While as much as sometimes we would like to be able to change our genetics we each have been dealt a hand when it comes to how our bodies are shaped and how they preform. This does not mean, however, that we can’t put in some smart and well thought out work in order to achieve any results we want for ourselves. Set a goal, make a plan to achieve that goal with your body type in mind, and then work your little butt off until you not only reach it but crush it by so much that you can’t even believe what a bada$$ you and your beautiful body truly are!
P.S. See below and take a minute if you can to fill out my poll! I would love to get your opinion on what you would like to see more of on this site! Thank you! 🙂