As you begin working out with weights, it’s helpful to be able to recognize and work with your given genetic body type. A common mistake that many people make is to assume that all rules of dieting, exercise, and weight training apply to each and every individual in the same way. But the rules at hand will always vary, depending on your genetic makeup. When I moved to California from North Dakota forty pounds heavier than I am now, I was pear shaped, or an endomorph body type. I had a smaller waist and arms and larger glutes, hips, and outer thighs, and thicker legs. This is a hard body type to change because you have to reshape your body entirely. For me, it took concentrating on three different things. The first and most important was improv ing my nutrition to lose excess body fat. Second, I had to increase my upper-body size, strength, and shoulder width to make my hips and butt look smaller. Last, I had to decrease the size of my glutes and thighs to even out my pear-shaped body.
Regardless of age, race, or gender, you must set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) fitness goals. Your genetics plays a huge role in your personal body type, so you should be aware of that when you are setting a fitness goal. If you have a smaller frame, trying to achieve a long body type resembling Julia Roberts might not be the best goal to set. Instead of setting goals based on someone you see on television or in a magazine, base your goals on developing a healthy body composition of reduced body fat and increased muscle mass, as well as an improved cardiovascular system and a healthy nutrition program.
Regardless, just getting moving and working out will be beneficial to both your mind and your body. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals that work with your body type, not against it, will help you maintain a positive outlook. To this end, fitness trainers often use the generalized body typing system that follows to assess individual needs and goals.
- Short upper body
- Long arms and legs
- Long, narrow feet and hands
- Very little fat storage and no difficulty losing body fat
- Narrow chest and round, narrow shoulders
- Indistinct buttocks
- Lean/lightly muscled
- Difficulty in gaining muscular definition and muscle mass without heavy weight training
Ectomorph Physique: An example of an ectomorph is Nicole l(idman. The ectomorph physique is usually pretty lean, and in some, it appears fragile and delicate. The bones are light, joints are small, and muscles are slight. The ectomorph is a linear physique long limbs coupled with lack of muscle mass. The ectomorph is not naturally powerful and will have to work hard for every ounce of muscle and every bit of strength she or he can gain.
Ectomorph Training: The ectomorph’s first objective is to gain muscle mass. Strength and endurance will need to be developed, and muscle mass develops very slowly. Stay with the basic exercises and include power moves that build maximum mass. Do an entire training workout, but take longer rest periods if you need to. Take in more calo ries than you are accustomed to, and use weight-gaining and protein drinks to supple ment your food intake. Try not to expend too many calories by keeping cardio to a min imum; save them for muscle building.
I suggest using heavier weights and fewer repetitions for this workout to help increase muscle mass faster. If you are a true ectomorph, you absolutely do not need to worry about bulking up! With your body type, it is almost impossible to put on enough muscle to have a bulky appearance. I chose exercises that will work the large muscle groups, like squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls, and full upper-body exercises. If you have time, I suggest performing three sets; the first set should be fifteen repetitions, the second set should be twelve reps, and the third set should be ten reps. You’ll get the best results from this system if you pyramid your sets, which means increasing the weight for each set.
- Round, softer shape
- Short, heavy legs
- Round face
- Short neck
- Narrow shoulders and a large chest
- Wide hips
- Underdeveloped muscles
- Weight loss is difficult
- Gains muscle easily
- Heavy fat storage, usually concentrated in the lower body (hips and abdomen)
Endomorph Physique: An example of an endomorph is Jennifer Lopez. The endo morph’s physique is often round and soft (the “apple” shape). Often, much of the mass is concentrated in the abdominal area. Many endomorphs desire a leaner, more defined look, and they should be taking in six to seven smaller meals throughout the day to help boost the metabolism and burn fat and calories. Cardiovascular work is essential for endomorphs looking to trim down. Meanwhile, weight training should contain sets of sev eral repetitions at a moderate weight, with limited time spent between sets.
Endomorph Training: The endomorph should be concerned with decreasing body fat while maintai ning lean muscle mass. In chapter 13, I have designed a workout for the endomorph body type. I suggest training with heavier weights for the upper body, and doing high repetitions with lighter weights for the lower body. This will help the endo morph increase upper-body size and balance out the total body. I also suggest having a relatively short rest period in between sets in order to keep the heart rate up in the “fat burning zone” and maximize caloric expenditure. This should all be in addition to a con trolled reduced-calorie diet that contains the necessary nutritional balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Athletic, muscular body
- Large chest (larger than waist)
- Long torso
- Broad shoulders
- Excellent posture
- No difficulty losing body fat or sculpting for definition (gains muscle easily)
- Very strong
Mesomorph Physique: An example of a mesomorph is Demi Moore. The mesomorph physique is the typical “hourglass. ” Mesomorphs have the tendency to be muscular and developed, maintaining the best attributes of both the ectomorphs and the endomorphs. Mesomorphs must basically follow the general guidelines of healthy eating and exercise to maintain their physiques.
Mesomorph Training: The mesomorph needs to include a variety of exercises in her program so that her muscles develop proportionately and are shapely rather than bulky. A combination of heavy power moves and a variety of shaping exercises will provide for a better quality, proportion, and symmetry of the physique. The cardio will help to burn extra calories, and because mesomorphs build muscle quickly, using their own body weight is a sufficient way to train.
Most individuals tend to have characteristics from a combination of two categories (such as endo-meso or meso-ecto). For example, I am now a mix of ectomorph and mesomorph. I have long muscles, but after my weight loss, I’m now in better proportion than with my previous endomorph body. The main focus here should be looking at your parents and then looking at yourself openly and honestly in the mirror. Your “ideal” body type may not be a realistic expectation. Accepting the beautif ul and positive aspects of your body is your first step toward achieving your ultimate fitness goals.