If you’re having trouble building muscle, or find that it’s hidden behind a stubborn layer of body fat that hides an otherwise impressive six pack, figuring out what body type you are could help. Only then can you adjust your diet and workout correctly.
The original theory of body types came from Dr. William H Sheldon, which he called somatypes, is that all of us fall into 3 main categories: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Each of these responds differently to exercise and diet and can be characterised in the following ways, so you can decide which applies to you.
Ectomorph Body Type
Ectomorphs are the classic skinny, hard-gainer. They have narrow shoulders and hips, very little muscle mass or fat, and very little appetite despite a fast metabolism. Their appearance is best described as skinny.
Ectomorphs should concentrate on gaining size and weight in the form of lean muscle mass, with workouts kept short and intense with a slower pace. Any form of cardio is best avoided until weight and muscle mass has increased sufficiently. Diet should be high in quality calories, which can be assisted with protein shakes that are around 100 calories each, as well as healthy oils which contain the same amount in a single tablespoon. Before bed a meal containing protein and low GI ingredients is beneficial as it provides a slow release of calories throughout the night, which helps to prevent muscle breakdown.
Mesomorph Body Type
Mesomorphs have a naturally athletic physique and find it easy to gain or lose fat and muscle. They have a hard body with a lot of well defined muscle, and while even a relatively poor diet can produce good results, this is no excuse not to cut out the junk food for long-term health.
As mesomorphs are naturally athletic they can quickly and easily bulk up with heavy weights at a moderate pace, then reduce any body fat that has built up by cutting carbs and increasing cardio with interval training. Diet should be high in protein with the majority of carbs eaten before and after workouts. If your goal isn’t to gain more muscle, exercise is still important for health and fitness purposes, but have your last meal a couple of hours before going to bed.
Endomorph Body Type
Endomorphs gain fat very easily but also some muscle. They are strong, especially in the legs, but have a soft body with a slow metabolism. Endomorphs find it as hard to lose body fat as an ectomorph does to gain it.
Endomorphs have no trouble putting on weight, but they have to be careful that this is muscle and not fat. Strength training at a fast pace will help to speed up metabolism, as will eating at least six small meals throughout the day. Cardio is essential and best done before breakfast, ideally using 30-second work / recovery phases. Diet should include only low GI carbs and eating real protein, such as lean chicken, will provide the necessary calories and give a feeling of fullness for longer.
Although there are 3 main body types, few people will fit nicely into just one of them. Instead see it as more of a continuum, with ectomorph at one end, endomorph at the other, and mesomorph in the middle. If you think you are halfway between ectomorph and mesomorph, experiment with the 2 suggestions until you find what works best.
Whatever your body type it’s possible to build muscle, have a ripped six pack and look as good as any mesomorph. You’ll just have to work a little harder to achieve it than they do.
As always, any question or feedback leave a comment below.