Body Type And Exercise - What You Need To Know
Correlation between your body type and how and what type of exercise you should be doing.
Having trouble losing body fat? yet seem to gain it after even the smallest slip up with your diet? Or does it feel like you can eat for days without gaining any weight, not even an ounce? Not to worry, It could have something to do with your current body type. But is it really that simple?
Let's explore them more in depth and analyze how they relate to overall body composition as regards weight gain and loss.
First off, let's get the basics.
What Is Body Type?
Body type, or somatotype, refers to the idea that there are three generalized body compositions that people are predetermined to have. The concept was theorized by Dr. W.H. Sheldon back in the early 1940s, naming the three somatotypes as endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. It was originally believed that a person’s somatotype was unchangeable, and that certain physiological and psychological characteristics were even determined by whichever one a person aligns to.
According to Sheldon, Endomorphs have bodies that are always rounded and soft, Mesomorphs are always square and muscular, and Ectomorphs are always thin and fine-boned.
How Do You Identify Body Type?
More narrow shoulders and hips in respect to height.
Relatively smaller muscles in respect to bone length.
Naturally fast metabolism makes it difficult for many to gain mass.
Potentially indicative of disordered eating (e.g., anorexia, bulimia) when BMI is ≤17.
Stockier bone structures with larger midsection and hips.
Carries more fat throughout the body.
Gains fat fast and loses it slow.
Naturally slow metabolism; potentially due to chronic conditions (e.g., thyroid deficiency, diabetes) but too frequently the result of a sedentary lifestyle and chronically-positive daily energy balance.
Medium bone structure with shoulders wider than the hips.
Developed athletic musculature.
Efficient metabolism; mass gain and loss both happen with relative ease.
For a beginner, the initial, overarching goal to “get in shape” will essentially boil down to a desire to shift their current-state body type toward a more mesomorphic physiology. Obviously, there will be exceptions to this rule, as there will always be endomorphs who want to get even bigger to compete in strongman events and ectomorphs who want to keep thin and trim for running ultramarathons – but it rings true for the majority of clients seeking the help of a Certified Personal Trainer or Nutrition Coach.
Your Body Type Can Be Changed
As they are understood and accepted today, body types reflect a generalized picture of how a person’s physiology is functioning in their current state. The observable somatotype represents the current sum of their physical, dietary, and lifestyle choices up to that point in time, combined with a variety of uncontrollable factors influenced by both genetics and the surrounding environment.
For example, at one extreme end of the spectrum, a person who has easy access to high-quality food, makes habitually healthy diet choices, is free of chronic disease, and consistently trains at progressively higher intensities will always have a more functional, muscular, and leaner body composition. On the flip side, someone who always sits all day and eats a lots of excess calories from junk food will undoubtedly develop the “soft roundness” stated in Sheldon’s original classification of endomorphs.
Just to reiterate, a body type is not a life sentence. Just like a body mass index range isn't a clearcut indication that someone is obese or underweight. There are many metrics at work.
Now that we have known the basics, next stop is:
How Do You Improve Your Body Type?
Research continues to prove that physical training and consistent, habitual changes to the diet have a strong influence on improving body composition. Metabolic conditions such as hyper- or hypothyroidism are fully within the realm of modern medicine to manage and improve, and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes are manageable and can even be remedied in many cases through improvements to diet and exercise routines.
How To Train Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs face the opposite set of challenges as primarily-endomorphic individuals. Due to the numerous factors previously mentioned, most ectomorphic clients have developed bodies with highly active metabolisms and “lanky” bone structures, making it hard for them to put on mass and keep it on. For this reason, exercise techniques for hypertrophy and maximal strength should be prioritized, with a greatly-reduced focus on cardiorespiratory training to reduce overall energy utilisation.
To accompany the mass gain-focused resistance training, ectomorphic bodies should eat a mass gain-focused diet. These individuals tend to burn through energy sources faster than most, so ample calories will be needed. Low-carb, fat-loss focused diets are not recommended here, and in some cases, it may be prudent to recommend that ectomorphic clients even incorporate “mass gainer” nutritional shakes into their diets.
Tips For Ectomorphs
Maximize muscle gain using lower-intensity hypertrophy and maximal strength resistance training with longer rest periods.
Consume a high-protein diet with balanced carbs and fats that maintains a positive energy balance.
How To Train Endomorphs
Training endomorphs should predominantly focus on fat loss techniques until a desirable body composition and functional cardiorespiratory efficiency have been achieved. Resistance training should be used to strengthen muscles and stabilize joints to support more-efficient movement elsewhere in life, but this population tends to need cardiorespiratory improvement and fat loss above all.
In the gym, work through gradually, but keep the majority of training sessions focused on metabolic conditioning. Use short rest periods, circuits for resistance exercises, lots of plyometrics (within client tolerance), and use as much additional time as possible for steady state cardio.
An endomorphs diet should consist both low-calorie and high in protein foods. Diets containing daily protein of as much as 2.2 grams per kilogram body weight (and sometimes even higher) have been shown safe and effective for supporting existing muscle tissue during times of calorie restriction and weight loss.
Tips For Endomorphs
Maximize calorie burn and the improvement of metabolic efficiency by primarily using high-intensity, metabolic training techniques.
Consume a high-protein diet with balanced carbs and fats that maintains a slight negative energy balance.
How To Train Mesomorphs
There’s no avoiding the fact that mesomorphs have things a bit easier than others. Their metabolisms are relatively efficient, they carry functional if not athletic muscle mass and are essentially ready to take on whatever fitness goal they please with minimal foundational work.
But remember, while there are undoubtedly some people who look lean and fit with zero effort, they are the exception to the rule. Most individuals who present a more-mesomorphic body composition have developed it as a consequence of numerous factors over their entire lifetime. And for formally endo- or ectomorphic individuals who have improved their lifestyles, diets, and fitness, hard work and discipline are the biggest factors of all.
Comparatively, diets for mesomorphic bodies should be tailored specifically to health and fitness goals. Protein should be consumed anywhere between 1.2 and 2.2 grams per kilogram body weight depending on the intensity of the exercise program, with remaining calories coming from a blend of healthy carbohydrates and fats. Then, if changes in body composition are still desired, the daily calorie load can either be increased or decreased to gain or lose weight, respectively.
Tips For Mesomorphs
Utilize OPT Phases directly aligned to client goals.
Eat specifically for fitness goals and activity, increasing or decreasing daily calories to preferentially control body composition with positive, neutral, or negative energy balances.
Increase protein intakes to as high as 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight for muscle gain goals; or, keep closer to the 0.8 gram per kilogram of body weight FDA recommended dietary allowance (RDA) when healthy body composition maintenance is all that is desired.
Whatever body type you spot, reality is, it can be worked on to get your desired body shape. A well tailored exercise program as well as an equally good diet plan are the major factors in muscle gain or loss, as the case may be.