In this article we explore body types and how that could affect your training and diet. Could knowing help you maximise your potential? Did you even know there were body types?
John Withinshaw gives us the low down.
Have you ever wondered why some people are better at some sports than others, or why certain individuals get better results in the gym or with a diet than you do?
While there are a number of reasons - type of training, quality of exercise program, consistency, etc. There is an underlying reason why we are all better at different things and why our bodies react to stimuli differently.
One of the main reasons is that we are all a body type or somatotype.
I'll start by introducing you to the three body types; Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph;
There are a number of reasons that we all belong in one of these categories - hormones, bone structure, lifestyle or even muscle attachments. The fact is we aren't truly ever one specific type, we usually fit into at least two in varying degrees.
“The three body types exist but probably never in their pure form,” says Professor Lars McNaughton from Edge Hill University.
Allow me to explain the characteristics of each.
Ectomorph; This somatotype will stay lean despite hours spent in the gym. They have difficulty putting on muscle and fat. These guys are suited to the endurance sports, marathons etc. - lean but short on muscle. In the gym you want to be sticking to compound exercises, short intense bursts. Things like squats -front/back/overhead, bench press, rows etc. You tend to be low in testosterone and growth hormone so these types of workouts will help increase that.
You will not get much return from isolation exercises so avoid the bicep/tricep curls. Avoid stress, both mental and physical, as this can be instrumental in you not putting on muscle. Try to get at least 8 hours sleep to make the most of your rest periods. Your nutrition should be calorie dense in carbs, fats and protein, hell you can gorge on a tub of ice cream a day and not put on any fat (that's a joke - stick to a healthy diet in your quest to gain muscle). To add muscle; look at 3 days of strength training with 2 days of light cardio, move away from the treadmill and the long slow distance work. Maximize your recovery as you will only grow from what you can recover from. Back yourself up with supplementation, good carb and protein content is a must, extra BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids) may be of benefit also.
Endomorph; Simply put, pear shape. Your strength is literally in power lifting and weightlifting based sports. Try not to get sucked into endless crunches and long jogs, high intensity will probably work best for you. You guys store fat really easily so staying shy of carbs is essential. Diet is key and being strict is a must if you want to dump the lard. Carrying weight around the mid section can be an indicator of a high stress job or difficulty dealing with stress so for god sake chill out. 3 - 5 weight sessions per week and 30 - 60 minutes of fasted cardio in the morning will help to shift the unwanted fat. Careful with the steady state cardio if you're worried about your joints. Your nutrition wants to be low-carb and stay away from energy drinks. Water during training is ideal as you have enough calories to sustain most workouts. Wait until about an hour after a workout before you eat to make the most of the fat burn. Keep your protein intake high and try and get your carbs from vegetables, avoid white bread and rice.
Mesomorph; Mesomorphs sport the well built look. You guys have a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells. A sport that seems to have been created for this body type is Cross Fit. You have the ability to train like an athlete and set personal bests. It's important to time your workouts to get the best out of them. Try not to take your body for granted, you may be able to put muscle on really easily and manage to be super-fit with relative ease, but you can get it wrong too.
Mesomorphs are prone to not training hard enough, or at least not to their full potential. As soon as you touch a weight you've put on 2" of muscle (don't we all wish). Try training plyometrically - do sprints, box and vertical jumps. Interval sprints will boost metabolism and strip fat.
As far as nutrition is concerned, keep it balanced. Your body will respond well to healthy food. A good ratio for you is; 40% complex carbs, 30% good fats and 30% quality protein.
Recovery is essential for you (as it is with the other somatotypes). Active rest, like cycling and walking, will do you the world of good.
As far as supplements are concerned then creatine is something that could aid you in the weight room.
As I said before, we are rarely just one of these body types - most of us are an amalgamation - but I hope I have shed a little light on helping you to determine where you are. This kind of knowledge can really help you get the results you are looking for when it comes to exercise and diet.
John 'Ecto/Meso' Withinshaw