Which Body Type Are You And Should You Be Training To Suit It?
Learn which of the three main body types you are and how to tailor your training accordingly
Is There Really Such A Thing As Body Types?
Body type isn't subjective. We’ve all met them, those annoying gits who barely lift a finger and have the kind of ripped physique that makes Channing Tatum weep. Then there are those poor sods who pour blood, sweat and tears into their workouts for barely visible results (err, us).
If you want to see a change in your body, working out your body type using the above categories, can help you train smarter
Yeah it sucks, but one of the reasons could be down to body type. There's nothing new about the idea of body types, Plato mentions them in The Republic in around 380BC, and American psychologist William Sheldon popularised three broad ‘categories’ of body in the 1940s: the ectomorph (lean), the endomorph (big with high body fat), and the mesomorph (muscular).
If you want to see a change in your body, working out your body type using the above categories as a rough barometer can help you train smarter and discover the best way to exercise to complement your build. Not as easy as it sounds though – this means paying less attention to your natural strengths and concentrating more on your weaknesses.
Read on to discover your body type and how you should be training.
Are You An Ectomorph?
Generally long, lean and slim, ectomorphs find it hard to build muscle mass. With a build akin to that of a distance runner, packing on size at the gym can be a difficult task.
How should ectomorphs train?
If you want to see muscle gains, personal trainer Will Purdue suggests combining three days of strength training with two days of low-intensity cardio such as cycling, swimming or gentle jogging.
Big, compound movements such as the squat and deadlift are much better for ectomorphs
"I often see ectomorphs focusing on isolation moves, such as bicep curls, which only target one area," says Will. "Big, compound movements such as the squat and deadlift are much better for ectomorphs as they involve more muscles and give you the hormonal boost that helps build muscle. You can still use isolation exercises in your training, but aim for around 80% of compound moves to work the big muscle groups."
What should ectomorphs eat?
A diet that's high in calories, carbs, protein and fat will help if you want to build muscle. This doesn't mean you can eat whatever the hell you like though! Rather, it means you can eat more of what's healthy; think oats, wholemeal bread and potatoes, and the good fats found in nuts, seeds and avocado.
Ectomorphs should respond well to carbs, which spike blood sugar and help to drive protein to muscles
"Ectomorphs should respond well to carbs, which spike blood sugar and help to drive protein to muscles," says trainer Mark Hughes. "Stick to the complex kind, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice. Protein-wise, aim for a minimum of 2g per kilo of bodyweight – but be wary of overdoing it."
Are You An Endomorph?
A rounder body type, endomorphs are characterised by a relatively high amount of stored fat, a wide waistline and large bone structure. Endomorphs can struggle to manage their weight.
How should endomorphs train?
If you're training to manage your weight, trainer Will Purdue suggests ditching the long, slow, steady-state cardiovascular work, such as walking on the treadmill.
Interval-based conditioning will help strip away fat
"Interval-based conditioning will help strip away fat," he says. "Sprints and box jumps are great, but if you’re a bit heavier and are worried about your joints, moves like the sled push are slower but just as intense."
As for doing hundreds of crunches to try and develop a slimmer stomach… "Spot-reducing fat just doesn’t work," says Hughes. "You need to lose weight from everywhere to see results around your waistline."
What should endomorphs eat?
Endomorphs may have to watch what they eat more strictly than other body shapes
"Endomorphs may have to watch what they eat more strictly than other body shapes," says Purdue. He advises getting your carbs from vegetables, oats and brown rice, and steering clear of fast-release carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and white rice.
Complement a low-carb diet with a high protein and fibre intake. Nutrients such as green tea and spinach may help with the fat burning process.
Are You A Mesomorph?
Naturally well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells, mesomorphs pack on muscle simply by looking at a dumbbell. We are not jealous, honest.
How should mesomorphs train?[related_articles]"As they have naturally good muscle definition, mesomorphs can find some strength work and power exercises easier than other body types, and often won’t train as hard as they can," says Purdue. "But there are definitely fitness gains to be made.
"I usually give mesomorphs timed workouts with sprints, box and vertical jumps and other plyometric exercises. This gives them goals to aim for, raises workout intensity, pumps up the metabolism, and strips away fat."