There are 3 basic body types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph
Ectomorphs are usually described as skinny and lean and have long limbs and minimal body fat. They also usually have a hard time putting on bodyfat and muscle. They also usually have a smaller bone structure. These trainees will need to limit long endurance cardio and weight train intensively to fill out their long, lean frames.
Examples: Long distance runners (5k and up), basketball and volleyball players.
Mesomorphs are usually described as stocky or musclebound, and have the best genetics for muscle building. They can usually gain fat and muscle fairly easily, and provide the best frame for bodybuilding, with robust joints and an ease for losing body fat and gaining lean mass.
Examples: Short distance sprinters (400 m and under), American football linebackers, Australian Rules Rugby Players.
Endomorphs can be described as husky or big and usually carry a lot of bodyfat. They usually gain fat and muscle very easily while it is usually a struggle to lose weight. Endomorphs will also usually have wider hips and more robust joints. Endomorphs have the best body types for powerlifting and strongman type training.
Examples: American football offensive linemen, shot put throwers, and the aforementioned strongmen and powerlifters.
Although these are three basic body types, many people are a mixture of the two, i.e. an ectomorph with mesomorphic qualities, or a mesomorph with endomorphic qualities.
Maximizing Your Body Type
Knowing your body type is essential to maximizing your training and tailoring it to your own unique goals. Although these are not steadfast rules, they are general recommendations based on body type, but keep in mind they do not account for training status (how long one has been lifting weights), and should be used as a general rule of thumb.
Weight training: Short intense weight training sessions (30 minutes up to an hour) with moderate to high intensity and lower volume.
Cardio: Short to middle distance running, HIIT cardio. Less is more with the ectomorph.
Weight training: 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes weight training sessions, intense, with moderate to high intensity and volume.
Cardio: HIIT and some steady state cardio to keep body fat at bay.
Weight training: Sessions 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes with moderate to high intensity and volume.
Cardio: Low impact steady state cardio will be the best for the endomorph, as it will not effect muscle and strength and will be the best for torching body fat. high impact cardio will be too hard on a heavy person’s joints until they get down in weight.
Note: Any one of these body types can be maximized to achieve your desired goals (within reason), but each type must train differently to achieve these goals. It’s only at the upper reaches of athletics that you will see body type differences. Example: You will never see an ectomorphic heavyweight gold medal Olympic weightlifter (joints and bones are too small), or an endomorphic champion marathoner (joints and bones are too big and robust).
Medical disclaimer: Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program, regardless of body type.
Image Credit: Granito diaz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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