Your specific body type is dependent on your genetics. As with the world’s best sportswomen, the top fitness models are first born with the potential, then train and diet hard to look even better.
Unfortunately not everyone is going to look like Miss Eason (very sad, I know), but realising what body type you have allows you to properly plan your workouts and eating strategies to best suite your body and to get as close to this look as possible.
Body types or, scientifically-speaking, somatotypes are divided into three broad categories: Mesomorphs, Ectomorphs and Endomorphs.
Mesomorphs are naturally athletic-looking, possessing broad shoulders and decent amounts of lean muscle mass. Mesomorphs are also endowed with fast metabolisms, which allows them to both build muscle and lose fat relatively easily. Furthermore, their speedy metabolisms allow them to get away with eating what they want without too much worry. As such, this is the ideal body type if you wish to become a fitness competitor or model. If you exhibit predominantly meromorphic characteristics count yourself lucky.
- Complete 3-4 full body training sessions per week. These sessions should be a combination of strength and metabolic work.
- Focus on full-body movements without placing too much emphasis on particular muscle groups.
- Keep the volume at each session low. Do 4-5 exercises with 3-5 sets of between 6-12 reps of each.
- Don’t perform too many quad-dominant exercises, especially isolated variations and avoid high intensity work on the bike (including spinning).
- Do not perform oblique-focused exercises as you could end up with a thick waist. Out with the crunches in with the planks!
- Avoid training the upper trapezius muscles directly with excessive upper back, shrugging and upright rowing movements.
- If you begin to add excessive muscle back off the resistance training and add some steady state endurance cardio to the mix.
Endomorphs are naturally heavy with wide bone structures, higher amounts of fat and cursed with the ability to gain weight easily. However, endomorphs can have good amounts of muscle, which is a good thing. Endomorphs don’t necessarily have to be overweight, but they’re definitely heavier and rounder individuals. Oprah Winfrey and Marilyn Monroe are examples of endomorphs. With this type of body’s tendency to put on weight easily endomorphs often fight an ongoing battle against fat. However, no matter what body type you are you are not doomed to fatness – although you may just have a slightly harder time getting and staying in shape. Your best chance is to embrace the challenge.
- The base of your training should always be resistance training. Do 3-4 full body training sessions per week.
- During your strength training keep the intensity very high throughout by being strict with rest periods and using pairing, tri-sets and mini circuits.
- Keep the volume within a session medium-to-high with 6-9 exercises of 3-5 sets.
- Your rep ranges should be 6-10 on main compound exercises and 8-15 reps for accessory work.
- On top of your strength training you should perform 2-3 metabolic sessions.
- Ideally use high intensity metabolic circuit training or traditional HIIT work.
Ectomorphs are naturally skinny with narrow bone structures that leave them looking long and lean. They possess little body fat and very little muscle too (think fashion models). While some may believe these are genetically blessed individuals, with the fitness look you’re trying to achieve in mind female ectomorphs lack womanly curves. Thus the number one goal for an ectomorph is adding more muscle. If you’re an ectomorph you’ve probably realised that gaining muscle isn’t that easy for you. Ectomorphs have fast metabolisms and need more calories to maintain a given weight than a mesomorph or endomorph. This elevated metabolism and subsequent increased need for calories means you’ll need to adhere to certain body type-specific recommendations.
- Your training should be strength-based involving heavy lifting using either three full-body or two upper and two lower body workouts per week.
- Focus on the 3-4 big compound movements per workout like deadlifts, pull-ups, overhead presses and squats.
- Use rep ranges between 5-10 for 3-5 sets. Ensure that you rest adequately between sets for around 60-120 seconds.
- Ectomorphs take longer to recover so be sure to take a full day off between sessions.
- You should avoid all metabolic training.
Somatotypes give you a good understanding of the basic guidelines that will govern your exercise programme and diet. But these science-based body types are rarely referred to in layman discussions and don’t completely account for the shapes our bodies take on. Instead, it’s more common to hear female body shapes being compared to apples and pears. Apples are rounder in the center and pears heavy on the hips and thighs. It is essential that you create balance in your physique by focusing on your lagging muscle groups and the ones that accentuate that hourglass shape, namely your glutes and shoulders. Interestingly your specific fat storage patterns don’t just happen, they are related to your hormones. Hormones can make you hold on to fat and heavily dictate where you’re going to store it. Taking control of your hormones is a key factor in shedding those last few kilos off of your problem areas. To understand why you’ve ended up looking like an apple or a pear you need to know which hormones relate to your trouble areas and how to improve them.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.