If you have found yourself wondering if you are doing the right workout for your body type you aren’t alone. You may be familiar with some of the terms below. As you read this please remember: No One Body Type Is Better Than Another. Every person is unique. Every body is unique. Additionally, not everyone fits perfectly into one “body type.” You can have characteristics from more than one category.
You can use these descriptions as a guideline for your workouts. Track how your body responds, and adjust accordingly. I’m going to say again, every person, and every body is unique.
Body fat percentage and body type does not necessarily correlate with level of fitness. I know people that have a higher body fat percentage who maintain a very high level of fitness. I know people with a lower body fat percentage that have a very low level of fitness. Exercise should always be a way to improve or maintain your health.
You may not fit comfortably into any one category, and that is perfectly fine! Your body type can change over time, and in response to the exercises you do. Read each description, because you may fall into more than one category.
Did you know that every time you exercise you are actually modifying the way your DNA is expressed? Epigenetics is the “study of the way in which the expression of heritable traits is modified by environmental influences or other mechanisms without a change to the DNA sequence.”
What does that mean in layman’s terms? It means that even though your DNA doesn’t change, the way that it is expressed can change based on your lifestyle choices. Exercise and healthy eating, can actually modify the way that your genes present. For example, even if you have a genetic pre-disposition for high blood pressure, if you make exercise and diet changes, you can reduce your risk of those genes ever being expressed.
I have included some dietary guidelines below. Remember, these are not strict rules. They are provided to give you a starting place. You can try it out, see how your body responds, and adjust from there.
Note: I haven’t been counting calories, or logging macros. I just focus on eating primarily whole foods with a high nutritional value. If I want something that falls outside of those guidelines I have it. I am always hesitant to provide any strict nutritional guidelines because I firmly believe that everyone responds differently to foods. It is about finding what works best for you not only physically, but mentally. I have seen many people’s relationship to food deteriorate as they try to follow increasingly strict diet guidelines. Food is your energy for life, it is not an enemy. I think that having a healthy relationship/mentality toward food is often more important than the number on the scale, or the number of calories in a food.
Three Body Types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph & Endomorph
Aren’t sure which category you fall into? Try this Body Type Test from Bodybuilding.com: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/becker3.htm. I like this test because it gives you a series of questions and will tell you which percentage of your answers fall in each body type category.
Naturally thin with fast metabolisms. Tend to be “hard gainers.” Putting on muscle can be more challenging. People in this category tend to have longer limbs, smaller bone structure, and smaller muscle bellies. A lot of beauty articles call this “ruler” body shape.
Diet: To put on muscle you require strength training, while also eating a diet high in protein to support muscle building. Overall caloric intake for muscle building is typically higher. Protein goal should be between 1-1.5 grams of protein per desired body weight. Aim for about 50% of your calories from carbohydrates, 25-30% from protein, and 20-25% from healthy fats.
Famous Ectomorphs: Audrey Hepburn, Cameron Diez, Kate Moss, Giselle Bundchen, Jamie Eason, Bruce Lee.
Workouts to maintain lean muscles and body shape: Strength/Resistance training and HIIT are your best workout options. Steady state cardio alone will decrease muscle mass, and have little impact on decreasing body fat percentage. Exercise must be supported by a well balanced diet with plenty of high quality carbohydrates, protein and fats, especially if the goal is to build lean muscle. For fat burning Short and Intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) techniques will work best. Utilize weights for strength and muscle building.
Keep your training sessions short but intense. Be alert of over-training. Utilize workouts that target each body area (arms, legs, core, back, etc). If a body part is sore from your workout allow the muscles time to heal before targeting that area again. Limit steady state cardio to 3X per week. Aim for 15-30 Minutes of HIIT, and monitor your body’s reaction/soreness.
For Runners vary your intensity during training runs: 6 Training Runs to Improve Your Speed.
Note: This doesn’t mean you can’t run! Jesse is an excellent runner, but if he wanted to focus on building muscle/size he would need to decrease his cardio and increase HIIT/Strength Training Workouts. In addition to running, Jesse does HIIT and Weighted Exercise to maintain his muscle mass and decrease risk of injury during his runs.
Tends to be the “athletic” body shape. Thin, but with muscles. Gains/loses weight fairly easily. Weight gain tends to be diffuse and more spread out over the entire body instead of located in one area. Gains muscle mass fairly easily. Longer/rounded muscle bellies. Narrow waist in comparison to shoulders and hips.
Gains muscle or fat fairly easily. A combination of resistance/strength training and cardio works best. This body type typically responds well to longer training sessions. Responds best to varied exercises.
Famous Mesomorphs: Madonna, Jessica Biel, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Workouts to maintain lean muscles and body shape: This body type requires a combination of strengthening and cardiovascular exercises. HIIT is a great option for maintaining lean muscle and burning fat. This body type also responds well to cardio such as running, and will not lose lean muscle as easily if their training is supported by a healthy diet.
This body type tends to be able to maintain a high level of effort for a longer time. Beware overtraining! Rest will benefit your training program. Mesomorphs typically experience less muscle soreness. HIIT, Strength Training, and Cardio workouts are all beneficial. Workout times can be range between: 15-minutes of HIIT up to 60-Minutes combining HIIT and Cardio or Strength Training.
Diet: Protein intake should equal approximately 1 gram for each pound of desired body weight (IE 150 lb person would eat 150 grams of protein per day). Carbohydrates should make up approximately 40% of diet, Fats 30%, Protein 30%.
Thicker rib cage/wider joints. Limbs tend to be shorter. Gains weight more easily. May have more difficulty losing weight/body fat. Hips may be wider than shoulders. Waist may be closer in size to shoulders and hips. Weight gain is often centralized in the abdomen or butt/thighs.
Muscles are strong, especially in the thighs. Metabolism is usually slower than those of an ectomorph or mesomorph.
Famous Endomorphs: Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Jennifer Lopez, Sophia Vergara, Brock Lesner.
Workouts to maintain lean muscles and body shape: This body type requires a combination of strength training and cardio. Strength training will increase muscle mass, and lead to a higher metabolism/calorie burn with all activities. Cardio will assist with burning fat and weight loss.
This body type responds best to compound exercises (full body/multi-joint movements) and training that maximizes the after-burn. HIIT is a good option because fat burning continues even after the workout is done. Focus on higher intensity workouts with shorter rest breaks, combined with cardio. Many people with this body type benefit from more workout days (5-6 days of exercise per week). You must be aware of the signs of over-training and rest as needed. If you are just getting started begin with 3 workout days per week, and build from there.
Combine strength training, HIIT and Cardio. For example: 1-Round of a 30-Minute Total Body HIIT plus 30-Minutes Cardio of choice or 30-Minutes of body weight HIIT that incorporates cardio. Incorporate exercises that use resistance (weights/dumbbells), as well as body weight training.
Diet: Approximately 25-30% carbohydrates, 35% protein, 35-40% healthy fats.
Did you find this article helpful? If so comment below. If you identify with one of these body types & have a training or diet recommendation that works for you please feel free to share!