Everybody is different when it comes to body type or shape, so it is hardly surprising that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to exercise. People with varying body types face different challenges when it comes to losing or gaining weight, gaining muscle or toning up and whilst it is impossible to completely change your body type, by doing the correct work out for your body you can make the most of what you have been given by enhancing and balancing your physique.
What are the most common body types?
There are three main body types:
- Endomorphs who have a tendency to store fat either in the belly region or in the bottom and thighs
- Ectomorphs, who may struggle to gain fat and muscles and are generally thin
- Mesomorphs, who are considered to have an athletic build with a lot of muscle and very little fat.
All of the body types have different challenges when it comes to working out, from the difficulty losing weight experienced by endomorphs, the ongoing battle to gain weight and not to look too thin for the ectomorphs and the challenge of working out without bulking up too much for the mesomorphs.
Consequently, different body types need different work outs to target these specific problem areas.
The best exercise for your body type
Even though people with this body type may have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight, with a good diet and exercise there is no reason why they cannot have a slim appearance. As extra weight is a key problem area for individuals with this body type, the first thing to consider when working out is a program which burns calories, in conjunction with a low calorie diet.
Cardio type workouts are generally considered to be the most effective for this, however if an individual is overweight, it may be necessary to choose a cardio activity that is low impact such as swimming, walking or cycling, at least at first to avoid unnecessary strain on the joints.
Lifting weights can also be incorporated into an ‘endo workout’, as this helps to strengthen the muscles and joints and increase muscle mass, which in turn can increase metabolic rate. This can also be key for women with large breasts in order to strengthen back muscles and improve posture.
Weight or resistance training that focuses on specific areas can also help to tone up limbs and help to eliminate common problems such as flabby upper arms or untoned thighs.
If you are more of a pear shaped endomorph and tend to store weight in the lower body, it may also be beneficial to build muscle and tone your upper body to give a more balanced appearance.
Whilst being an ectomorph may seem desirable to those who are constantly faced with the challenge of weight loss, the inability to gain weight can be just as frustrating. Ectomorphs, particularly females, often crave a more womanly shape or curves. The aim for this body shape when eating and working out is to maximize the calories consumed, conserve calories burnt, and build muscle.
Diet wise, small frequent meals rich in healthy fats are often the most achievable way to maximize caloric intake for this body type. It should still be noted that although unhealthy foods may not cause weight gain in this population, it can still increase the risk of heart disease and other illnesses, so a healthy diet is still a necessity.
Ectomorphs are often good at activities such as long distance running, due to their light weight frames, but to gain a few curves and muscles, it is better to keep cardio activity to a minimum and focus instead on resistance training.
This can add muscle to a thin frame, giving more shape and also has the benefit of strengthening bones and reducing risk of osteoporosis.
Although they have a tendency to gain muscle rather than fat, people with this type of body can become overweight if they do not exercise or eat correctly. They also face the problem of bulking up very easily when they do work out, which is often considered unattractive by women.
Using resistance training such as lifting weights does tone the body, but it can lead to large muscles in this body type, so to tone without gaining too much muscle, muscular conditioning and strengthening activities such as yoga and Pilates are ideal.
Due to their larger percentage of muscle, mesomorphs often have a slightly higher metabolism and can therefore get away with eating a little more than endomorths. However, although mesomorphs may not see the effects of a poor diet or overeating as obviously as endomorphs, they are still at risk of diseases associated with unhealthy eating and will still gain weight if they are eating more calories than they are burning.
References used in this article