What body type are you?
Why you ask?
Knowing your body type, or should I say Somatotype, is very important in helping you to create a training programme which fundamentally suits you and will set you on the right track to seeing positive results. Firstly, let’s have a recap of my first blog post on SMART objectives. One of the components was having a training programme that is relevant. You need a routine which fits you and your characteristics. Having an understanding of the different body types and knowing which category you fall under is crucial in planning a relevant training guide.
Surely there are too many body types to compare myself with?
Genetically speaking we do differ from person to person but in terms of body type you will be somewhere between an ectomorph, mesomorph and/or endomorph. It is also important to note that you are not pigeon holed into a particular type as certain training routines will cause your body to change. Many of you will be able to clearly define your current structure from looking at yourself in the mirror. Others may not be so sure and therefore require further investigation.
In this edition I will be discussing the ectomorph.
Ectomorph: Aka The Hard Gainer/Marathon runner.
The one mate whom you envy because they are able to overindulge in bad food but still fail to put on any weight.
· Tend to be lean.
· Struggle to put on muscle mass.
· Low body fat.
· Quick metabolism
· Narrow shoulders, chest and waist.
· Long limbs
· Skinny bone structure
Upside of being an ectomorph:
· Due to the body’s ability to recover quicker it means you can work out certain muscle groups more frequently.
· An ectomorph can afford to overeat in order to build muscle mass, although there are limitations such as having the correct amount of fats (i.e. polyunsaturated, saturated and monounsaturated fats) and not to ingest high levels of trans fats.
· Quick metabolism. Your body uses energy at a faster rate compared to an endomorph & mesomorph. This means your body is incredibly efficient at turning the food you eat into energy for different bodily functions.
· Ectomorphs are lucky in that because they have less body fat, when they do put on muscle the definition is more prominent. For example abdominals, from an aesthetic perspective to have a great looking stomach you need to have a low body fat. Combine this with the specific exercises and an ectomorph has themselves a washboard stomach.
· An ectomorph does not need to spend hours in the gym to build muscle. Unless you are fuelling your body whilst exercising, the longer you stay in the gym the higher the chances are that you will see decreasing rate of returns. This is because your body is so quick to use up energy that once your fuel gauge hits empty and the red light appears, it will start to eat away at your muscles.
Downside of being an Ectomorph:
· Struggle to put on muscle mass.
· Costly. In order to build muscle you need to eat regularly and considering the return ratio of food to muscle development is a lot lower than an endomorph or mesomorph then it means you need to consume a lot more food and regularly.
· Mentally it can be tough if you are looking at building muscle mass because it will take longer compared to an endomorph or mesomorph. That is not to say you cannot gain muscle, it just requires more patience and dedication.
· Sweat more than other body types. I completely disagree with this as I am a sweater and I am between a mesomorph and endomorph.
To gain muscle mass:
· Compound exercises. Instead of isolation exercises: Work the larger muscle sets, e.g. legs, chest & back etc. You need to have a programme which will incorporate as many muscle groups within an exercise. So stay clear of calf raises or forearm curls and replace them with squats, lunges, dead lifts, shoulder press, bench press to really see improvements.
· Limit cardio endurance training. Having a quick metabolism means you need to keep your energy reserved for the heavy weight sessions not only to keep you fuelled during the exercise but also help fund your recovery.
· Heavy weight sessions. Try to focus on a small number of sets with fewer reps lifting a weight that has a higher percentage of your 1 rep max. This will enable you to stimulate muscle growth.
· Short and sweet sessions. To give the body variety you should also introduce HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or intense circuits as a substitute for cardio. This is beneficial as these are primarily short duration sessions and it gives your body a shock which is good because you need variety so your body does not become accustomed to a rigid regimen.
· Eat, eat and eat more. To really benefit from the heavy weight sessions you need to fuel correctly before, after and even during each workout.
What about nutrition?
Nutrition and working out come hand in hand. By neglecting nutrition you are going to destroy all the gains made in the gym. For en ectomorph it is wise to eat regularly, preferably every two hours.
Typically, on a day of training, prior to a training session, have a meal which is high in complex carbohydrates, fats and protein. These are your macronutrients. The complex carbohydrates, found in brown rice, offer an energy source which will release slowly therefore help you throughout the day. Fats also provide you with much needed calories, nine calories per gram compared to protein which is only four calories per one gram. Fats also increase blood flow and regulate testosterone levels. Testosterone is key to building muscle.
During the session try to help your body by having a shake which is rich in amino acids to help slow the breakdown of muscle fibres.
Post workout is where you can over indulge in quick releasing sugars, for example, white pasta and white rice as your body is craving sugar which needs to be channelled into your blood system quickly. You also need to make sure you fuel yourself with enough protein to ensure muscle growth but try not to have too much fat after a session as this slows down the digestion of protein. Another tip for you ectomorphs is to have a meal replacement shake when you have time constraints.
Having said all this it is key to emphasise the goal of the person. For example, if an Ectomorph wants to put on muscle mass but hates strength training and instead thrives on the cardio aspect of fitness then they need to fully ascertain whether this goal is relevant to them because muscle building training will inevitably require heavy lifting and a reduction in long cardio sessions.
I have attached below a diagram which characteristically places each sport with the relevant body type.
Take the following test to help you understand which body type is more associated with yourself: