by Dr. Peter Fong, M.D.
Each form has its own pros and cons. Since your own shape has been predetermined by genetics, the key is to highlight your body's strengths while masking its shortcomings. And once you understand your body type, you can tailor a program to bring out your best.
Training Your Body Type
Endomorphs need to concentrate heavily on cardiovascular training in combination with proper dieting. For these individuals, the first priority is trimming down, not bulking up to hide their size. Cardio training should be directed towards increasing their metabolism rather than burning fat. If you can increase your metabolism, then you can burn fat throughout the day, even when you're not exercising. Since crash diets don't work over the long run, reducing calories should be a gradual process involving careful manipulation of the ratio of carbs, protein and fats. By adjusting one variable at a time, you can see what diet works best for you. With regards to training, overall circuit-training is a good course of action. Aim for lower weights but higher repetitions. Keep your rest periods between each set at a minimum. Remember not to overtrain.
Naturally powerful athletes, mesomorphs usually achieve results in a short period of time. They need little to moderate cardiovascular work to keep trim. Mesomorphs have a flexible diet-they can eat a broad variety of foods. To maintain a leaner look, however, mesomorphs can reduce their carbs in relation to their protein intakes. I recommend keeping fats in the low to moderate range. Once again, circuit-training is beneficial for mesomorphs. Unlike the endomorph, the mesomorph should focus on training with moderate to heavy weights with moderate repetitions.
Ectomorphs can benefit greatly by training with moderate weights for moderate to high repetitions. Naturally trim, these athletes require little cardiovascular work to keep their bodies lean, especially when trying to gain additional mass. For "hard gaining" ectomorphs, diets should consist of more fats in relation to carbs and protein. Protein and carbs should be moderated. Everyone would love to look like the cover model of a fitness or bodybuilding magazine. I know I would. But in reality, only a elite few realize that dream. After all, whether you're an amateur bodybuilder, recreational body sculptor or fitness model, genetics are extremely important. But if genetics are a limiting factor, why train at all? The answer to this question is easy. Though we have limitations, each and every one of us also has immense potential. Our goal should be to strive for that potential.
But where do we start? Today, there's an overabundance of advice on training, dieting, nutrition and supplements. It can be a real nightmare navigating through the maze of information. The first thing I always do as a trainer is evaluate a physique. I categorize physiques into the conventional classes of endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph forms.
An endomorph is an individual who is characterized by narrow shoulders in relation to the hips. Endomorphs carry greater mass in the lower half of their bodies. When they diet, fat may melt off their upper bodies, but it clings tenaciously to their lower halves. Endomorphs are usually frustrated by their limited progress despite total dedication and commitment.
The mesomorph has no problem putting on muscle and weight in general. Their shoulders are broader in relation to their hips. Though their belly muscles are usually thick and powerful, these individuals need to watch their diets as they tend to accumulate fat with their weight gain. Many talented athletes are mesomorphs.
Ectomorphs are even wider in their shoulder widths, with slim hips. The bodies are streamlined - think of the classic swimmer's body. Ectomorphs are usually "hard gainers" - they have trouble putting on muscle and weight. But to the envy of everyone else, they can often eat what they want without sacrificing their waistline.
Now take a look at yourself in the mirror. Where do you fit in? Realize that there are gray areas between each category. Maybe you're somewhere between an ectomorph and a mesomorph. Once you've determined your body type, take a look at magazines and see how your favorite bodybuilders and fitness stars stack up. Pay special attention to those athletes who have bodies similar to your own. Doing so will give you a glimpse of what you might look like if you reach your potential.
Examples of Body Types
Articles by Body Type