by Dr. Peter Fong, M.D.
I introduced a basic workout plan for the novice body sculptor in the last issue of Universal Matters. I'll define, more thoroughly, a framework to guide you in your goals. I'll address the endomorph here and discuss the mesomorph and ectomorph in upcoming issues.
If you remember, endomorphs are individuals characterized by narrow shoulders in relation to their hips. Their lower bodies appear thick and heavy. When they diet, the fat usually off their upper bodies, but clings to their lower halves. I recommended that these individuals concern themselves primarily with "trimming down" and increasing their metabolism through aerobic and resistance training and proper nutrition.
Let's talk about training in more detail. My clients often tell me that they want to "tighten up" their bodies so that their appearance is slimmer and more aesthetically pleasing. This goal is difficult unless they lose their fatty deposits, especially the subcutaneous fat. Experienced bodybuilders understand this well and undergo an intensive 12-16 week diet prior to competition. They also know that their well-sculpted and highly developed muscles will appear more prominent the leaner they are. Although, their competition weight is lighter, on stage, they appear larger. My point is that to appear "tight and firm," you have to lose the fat. There's no other way around it.
Therefore, as I mentioned earlier, my training program for the endomorph is geared toward helping him increase his metabolism. I have him concentrate heavily on aerobic apparatus (e.g., treadmill, stationary bike, stair climber, etc.).
I usually take a brisk walk on the treadmill, or cycling at a moderate pace on the bike is fine. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to carry on a conversation while performing your aerobic activity (fat burning requires oxygen). Although it is important to burn calories while you train, our goal is to steadily increase your metabolism so that you can burn calories even at rest.
If you are running on the treadmill or racing on the bike, while you may burn more calories while training, you will NOT effectively increase your metabolic rate. Why? When you increase your intensity (heart rate), exercise becomes anaerobic; to constantly burn calories, you must take advantage of aerobic conditioning. As in the case of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the metabolic race.
Once I've establishing a solid fat burning protocol, we then move on to weight training. I prefer to utilize a circuit-type program in which my client performs a series of different exercises. Start him off with thirty minutes of aerobic exercise per day, three times a week. I'll slowly increase this frequency to seven days a week. Depending on my client's progress and conditioning, I may increase exercise duration as well.
What about intensity? For the purposes of increasing metabolism, exercises. For the endomorph, I emphasize higher repetitions and minimal rest periods between stations. I try to hit the whole body during this intense (anaerobic) session. I work with each individual client to determine which exercises he can best "feel" while training that specific body part. Once this is established, I'll arrange these exercises in a series of stations for optimal results. The program can usually be performed in approximately 15-20 reps.
It's important that each rep is "felt" and that the client follows proper form. I don't count sloppy reps. After my client has completed a station, he will stretch that specific muscle during his 30 second rest period and then move on to the next exercise station. The entire workout program is short but intense if performed properly. Depending on need, I may run my client through it two or three times. Remember, stretching prior to and after weight training is extremely important for preventing injuries and for facilitating optimum muscular development.
With training out of the way, we can now turn to dieting. Nutrition may be the most important aspect of "tightening up" for endomorphs. In my many years of experience, I've noticed that endomorphs are typically sensitive to carbs (or more specifically, to insulin). To exacerbate matters, these same endomorphs consume too many carbs throughout the day. As a result, they'll retain water. Too often do I hear complaints about "swollen feet" or "bloated abs"! What to do?
I start by limiting his protein source to poultry or fish. The amount of protein I initially allow him is approximately one gram per pound of bodyweight (for example, 200 grams if you weight 200 pounds). Later, when he starts incorporating resistance training into his regimen, I may increase the amount of protein he consumes to maximize muscular growth and development.
Next, I'll manipulate carb intake. I start by implementing a diet with a 1:1 ratio of carbs to protein. In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds, you'll consume 200 grams of protein and 200 grams of carbs per day. Assuming you'll eat six meals per day, this translated into 33 grams of protein and 33 grams of carbs per meal. Depending on your results, I may decrease the ratio of carbs to proteins.
As endomorphs may be insulin sensitive, the type of carbs he consumes is extremely important. The term "glycemic index" (GI) is currently in vogue. The glycemic index of a carb basically indicates how fast it is converted into sugars that enter your circulation. In short, the glycemic index measures the rate and amplitude of blood sugar levels which in turn determine the amount of insulin that is produced in response.
Why is insulin so important? Insulin basically performs two functions: (1) it stores fat and (2) it prevents fat from being broken down to a usable energy source for the body. When dieting, we want to limit the amount of insulin we produce. We accomplish this by selecting carbs with low glycemic indexes. I don't worry too much about fats since fats usually limit themselves (depending on the type of protein you are eating).
To summarize, because of the endomorph's genetics and predisposition for insulin sensitivity, his diet should focus on limiting (and wisely selecting) those carbs with low glycemic indexes. He should try to consume smaller meals more frequently in an effort to maintain a steady blood sugar level. Finally, his training program should have a solid aerobic foundation. I have found that this type of overall program best facilitates fat burning. If you are an endomorph, remember that success depends on your ability to believe in yourself. Strive to make your dreams become a reality. Good luck!