Lean and wiry, big-boned or muscular? There’s a fitness plan for you
Are you long, lean and wiry with a fast metabolism? Do you have a larger bone structure, store fat easily and struggle with weight loss? Or is it easy to gain and lose weight from your muscular frame? Endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph—every one of us is typically a blend of two body types, with one type being more dominant. And each body type requires different exercise plans to achieve overall health and fitness goals.
If you look more like a model than a swimmer, and you have difficulty putting on muscle mass, you are most likely an ectomorph. Defined by thin bones, long limbs and small joints, ectomorphs appear skinny, but often have a higher body fat than people expect. They have trouble adding muscle mass because of their fast metabolism.
Ectomorphs are at a disadvantage when it comes to building muscle, and they tend to excel at endurance activities, like running marathons. In fact, many of them prefer cardio over strength training, but they can benefit from a solid, consistent weight-training program. The key to stimulate muscle growth is to do the minimal amount of cardio required for general health (30 minutes three times a week), while adopting a weight-training routing using heavy weights. Focus on completing three to five sets of approximately eight to 12 reps for each muscle group using heavier weights.
If you have a larger bone structure and struggle with weight loss, you are most likely an endomorph. Recognized by their short limbs and fat distribution through the lower abdomen, hips and thighs, endomorphs (some famous ones: Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez) have a more difficult time losing weight and are at a greater risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer and infertility. With a well-round fitness program, they can achieve positive results.
Endomorphs must commit to a lifelong program without overtraining. Building muscle is fairly easy for an endomorph, but a slower metabolism and extra body fat make it harder for them to stay lean. That’s why exercise is essential to boost metabolism and must include weight and cardio training. Maintaining lean muscle mass and losing body fat, while also revving up the metabolism, is the focus for endomorphs during weight-training sessions. They should focus on large muscle groups (legs, back) and high repetitions (15 reps), and do circuit training with very little rest time between sets. The cardio component of their fitness plan, designed to burn calories, should incorporate 30-minute, high-intensity interval training two to three days a week.
If you have a naturally muscular, moderate form with medium-sized bone structure, you are most likely a mesomorph. Well-proportioned with wider shoulders and a narrow waist, mesomorphs tend to have low body-fat levels. Of the three body types, mesomorphs are the best for bodybuilding because they are naturally strong and have the ability to lose or gain weight easily. But because they are prone to weight gain, they need a well-rounded training program to maintain a lean physique.
To avoid putting on too much fat, mesomorphs should concentrate on consistent cardio sessions—30 to 45 minutes three to five times a week. For the best results, cardio interval training or high-intensity interval training is recommended two to three times a week, along with one to two sessions of steady-state cardio. Because mesomorphs have thick, dense muscles moderate-to-heavy weights, with limited rest in between sets, five days a week, is ideal to stimulate muscle growth. They should perform eight to 12 reps of three to four exercises for each muscle group. Complete at least three sets of each exercise and rest 30 to 90 seconds after each set. Switching up the weight training routine by using higher reps with lighter weights, adding in body-weight exercises and techniques such as super sets and circuit training, can stimulate strength and stamina without building muscle mass.