As you know we come in all shapes and sizes. And whether you're tall or
short, fat or thin exercise can help you achieve your goals of weight loss,
building muscle, increasing strength and improving fitness.
But what if I were to tell you that your body shape could dictate your
overall workout plan?
Let's start at the beginning. Over 50 years ago a chap called William Sheldon
began to look into a system for classifying humans in terms of body shape,
skeleton size and fat levels. The system he settled upon called for essentially
three different body types - ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.
|Tall and thin. Thin chest small
||Strong bones, round appearance.
|Fast metabolism. Slow muscle gains
||Slower metabolism. Likely to carry
a little excess body fat.
||Can gain and lose weight easily.
|Weight loss comes easy. Naturally
||Naturally strong. Quick to gain
||Responds well to both resistance
and aerobic training.
|Slow to gain muscle. Exercise can
cause weight loss
||Finds it difficult to lose weight.
Needs to work on fitness.
|Can become overtrained quickly.
Variety is the key.
In order to be good, or even great, at a sport your body needs to function
optimally. Ideally marathon runners should be thin, with a delicate build
and be able to increase strength without adding much muscle mass, where
as a power athlete needs a strong bone structure, be naturally very strong
and respond very well to weight training.
The two characters described above are of course broadly speaking an ectomorph
and endomorph respectively. However, what happens when an ectomorph wants
to gain muscle mass or the endomorph wants to run a marathon? Are they fighting
a physical battle they cannot win?
Not at all. It is possible to rise up against our genetics and add muscle
to a skinny frame or lose fat from a heavy build. We just have to understand
the best type of training for our particular body type.
Ectomorphs find it hard to put on weight because they burn calories very
easily. With this in mind ectomorphs shouldn't train too hard or long when
it comes to aerobics. They should lift weights but keep the volume low -
again too much activity will burn lots of calories.
- 3 times 20-30 min.
of low intensity work each week.
- Train each body part every
4/5 days for 2/3 sets.
Endomorphs tend to be naturally strong, but they usually also have slower
metabolisms. This means when it comes to weight loss the training emphasis
should be on aerobic based activities - at least 4 training sessions a week.
- 4/5 times 30-60 min.
- 1/2 full body workouts
each week. Reps low, volume moderate.
Mesomorphs fall in between an ectomorph and endomorph. Mesomorphs tend to
hold a little body fat and be pretty strong naturally. Their aerobic capacity
is quite high so they don't need to work as long as the endomorph. Their
results from weight training can be varied, so it is advised that this aspect
of training is cycled so that the body doesn't become stale.
- 2/3 times 20-40 min.
of mixed intensity exercise.
- Two sessions a week. Up
to 6 exercises per body part.