For those new to hearing this lingo, it may sound like an alien description of sorts and we will discuss what these “titles” mean in just a moment. Have you been bustin your butt in the gym, but aren’t seeing the results you want? Do you eat what you feel is an appropriate diet, but feel frustrated about not attaining your physique goals? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you might be eating and training for a body type other than your own.
To reach your health and physique goals, it’s best to start with the basics and learn to know what your body type is first. Do you have an ectomorph, endomorph or a mesomorph body? Or, are you somewhere in the middle of two of these?
Top notch trainers and nutrition coaches have known for quite some time now in bodybuilding that different body types can respond differently to both training and nutrition. As a result, it critically important to be aware of what your body type is so that you can put together a meal plan and workout program that works for you best.
If you’re new to engaging in a fitter and healthier lifestyle and trying to put your game plan together, Masculine Wellness will help you with some great insight and information in this blog post. This article will help you identify your body type and how it relates to your training and nutrition approach to help you look and feel your best!
So, What Are These Body Types?
As mentioned a moment ago, we have the 3 body types-generally speaking. Now, there often is not a clear black and white category that we can place ourselves into. Sometimes individuals are somewhere in the middle of two, such as between a mesomorph and endomorph. Finer details of the following suggestions may vary a bit depending on the person. This is simply a guide to give some basic/general insight and help to the beginner in their quest to be look & feel their best.
Ectomorph: The Skinny Hard Gainer
This body will be skinny with longer limbs and fingers. This person will often have low body fat and have a hard time gaining weight. A thin face and a narrow trunk are other features associated with this body type. It is often a challenge for someone with this type of body to add muscle, although it is possible.
Mesomorph: The Well-Proportioned Body
The mesomorph has an above average degree of muscularity and below average body fat. The torso often tapers to a relatively narrow and low waist. The bones and muscles of the head are prominent. Features of the face are clearly defined, such as cheek bones and a square jaw. This person will also typically have nice muscular shoulders, chests, arms, and legs. It is comparatively easy for someone with this body type to add muscle.
Endomorph: Has Roundness and Some “Extra Padding”
An endomorph body type is characterized by roundness, often noticed in their face, mid-section and limbs. Bodies tend to be soft and muscles are not well developed. Limbs often appear to be short. It is normal to see someone with strong endomorphic features to have significantly more body fat than people with ectomorph or mesomorph features.
So, for you Thinner Ectomorphs…
As an Ectomorph, you usually will want to concentrate on gaining weight but in the form of muscle and not fat. Following a solid meal plan and adding an extra serving will help you. Good fats such as a variety of different nuts and lean proteins are essential. Sugars, as always are still bad but you can get away with eating “junk food” from time to time. Eat lower glycemic or “slower” carbs such as yams, oats and whole grains and keep the juices and sugar to post workout if you must have them (don’t forget to add protein at this time). Unlike the other body types, cheat meals can happen more often because of your high metabolism.
Weight training should be heavy and with longer wait times between sets. This would be something along the lines of 6-8 reps that has 2 or up to, 3 minute rests going for 3-4 sets of that exercise. You don’t need extra cardio and this should be kept to a minimum and only used as needed for conditioning and aerobic capacity.
Following a 4-day split for most will work well, assuming their goal is to add muscle and “fill out”. It would look something like this:
• Monday: Chest/triceps
• Tuesday: Back/biceps
• Wednesday: off
• Thursday: Legs
• Friday: Shoulders/core
• Saturday: Off
• Sunday: Repeat ^^
This is just an example above. The bulk of the workouts and emphasis should be on big compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows, overhead press, etc.
Mesomorphs Often Have an Advantage
At the heart of the mesomorphs exercise program should be resistance training. Mesomorphs tend to have thicker and stronger muscles so moderate to heavy weights are needed to stimulate their growth with cardio being emphasized behind it or after it if the goal is to achieve a frame with more shape, such as that of a fitness male fitness model that graces covers of magazines.
After warming up and assuming your body is accustomed to training already, your target should be 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps with 70-80% of your 1 rep max weight at roughly 90 seconds of rest. You will eventually move past this at a later time by adding more weight, decreasing reps and increasing rest periods while continuing to go through training cycles as time goes on. Start with 3-4 exercises per muscle group.
*We should also note here, that many different training approaches will be responded to well by the mesomorph in most cases, depending on their specific goals and level of fitness.
The mesomorph may make some ecto and endomorphs envious with jealousy, but you still need to be mindful of your eating habits if you want to maintain your status long term. Given that you build muscle easier than many others, this also means that you can increase your resting metabolic rate leading to fat loss quicker than most as well, given your nutrition is good.
Taking in a good balance of healthy fats, lean proteins as well as greens, vegetables, fruits and grains for carbs will work well in your favor. Generally speaking, a good 40/40/20 macro split between carbs/proteins/fats will often work well for this person.
Less Starchy Carbs and “HIIT” for Endomorphs
This is the category many American newbies fall into that are looking for a solution to improve their health, fitness and wellbeing. This body type has become increasingly more common amongst men over the last few decades. If this applies to you, Masculine Wellness is here to help and will explain a solution here in a moment!
The all too familiar “I’m trying to lose weight, I’m doing cardio and walking” approach has become the common denominator in those that fail year after year in their efforts to look and feel better and squash health concerns. I have always referenced to this as being a hamster on a wheel, just spinning away but getting nowhere.
Too many people waste countless amounts of hours on ellipticals, tread-mills, and stationary bikes with very little to show for it. The results most endomorph Americans are usually after is a leaner, more defined body. But, the golden key missing with many to achieving this is an appropriate weight/resistance training program in addition to their cardio that is challenging enough to elicit change.
So, What Does “HIIT” Stand For?
“HIIT” stands for High Intensity Interval Training. An example of this would be to get on a treadmill (warm up first of course), do a 2-minute brisk walk at a 3.0 pace and then crank it up to a fast run at say, 7.5 for 2 minutes then bring back down to a 3.0 walk and repeat this 3-6 times. You are basically going at an 80- 90% intensity for 2 minutes and then doing a “recovery” phase for 2 minutes and repeating.
This approach can and should, be used for weight training as well. An example here would be to do 12-15 challenging squats or if just using body weight – jump squats. Rest for just 30 seconds and repeat for another 3 rounds before moving on to the next exercise in your workout. You can look to do 4-6 exercises in this fashion followed by a short 10-minute bout of cardio immediately following it. There are many different approaches and methods, this is just an example. The goal is to go about the workout with a high intensity, get it done with some gritting of the teeth and be done in a short period of time.
Initially, if new to weight training, you can take this approach with full body workouts every other day and then later progress into a 5-day split with more intense focus on areas such as:
1. Monday: Chest/Back
2. Tuesday: Off
3. Wednesday: Legs/Shoulders
4. Thursday: Off
5. Friday: Repeat
Probably the biggest reason HIIT works so well for dropping body fat is due to the greater calorie burn (or EPOC—Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) that’s maintained after the workout is over. In other words, you burn more calories and more body fat while you’re sitting around doing nothing after the workout. In addition to this increase in resting metabolism, HIIT is effective at enhancing the mechanisms in muscle cells that promote fat burning and blunt fat storage.
Doing half ass, low intensity cardio on a bike or treadmill may burn a few hundred calories in an hour but when you leave the gym, that is it. However… When or if, you’re JUST starting off and your level of fitness totally sucks because you haven’t worked out in 2 years or longer, start slow and build yourself up to HIIT. Starting slow is okay and for many, necessary to avoid injury misery.
After you have taken a few weeks of consistently acclimating your body to working out and gradually increasing your “pace”, you should eventually be ready to pursue and be introduced to HIIT and the different forms of it. If you go into the gym with a HIIT approach, get moving with some intensity and get done in 30 minutes, you will not only save time but reap so many more benefits including much more calorie/fat burning during the workout session and for hours following it!
Carbs Are Bad for Endomorphs?
Well, it depends but simple (“sugary”) carbohydrates can’t be abused or over consumed if you expect to tap into those fat stores to show some of your physique underneath it. These body types tend to be much more sensitive when it comes to insulin, leading to a greater tendency for energy storage, and carbohydrates provide that energy for our body. A lower carbohydrate tolerance is a common trait with endomorphs and excessive consumption of them needs to be avoided in order to see fat loss results.
If you fall into this category, you may feel as though you are destined to be overweight or even obese. This is NOT TRUE! You just have to make a decision and have dedicated effort to do the things your body should be doing for you automatically. If your body isn’t instinctively telling you to get moving, you have to make sure that exercise is part of your daily routine. If your metabolism is lagging, you need to eat the right foods that will amp it up a bit and support it.
To put it bluntly and be straightforward, you need to bust your ass a bit by exercising and eating right for your body type here.
Endomorph Approach to Eating & How
Endomorphs typically do best on a higher fat and protein intake with carbohydrate intake being controlled and properly timed after exercise, with their ideal intake around 25% carbs, 35% protein, and 40% fat.
Because they are not very carb tolerant, the best approach is to avoid high carb/starchy carb foods outside the workout window (this includes breakfast if you’re not training at this time). This means only proteins, fats, veggies and limited fruits (berries an encouraged choice) outside the workout window. Let’s emphasize here to plenty of cruciferous vegetables and greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, etc. as you like.
As we approach different stages in our lives, our hormones change which can and often does, influence our body type also. These stages include menopause as well as the male equivalent, andropause which comes with the more commonly known “Low T”. These cruciferous vegetables and food choices will help have a positive impact on our endocrine systems and hormone pictures.
In summary, it is a good idea to understand how we are all different and may respond differently to eating certain foods and our approaches to exercise in comparison to others. Although there is staple, proven and sound pieces of advice for training and nutrition that apply to everyone. There are details that may vary for each individual based on many factors such as ones talked about here.
Hopefully this gives a little insight as to how you may tailor your approach to fit your specific goals to look and feel your best ever!
Roger Bowman, CPT