Do you train hard but struggle to gain muscle? Do you try endless cardio but your body fat isn’t budging? It is possible that you haven’t taken into account your body type and how it may affect your results.
There are three basic male body types: ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. While we may have some characteristics of more than one body type, most of us fall more into one particular category than another. Your lifestyle, history and genetics all play a role in your body type, however, you can learn to overcome your natural tendencies and achieve your goals with some body-specific advice.
You are most likely to be an ectomorph if you struggle to gain weight and have naturally narrow shoulders, thin wrists and long limbs. Ectomorphs have an overly efficient metabolism, which means they tend not to store excess fat and struggle to gain weight – which is why they are called ‘hard-gainers’. This is because their skinny frame makes it difficult to put on weight through either fat or muscle gains.
Unfortunately, this means they will have to work harder not only to achieve muscle, but also to maintain it. If you are an ectomorph, concentrate your efforts on gaining strength and your size will follow. This can be done by lifting weights that are heavy enough to completely exhaust your muscles and doing a high number of reps until each muscle physically cannot lift anymore. Avoid doing too much cardio as this type of exercise tends to reduce both fat and muscle.
Another part of overcoming an ectomorph body type is to increase your calorie consumption. Drinking protein shakes is an excellent way to increase your protein and carbohydrate intake efficiently. Add plenty of different healthy and nourishing foods to your diet and be prepared to eat more to bulk up successfully. Eating too little would result in overtraining your body, with too little to replenish your muscles and assist their growth.
You have an endomorph body type if you are naturally bulky, have a thick rib cage, wide hips, shorter limbs and easily store fat. Most rugby players have this large-bodied type as it generally goes hand in hand with extra muscle and strength. These bodies can gain muscle easily but this generally comes with significant amounts of accompanying body fat, which is why they struggle to carve out any signs of a six-pack.
Therefore the biggest challenge of an endomorph is to lose fat. An effective workout routine would be to do cardio three times a week and add a couple of high intensity weight training sessions that also raise your heart rate. Be sure to avoid isolation training, and strive to do more reps rather than increase your weights. This will ensure you shed fat in addition to working on your muscles.
In terms of diet, prioritise protein over carbohydrate, especially after training as it will encourage your body to burn fat. Carefully control your diet and aim to remove all refined carbs such as white bread, white flour pasta and pastries to name a few. Consider lowering your caloric intake and avoid empty calories such as sodas and junk food.
You are a mesomorph if you are naturally lean and athletic, have relatively thin joints and wide shoulders. You can burn fat and build muscle easily, and do not require huge amounts of maintenance. This body type is one that natural athletes share and is coveted by many.
Having a mesomorph body type is not a reason to become complacent as poor diet and lack of structured training can still hamper your good metabolism. Mesomorphs respond well to many different types of exercises, so train as you wish and make sure to occasionally mix up your methods to ensure your body steers clear of plateaus. Your body will respond particularly well to high intensity training so focus on this if you are aiming to quickly improve your shape.
As far as nutrition is concerned, eating moderately clean should be sufficient to assist your goals, but increasing your protein intake will pay off when it comes to muscle growth. Whole grains, healthy fats, fruit and vegetables will also support and maintain your good metabolism.