There are several things to consider when putting together the right training plan for your body – most importantly, what body type you naturally have. Bone structure helps determine what your body can support and this is determined by genetics. There are three main categories that most people fall into:
- Endomorphic body type. This body type is made up of higher proportions of fat, is shaped like a pear, and is much more likely to store fat.
- Ectomorphic body type. This is the lanky person who is struggling to gain weight – muscle or fat. High metabolic rates are common in people with this body type.
- Mesomorphic body type. This is commonly viewed as a V-shaped frame in the upper body. Mesomorphs have lighter muscle mass and a fast metabolism.
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Working with your body is easier than working against it. Because of this, it can help you tailor your exercise program to suit your body type.
People with this body type often benefit from weight training. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate and the more calories you burn every day. For these types, it’s also important to get a good amount of low-intensity cardio training about an hour a week in addition to strength training, especially in the lower body.
The key with this body type is avoiding injury. Walk for about 20 minutes at a time for the first six weeks. Or train cardio in the form of an elliptical trainer, rowing machine or other equipment that is easy on the joints.
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When lifting weights in this population, consider squats, lunges, and deadlifts as you develop the strength you need to support your body for more demanding movements.
With ectomorphs, heavy weight training can be problematic. You are lean with likely high metabolism and should therefore be trained on. Think of circuit training with moderate resistance.
People with this body type can often stay longer. High-intensity interval training can do great things for developing six pack abs or toning your arms and legs as it helps burn off the extra fat stores they have.
Bodyweight exercise is generally a good idea with this population. That way, you won’t overload yourself too much and still be able to really achieve your fitness goals. This is not to say to avoid weight training at all, just to say that it is probably best not to make heavy weight training your main focus. Also, interval training in general can be a great way for ectomorphs to get immersed in their workouts.
For this population, consider a lot of the regular dumbbell exercise, focus on isolating muscle groups like you do with bicep curls, and workout hard with aerobics.
Mesomorphs muscle mass easily. You will likely get a lot out of heavy lifting – just focus on form. In people of this type, the upper body likely has broad shoulders and a tight waist, which allows for most typical barbell exercises as well as high-intensity interval training. Powerlifting can also be extremely useful for this group.
General guidelines, not rules
Remember that body types are not a hard science – they are more general. This is because there are a variety of factors, some of which can be controlled, such as diet and exercise, and others that cannot be controlled, such as genetics.
Interested in the science behind health and fitness? Explore the International Sports Sciences Association’s Certified Fitness Instructor Course to learn how to improve your workouts and improve your fitness. Then take it to the next level and use that knowledge to help others as certified personal trainers.