When beginning a physical activity program, it's helpful to understand your body type and how it might impact your fitness training. The concept of body type was first introduced in the 1940s by William Sheldon. As a psychologist, he theorized that body shape determined personality. His theory did not prove to be correct, but in the process of his research, he devised three main categories of body type that are still used by nutritionists and exercise physiologists today.
Endomorphs are predominantly round, mesomorphs are mainly muscular types and ectomorphs are thin and linear. Your body type may fit neatly into one of these three categories or be an even mixture of two types. Wherever you find yourself along the spectrum, you can thank, or curse, your parents since your body type is genetically determined. Although you can't change your genetic makeup, you can tailor your fitness program to suit your body type.
Endomorphs who are rounder, softer, and pear shaped may have fat surrounding their gluteals and thighs which make activities like bicycling easier. Their fat makes them more buoyant and gives them an advantage during swimming. Their muscles are not well-defined and they have a higher fat to muscle ratio. Endomorphs find running and jumping frustrating. They would benefit from long distance, low impact activities to help them slim down and upper body strength training to balance out being "bottom heavy".
- Soft Body
- Underdeveloped Muscles
- Weight Loss is Difficult
- Round Physique
- Gains Muscle Easily Like the Mesomorph
Mesomorphs are usually good at sports. Their body type is one with well-defined muscles on the trunk and limbs. These folks are broader in the shoulders and hips and narrower at the waist. They have a high muscle to fat ratio and look fit even without weight training . Mesomorphs who lift weights notice a dramatic increase in strength and muscle mass. They adapt quickly to strength training and would benefit from regular stretching, and balancing high energy activities with more mellow endeavors like yoga.
- Muscular Body
- Gains Muscle Easily
- Hourglass Shaped (Female)
- Rectangular Shaped (Male)
- Mature Muscle Mass
- Thick Skin
- Hard Body
- Gains Fat More Easily Than Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs has a body type which is long and rectangular, flat chested, slender in the hips, with no defined waist. Ectomorphs have poor muscle development with relatively low body weight. This body type has difficulty retaining muscle. Ectomorphs must take in enough calories to balance their weight training caloric expenditure. Ectomorphs are built for endurance activities such as running and fitness walking. They often find ball sports or anything that requires bursts of speed and strength difficult. Since ectomorphs lack curves, they would benefit from full body activities like swimming and rowing and regular strength training. Weight bearing activities are a must for ectomorphs who risk developing osteoporosis because of their small frames.
- Hard Gainer
- Delicate Built Body
- Flat Chest
- Lightly Muscled
- Small Shouldered
- Takes Longer to Gain Muscle
What excercies are the best for my body type?
Before you rush into an exercise program to achieve your ideal fitness and health goals, ask yourself 'Is my body type suited to this form of exercise'? 'Will this exercise program help me achieve or hamper my goals in mind'?
Lanky ectomorphs for example tend to make great long distance runners, bike riders, power walkers and aerobic classes. Muscular mesomorphs are ideal for any type of strength or power sport such as weight training, powerlifting, sprinter, boxing, wrestling and even martial arts. Endomorphs are usually best suited to swimming, very light high repetition weight training, walking and aerobic classes.
Your body type will have a definite impact on how intense you'll have to train to achieve your desired goals.
Ectomorphs usually have a faster metabolism and tend to loose body fat easily but because of their long slender limbs, have to work harder to achieve any type of muscular definition. Endomorphs because of their body shape, tend to have a higher percentage of body fat and usually have to work harder to loose it. You must also be aware if you do have this body type to be careful when weight training, as added muscle mass can make your physique look blocky and larger rather than slimmer and leaner.
Mesomorphs on the other hand have the advantage that with their natural muscular, athletic physique they loose body fat quickly and gain muscular size easily.
Whatever your health and fitness goals may be it's important to look at yourself as a holistic whole. Every aspect of your life and being is a contributing factor that may effect your end results.
Slow and Fast-Twitch Fibers
Another way of classifying body types is by recognizing the individual differences that exist among muscle fiber types. The two primary types of muscle fibers are called slow and fast-twitch and each has unique characteristics. Slow-twitch fibers (the dark meat on the turkey) are fatigue resistant fibers that are smaller in cross section than the fast-twitch fibers. They are well suited for low intensity activities such as distance running, cycling and walking.
Fast-twitch fibers (the white meat on the turkey) are recruited for short bursts of high-intensity activities such as jumping, sprinting and weight lifting. These fibers fatigue more quickly but allow for powerful muscular contraction.
If you were a fast runner, or if you had a high vertical jump, your fast-twitch muscle fibers predominate. If you shunned all speed related activities and preferred long slow distance, you have a preponderance of slow-twitch fibers. If you were somewhere in between, excelling at speed or distance, you have a fairly even mixture of the two.