What you are training for will to a large degree determine your exercise program. Every program no matter the goal or sport must have an element of strength training and metabolic conditioning. We throw into the equation flexibility and mobility work to maintain joint health, range of motion and stress reduction. These basic components present will make any person/athlete better prepared for their activities of daily living or sport.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Yes, until we throw individual genetics into the mix; we come in many shapes and sizes and a one size fits all exercise program doesn’t work. Sport specificity aside with the goal of most people being general physical preparedness (fitness), genetics will favor heavily in the mix.
Just like with nutritional protocols, different people require varying amounts of calories and macronutrients and certain body types respond better to varying volumes and intensities of exercise.
3 basic body types: Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph.
The ECTOMORPH—The Cardio Queen
We all know someone like them; they can eat whatever they want and never seem to gain a pound. Typically tall, thin and longer limbed ectos are often referred to as ‘hardgainers’. They struggle to put weight on and have an even harder time putting on and maintaining muscle mass. They’re not genetically predisposed to it. In order to overcome nature, they must load up—at the gym and at in the kitchen.
- Go heavy with the weights using low reps. Use free weights resting 2-5 min between sets and allow 48 hours between workouts for recovery.
- Limit conditioning. Ectos have high metabolisms so they need to limit cardio to infrequent, shorter duration sessions.
- Diet: Eat—a LOT and often. If they don’t they will not gain muscle. Quality foods with adequate protein making sure to add in enough of both the right types of carbohydrates and healthy fats to raise calorie consumption
The ENDOMORPH—The Hearty Girl
Sturdy heavy-set types that have soft, stocky bodies and sluggish metabolisms; they may feel like they got the short straw. Gaining weight is not a problem but losing fat is challenging. Endos must make a conscious, concerted effort to do the things their bodies should be doing for them. They need to go hard, fast and often in the gym paying strict attention to nutrition.
- Rev up the engine. Their slow metabolism needs a major boost. For the weights lift in the 10-12 range with moderate weight and little rest between sets. Throw in short, hard bursts of cardio to crank it into gear.
- Superset. That means exercises done back to back or circuit fashion with a reduced recovery time. CrossFit is excellent for this.
- Diet: you need more healthy fats than any other body type and very LITTLE carbohydrates. The higher fat will help to push out the unwanted body fat and the reduced carbohydrates will help you effectively go from a sugar burner to a fat burner. Portions matter.
The MESOPORH—The Natural Athlete
Mesos are lucky, they hit the genetic lotto. They add muscle with relative ease and gain or lose weight without much effort. Typically they have longer torsos, shorter limbs and tend to be strong athletic types. They are bursting with energy and tend to do well in explosive sports that require power and speed
- For the weights mesos should stick with compound movements that work multiple muscle groups such as deadlifts, chins, presses and squats. These moves exploit their natural strength.
- Crank it up. They can also handle a higher volume of both weight and conditioning sessions. They can hit the gym with 4 weight training sessions and about 3 met cons each week for max results.
- Diet: mesos should eat reasonable portions of protein, adequate healthy fat and carbs aren’t really an issue. But stick to the right ones for health reasons.
While some people will find they are a ‘classic’ type many people are a combo of either ecto/meso or meso/endo. We won’t find any ecto/endos. While we can’t change the basic body type we were born with by implementing these training/nutrition tips you can optimize your body type and ultimately reach your fitness goals.
About the Author
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results