There are many factors that influence what types of workouts you should do to reach your fitness goals. Gender, age, ability, etc. are all factors; however, one of the most important and perhaps most overlooked is body type. Yes, just because you and your buddy weigh the same and are the same height means in no way that you should train the same. What’s that you say? That’s right! You should plan your workout for your body type, don't just use any old workout that your buddy passed along to you. We are not talking specifics here- if you’re body type x, lift these body parts, body type y, these body parts, and so on. The idea behind the science of body types is determining which general category you fit in and then deciding which is best for you- weights only, weights and cardio equally, weights less and cardio more, etc.
So what are these body types? Well, let’s take a look. Body types are broken down into three kinds (yes, despite gender!)- ectomorphs, endomorphs and mesomorphs. Now, not everyone falls into one strict category, as some people are combinations of both, ie ecto/endomorphs. Before you go running away thinking we’re talking about some Gargoyle’s here, hear me out. Think about your own frame and the frame of two of your friends. Do you tend to gain weight first in your midsection? Lose last in your legs? Do you know a guy who can eat anything he wants and never gain a pound of fat or muscle? There is actually science behind all this madness.
Picture the tall, lanky man, who, no matter what, has a rockin’ six pack and can eat every fast food item under the sun. What gives? These people fall under the body type ectomorph- aka slender. The bone structure of these individuals is usually rather delicate, shoulders are small and narrow, and these individuals have a fast metabolism. Gaining both weight and mass (muscle) are equally difficult, so we refer to these individuals as “hardgainers.” As gaining is hard for them, they tend to stay lean or are able to quickly get lean. If you are an ectomorph, the best way to approach workouts is in a short but intense fashion, and cardio really should be avoided for the most part.
On the opposite side, you have endomorphs. If endomorphs ate the fast food that ectomorphs can, they would very quickly reap the consequences. For endomorphs, picture “soft.” They tend to have a rounder shape and gain both fat and muscle rather easy. When we refer to people as “stocky,” we are talking about people in this category. Their body composition tends to be more so fat than muscle, and metabolisms are on the slower side. Because of this, it is highly recommended that if you fall under this body type, you should do both cardio and strength training equally.
Picture a bodybuilder or figure competitor who just “has” the frame for the sport. These people fall under the category of mesomorphs. Mesomorphs are the people who are athletically-built, naturally muscular and strong. Shoulders tend to be broad on mesomorph frames, and muscles are well-defined. Gaining muscle and losing fat are rather doable for those with this frame. Weight training tends to lead to quick mass gains, but cardio should also be incorporated on occasion to keep body fat at a good level (think along the lines of HIIT- high intensity training).
No matter what your body type, be it a very obvious whatever-morph, or a combination of two body types, achieving an ideal physique is doable- it just requires different work depending on what frame you are working with. By having this knowledge and being able to identify where your own body type falls, you can alter training to obtain peak results.