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Depending on which body type you have, can impact factors such as how fast you gain muscle and lose weight. You can take advantage of your body type by implementing the most suitable nutrition plan and training program, and when you’ve factored in your body composition, you’ll find you can reach your goals that much quicker.
If you’re unsure as to what body type you may be; continue reading, as in this article we’ll consider each of three bodybuilding body types along with the most appropriate type of training for muscle growth and best food types for fat loss and muscle retention.
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There are three distinct categories of the human body: the ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. These body types are used to describe the physical traits in relation to muscle mass, bone density and fat storage. It’s worth noting that you may not fall in to one body type category and could in fact be a combination of body types.
Who Introduced The Concepts Of Body Types
Back in the 1940’s William Herbert Sheldon, an American Psychologist, developed the concept of these three types of bodies, attributing main characteristics to each. He referred to them as somatotypes.
However, as a psychologist, it was less to do with anatomy and more to do with personality traits. His theory being that your body type meant that you had a certain personality. For example, he claimed that those with an ectomorph body type were introvert, quiet with limited social skills.
Whilst the aspects of body composition are still popular in helping a personal trainer devise a workout program based on their build, the assumption that they have certain personality traits is widely disputed. It’s understandably deemed judgmental to profile people based on their physical attributes.
4 Factors Which Affect Body Type
Everyone has a unique body type, which can be a mix of different somatotypes, but it is our skeletal frame and body composition that brings about variation in your frame.
Here are the basic factors that determine your body type:
Men have a comparatively higher metabolic rate, which is why they burn fat faster than women. Because men typically have larger bodies, both in terms of build and muscle mass, this means they need a higher caloric intake to sustain energy levels.
On the other hand, women have a higher body fat percentage and slower metabolic rate and hence need slightly fewer calories. However, they have higher daily vitamin and mineral requirements.
Physiologically, fat distribution also varies between genders. Whilst men tend to store fat in the abdominal region, women have a higher fat percentage to the thighs and glutes.
Research suggests that our genetics plays a significant part in our body type. This includes how and where you store body fat, along with our overall body shape.
That being said, lifestyle factors will also impact size and shape. If you come from a genetically blessed family yet frequently overindulge in poor quality foods and undertake little exercise, eventually your body will be impacted, irrespective of your genes.
As you begin to age, lean muscle mass declines gradually whilst excess fat can accumulate. Additionally, bones shrink and start to lose density, and you also lose height.
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Muscles lose elasticity, and general strength and flexibility decline. All these factors combined will change the body frame as we get older.
Understandably, your levels of physical activity influence body type. The more physical exercise you engage in, the more calories you burn.
Similarly, if you regularly partake in strength-based exercises, you’ll naturally begin to increase lean muscle mass which in turn boosts your metabolism helping you to burn more body fat.
The Three Bodybuilder Body Types
Now that we’ve considered what may impact the different body types, let’s look at each in more detail.
Ectomorph Body Type
A typical ectomorph is usually taller with very little body fat and a small amount of muscle.
Here are some of the typical characteristics of an ectomorph:
- Long limbs
- Low body fat
- Stringy muscles
- Flatter chest
- Smaller shoulders
- Faster Metabolism
As an ectomorph, you’ll have a faster metabolism with a small amount of body fat. Whilst this does mean you can usually get away with eating more food, it can be harder for you to build muscle. It may also be harder for your body to regulate its temperature.
You may also have a smaller bone structure, meaning that your bones are on the weak side making you more susceptible to conditions such as osteoporosis.
On the plus side, when you do gain muscle, this is usually lean and solid muscle.
Keeping this in mind, let’s discuss exercises and diet that help ectomorphs with bodybuilding:
Best Exercises for an Ectomorph
Ectomorph body types tend to do well in sports where being heavy would be a disadvantage. These include sports such as rock climbing, cycling and long distance running.
As mentioned, it can be difficult to build large muscles but if this is one of your goals, you’ll want to avoid too much cardio and aerobic exercise and focus more on compound exercises such as the following:
- Back or Front Squats
- Bench Press
- Push Ups
These compound movements will stimulate maximum muscle growth. You’ll want to take long rest periods in between each set, at least 2 minutes, so that you can lift as much weight as you can, allowing for more muscle hypertrophy. Aim to train for 3 times per week but no more than this. It’s important to allow for sufficient recovery time to allow your muscles to grow.
Best Food for an Ectomorph
Considering that ectomorphs have a hard time gaining muscles, they need to consume a diet rich in all three macros, especially carbohydrates. You should ensure to include at least 50 to 60% carbs in your daily diet to achieve healthy and sustainable muscle gain.
To gain the maximum amount of muscle, it’s important to be in a caloric surplus. If you gain fat during this muscle gaining phase, don’t worry too much as this can easily be lost by increasing cardio.
- Eat every few hours.
- Make sure to consume starch-rich food like brown rice, potatoes, oats, etc.
- Add fruits like bananas, mangoes, and avocados to your meal plan.
- Try and avoid processed foods and consume nuts and seeds as snacks.
- Incorporate a post work out protein shake combined with a fast acting carbohydrate so you can replenish your muscles quickly.
Endomorph Body Type
Those with an endomorphic body type usually carry much more body fat with a large bone structure and soft looking body. It can be difficult to lose weight and easy to gain it.
Here are some of the typical characteristics of an endomorph:
- Shorter limbs
- Larger bones
- More body fat
- Broad shoulders
- Slow metabolism
However, as an endomorph you can pack on muscle quite easily and increase your strength. Ideal sports for an endomorph would be something like powerlifting or wrestling.
Endomorphs typically have a slower metabolism which explains the higher body fat percentage. When it comes to increasing muscle mass without increasing body fat this can be a challenge for endomorphs. Here are some exercises and diet tips that can be of use for endomorph strength training.
Best Exercises for an Endomorph
If your aim an endomorph is to lose body fat but gain lean muscle and retain it, you’ll want to make sure you incorporate cardio into your daily routine to increase your metabolism and exercises such as the following:
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Aerobic exercise
- High repetition isolation exercises such as shoulder press or bicep curls.
An endomorph can get best results by training around 4 to 5 times per week. Perform both isolation and compound exercises keeping the weight load between light to medium so you can perform a high number of repetitions. Also be sure to keep rest times to a minimum, around 30 seconds, between sets.
Best Food for an Endomorph
Understandably, diet plans for endomorphs focus on minimal consumption of fats and refined carbohydrates and a higher lean protein and vegetable intake. You should especially avoid adding saturated and trans fats to your meals.
Fats are only used as an energy source when the body is depleted of carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore, reducing your calorie intake is crucial for endomorphs. Eating a fiber-rich diet can keep you feeling full for long hours without causing any weight gain (because fiber is not digested in the body).
- Eat around 5 to 6 smaller meals per day.
- Reduce carbohydrate intake and consume it post exercise only to increase muscle glycogen levels.
- Eat more lean protein, such as chicken and turkey.
- Increase vegetable intake.
Mesomorph Body Type
The mesomorph is often seen as the most favorable body type. With an athletic build, a mesomorph can gain muscle relatively easily and retain it. Whilst they can also gain body fat quite quickly, it’s no real issue losing it either. Those with a mesomorph body type tend to make the best bodybuilders.
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Here are some typical characteristics of the mesomorph body type:
- Medium athletic build
- Wide shoulders and narrow waistline
- Fast metabolism
- Balanced physique
- Lower body fat percentage
- Ability to gain muscle quickly
Best Exercises for a Mesomorph
As a mesomorph, you can benefit from both high repetition isolation exercises using weights and compound movements. The compound exercises will help to build muscle whilst burning calories and isolation exercises can help to target smaller muscle groups improving definition. Some examples include the following:
- Front or back squats
- Bench Press
- Weighted lunges
- Isolation exercises such as bicep curls and calf raises.
- Steady state cardio to help retain muscle.
You can train between 3 and 5 times per week depending on what particular exercises you’ve been focusing on. Usually, rest periods need to be longer between heavy weight compound movements so that your body has ample time to repair.
As many bodybuilders tend to be mesomorphs, it’s not uncommon to cycle between gaining muscle and then switching their focus to burning body fat. This is known as bulking and cutting. This allows them to consume the food needed to build the maximum amount of muscle without being overly concerned with gaining fat.
Best Food for an Mesomorph
A mesomorph tends to benefit most from an equal split diet, dividing their calorie intake across all three food groups: protein, carbs and fats. This can of course be adjusted to suit any specific fitness goals.
As you typically carry more muscle than bodyfat, eating smaller meals more often not only helps to keep the metabolism fired up, but these meals can also increase your energy levels and keep muscle glycogen topped up. If you cycle between bulking and cutting, you should consume more carbohydrates during the bulking phase but more protein at the cutting stage.
- Focus on an equal split of carbohydrates, fats and protein.
- Eat little and often.
- Aim for whole foods over processed foods.
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake.
When you’ve determined your body type, you’ll be able to adjust your workouts and nutrition plan to better help you reach your fitness goals. Consider that most people tend to be a mixture of these body types and your lifestyle will also play a part in your overall shape and size.