Editors note: This is a guest post written by a very good friend of ours and fantastic coach Adam Cox working out of Manchester, England.
Do you know what your body type is? Below are the characteristics of the different human body types (somatotypes) to help you understand which category you fall in to. You don't need to fully fit in to one of the body types, it isn't uncommon for people to share characterisitics of a couple of the somatotypes. Knowing your body type has several important implications for how you should approach training and nutrition. Armed with the right approach you can employ strategies which will best suit your goals, because the the right training approach for an ectomorph will not be the right training approach for an endomorph so knowing which body type you are is important!
Ectomorph – Slim physique, high metabolic rate, usually seen in marathons and other long distance races.
Mesomorph – Athletic build, broad shoulders and small waist, moderate metabolic rate, usually seen in short sprints or physique style competitions.
Endomorph – Stocky and broad, wide hips, low metabolic rate, usually seen in lifting or power based events.
What has this got to do with my training?
Depending on which body somatotype you are will determine which aspect of training you should be utilising more in your workout. This all comes down to the metabolic rate of each somatotype. For the mesomorph and the endomorph, gaining muscle mass isn’t an issue because they can have a high caloric and anabolic diet and undergo highly intense workouts without many problems. The ectomorph on the otherhand can also consume a high amount of calories without much problem, but using a high intensity training programme will start to cause problems. Seen as though the ectomorph already ahs a high metabolic rate, it would be unwise and counter productive to burn an excessive amount of calories during a workout.
Now I’m sure we’d all love to look like Arnold with broad shoulders, a tiny waist and bulging biceps; but unfortunately we weren’t all gifted with a mesomorphic body type. But that doesn’t mean all you ectormorphs cant look like Frank Zane or you endomorphs like Jay Cutler!
So how do I adapt my training?
Over the years many have tried and failed in answering this question, but now we have it! Below is a super brief guide to training for your body type which will help you get the best results from your training based on your goals.
Training For The Ectomorph Body Type
For increasing muscle mass, your training should be at a very low intensity so as not to force your body into catabolism and start eating muscle tissue instead of adding it! I suggest using strength training, or alternatively use the tempo method (using seconds or counts to determine the length of the eccentric and concentric phase of your movement). This allows your body to stimulate muscle mass to grow without destroying existing mass in the process. Maintaining a calorie surplus will be cruitial for you to execute this newly adapted training plan. This will take longer than it would for the gifted mesomorph, but it will happen, stick with it!
Training For The Mesomorph and Endomorph Body Types
Now looking at the mesomorph and the endomorph, training for mass should be as normal, using an 8-12 rep range at a moderate weight with a full body/upper-lower split routine and also maintaining a calorie surplus. Although beware, whereas for the ectomorph it may be very easy to maintain a low body fat percentage, this is not the case for you. To overcome this I would recommend periodising your “bulk” and “cut” seasons so as not to gain excessive fat stores!
The Last Word
Ectomorphs, focus your training on getting stronger and eating plenty of good quality foods. Mesomorphs, eat and train to your hearts content but beware, overeating will increase you body fat percentage. And finally the endomorph, fear not of high intensity workouts for they will help to keep the body fat at bay, but be very careful not to fall into the “eat what you want, it’s bulking season” trap.
Editor: Big thank you to Adam Cox for writing this great post! Expect to see more from him in the coming months across a wide range of topics.