3 Body Types – Their Characteristics, Training & Nutrition
The quest for fitness and good health must start with a better understanding of the body. It is important to remember that your body type is different from your body shape – the first helps you understand your anatomy, and the second describes your dimensions. A better understanding of the body will result in a fitter and healthier you.
Mos of the people set unrealistic goals, or have skewed perceptions of their bodies, or follow fitness plans that don’t suit their bodies (some feel working out makes them broader, while others think cardio makes them lose too much weight).
We can broadly categorize bodies into three types – Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph, the understanding of which can help determine ideal fitness and diet plans for each person. All the three body types may look fit but the workout routines and diets they each follow are probably poles apart. Here are the 3 Body Types – Their Characteristics, Training & Nutrition
1. Ectomorph (If You Are Tall & Skinny….)
This is the body type we all wish we could. Ectomorphs are blessed with fast metabolisms, and they steer clear of gyms, thinking exercise will make them lose weight. One will often hear an ectomorph saying, “I eat a lot, but I don’t put on weight.” Think Julia Roberts…
- Thin wrists and ankles
- Long arms and legs, in proportion with their torsoes
- Difficulty in building muscle
- Low body fat
- Difficulty in putting on weight
- Narrow frame
Contrary to common belief, an ectomorph does benefit from training. Their focus should be on building and maintaining muscle mass. An ectomorph should lift weights with lower repetitions (5–10), take long breaks in-between sets to help preserve muscle mass, and do as little cardio as possible (limited to HIIT or short interval runs with sprints). They will see better results if they perform split routines that focus on working two body parts a day. Their leg muscles should also be worked on. Ectomorphs shouldn’t shy away from heavy training (with exercises such as dead lifts, weighted squats, push-ups, hammer curls for biceps and overhead tricep extensions), since they don’t need to worry about bulking up. Ideally, they should do strength training three to four times a week, and short cardio sessions twice a week.
A common mistake ectomorphs make is that they eat everything, without focussing on nutrition. They should eat nutritionally dense foods, especially those that contain healthy fats such as almonds, nuts, avocados and healthy oils. Between 40 to 50 % of their diet should comprise healthy carbohydrates. They should eat enough calories, skip simple sugars and packaged foods to avoid a kangaroo pouch, increase the frequency of meals to six or seven a day, and eat a light post-dinner, protein-rich snack to help preserve muscle mass.
2. Mesomorph (If You Are Curvy…)
Mesomorphs gain and lose weight easily and start showing results almost as soon as they hit the gym. They can be a bit curvy, but more often have the right curves, and are the most proportionate of body types. Bond girl Halle Berry is a perfect example with her defined and toned hourglass figure.
- Hourglass figure
- Proportionate and balanced body
- Tendency to gain and lose weight easily
- One or more problem areas
- Gains muscle
Mesomorphs should train 3–5 times a week to maintain lean and toned bodies. They tend to have trouble with either their hips or upper backs or carry a little kangaroo pouch. They should do a mix of strength training, pilates, HIIT, functional training and some form of cardio once or twice a week (like a five-kilometre weekend run or walk). Mesomorphs tend to feel bulky if they lift too heavy, so it’s important to keep the repetition range between 15 and 20. They should also add different types of resistance training such as thera bands, medicine balls and ViPR to their routine, and avoid lifting heavy on the leg extension and leg press machines. Instead, they should focus on hip bridges, donkey kicks and plié squats. Body weight exercises such as push-ups, planks, burpees, tricep dips and downward dog kicks give amazing muscle tone. Those with just a little pouch should reduce overall body fat percentage and pay more attention to core exercises rather than ab crunches.
A balanced diet with enough carbs to support, and adequate proteins to recover from their workouts can allow mesomorphs a few cheat meals. They should focus on low glycemic carbohydrates and should eat most of their starches at breakfast and lunch and post workout. Dinners should be protein rich. They should eat every two to three hours to balance insulin levels and prevent sugar dips, and include healthy fats such as chia seeds, almonds and coconut in their diets.
3. Endomorph (If You Are Bulky And Muscular…)
This is the other end of the spectrum when it comes to body types. Endomorphs have larger frames, are curvier and have a higher level of body fat. They tend to store fat very easily and cannot lose weight with a controlled diet alone. They have large, muscular legs and well-endowed backsides, which if worked on, will be sure to turn heads. It’s Kim Kardashian all the way…
- Larger frame with a heavy lower body and well endowed assets
- High percentage of fat
- Tendency to tire easily
- Low tolerance to starches and grains
- Low muscle definition
- Shorter arms and legs compared to their torsoes
For endomorphs, training is imperative for them to drop body fat percentage and weight. Their routines need to have a strong cardio component. They need to think lean, and more than weight, they need to focus on dropping dress sizes. They tend to look heavier if they lift heavy weights and perform low repetitions. They should focus on full body routines and not split workouts. Compound movements (exercises that use more that one muscle group) work better for them – squats, lunges and push-ups with at least 20 minutes of cardio in each session. They also need to clock in at least 2–3 days of long (30–45 minutes) cardio – either brisk walking, running, functional workouts or dance classes.
For this body type, food plays a major role in fitness. Endomorphs do not react well to diets that are high in carbohydrates. High protein, medium healthy fats and low carbs are perfect for them and will help them see substantial changes in their body fat percentage. They need to eat frequent meals to avoid binge eating and raised insulin levels. Good sources of protein for endomorphs include lean meats such as chicken and fish, egg whites, protein powders and soy (in limited quantities), and healthy fats include salmon, avocados, nuts, oils, nut butters and nut milks. Carbs should be limited to whole grains, quinoa and rye with low-sugar fruits. Processed and packaged foods are their worst enemies. Dinners should, more often than not, be grain and starch free.