Do you have trouble losing body fat, yet seem to gain it after even the smallest slip-up with your diet? Or does it feel like you can eat for days without gaining an ounce? It could have something to do with your current body type. But is it really that simple?
While humans rarely fit exactly into one category of body type, there’s widespread recognition that there are three broad types into which we all fall to some extent.
There are correct ways to work out and eat for each body type. So if you are not working with your body type, you are essentially working against it.
ECTOMORPH BODY TYPE
- Naturally lean
- Struggles to gain muscle
- Narrow shoulders and hips
- Fast metabolism
An ectomorph tends to be thin and struggles to gain weight as either body fat or muscle. They can eat piles of food and stay looking the same, even when gaining muscular weight is their biggest goal. People who battle to gain muscle are often known as “hard gainers.”
Ectomorphs tend to have a lean build, long limbs, and small muscle bellies. Even if an ectomorph manages to put on weight, they may still look skinnier than they are, particularly in the calves and forearms.
Being an ectomorph doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be weak, though. You can still get remarkably strong, and you can be every bit as fit and healthy as someone who looks larger and more muscular. But if you want to gain weight, you’d better be prepared to eat like you’ve never eaten before.
Naturally skinny types will find it harder to add muscle, so if that’s you, you’ll need to follow the fundamentals of building muscle to the letter.
‘Ectomorphs need to increase their calorie intake, trying to get it from healthier foods, with an emphasis on protein in the diet,” says exercise physiologist Tom Cowan. “If you’re an ectomorph you should consume protein regularly – every three to four hours. Your intake on either side of a workout is particularly important, so maybe a protein shakes before strength training and then one within an hour or so after. There is also research to suggest that consuming protein before bed can help to increase muscle protein synthesis rates overnight, and limit the duration of the fasting period when you are asleep.
“Combine that with hypertrophy strength training – eight to 12 reps of an exercise, multiple sets – to promote muscle growth.”
MESOMORPH BODY TYPE
- Narrow hips and shoulders
- Small joints (wrist/ankles)
- Thin build
- Stringy muscle bellies
- Long limbs
The mesomorph has a middle-of-the-road build that includes the best of both worlds. They tend to have wide shoulders, a narrow waist, relatively thin joints, and round muscle bellies.
In short, if you’re a mesomorph, you have a natural tendency to be fit and relatively muscular. Does this mean you can do nothing, eat everything, and get away with it forever? Definitely not!
You should still eat well and train according to your body type, but you may be able to “bounce back” from being out of shape more easily than the other two body types, gaining muscle and burning fat with comparative ease.
ENDOMORPH BODY TYPE
- Heavier bone structure
- Squarer torso
- Wider waist, larger hips
- Slower metabolism
An endomorph tends to gain weight easily and struggle to lose it. Their build is a little wider than an ectomorph or mesomorph, with a thick ribcage, wide hips, and shorter limbs. They may have more muscle than either of the other body types, but they often struggle to gain it without significant amounts of accompanying body fat. If you ever feel like you gain 5 pounds simply walking past a donut shop, you may be an endomorph.
This definitely doesn’t mean that an endomorph is somehow less healthy. They can actually have some strength-training advantages due to their additional muscle mass. But if and when they decide to lean out, it’ll take hard work!