The Role of Body Type in a Weight Loss Plan
The goals of most gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts are pretty simple: lose weight (body fat), "tone up," and have more energy. With a new fat-loss program popping up almost every day, the prospect of achieving your goals can become increasingly complicated. When you’re evaluating various weight loss routines, don’t overlook the most important consideration -- YOU -- or more specifically, your body. As a fitness professional, I'm here to save you both time and energy in finding the most effective training for your body type.
A Look at Each Body Type
As a coach, when I talk to my clients about different body types or somatotypes, I’m referring to the inherent size and body composition of each individual. The assumption is that everyone generally falls into one of three categories: Endomorph, Ectomorph, and Mesomorph. By learning your body type, and by working with a coach who understands differences in body types, you’ll lose the unwanted weight much faster.
Here are the three basic body types:
Endomorphs are usually characterized by having the most difficulty losing body fat. This body type exhibits a larger, rounder shape than their ectomorph and mesomorph counterparts. If you are an endomorph, it’s likely that you are slightly carb intolerant, meaning that sweets, bread, and pasta make you gain weight quickly. Also, when you lose weight, you may feel as though it comes off at a snail’s pace, and it’s extremely challenging to keep it off.
If you are an endomorph, it’s OK! Our coaches here at GymCloud have the skills to help guide you through a highly individualized meal plan and exercise regimen. There's no one-size-fits-all approach here, but we'll dive into the basics of what your routine might look like in a moment.
Ectomorphs have a reputation for always being skinny and having a hard time putting on muscle mass. One might picture the character "Shaggy" from the cartoon Scooby Doo. The typical ectomorph has longer limbs, narrow hips and shoulders, and very "bony" joints. One important point to remember here is that body type descriptions are general, and no one fits perfectly into each category. So it’s quite common that you could have the underlying frame of an ectomorph, yet still carry extra weight around your midsection.
If you are an ectomorph, staying consistent with a weight training routine and prioritizing nutrient-dense foods in your diet are key steps to help you achieve the impressive physique that you desire.
Mesomorphs, sometimes known as "genetic freaks," are characterized by having lean, muscular physiques, despite not following any workout or nutrition regimen. In the fitness world, we like to say that these individuals "picked their parents correctly." Taking a look at the physical structure of a mesomorph, we see broad shoulders, medium sized joints, small waist, and naturally muscular physiques.
If you are a mesomorph, I would suggest against "riding your genetics," or doing nothing to improve your fitness. Given that you are genetically gifted, dialing in your nutrition and training efforts can help you reach your full potential!
The Customized Approach: Working Out with What You've Got
As a coach, I've designed countless programs for hundreds of clients. Despite the similarity in the goals of many of my clients, I know one notion reigns supreme to train them successfully -- individualization! Different body types require different exercise routines. So let's take a look at the custom workout styles that make sense for each body type.
Endomorphic Training - "Drop the Fat, Keep the Muscle"
Workout Type: Full Body HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) Workouts. Try Metabolism-Ramping exercises like Kettlebell Swings, Squat Thrusters, or Sprinting if your body can handle it, or a series of compound exercises like pushups followed immediately with squats.
Workout Frequency: Aim to workout 4-6x/week depending on your schedule. Workouts will typically last for an hour in duration, and should be fairly intense!
Cautions: Avoid excessive Steady State cardio (i.e. riding a bike a low-moderate pace for 45-60mins). Although classes like Yoga/Tai Chi/Pilates can be useful in reducing stress and increasing flexibility and mobility, they should be kept to a minimum.
Ectomorphic Training - "Gain Muscle, Lose Fat, Keep Muscle"
Workout Type: Workouts for the ectomorph should emphasize heavy, basic, and brief strength and conditioning routines. As a coach and an ectomorph, I find that powerlifting-styled workouts, along with short bouts of intense cardio training, are key to attaining and maintaining a lean physique.
Workout Frequency: 3-4x/week, keep workouts under 1-hour
Cautions: Never miss a meal, eat lots of nutrient dense foods, and avoid overindulging in junk foods! Keep the cardio brief, and keep the emphasis on working out with a high intensity.
Mesomorphic Training - "Realizing Your Full Potential"
Workout Type: There isn't much to say about mesomorphic training, ironically. Pick a training method that you absolutely love and stick with it--consistency is key! Running, powerlifting or bodybuilding-style workouts can help you reach your full potential. Heck, anything will, if you work hard enough at it!
Workout Frequency: 3-5x/week
Cautions: Don't skimp on the workout intensity--train hard to reach your full potential. Food choices matter, not just for body composition, but for overall health! Nail down the basics of any strength & conditioning program.
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what your body type is. If not, don’t worry -- a fitness professional can help you. Most people are, in fact, a combination of these body types. But identifying the dominant, underlying characteristics of your body CAN help guide you in making decisions about how to work out. Of course, you don't have to stick with the kind of program recommended for your body type, but you'll likely see better and faster results if you do. In any event, consult with a coach regarding your likes and dislikes to help find a workout plan that works best for you.
Finally, as with any program, your results are directly related to your commitment to and ownership of your efforts. You can't get results from the work that you didn’t put in. Stay consistent and persevere--your efforts will be rewarded!