There is no one-size fits all approach to bodybuilding, speed up your results by first identifying your body type, then adapting your routine based on your hormones and metabolism.
Once you can identify your natural body type, you can specifically target elements of your training in order to improve your physique to more efficiently add muscle, lose fat and improve your cardio capacity. Not everybody responds in the same way to the same training routine, so it's time you adapted the training routine that suits your particular body type.
Although different kinds of body-type classifications have been discussed for thousands of years, the concept of somatotypes was developed by Dr. William H. Sheldon during the early 1940's. He suggested there are basically three specific body types, each with its own set of noticeable characteristics.
Sheldon's research on the human body gave labels to what we know as the ectomorph, the mesomorph and the endomorph. His ideas have become widely accepted and the standard foundation for research concerning weight loss, exercise and bodybuilding. Once you classify which body type you generally are, you can set the stage for the most effective ways to improve your physique and health.
It's important you keep in mind that weight training and cardio sessions are only part of the bigger picture. Building more muscle and losing fat can be achieved by various training programs, but you can't - mark our words, you can't - directly change the way you look and feel without following a proper balanced diet.
Many researchers and even bodybuilders agree that to be successful you need an approximate combination of 20% weights and cardio training and 80% nutrition. This ratio might be somewhat of a standard generalisation since so many variables like genetics are key factors in the process. The ratio, however, gives you a good appreciation that what you consume is just as important as your training sessions. Clearly, the saying "you are what you eat" couldn't be truer for a bodybuilder.
Within a basic understanding of the somatotypes, there exists a baseline physiology involving the human nervous system and thyroid and hormonal output. The activity of these processes in an individual will result in specific rates of metabolism and in turn, the development of one of the three types.
The Ectomorph Body Type
You are an ectomorph if you have these characteristics:
- Hyperactive sympathetic nervous system
- High thyroid and hormonal output
- Reduced appetite
Ectomorphs typically have low body fat percentages, but they also carry relatively little muscle as well. Many people who are ectomorphs consider themselves "hardgainers" and are often misdirected on the correct approach for adding size.
Sometimes you even hear ectomorphs talk about how they wish they could somehow slow down their metabolisms, thinking it would help them keep weight on. This mindset, though intuitive, is flawed.
To optimise your body size if you're a natural ectomorph, you should weight train with high intensity but low volume, and for no more than four hours total per week. You can weight train with compound exercises like the bench press, squat and deadlift, using a scheme of about 5-8 reps per set.
Since you're seeking to maximise hypertrophy, you can take longer rest periods between sets. You can potentiate increased growth hormone release by doing exercises that involve many different muscle groups, which in turn leads to more size.
Experts recommend ectomorphs should consume the highest percentage of carbs of the three somatotypes. Because of their naturally fast metabolisms, ectomorphs should place the lowest emphasis on cardio training, doing only a moderate pace just twice a week.
Tips to improve ectomorph body types:
Goal: To gain more muscle mass
✅ Emphasize heavy lifting but less frequent, together with compound exercises.
✅ Keep your rep count in the lower range: 5-8 reps per set to pack on strength and size.
✅ Keep your workouts short, but take longer rest periods so you can achieve heavier weights
❌ Don't make cardio a priority or perform it more than twice a week.
❌ Don't supplement pre-workout with stimulants
You are an mesomorph if you have these characteristics:
- Balanced sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
- Normal thyroid function
- High anabolic drive (testosterone and growth hormone dominating)
- Efficient, balanced appetite
If you're a natural mesomorph, you're blessed with an enviable genetic foundation for building muscle and staying lean. You have an efficient metabolism and you respond very well to muscle stimulation from weight training.
You should maintain a healthy mix of compound and isolation exercises in the 8-12-rep range. In order to get that extra edge in size, you can incorporate intensity techniques and keep cycling their programs every 6-8 weeks to avoid stagnation.
Intensity techniques include drop sets, forced reps, supersets and negatives. Make sure to use good form in all movements until you reach primary muscle failure; then use intensity techniques to fan the flames for more muscle.
With regards to your training, you should do a weekly split involving four hours of strength training and two hours of cardio. Based on the efficiency of your metabolism and nervous system, there should be an emphasis on your diet to really make significant gains.
Make sure your post-workout consumption includes up to 80 grams of carbs within 15-30 minutes of your workout, and then about 40 grams of protein within an hour of leaving the gym.
The diet plan for a mesomorph should be composed of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% calories from fats.
Tips to improve mesomorph body types:
Goal: To add muscle mass while maintaining lean.
✅ Perform your cardio workouts regularly but not more than three times a week
✅ Use intensity techniques such as drop sets, forced reps and negatives to activate hormone secretion.
✅ Choose a variety of compound and single-joint movements to hit a target muscle from a variety of angles.
❌ Don't overtrain, this will affect your immune system.
❌ Don't neglect the importance of rest to maximise muscle recovery from training and reset and to maintain your efficient metabolism.
You are an mesomorph if you have these characteristics:
- Low sympathetic nervous system
- High insulin output
- Low thyroid output
- Increased appetite
If you're an endomorph who wants to improve his physique, your main goal should be to speed up your metabolism. If you've been training for a while, you've already got fairly dense muscles, but can anyone see them clearly?
You might have even developed very strong abs from doing compound exercises, but if you're sporting a 40" waist, there's extra fat padding in front that's hiding your muscle definition.
Endomorphs may find it difficult at first to adjust their training patterns (since they're often experienced weightlifters), but they need to make changes to shape and tone rather than pack on beef.
"This type of body has a reduced metabolic rate, but there are ways to make it fire more quickly," says David Jull, a personal-training specialist and former paratrooper who headed the physical training for the Canadian Special Forces.
"Many endomorphs respond to circuit training – you plan a battery of exercises throughout the gym and move from station to station taking as short a rest as possible. The idea is to turn your anaerobic training into more of an aerobic activity. Thus, you use light weights and perform sets of 12-15 reps."
Research indeed repeats the rule that the more rapid and high-volume the training, the more and longer the post-workout metabolic rate is elevated and the more calories are subsequently diet of an expended.
The key factor in the diet of an endomorph looking to lean down is to consume low carbs. Endomorphs should ideally consume only 25% carbs, while the remaining 75% should be split almost evenly between protein and good fats.
Tips to improve endomorph body types:
Goal: To loose body fat while maintaining muscle.
✅ Keep your metabolism high by eating six meals a day or the opposite by doing 18-6 intermittent fasting
✅ Cardio four times per week - before breakfast on an empty stomach is an excellent time to use stored body fat as energy.
✅ Speed up your workouts, high intensity workouts, taking shorter rest breaks between sets.
❌ Don't emphasize strength training, but rather concentrate on higher repetitions with less weights for increased volumes.
❌ Don't think dietary fats are not good for you, good fats are beneficial and should not be avoided. Reduce your carb instead, but consume 35%-40% of calories from healthy fats.
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