Friday 14 November 2014

Road to Workout - 2: Body Types

   Body Types. They're the combination of your bone structure, density and musculature. It cannot be changed, and whether you get skinny or get curvy will depend on these characteristic. No single person is the same, but we do have similarities, and it's important to realise that. Being able to not only recognise but also admit your body type can be a challenge in itself, and I mean that more towards endomorphs than anything else. Why? Because they are the short, stocky type that gain fat easily and lose it after a lot of trouble. And that sucks and can hurt to admit, but once you know your body type you'll have a much better idea of what to do to reach your body goal.
   I quite liked what said on this matter: "the truth is you can make each body type absolutely stunning. You just gotta work with what you’ve got. If you are beautifully curved like Jennifer Lopez, you will make yourself ill to be a Kate Moss. Instead, lose the fat, get toned and be as beautiful as Jennifer Lopez. Do not be mad at your genetics. Do not use them as an excuse. You cannot change your genetics. It is an impossibility. You can change your weight. You can change your body fat percentage. You can change how much muscle you have" - see a pattern? The ability to change your body and make yourself beautiful does exist, you just have to find it, and recognising your body type and working with it is a huge step in the right direction and can make the difference between healthy and attractive, and simply being and looking ill.

   So, what are the body types? Apples? Pears? No, those are shapes and have more to do with clothing than fitness. Body types are ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph, and they're all quite different from one another.

Ectomorph                                        Mesomorph                                        Endomorph

   Typically the slimmest and tallest of people. They have the fastest natural metabolism, but tend to have trouble gaining weight as both fat and muscle. They also tend to have the straightest frames - 'ruler' or 'pencil' - and curves are rare.
   Ectomorphs should stick to a strength-based workout to build muscle and strength, and cardio isn't something necessary because there's little to no fat to lose anyway. The heavier the weights the better for ectomorphs, with sets between 5-10 reps, but rest time between sets should be about 1 minute.
   Ectomorphs should drink plenty of milk and consume 50-60% carbohydrate foods, and high-density foods like almonds and peanut butter.

   The middle and most average of frames, some will have curves and others will not. These are the people who have a moderately easy time gaining and losing weight as both muscle and fat, and tend to be naturally lean. It's the middleground between ectomorphs and mesomorphs and so carries qualities from both, with body fat evenly distributed.
   Mesomorphs should do both strength training and cardio to build and maintain muscle, and to keep off fat. They tend to eat well in general, and will gain weight from fatty foods but can shed it easily enough.

   Typically the curviest and widest frames, and short to middle in height. Endomorphs tend to be wider and gain weight as both muscle and fat easier than the others, but have a harder time losing it.
   Endomorphs should do both strength and cardio, and as much of the latter as possible. Strength training should be completed in sets of around 15 reps once familiar with the weights and the movements to develop what muscle they have as it is usually underdeveloped (this will tighten and 'shrink' the muscle, making it denser).
   Endomorphs should drink plenty of water and eat lots of veg to keep full, and eat 30-40% carbohydrate foods, and endomorphs in particular should never cut out food stuffs cold turkey (flash dieting).

   Now, the thing about the above body types is that it's highly unlikely that you're just one type. Most of us will be a cross. Personally, I am a cross between a mesomorph and an ectomorph, so strength training and cardio are important for me. If you aren't sure which category you fall into, take this test by to find out.

   I also have a quick thing to say about endomorphs in particular: just because endomorphs lose weight slowly and gain weight easily does not mean that they can't lose weight, and the difference between their rate of weight gain and weight loss compared to the other two body types is still only small. It's very important to realise that there isn't a chasm between each body type, so don't let any of that above put you off, whether you're dominantly ecto' or endo'. Everyone can and will gain and lose weight, it just might take a little longer for others to get the same results as a friend with a different body type even if you're doing exactly the same thing, so if you're training with a friend, it's important to realise that and to never, ever compare yourselves.

   Your body type will never change, but that doesn't mean it'll always be easy or difficult to maintain your weight. Ectomorphs can find that their metabolism will slow over time, and if they continue to over eat or eat the wrong things 'because they can' they're likely to become overweight in the future, whereas you can also speed up your metabolism with things like Tabata and a good diet, but Tabata is not at all for inexperienced people. I'll post about Tabata soon, but if the Road to Workout series is of use to you, Tabata shouldn't be on your mind for at least 6 months.

   Learn your body type - and be honest with yourself, don't just pick the most attractive picture or deescription, choose the most accurate otherwise you won't do yourself much good. Once you've learned your body type, learn to embrace it, and realise that everyone can look and feel good, and be a healthy weight. It might be a little harder for some than for others, but that's makes the need for your exercise to be enjoyable even more important.

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