Before taking that first step towards a healthier lifestyle, there’s something you need to know: no two bodies are the same.
“Somatotype” is a term that refers to an individual’s body type, of which can fall into either one of three categories: an ectomorph, a mesomorph or an endomorph.
Typically, your somatotype has influence on both your diet and training, and for that reason it’s important that you know yours. More after the jump.
Traits of an Ectomorph
Ectomorphs are usually tall and thin in appearance. Due to a fast metabolism, they also find it difficult to gain weight and therefore, carry little muscle mass. Because of this, they are often referred to as “hardgainers”.
If you’re an ectomorph seeking to gain muscle, then my advice to you would be to not only increase your calorie intake, but to make sure that at 50% of these calories are sourced from complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, yams, sweet potato, quinoa etc. I cannot stress enough how important this is. As I mentioned before, ectomorphs have a faster metabolism than other somatotypes and as a result, the likelihood of them entering a catabolic state, whereby muscle is broken down for energy, is also higher. Complex carbohydrates provide the body with sustained fuel, which can help prevent this from happening. Furthermore, I would recommend that ectomorphs supplement with whey protein, L-glutamine, BCAA’s, fish oils and a good quality multivitamin.
In terms of cardio, if you’re solely aiming to increase muscle mass, than I would avoid doing more than one session a week – if that! As far as weight training goes, keep your workouts short but intense, focusing mainly on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, bent-over row, military press etc.
Traits of a Mesomorph
Mesomorphs tend to be athletic in appearance, with defined muscles. They are generally strong, and therefore find it relatively easy to build muscle. That said, they do have tendency to gain fat.
Since mesomorphs can gain fat more easily than ectomorphs, it’s important to keep an eye on what you eat as indulging too often can lead to weight gain. As with ectomorphs, the majority of a mesomorph’s diet should consist of complex carbohydrates as these will help fuel both your workouts and recovery. I would also recommend that mesomorphs supplement with whey protein, L-glutamine, BCAA’s, fish oils and a good quality multivitamin.
As a mesomorph, I can tell you that more often than not, combining cardio and weight training yields the best results.
Traits of an Endomorph
Endomorphs are usually, but not always, short and stocky in appearance. Unlike ectomorphs, endomorphs have a slow metabolism and consequently find it difficult to lose weight.
If you’re an endomorph, then I suggest that you evaluate your current eating habits and restrict your calorie intake. Avoid eating simple/refined carbohydrates such as chocolate, soft drinks, bagels, muffins, packages cereals and even fruit juice! These are only a few examples from a long list of foods which can lead to weight gain.
In order to prevent weight gain, mesomorphs must combine cardio and weight training. Having said that, you should consult your doctor before embarking upon any fitness program.
At this point…
It’s worth mentioning that these somatotypes are not set in stone. Infact, you’ll often find that some people possess traits that cross between two somatotypes e.g. an ecto-endomorph.
If you’re training with a partner, it’s best that he/she has a similar somatotype to you. If you’re an ectomorph for example, there’s no point in training with an endomorph, as this will be inefficient since you’ll both have different goals.
Identifying the type of body you have only takes a few minutes, but the information that it can provide in regards to how you train and what you should eat are priceless.