Consider your genetic somatotype for more effective training

July 18, 2008

Written by FLEX Staff

Regardless of genetics, everyone can make dramatic physical changes by bodybuilding. Understand your genetic strengths and weaknesses, and then use that knowledge to help you achieve the muscularly proportionate physique you desire. Although few people fit entirely into one category, it is best to think of your shape when you were a teenager to see which category fits you best. Here are the three most widely accepted somatotypes, or physique classifications, and some training suggestions.

CHARACTERISTICS: Large bones, wide hips and waists, short muscles. Slower metabolism means easier ain fat easily.
TIPS: Focus on restricting and burning calories, Regular cardio is a must. Stick to moderate reps (8-15) to gain muscle mass, which will utilize more calories than fat. Don’t restrict carbs too much, because endomorphs frequently exhibit less energy than the other somatotypes. Don’t let your small clavicles, coupled with a larger pelvic girdle, dissuade you from trying to improve your V taper. Accentuate side-delt and upper-lat development, and do minimal work for hip and oblique muscles.
RECOMMENDED EXERCISES: Side laterals and upright rows with a shoulder-width grip. Pullups and pulldowns to the front will help add to your visual width. These recommended exercises should probably be done early in your workouts, when you are at your freshest.

CHARACTERISTICS: Thinner bones and longer limbs. Naturally thin. Narrow shoulders, hips and waists. High energy levels and a high metabolism.
TIPS: Consume more calories and protein, while conserving energy. For the most part, avoid cardio. Keep workouts short, heavy and intense, with low reps (6-10) for the basic compound lifts. Don’t train large bodyparts more frequently than once every four days. Get plenty of sleep for recuperation and strive to take in easily digested protein within two hours of bedtime. If you are too thin and want to fill out your limbs, fully stretch each bodypart before and after training it to help your muscles reach their maximum length.
RECOMMENED EXERCISES: Focus on movements that emphasize the lower area or lowest muscle of a bodypart, such as cable rows and one-arm dumbbell rows for lats, and hack squats and leg extensions for quadriceps.

CHARACTERISTICS: Naturally muscular with larger-than-average bones and rib cages. Most pro bodybuilders can be classified as this somatotype. Tend to gain muscle easily, and yet they are the most prone to overtraining, because they tend to see gains quicker.
TIPS: Although a mesomorphic bodytype is the best for bodybuilding success, each bodypart should be worked only once a week, with routines that combine high intensity with moderate volume.
RECOMMENDED EXERCISES: As long as it’s working, stick to a traditional program with the right combination of compound and isolation movements, with reps in the 8-12 range for most.