How to Train for Your Body Type

Are you tall and slender? Short and curvy? Or somewhere in between? No matter what type of build you were born with, we have a training program that's right for you.

Women Working Out
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Endomorph: The curvy girl

Unfortunately, women who fall into the endomorph category are usually the ones who shy away from weight training for fear they'll get "too big." In reality, resistance training is just as important as cardiovascular training for someone with this body type. Increasing muscle size will raise your metabolism, which results in a higher number of calories burned every day, even at rest. An endomorphic body type benefits from a fast-paced workout and a higher number of reps, sets and exercises, focusing on burning calories, as well as an increased frequency of training.

"Train the entire body three times a week, combining circuit training and supersets," advises Lisa Reed, strength and conditioning coordinator at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "Try to keep your heart rate between 60% and 75% of your max for a more aerobic effect." Move from station to station quickly, and complete the cycle 2-3 times.

Lovena takes this a step further. "Lift moderate weight, because you aren't going to change the shape of your body with light weight," she says. And another thing: "Don't be afraid to work the big parts of your body. A lot of women who are heavy are phobic of working legs. You need to work them if you want to change your shape."

As for cardio, Lovena recommends doing cardio longer and more often, but not necessarily at an increased intensity because of the fact that excess weight can be hard on joints and soft tissues. Elevate your heart rate by walking inclines, be it that huge hill by your house or on the treadmill at the gym.

Training guidelines for endomorphs

  • Start with a 5-10-minute warm-up and light stretching of muscle groups to be worked that day.
  • Beginners should do two sets of each exercise; others can do 2-3 sets.
  • Complete 12-15 reps for each set.
  • Lift weights heavy enough to reach near-failure within the prescribed rep range.
  • Keep rest between sets to a minimum: 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Train each body part twice weekly.
  • Include circuit training and supersets in your routine.
  • Change your routine frequently, but rely on multijoint exercises to burn the most calories and use training techniques like drop sets and partials to get the most out of each set.
  • Get plenty of rest between workouts.
  • Do 4-5 days of cardio per week, alternating between 30-minute interval sessions and 45-60-minute lower-intensity sessions (at 60%-70% of your maximal heart rate).

Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a health condition.