Workout Tips

How to Weight-Train for Your Body Type: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph

Tailor your workouts to your physique for the results you want.

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The human body can be broken into three distinct body types: ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs. Everyone falls into one of these three categories.

Your body type is the hand you were dealt—what you do with it is completely up to you. Some were born lean, some were born thicker, but all were born with the ability to shape their body.

Genetics determines what type of body we have, but don’t let genetics have the final say. And to be fair, these "categories" are more like guidelines than they are hard-and-fast definitions. Very few people are "true ectomorphs," for example, and there are a host of other physical factors—natural resting metabolism, for example—that will define a person's body composition (fat-to-muscle ratio) and ability to change.

The same kind of training will not work for every body type. Just as different trees require differing amounts of water and sunlight, differing body types require different stimuli in different amounts. No one program can effectively train all three body types. Some people need lower reps, and more rest, while others need higher reps and shorter rest periods. It all depends on you and your body.

What Are the Different Body Types?

Ectomorph: These are your run-of-the-mill “skinny guys.” Ectomorphs have small frames, small shoulders, flat chests, and very lean frames. They are your classic “hardgainer” and find it difficult to put on mass.

Mesomorph: These are your naturally “athletic” looking dudes. Mesomorphs have broad shoulders, lots of muscle mass, and are relatively lean and gain muscle easily.

Endomorph: Endomorphs are generally short and round. The have a slow metabolism and generally find it hard to shed fat. They gain weight easily, unfortunately, this comes in the form of fat more often than not.

Ectomorph

Ectomorphs need big, compound movements as their bread and butter. High rep work is best. Because of the higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fiber, the ectomorph can do more reps at relative intensities than other body types. Longer rest periods between sets (3-5 minutes). More frequent workouts. Because they recover faster, the ectomorph needs to work out more than the other body types. Ectomorphs can even get away with 3-4 full-body workouts a week. Ectomorphs should avoid cardio and pay VERY close attention to their diet.

Eat, eat, eat… then eat some more!

Mesomorph

Mesomorphs are typically considered the "ideal" body structure for bodybuilding, but even if you're not born with this build, you can certainly hone it in the gym. Depending on your goals, lots of different training methods will help you see results.

Compound movements should be the base of your training. Isolation movements will help to bring up any lagging body parts. Utilize different training methodologies: high-intensity, low-intensity, high-volume, low-volume, explosive reps, tempo sets, short rest intervals, long rest intervals.

Working out three to four days a week should suffice. Break up your workouts to focus on certain body parts each day. For example: Bench, chest, shoulders on Monday; quads, hamstrings, and glutes on Tuesday, etc. Mix in some cardio (or circuit training) to keep off any fat. Mesomorphs gain muscle quickly but also have a propensity to gain fat.

Endomorph

Compound movements are the base for an endomorph's program. Circuit training is ideal for endomorphs. Pick three to five exercises and go through each one with no rest between exercises. Rest two minutes between circuits. HIIT is very important to aid in fat loss. Diet is crucial to the endomorph—minimize the carbs, and choose fats wisely.

No matter what body type you have now, with a little planning and a whole lot of hard work, you can create the body you want.

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