How Understanding Your Body Type Can Help You Achieve That “Beach Body”

In the early 1940s, William H. Sheldon MD developed a system for classifying an individual’s body type. Sheldon asserted that although people may be a mixture of body types, every body was based on three primary archetypes: ectomorphic, mesomorphic, and endomorphic. Sheldon concluded that people can’t change their body type—a fact several people find discouraging.

But body typing isn’t meant to close the door on your dream body. On the contrary, identifying the natural tendencies of your body type may be the key to reaching your physical goals. Each of the body types described below is accompanied by tips that will help you create a personalised diet and exercise routine to help you attain a healthy, muscular physique.

The Ectomorph

The ectomorph tends to be underweight for their height and is characterized by a rapid metabolism and narrow frame. Although some may envy the ectomorph’s metabolism, people with this body type often struggle to gain muscle or weight.

Characteristics of a Ectomorphic:

  • High metabolism
  • Lean frame, narrow shoulders and hips
  • High energy
  • Low body fat
  • Small chest and rear
  • Early satiety
  • Difficulty gaining weight or building muscle

For a lean, muscular body, ectomorphs should:

  • Pass on the cardio—or stick to HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts
  • Use heavier weights, 5-10 reps and longer rests between sets
  • Focus on compound lifts
  • Look into prohormones to help build muscle (It’s important to understand the risk and prohormones side effects before considering this option)
  • Consume high density foods
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day
  • Eat a diet that is 50-60% carbs
  • Drink plenty of milk
  • Indulge—in moderation!—in fattier foods

The Mesomorph

The mesomorph also has a high metabolism, but tends to have a larger bone structure. Mesomorphs typically have little trouble gaining muscle, and their high metabolism means low overall body fat, giving them the muscular physique that most gym-goers are sweating to achieve.

Mesomorphic Characteristics:

  • Larger frame, wide shoulders and slender waist
  • Low body fat
  • Well defined muscles
  • Eats moderately sized meals
  • Loses fat easily
  •  Little difficulty in building muscle

For a lean, muscular body, mesomorphs should:

  • Do the minimum amount of cardio to maintain a lean build
  • Do 8-12 reps per set, 30-1 minute rests between sets
  • Consume enough calories to maintain muscle mass
  • Eat 5-6 smaller, well-portioned meals throughout the day
  • Eat a diet that is 40-60% carbs

The Endomorph

The endomorph has the broader bone structure of the mesomorph, but lacks the high metabolism. Although an endomorph may possess considerable muscle (like a linebacker), the adipose tissue that endomorphs tend to accumulate may keep the muscle from being well defined.

Endomorphic Characteristics:

  • Bigger frame, wide shoulders and hips
  • Tends to accumulate fat
  • Hearty appetite with late satiety
  • Difficulty losing weight, in spite of exercise and diets
  • Undefined muscles

For a lean, muscular body, endomorphs should:

  • Establish a cardio-heavy exercise routine
  • Do 15+ reps per set, 30-45 second breaks between sets
  • Focus on compound lifts
  • Limit their caloric intake—it should be 200-500 fewer calories than maintenance caloric intake
  • Eat a diet that is 30-40% carbs, mostly unprocessed grains
  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat well portioned meals, with plenty of vegetables to promote satiety

This article was produced by Phil Slater, a blogger, nutrition expert and fitness enthusiast who writes about all things relating to health and fitness. Over the years, Phil has helped many of his personal coaching clients live happier lives by helping them achieve their fitness goals.

“Somatotype.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 23 May 2016. Link 
Borja, Alex. “The 3 Body Types Explained: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph.” Directly Fitness. Web. 23 May 2016. Link

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