It’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to a fitness regime. Here’s what you need to know to tailor to your body type.
Hitting the gym and pounding the pavements but still can’t get those Bella legs? You might need to tweak what you’re doing to your body type. By that, you have to know all about somatotypes (not tomatos — get your mind off lunch!) which was popularised back in the 1940s.
If it has been this long, how come you’ve never heard of it? Well, according to the theory used in the athletic world, there are three distinct body types — ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph, and each of us fall into at least one of these categories. According to the concept, just as different types of plants require different amounts of water and sunlight to thrive, different body types require different forms of conditioning.
As such, many personal trainers, nutritionists and doctors tailor their programmes with somatotypes in mind, believing it’s essential to train and eat for your body type in order to experience a significant change.
LISTEN TO YOUR BOD
If you eat a lot but find it hard to gain weight, you’re an ectomorph: long and lean with relatively little muscle and body fat. Conversely, if you exercise and go on a diet consistently but find it hard to shed the pounds, you’re an endomorph (round in appearance with lots of muscle and body fat). If you’re naturally athletic, gain and lose weight without too much effort, you’re a mesomorph, with large muscles and a strong bone structure — which is basically the genetic jackpot. “Mesomorphs are the genetically-gifted bunch who have good build and pack on muscle with half the effort because of their highly responsive muscle cells,” says Vaenu Sharanz, personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur.
Not a mesomorph? Don’t fret, very few people belong to only one of the three body types, and most of us are actually a combination of two. For example, endomorphs are pear-shaped, with a lanky upper body and high fat storage in the hips and thighs, while endo-ectomorphs are appleshaped, with high fat storage in the mid-section and a thin lower body. And if you are, say, a meso-endo mix, you gain muscle as quickly as you do weight.
THE RIGHT FIT
The whole point of understanding your body type is so you can plan around it to achieve your ideal weight or physique. Some people require less reps and more rest to see a difference while others require the reverse. If you can’t quite figure out your body type at the moment but will be checking into the gym soon, work on multi-joint exercises, as these benefit people across all body types, at varying intensities and depending on their skill level. These include squats, push-ups, lunges, leg presses and dead lifts, and they help you torch calories while also increasing your resting metabolic rate, which is how many calories you burn when you’re resting.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Naturally, watching what you eat is also important. Whether you’re an ectomorph looking to gain weight, or an endomorph looking to burn fat while preserving muscle mass, he suggests keeping a food diary so you can keep track of your food consumption and weight.
However, you shouldn’t adopt an extreme diet, as gaining or losing weight too fast is really not the best way, no matter how productive you feel. “Generally speaking, for losing weight, keeping it to around 1 kg a month helps to prevent muscle loss. As for gaining lean muscle, one should ideally aim for 0.2 to 0.5 kg a month, as any more would have you risk of putting on fat instead,” says Edmund Neo, co-founder of The Strength Yard.
You can’t expect to get different results if you keep doing the same thing, so if your fitness regime hasn’t been doing you any favours, it ’s time to learn more about your body type and the specific exercises you should be doing to achieve your fitness goals.
What’s Your Type?
Body file: Long and lean with little muscle and body fat.
- Split-train! Focus on one to two body parts each week to target muscle groups
- Train heavier in the five to 10 reps and get plenty of rest between workouts
- Keep cardio to a minimum to become more muscular. But if you must do cardio, go for HIIT.