The Best Workout For Your Body Type

The Best Workout For Your Body Type

Just because your colleague transformed their body with HIIT and less carbs, doesn't mean the same will work for you. Everyone's different, and to prove this point, the sports science world believes your unique body type defines which diet and exercise regime will really help you thrive. We spoke to Freeletics Training Specialist John-Francis Kennedy to get the lowdown…

Is working out for your body type really a thing?

Knowing and understanding your body type can help you reach your health and fitness goals more efficiently. Everyone has a different, natural build that responds to diet and exercise in different ways so by working out for your specific type, you can start to understand what your body type might be predisposed to. It’s important to remember that where there’s a will, there’s a way, so don’t think of your body type as a limitation, just tweak your training program and nutrition to ensure you get the results you want.

Talk us through the different body types…

From a sports science perspective, there are three different types...

1. Are You An Ectomorph?

Characteristics: If you’re tall and lean, you’re most likely an ectomorph; often described as someone with little body fat and little muscle. Ectomorphs tend to have a high metabolism and are frequently hungry – as a result, they may find it tricky to gain both muscle and fat. Ectomorphs can also fall into the ‘skinny-fat’ category, meaning they have high levels of visceral fat, which cannot be seen but surrounds the internal organs.
How to work out: With a naturally lean figure, ectomorphs are likely to be flat chested and may complain of looking boyish, wishing they had more curves. With age, even the super-fast metabolism of the ectomorph slows down and as a result, they often gain weight, since they are not used to exercising or watching their calorie intake. In this light, they should focus on increasing their muscle mass, prioritising body weight training. 
What to eat: Opt for nutrient and calorie-dense foods for snacks and meals, such as nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits and starchy vegetables.

2. Are You A Mesomorph?

Characteristics: Natural born athletes, mesomorphs tend to have a strong, compact and naturally lean body. Their shoulders are usually wider than their hips and they tend to maintain good muscle tone but need to keep at it to see results and stay in shape.

How to work out: Female mesomorphs should focus on weight loss with cardio and simply shaping and contouring their curves. Try concentrating on a strong cardio workout and limit weights. With regular exercising, this body type tends to sculpt and shape well-defined muscles more easily than ectomorphs or endomorphs. Also try to counteract cardio with adequate stretching – include Pilates and yoga in your schedule to increase flexibility and improve posture.

What to eat: Due to a naturally high metabolism and responsive muscle cells, this body type can typically eat a lot without gaining body fat. Aim for a balanced diet that focuses on lean protein and vegetables, and if you add a starch, try quinoa, which is a complete protein, containing all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for a healthy diet.

3. Are You An Endomorph?

Characteristics: People with this body type tend to be overweight from a young age. They also don't tolerate carbohydrates well and tent to gain weight easily, especially around the stomach area. Endomorphs will have a harder time losing weight, but this doesn’t mean that can’t – they will just have to work harder; the majority of endomorphs will find it tricky to lose weight through diet alone.

How to work out: The ideal endomorph workout plan should combine an intense cardio regime along with a moderate weight-training program.

What to eat: In addition to monitoring their carbohydrate and fat intake, endomorphs should try to avoid crash dieting, which will only slow down an already sluggish metabolism and make the body cling to its fat reserves. Instead, aim for a diet that is higher in protein and fat, with less carbs.

Is it possible to be a mix of two body types?

Yes. Although there are three clear types, it’s important to be aware these aren’t set in stone. We all have some aspects of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy so you can most definitely be a mix. Whatever your characteristics, you should know that regardless of your body type, anyone can get lean or put on considerable muscle mass – and, equally, carry an unhealthy amount of fat if they’re not careful.

What are the signs your fitness regime isn’t working for you?

Not making progress is one of the biggest signs you need to switch up your plan. Regularly measuring your results and comparing them to your goals can help you make sure you’re on track and making headway. If your goal is to gain muscle, make sure you incorporate progressive overload (weights and intensity) in your training. However, if your goal is fat loss, make sure you measure metrics, including weighing yourself and taking measurements.

If, after this, you’re sure you’re not making progress, it could be time to mix up your regime. Never underestimate the mental aspect of a training regime – a successful one is one you can stick to, and the chances of that are much higher if you enjoy it and can stay motivated with it.

Are there certain workout rules no matter your body type?

Everyone can benefit from a good diet, and keeping fit, so no matter what your body type, or health and fitness goals, staying active and eating well will help you to feel, and ultimately look better. Exercise can also benefit your mental health and self-esteem making you the very best version of yourself.

Are there any workouts that work for all body shapes?

Bodyweight exercises, which use only your body's weight as resistance, such as push-ups, burpees and lunges should be a staple for all those who exercise and used both to build muscle and as part of cardiovascular workouts. These sorts of exercises don’t require equipment and can be done anywhere, so there’s really no excuse for missing a workout.

How big a role does diet really play when it comes to seeing results?

The importance of a well-balanced diet shouldn’t be ignored, and while science has suggested eating a certain way depending on your body type can make a difference, the secret lies in knowing what works for your body. People’s tolerance of carbohydrates can differ wildly and insulin resistance can be stronger in some individuals, especially endomorphs, meaning they’d be wise to cut back on carbs. As a rough guideline, I advocate the following breakdown:
Ectomorph: 55% carbs, 20% fat, 25% protein
Mesomorph: 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein
Endomorph: 25% carbs, 35% fat, 40% protein

It’s also important to adjust calorie consumption according to your goals, as it will be necessary to consume a few hundred more or less calories than the number of those burned depending on your end goal. Ectomorphs and mesomorphs typically have a faster metabolism (higher resting metabolic rate), whereas endomorphs usually have a lower RMR.


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