People are born with certain body characteristics, some are gender related, (men growing facial hair and women developing breasts are two examples), and some are ethnic characteristics for example Orientals typically not being as tall as Caucasians. Within these ethnic sub-sections there are yet more genetic differences, which for anyone interested in changing their physical appearance through exercise and diet, are crucially important and are the main reason there is not a perfect way for everyone to simply follow.
Ectomorphic, endomorphic and mesomorphic body types are all very different in their characteristics, the Ectomorph is naturally thin and slight of muscle and can usually eat as much as they want without gaining fat, think of a marathon runner and you have a picture of this body type. Endomorphs are the ones who tend to get fat very easily and struggle to diet, they can be healthy and relatively fit doing a lot of cardiovascular exercise but still never manage to fully attain that toned athletic look, and one ability they often have is to be able to build muscle reasonably efficiently. It’s just a bummer you can't really see it. Mesomorphs are the lucky ones, often they eat a poor diet and don't really bust their arses in the gym but always look muscular and toned, they build muscle easily and when they diet the fat comes away without too much trouble. Body type training is very important to anyone going to a gym or exercising in an attempt to improve their body by building muscle, losing fat or both together. Not using the correct approach can slow your progress considerably, you must realize your type and knowing how to train for that type is crucial.
Ectomorphs have a real battle to put on any weight at all never mind quality muscle. The "ecto" has a metabolism which does not hold onto anything, it burns off carbohydrates and fat calories before they get a chance to be stored as fat, as they burn off all the carbohydrates so fast protein calories tend to get converted to carbohydrates too, and they also then get burned off too!
A training program for an ecto looking to add muscle and shape to their body must do minimal cardiovascular exercise (if any), for a male it means heavy and intense but brief workouts, based on major compound movements. This particular body type wants to keep reps high in weight but low in number, also working more than one muscle group at a time so that the person doesn't have to incorporate isolation movements which may tax the nervous system too much for the ecto to allow sufficient recuperation before his/her next workout.
Another concern for the ecto is consuming enough food. This can feel like a full time job at times due to their ability to burn up all the food they can eat. This group have their work cut out just as much as the endomorphs at the opposite end of the spectrum, ectos' must regularly eat enough starchy carbohydrates to keep a steady supply of energy to the muscle cells at all times in an attempt to stop their body cannibalizing muscle stored amino acids so it can convert them into carbohydrates to keep its calorie burning furnace fully fuelled. Where simple carbs can easily add fat to the bodies of the other groups they are useful to ectomorphs because they create an insulin release, insulin promotes nutrients storage so having simple carbs with breakfast and after training could be very beneficial. As for protein, the ectomorph would be best suited to steak, eggs, chicken and a quality blended slow release protein with a comprehensive amino acid profile, the slower a protein is absorbed gives the ecto a better chance to absorb the amino acids supplied by the digested protein.
One thing I never see discussed when trying to put weight onto someone is Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), is it possible that the ectos' metabolism is running so fast because they have a shortage of good fats in their system and they are burning through all the fats in their system so fast they end up burning off carbs and then protein? Could their bodies be lacking in EFA's and so burning any fats at all in an attempt to manufacture them? Another thing I believe could be beneficial is taking several multi mineral supplements throughout the day or replacing protein drinks with Meal Replacement drinks because of all the additional nutrients not found in a protein powder.
Endomorphs, this is the body type I know about most, because I am one. "Endos" are naturally predisposition to store fat and find getting lean a real battle, cardio is essential to this group, as is restricting and monitoring carbohydrate intake in an attempt to keep fat levels down. Building muscle is easier for endomorphs than their ectomorphic cousins, the endomorphic body stores nutrients/calories very well and as protein is stored in the muscles it leads to greater muscle size.
Training for endos must consider their ability for nutrient storage, bodybuilding work should be done 3 or 4 times a week and cardio/fitness work should be done 4 - 6 times weekly, the bodybuilding should incorporate 2 body parts per workout and should be combination workouts involving heavy weights and high reps. Where ectomorphs keep their work heavy and brief endos' can afford to workout longer and include more reps per body part. I don't mean train light and high reps, but as heavy sets and where possible include drop sets to exhaust the muscles. Cardiovascular exercise should be done too so as to burn more calories than bodybuilding can alone. Make friends with a comfortable stationery bike or treadmill and get used to spending time with it! Find an exercise which you can do without getting too bored, for me its cycling, I use a stationery bike at home or in the gym to warm up but much prefer getting out on the road on a real bike, it causes an elevation in heart rate and exhausts you at times (hills) and also gives you a breather too (down hills). These elevation and relaxations in work rate are better for burning calories than sitting on a stationery bike pedaling away endlessly with no real goal.
Many endomorphs will do lots of cardio/fitness training but never really shift the fat, that is why resistance (weight) training is a must, the additional muscle that can be added boosts the ability to burn off fat and carbohydrates therefore raising your metabolic rate and also allowing you to eat more than you previously did without gaining fat. Another thing is endomorphs are less likely to suffer from overtraining because they have a good supply of energy already stored waiting to assist with workout recovery.
Again with this group Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) are essential because when you are deficient in these your body will hold onto fat in an attempt to compensate for the lack of good fats which it really needs for cell repair and lubrication of joints and arteries. Water is an important tool to the endo, it fills you up and the body burns calories processing it, it also flushes out the system of toxins.
Finally the metabolic lucky b**tards, the Mesomorph, the genetically gifted ones who look like athletes WITHOUT trying! The mesomorph is the naturally defined muscular physique which some have before they start any physical activity, although there are few mesomorphs who have it all, some have lagging body parts in a bodybuilding sense and others seem not to have the mental aptitude to keep to the diet and training in the same way their less gifted siblings do.
A bodybuilding mesomorph makes gains easily and muscle just seems to stick to their body, they often don't watch their diet as close as they should, but they get away with it thanks to having a metabolism that retains muscle but not fat, where their problems arise is in they need to keep variety in their training and a good training partner can be essential in helping keep up their motivation, when you can look so good from doing so little why bust your ass seems to be a common attitude among "mesos".
Diet for a meso is easier because their bodies seem to utilize carbohydrates and fats well by burning off excess and for the meso who works out their bodies seem to store digested protein well in the muscles causing muscular growth, if they eat well and eat enough they have the God given blessing to look good all their life.
SOURCES: Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
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