ANATOMY ARTICLES

BODY TYPE 101

WHY IT MATTERS AND WHY YOUR FUTURE GAINS DEPEND ON IT

Your body type is the result of genetics, training and nutrition, and it’s important to train and eat according to your body type to maximize your results. We’re going to explore what body types are and each type should train and eat.
 

The Three Body Types

Generally, there are three distinct and agreed-upon human body types:
  • Ectomorphic
  • Mesomorphic
  • Endomorphic
Ectomorphic body types often appear skinny or underweight. They have relatively fast metabolisms that make adding fat or muscle mass difficult and are often called “hard gainers.” Ectomorphs’ faster metabolic rates also put them at greater risk for muscle loss because faster fuel usage can cause deficiencies between meals. This often happens and is partly responsible for ectomorphs’ relatively lower levels of muscle mass compared to the other two body types.
Ectomorphs may also have higher cortisol levels than the other two types because of muscle losses caused by burning calories and proteins too fast.

Mesomorphic
 body types appear muscular and athletic. They have efficient metabolisms compared to the other two types. Mesomorphs add muscle easily while minimizing fat mass storage. With relatively high metabolisms, mesomorphs burn fat and carbohydrates for energy preferentially while showing a preference for storing ingested proteins as muscle tissue. This allows them to easily get and stay big and lean. Compared to the other two types, mesomorphs also have ideal hormone profiles, with higher testosterone and growth hormone levels and lower estrogen and insulin levels. This helps explain the ease with which mesomorphs shed fat, add muscle and stay lean long term.

Endomorphic
 body types appear overweight or even fat and often suffer from water retention. They have slower metabolisms than the other two types. Endomorphs easily add both muscle and fat, but the preference is toward fat storage. With relatively slow metabolisms, endomorphs are inefficient fat burners and tend to convert ingested carbohydrates into fat for storage by insulin. They rapidly store excess carbohydrates and fats while making relatively poor use of ingested proteins for muscle growth.
Endomorphs have higher estrogen levels, lower testosterone levels and higher levels of circulating insulin than the other two types.
 

Nutrition Effects


Ectomorphs
 preferentially burn carbohydrates and fats as fuel and are relatively lean in terms of both mass and fat, putting them at risk for muscle loss. Ectomorphs don’t tend to store any nutrients to any preferential degree and can therefore have hormonal fluctuations caused by nutrient shortages and deficiencies. Ectomorphs have relatively normal testosterone/estrogen hormone profiles, but typically have higher adrenaline levels and slightly higher cortisol levels than the other two body types.
Ectomorphs should eat relatively high-carbohydrate diets. Their optimal daily calorie intake should be 55 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent protein and 20 percent fat.

Mesomorphs
 burn both carbohydrates and fats, with a slight preference for burning carbohydrates over fatty acids. Mesomorphs tend to store ingested protein as muscle tissue. As a result, mesomorphs have relatively stable and high testosterone levels, low levels of cortisol and other stress hormones, and selectively low levels of insulin – made higher after workouts only by ingesting simple carbohydrates and proteins.
Mesomorphs should eat a diet made up of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent lean proteins and 30 percent fat.

Endomorphs
 tend to store both carbohydrates and fats, with a slight preference for burning carbohydrates. Endomorphs tend to store protein, but in relatively lower amounts than the other body types. Consequently, their hormone profile is characterized by lower testosterone levels and higher estrogen, cortisol and insulin levels.
Endomorphs should minimize empty calorie intake. Their optimal daily calorie intake should be 35 percent protein, 25 percent carbohydrates, and 40 percent fat.
 

Training Effects

As your body type varies, so does your individual muscle fiber type profile and hormone profile. This means that the training programs that work for others will work differently – better or worse – for you. Different constitutions get different but similar results from the same program. Your constitution – body type, hormone profile and muscle fiber type concentrations – ultimately determines your results.

Ectomorphs
 have weakly testosterone-dominated hormone profiles with an uneasy balance between anabolism and catabolism. Ectomorphs should therefore avoid relatively high-volume training that can dramatically increase oxidant production while decreasing androgen levels, leading to higher inflammation rates and greater muscle loss. Ectomorphs should focus on low (4–8) repetition compound movements such as squats, bench press and deadlifts that work fast-twitch white muscle fibers responsible for overall muscle volume and density. This helps increase intensity and decrease workout duration, allowing for greater recovery periods, leading to muscle growth and a hormonal shift toward mesomorphic tendencies.

Mesomorphs
 have testosterone-dominated hormone profiles characterized by anabolism. Mesomorphs can therefore engage in higher volume training that engages both the muscular and cardiovascular systems for optimal muscle stimulation and growth and optimal fat burning. Mesomorphs should focus on a relatively high (8–10) repetition range that somewhat evenly stimulates both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers. This helps increase muscle mass, enhance endurance and fat burning and maintain tight anabolic control over the overall hormone profile.

Endomorphs
 have weakly testosterone-dominated hormone profiles with high estrogen and insulin levels. Endomorphs also tend to have high cortisol and insulin levels with relatively lower levels of thyroid hormone. Volume training should be relatively high, but not too high. While higher volume can lead to increased oxidation, fat burning, anabolism, musculature and metabolism, overtraining for this body type can lead to muscle loss, inflammation and increased endomorphic tendencies. Moderate volume training with a focus on beginning workouts with compound movements such as heavy squats helps increase muscle mass while enhancing endurance and hormone profile, helping shift the metabolic profile toward mesomorphic characteristics.
 

The Bottom Line

Identifying your body type must be the fundamental starting point of your bodybuilding endeavors. It’s critical because it allows you to know how your body uses and burns food, it tells you about your testosterone/estrogen balance and levels of insulin and thyroid hormones, and it tells you everything you need to know about the constitution of your muscle fiber types to train for results.

 

The bottom line is that knowing your body type allows you to train smart to make the best gains of your life. 

 

– Team FBB.

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