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Find Out your Body Type
Have you ever wondered why it seems like some people are naturally stronger than others, or put on muscle more easily, or even tend to put on fat more quickly? These traits, and more, vary from person to person. Moreover, your specific body type should determine your workout and diet so that you can achieve the best results. In the world of bodybuilding, everyone is not created equally, but there is a lot you can do to change your body. I will break down body types into three commonly used titles; ectomorph, endomorph, and ectomorph. Think of these as peoples "natural" builds. Some, the ectomorphs, are naturally skinny. Others, endomorphs, seem like they are naturally strong, but they tend to carry too much fat. A rare few are mesomorphs; naturally built and cut. Don't worry; the vast majority of people are not mesomorphs. And, more importantly, through careful training you can actually change your body type. Prolonged training has actually been shown to have permanent effects on your muscle composition, i.e. the ratios of various types of muscle fibers you were born with, and has also been shown to alter (positively) your metabolism and much more.
Most people aren't aware that within each muscle there are different types of fibers with different functions. We are all born with certain ratios of these fibers, and this ratio determines how strong we are, how fast we can run, how far we can run, and how easy it is for us to metabolize fat. Think of the last time you ate chicken; have you ever wondered why there is dark meat and white meat. Both are the muscles of the chicken, but are clearly different in some way. There are subgroups of muscle types, but I would like to introduce you to the two main categories of muscle: fast twitch muscle and slow twitch muscle. The dark meat of the chicken occurs in the legs and the thighs of the chicken; the chicken is always using these muscles to run around. The reason why the dark meat is dark is because it contains myoglobin (intra-muscular hemoglobin), which carries the oxygen to the muscles. The high levels of myoglobin give the muscle the dark color and make it an endurance muscle because of its high oxygen capacity. The dark muscle is thus the slow twitch muscle, or the endurance muscle. On the other hand, the white meat is the fast twitch muscle. It doesn't have the endurance of the slow twitch muscle, but is stronger and able to move faster.
Even though there are general places in every animal's body where different types of muscle tissue occur, there are variations in the ratios of these fibers. Think of an Olympic sprinter; they are able to run short distances in very fast times, and they are naturally very muscular. Olympic sprinters naturally have a much greater than average amount of fast twitch fibers, and are naturally strong and quick. The downside of having a high ratio of fast twitch fibers are that they tire quickly; thus, and Olympic sprinter would make a terrible distance runner. Lets now move on to the three common body types, what types of muscle fibers they have, and what the best workouts are for them. Keep in mind that through training the ratios of muscle fibers can be changed.
Ectomorphs are naturally thin and don't have much body fat. They make good long distance runners, and generally can eat a lot of food without gaining weight. Their predominantly slow twitch, "dark meat," musculature gives them great endurance and the ability to have a low bodyfat (slow twitch fibers use a lot of oxygen and consequentially a lot of fat for their energy) The problem is that many of them don't want to be skinny runners; they want to be big weightlifters. The best option for the endomorph is a program that converts a lot of their slow twitch fibers into fast twitch fibers, so that a bodybuilding program, which utilizes mostly fast twitch fibers, can be most effective. In order to increase the amount of fast twitch fibers, you need to embark on a low rep and high weight training program. Something in the 4-8 repetition range would be perfect. This is classified as strength training, so you could choose a strength training workout. Or, you could take a bodybuilding program and change the rep ranges from the 8-12 rep range to the 4-8 rep range. You don't need to do any cardiovascular work as an ectomorph because you naturally can burn fat quickly, so focus your efforts on a strength training program.
Endomorphs are naturally strong and muscular, but also somewhat overweight (unless they have an excellent diet). Endomorphs have a high ratio of fast twitch muscle fibers, so they will find that a bodybuilding program will quickly allow them to put on muscle. However, they will always have to battle their bodyfat. Thus, the best plan for an endomorph is to concentrate on their cardiovascular work. An endomorph doesn't need to worry about losing too much muscle on a weight loss program as other types of people do, and an extremely aggressive weight loss/ cardiovascular program is the most appropriate. I would recommend an endomorph lift weights three times a week, regardless of their experience, and do cardio at least 3 times a week. Optimally, they would have three days of pure cardio and also do a reduced amount of cardio after each strength training session. Only until they get down to their desired bodyfat would they incorporate more weight training and less cardiovascular training.
I don't need to say much about mesomorphs; they naturally are both muscular and cut. The best plan for a mesomorph is a balanced workout plan. I would like to warn them of the danger of complacency though. Many mesomorphs are so used to their naturally good build that they neglect to have a proper diet, and thus later in life find themselves overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy. If you don't believe me, just look at many retired pro athletes, many of whom are natural mesomorphs, and tell me what kind of shape they are in.
Article by Andy Fairclough
Co-Founder and writer for www.allthatisfitness.com
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