We throw a lot of technical terms around in the fitness world, words like endomorph and mesomorph which sound clever but mean nothing to the general public. When we ask people what they want to look like they’ll tend to either refer to an actor (always Brad Pitt in Fight Club), or use less technical language. So we thought we’d break down the basic body types in simple language and talk about how to get them.
This week we’re focusing on men, but we will return to the women at a later date.
– In the fitness world he’s known as an “ectomorph”, the guy who can seemingly eat whatever he likes and never get fat. The catch? He struggles to gain muscle too.
How Do I Get It? – Honestly? Pick the right parents. Ectomorphs were, as Lady Gaga once said, born this way. However if you have been hit with the skinny stick there a few things you can do to enhance your naturally svelte physique. While Arnie-esque biceps are beyond your genetic potential, a little bit of training will get you an enviable six-pack. Plus you’ll always look great in a suit.
Do Lift Weights Twice A Week – While size isn’t the goal, a couple of weekly full-body weights sessions will enhance your skinny frame. The best thing about having long thin limbs and a slim waist is the smallest amount of muscle is immediately apparent and creates the much sought after V-shape. Stick with the basic barbell exercises like the squat, press, chin-up and deadlift for 4 sets of 6-8 reps and two to three minutes rest between sets.
Don’t Do Cardio – Skinny guys should avoid cardio, it’s just not necessary and is likely to devour what little muscle you have.
The Swimmer’s Body
– This is a body built for and by movement, it carries just enough essential parts. It’s not gym pumped or cardio-carved but has a nice balance of muscle and leanness honed by hours in the pool.
The swimmer is not an obsessive calorie counter either. He needs plenty of quality nutrients to support his active lifestyle. You don’t need to follow Michael Phelps infamous 10,000 calorie regime, but don’t hold back on the lean proteins and complex carbs such as sweet potato and rice either. Stick to whole, natural foods, nothing processed – If a caveman could have shot it with an arrow or pulled it from the ground then eat it. Lots of it.
How Do I Get It? Do you actually need to spend hours in the pool to get a glimpse of the Phelpsian ideal? No, other activities will work just as well. You just need to regularly work against your body’s own weight. Rock climbing, surfing and yoga can and should be rotated into your exercise menu.
Don’t be an exercise monogamist – get out there and move at least three times a week.
– In gym parlance, we call him a mesomorph, and he’s the one the skinny guys love to hate. He only has to walk past the dumbbell rack to put on muscle and can get away with eating quite a lot of food before he starts to get chubby. This is due to naturally high levels of testosterone (making muscle building second nature) and high insulin sensitivity which means any carbs he consumes are likely to be stored as muscle rather than fat.
How Do I Get It? If you won the genetic lottery and are a true mesomorph, you’ll know it, because almost any exercise regime will work for you. But those of us with less than superhuman genetics can still do a lot with what we’ve got. Reducing carbs and sticking to meat, fish and greens for 30 days will greatly improve insulin sensitivity, meaning that when you reintroduce them you’ll be less likely to store them as fat. Also, don’t fear saturated fat. It’s vital for the production of testosterone. One of the biggest mistakes people make when looking to get lean is to drop their fat consumption. Lower carb, high protein and moderate fat diets are the perfect plan for achieving this physique.
Weight training needs to come to the fore here also. Get in the gym and lift weights four days a week. Long, slow running is a bad idea. Instead, try hill sprints. Find a hill, sprint to the top, walk back down and repeat for 10-15 minutes.
– Huge chest and shoulders, abs like a turtle’s belly and a spaghetti junction of veins on his forearms, there’s no mistaking this guy for a stamp collector. Building this kind of body takes serious dedication and years of hard training.
How Do I Get It? The classic bodybuilding diet is high in protein with a regular feeding schedule, sometimes six meals a day, eating every two to three hours. The theory is that regular meals fire up the metabolism and stop us entering “starvation mode” where the body feverishly holds on to bodyfat believing there’s a famine. However, recent research has shown that meal frequency is not as important as once thought. Four meals is a safe bet for getting enough muscle building calories in without the antisocial eating schedule. Protein needs to be very high, about one gram per pound of bodyweight. Go to any bodybuilder’s kitchen and look in the fridge. If you don’t see shelves packed with eggs, chicken and fish you’re in the wrong house.
Needless to say, weight training will be of the highest importance. Bodybuilders tend to divide their workouts up so that each day focuses on a different group of muscles, for example, legs on Monday, chest and shoulders on Tuesday. This is undeniably effective, but the novice should stick to an upper body/lower body training split four days a week till he’s accrued a few years of training and a few stones of muscle mass.