What’s your body type?

Personal trainer and nutritional therapist Terry Fairclough offers some exercise and healthy eating tips based on your body type

Unlike 50 years ago, there is now a greater diversity of people exercising, with a wider age demographic. A 55-year-old person can be as fit and strong as a 25-year-old and conversely a 35-year-old could be as weak and unhealthy as a much older person. In today’s society, the gap between healthy, fit and strong individuals is growing, with people of all ages being much more in tune with their health and exercise aspirations and goals. There are many more sedentary jobs today than ever before, subsequently causing a host of health conditions. We are all different and therefore we need to exercise and eat differently.

There are three main body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. It is also possible to fall between two of the body types. There is no good or bad body types – all have their negatives and positives. Knowing how to make the most of what genetics we have inherited will allow us to be the best and healthiest we can be.

Nutritional tips for all body types

  • Ensure you eat breakfast.
  • Drink 200–300ml of water upon waking.
  • Ectomorphs and mesomorphs should ideally eat 1–2 hours before training. Endomorphs should aim to eat 2–3 hours before training.
  • Try to avoid consuming any fat 90 minutes before and after training.
  • After training, consume a post-exercise shake to help maintain muscle.
  • Spread your meals throughout the day. Ideally, ectomorphs should aim for six meals, mesomorphs should aim for five meals and endomorphs should aim for four. This will help keep glycogen stores full and prevent muscle being used for energy. Your post-exercise shake is classed as a meal.
  • Eat lean meats, healthy fats and low-GL carbohydrates.
  • Depending on your daily activity levels, and according to your body type, you should aim for the following percentage of your daily calories to come from carbohydrates:

  • Ectomorphs: 40–60 per cent
    Mesomorphs: 30–50 per cent
    Endomorphs: 20–40 per cent

  • Eat only 1–2 pieces of fruit per day.
  • Aim to eat a minimum of six vegetables a day. This will help to get the fibre you need. Also, vary the type and colour of fruit and veg you eat.
  • Ectomorphs and mesomorphs should aim to eat 1.5–2.5 hours before you go to sleep. Endomorphs should aim to eat 2.5–3.5 hours before sleep.

Ectomorph

This body type is slim, loses fat easily and struggles to build muscle. This type of person is suited to endurance pursuits like marathon running or long distance cycling.

Fat loss exercise for an ectomorph should be based around building muscle through weight training to speed up metabolism and subsequently lose fat. An ectomorph needs to be careful not to lose too much muscle as this can create a skinny-fat appearance, storing fat round the body’s organs. This fat is related to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. Larger amounts are also related to heart disease, breast cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease. Having a low muscle percentage can also cause low bone density which, when left unchecked, can lead to osteoporosis. Exercise should be at a ratio of four resistance sessions to one cardio workout. Keep the weights heavy and challenging, no more than 10 reps per exercise.

Exercise circuit for an ectomorph

10 reps each. Perform each circuit 4–6 times

  • Kettle bell dead lift
  • Goblet squat holding kettle bell
  • Press-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Kettle bell swing
  • Back extension
  • Static lunge holding kettle bell
  • Plank step-outs
  • Row with a band

Endomorph

This body type builds muscle with ease and struggles to lose fat. They are great at short, explosive sports like the 100m sprint or javelin.

Fat loss for an endomorph can be challenging if not undertaken correctly. This body type is great at building and holding onto muscle; however, their metabolism tends to be slow, allowing fat to accumulate. High body fat is related to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, poor liver and detoxification function. Exercise should be predominately cardio-based. Interval training is ideal as endomorphs have high levels of fast twitch explosive muscle. Try doing 14 intervals of 20 seconds hard jogging on the spot with knees up, then 40 seconds of easy walking on the spot. Then, a steady 8 minutes at the same consistent intensity of either power walking, jogging, stationary biking or skipping. Finish with another 14 intervals as before. As it is easier for an endomorph to hold onto muscle, exercise should be at a ratio of one resistance session to four cardio workouts. If you feel you are becoming too muscular, try a ratio of one resistance session to five cardio sessions. Keep the weights heavy and challenging with no less than 15 reps per exercise.

Exercise circuit for an endomorph

15 reps each. Perform each circuit 4–6 times

  • Kettle bell dead lift
  • Goblet squat holding kettle bell
  • Press-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Kettle bell swing
  • Static lunge holding kettle bell
  • Plank step-outs
  • Row with a band
  • Burpee

Mesomorph

This body type is athletic, builds muscle and loses fat easily. They are likely to be a great 1,500m runner or tennis player.

Fat loss exercise for a mesomorph should be equally split between building muscle through weight training and cardio. Cardio sessions should consist of intervals. Try doing 10 intervals of 20 seconds hard jogging on the spot with knees up, then 40 seconds easy walking on the spot. Then, follow with a steady 14 minutes of power walking, jogging, stationary biking or skipping at the same intensity.

Finish with another 10 intervals as before. It should be a lot easier for a mesomorph to hold onto muscle. Start with a ratio of two resistance sessions to two cardio sessions. If you feel you are becoming too muscular, try a ratio of two resistance to three cardio sessions. Keep the weights heavy and challenging and perform 12 reps per exercise.

Exercise circuit for a mesomorph

12 reps each. Perform each circuit 4–6 times

  • Kettle bell dead lift
  • Goblet squat holding kettle bell
  • Press-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Kettle bell swing
  • Static lunge holding kettle bell
  • Plank step-outs
  • Row with a band
  • Burpee

Be body positive!

“Although the overall goal of becoming fitter, leaner or stronger is a transformative and positive outcome (in the end!) the journey to that point can be full of ups and downs,” says leading female fitness professional Vicki Anstey (www.barreworks.co.uk). “Sometimes when you feel like you’re taking a step back, it can be enough to derail you completely. A positive mindset is essential and all other things being equal, it will predispose you to success. My top tips are:

Ditch the weighing scales

Your weight will fluctuate during a new fitness/diet regime for a variety of reasons. If you use the scales as an indicator for success, you’ll become disillusioned in no time. Take measurements, use clothing as a guide, check your silhouette. See how you feel. Remember that you may be building muscle mass, retaining water etc., but in the end this will all level out. Don’t allow yourself any knee-jerk reactions to short-term changes.

Reward yourself appropriately

Ditch the Friday night wine or post-workout doughnuts. Try not to even see it as a case of effort = reward, but if you do find this helps your motivation to stay on track, reward yourself with some new gym wear, a mani/pedi or a massage – things that will contribute to your overall goal.

Trust and enjoy the process

The path to success is never a straight line. Expect to have ups and downs – and a few plateaus in between. Try to keep your focus on the ‘right now’. If you are (honestly) sticking to your plan, even if the results don’t seem apparent at the time, they will come. And the wait will have been worth it!

Don’t write yourself off

If you fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and get right back on. Never see a small setback as outright failure. Start the next day afresh and don’t let guilt invade your thoughts. Draw a line and move forwards. Success is down to two things: preparedness to start and willingness to pick yourself up and go again and again.

Find a deeper level of motivation

If your motivation is simply a figure on the scales, or a dress size, you might struggle to keep to your plan. Make the motivation for changing your lifestyle something a bit deeper: health reasons, preparation for a physical challenge or because people think you can’t do it. Remind yourself of that every day, feel it in your veins and nothing will throw you off course.

Terry Fairclough is a leading nutritional therapist and PT and founder of Your Body Programme. Visit www.yourbodyprogramme.com

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