Unlocking the Secrets to a Sharp Body

You’ve been hitting the gym for the past six months, desperately trying to lose weight and pack on muscle. Attempting to solve the problem, you try different exercise routines and experiment with the latest food supplements. Expecting results, you to look into the mirror for signs of improvement, only to see the disappointment in the reflection. Discouraged with little visible progress, you begin to lose motivation for the gym and start skipping workouts.

Does this sound familiar?

Have you reached a point in your exercise routine where weight loss and muscle growth (or both) seem impossible to achieve? You are not alone; most fitness enthusiasts experience this common and often frustrating problem. Fortunately, there is a proven method available that will allow you to unlock the secrets to a sharp body and keep you on track to your fitness goals. Specifically, this method is called Somotyping. Read on for the SharpHealth skinny:


Developed in the 1940s by William H. Sheldon, some typing involves matching a person’s body type according to their external characteristics (i.e., height, weight, size). Bodybuilders have been using serotyping for years, producing a “chiselled look” that makes most people envious. You don’t have to be a professional bodybuilder, however, to take advantage of this easy to understand method. By customizing your diet and exercise routine according to your somatotype (body type), your days of “no progress” will become just a memory.

Examine each of the three body types below and decide which one best represents your situation. Take note of the customized diet and exercise tips under each body type and employ these suggestions in your sharp routine.

The Ectomorph (Tall and Thin)

A tall and thin build characterizes this body type. Ectomorphs are generally void of body fat and have very little muscle mass. This body type tends to have muscles that are long and thin, especially in the arm and leg areas. New muscle growth can be a frustrating challenge for this body type, with weight gain being equally hard to achieve. Basketball players and marathon runners often fall into this category.

What to Feed Ectomorphs. Sharp ectomorphs will find that both weight and muscle gain can be more easily achieved by increasing the number of calories in their daily diet. This means eating five to seven small meals per day, with the high carbohydrate meals occurring early (breakfast and lunch). Ectomorphs should increase their fat intake by 30 per cent, provided it comes from unsaturated sources such as fish and vegetable oil. Protein intake is also important for this body type. Try to make sure that two of your daily meals contain at least 15 grams of protein (if you are eating healthy, this will not be a problem).

SharpTip: Chicken and tuna will provide good meal choices and will ensure that you are getting the right nutrients. An option is to incorporate a piece of low-fat red meat into your weekly diet (this is not required, but some people respond better to red meat). If you choose this option, consider a thinly sliced flank steak.

The Sharp Ectomorph Workout. Ectomorphs are natural fat burners. It is for this reason they need to avoid outdoor activities and restrict their exercise routines to the gym.

SharpTip: Packing on new muscle for this body type can be achieved by doing low reps while using heavyweights.

Rest is extremely important for this body type, meaning that you will need to space your gym visits apart by 48 to 72 hours. Your workouts should centre on compound movements such as the deadlift, squats and incline bench presses. These kinds of exercises have proved highly successful for ectomorph muscle building. The goal for this body type is to work several muscles at once and allow plenty of rest.

The Mesomorph (Medium Height and Weight)

A muscular, hard body with a mature appearance characterizes this body type. Mesomorphs have little trouble gaining or losing weight and possess the ability to rapidly pack on muscle. The other body types tend to be jealous of mesomorphs because they can eat (for the most part) whatever they want and have naturally “beautiful” bodies. Their muscles appear to be medium in length, with well-built upper torsos. A common problem for this body type is packing on new muscle mass. The reasons for this can be traced to an improper diet and inconsistent visits to the health club. Gymnasts and boxers often fit this body type characteristic.

What to Feed Mesomorphs. Mesomorphs should eat four to six high protein meals per day to help break through the “growth plateau.”

Sharp Tip: Consistency in the diet is the key to a sharp body for the mesomorph. This means fueling your body with the right foods and not skipping meals. Try to get in at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight with each meal. There is no need for super long workout sessions, as this body type easily gains muscle.

This body type is perhaps the most desirable because results take a short time to realize. Bottom line: stick to a healthy diet that is high in protein and low in fat and you will open the doors to an impressive physique.

The Sharp Mesomorph Workout. Mesomorphs should exercise with weights at least three to five times per week, with cardio exercises on the two “off days.” Add heavier weights to your exercise routine every other week, and conduct slow and deliberate repetitions.

Sharp Tip: Free weights are this body type’s best friend in the gym. Consider exercises such as bench presses (chest), “French Curls” (triceps) and squats (legs and butt) in your quest for a bigger body. If you find you are not building new muscle, try reducing the number of reps and use a slightly higher amount of weight (i.e., if you are using a 40-pound dumbbell for arm curls, increase it to 45 pounds).

Finally, mesomorphs need to learn that over-exercising a body part can prohibit growth. Avoid super long sets; opt for something less strenuous, such as a four-set exercise routine with heavier weights being added in ascending order. An example might be a rep of ten, eight, six and six.

The Endomorph (Short and Stocky)

A short, round body with a stocky appearance characterizes this body type. Endomorphs have wider hips and extra “baby fat” around the face. This body type finds new muscle gain easy, but weight loss very difficult. Weightlifters commonly fall into this category.

What to Feed Endomorphs. Increasing metabolism is key to the dual goals of losing weight and packing on muscle for endomorphs. This means spacing out four to six small meals throughout the day, which should be consumed every two to three hours. You want to eat foods that are high in protein and low in fat. Chicken breast, water packed tuna, and low-sugar protein bars have helped this body type to lose weight and pack on muscle. Incorporate high fiber foods into your meals (fruits, vegetables) and avoid dairy products.

Avoid eating meals late at night, meaning that if you go to bed at 10:30, your last meal should be eaten no later than 7 p.m. In other words, allow three to four hours between your last meal and bedtime. This will enable your body to properly metabolize the foods you are eating and bring about weight loss.

Drink at least eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water per day. This will help speed up your metabolism and wash out body impurities (fat).

Sharp Tip: Pick one day of the week that you designate a “cheat day,” meaning on that special day, you allow yourself the chance to “let go” with one helping of “fatty” food. The benefit of the cheat day is twofold: you will have something to reward yourself with each week, and you won’t feel like you are missing out on the foods you enjoy.

The Sharp Endomorph Workout. Because endomorphs tend to be heavier, the exercise goal should be weight loss. Start by adding regular cardio exercises to your workout routine five to six times per week. Begin slowly, eventually building up to 30 to 45 minutes of sustained aerobic activity. Consider treadmills, exercise bikes and rowing machines to accomplish this task.

Sharp Tip: Don’t buy into the myth you have to “break into a sweat” in order to lose weight; not true. What is required for this body type is consistent, low-impact aerobic exercise. Walking on the treadmill at a quick, steady gait is very effective for this body type.

The second component in the endomorph body type is weightlifting. Hit the gym three times per week, with two days separating each workout. Exercise your major muscle groups as suggested for ectomorphs. Consider adding isolation exercises such as the “peck-deck” to build tone.

Endomorphs should use high reps and low weights. Remember, the goal is weight loss and new muscle growth. Doing the opposite will work against your dream of a sharp body and hide muscles under body fat.

Sculpting your physique no longer needs to be a source or discouragement. Look at your body type carefully and begin customizing your diet and workouts accordingly. Remember, nothing comes easy in life, but if you stick with your program, your trips to the mirror will soon reveal the sharp body of your dreams. 

Stop Biting Your Nails

Onychophagia, the practice of biting your nails, is an easy habit to form but a tough one to stop. For many adults, nail-biting is so well-established that they barely realize they are doing it.

The problem? A nail-biting look is bad to others. In this germ-conscious world, no one wants to shake hands with a guy who’s just put his fingers in his mouth.

Still, biting your nails? Here’s the SharpGrooming scoop on breaking the habit:

Why Do You Do It?

If you want to stop biting, it helps to figure out why you do it in the first place. Common reasons include:

Old habit. Many SharpMen can trace their nail-chomping back to their shy and self-conscious teenage years. Now the process has become second nature and they do it without thinking.

Stress. Tension is one of the leading reasons people begin — and continue — to bite their nails. Biting and picking become an automatic reaction to the stress of a challenging job or a worrisome problem.

Nervousness. It is not uncommon for a SharpMan to resort to nail-biting when he is feeling nervous before that big meeting or on the way to that hot date. It can have the same psychologically soothing effect as smoking or overeating.

Post-smoking habit. Those who give up smoking often replace that habit with nail-biting — it’s something to do with the hands that would have been occupied by a cigarette.

Habit triggered by another activity. Often nail-biting will be associated with an activity such as talking on the phone or watching TV. Some people bite their nails when bored or unoccupied, e.g. sitting on the train or in the doctor’s office.

Break the Habit

By isolating why you are biting your nails — and then briefly monitoring yourself under the same conditions — you will be able to stop your hands from automatically going to your mouth at certain times. If willpower isn’t enough, consider some of the following remedies and aids:

Put a formula on your nails. There are several foul-tasting formulas on the market aimed at making your nails taste awful enough to turn you off of biting them — or at least alert you to when you do it unconsciously. Try CONTROL-IT! from MAVALA Stop. Be sure to apply the product regularly, so that the taste remains strong.

Keep your hands busy. Idle hands will only serve to fuel your habit, so keep them busy. If you’ve found that you bite your nails when you are on the telephone, keep a pad of paper by the phone and doodle with a pen instead. Or get a desktop basketball game to keep your hands busy.

If you bite your nails when you’re tense, consider adding a “stress ball” that you squeeze to your collection of desk toys and play with that instead. Or try Process Putty®, available from QPC Inc. The key is to do anything that keeps your hands busy and out of your mouth.

Chew gum or mints. If you are already chewing something else, you’ll be less likely to chew your nails (nail bits and chewing gum — eeew, bad combo). Keep gum or mints with you at all times, and when you find your hands going to your mouth, pop in a stick of gum or a mint instead.

Use nail clippers. Nail biters are always tempted to bite off a sharp edge on a nail or a nail that is a little longer than the others. Keep nail clippers with you and use those instead.

Try meditative cassettes. If all else fails, there are several meditative cassette tapes on the market that claim a high success rate in combating nail-biting habits. Try Overcoming Fingernail Biting from Mind Over Matter or Stop Biting Nails from Talk Unlimited.

Keep It Away

Address the cause. Once you discover what triggers your nail-biting, make a point of addressing that cause. If the stress in your life is the culprit, then work on reducing the stress with relaxation techniques, exercise, more sleep, a smaller workload, etc. If nervousness generally drives you to bite your nails, make a point of learning other ways to deal with nerves. Many guys use a quick (and easy and free) breathing exercise to calm themselves down throughout the day.

Form new habits. The best way to prevent a bad habit from reoccurring is to replace it with a good habit. Get into the habit of using nail clippers before your nails grow to a length that tempts you to bite. Develop the habit of linking your hands together when they are idle instead of bringing them up to your mouth.

Make nail care a priority. Now that you have stopped biting your nails, learn to take care of them. By taking pride in the look of your hands, you’ll be less likely to “fall off the wagon” and return to nail-biting. See Nail Care for Guys for more details on making your hands and nails look good enough for a handshake.

The Appeal of the “Bad Boy”

More than a few “nice” SharpMen have written in lately, complaining that the women they know only like dating losers. What’s their reasoning for this phenomenon? They believe that women can’t control their attraction to morally bankrupt jerks over good, kindhearted guys like themselves.

Is it true that women prefer jerks? If not, why does it seem like the “nice guys” always end up trapped in the “just friends” zone? Check out the SharpDating analysis:

Why Do “Nice Guys” Finish Last?

Many SharpMen have written that despite their efforts to be as kind, considerate and available as possible, women often opt for other guys who don’t treat them as well. Why is that? Let’s consider what it would be like if you met a woman who made it clear to you — from the beginning — that she was yours for the taking.

Why look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

So you proceed to date her, during which time she drops all her friends to be available to you, caters to your every whim and bends over backwards to ensure that she does and says only those things with which you agree. Sounds kind of good, right? Well, it probably is…at first. But as the weeks go by, the constant phone calls, failure to express any kind of preference not in line with your own, and her ever-presence get kinda, well, boring. You may start wondering whether she just sits around in the dark when you’re not around.

The fact is, it’s kind of nice to look forward to seeing someone. It’s interesting when women have other things going on in their lives. On the other hand, it’s starting to wear on you when they constantly call you, and it’s annoying — and boring — when a partner doesn’t contribute her own opinions — rather than what she thinks you want to hear — to a conversation.

So why do women do this? Insecurity. These women are simply not confident enough to believe that being themselves around you will keep your interest. Of course, the truth is just the opposite. Insecurity often ends up sabotaging what could have been a great relationship.

By the same token, guys who go out of their way to be too nice — call too much, make themselves too available, say only those things they know their women want to hear — are just as boring and just as lacking in confidence. Their insecurity ends up driving women away.

And, for similar reasons, “nice guys” who spend an entire evening talking about how “nice” they were to their last girlfriend (“so why did she leave me?”) are also boring. Imagine if you took a woman out and she spent the entire evening “pitching” herself? “Bob, you’ll see, I’m a really great girlfriend. You know what I did for my last boyfriend?” Enough already, I asked you out, didn’t I?? Again, insecurity, mixed with a “passive” way of complaining (couched as “what did I do wrong?”) is just boring.

The key is, both men and women want to spend time with people who are confident, have stuff going on and have opinions to express. No one likes a doormat.

That’s where the so-called “jerks” gain points. “Jerky” guys exude confidence and independence. Sure, he may not agree with everything she says, but it’s opposites that attract, remember? And, yeah, she may be bummed that he went out with the guys, but it’s attractive to her that he has a life beyond the time he spends with her. Absence — even short term — makes the heart grow fonder.

So it’s independence and confidence — not bad treatment — that attracts women to these men.

Here are some real-life examples of how self-professed “nice guys” seemed to finish last:

Example One. One “nice guy” I now can’t comprehend why his wife left him. He goes on and on talking about himself as a selfless martyr who treated her like a queen and was spitefully rejected by an evil hag. He is, after all, very gentlemanly: he opens doors, pays for dinner, calls when he’ll be late, and so on. But even my “friends-only” nights hanging out with him seem to drag on forever. He’s never once cracked a joke, showed any spontaneity or joie de vivre, or even spoken much above a monotone. And we always do the same thing every time. Snooze.

Example Two. Once after a movie first date (bad idea, by the way; check out The Case Against Dinner and a Movie), my very “nice” companion mentioned that he hated the main actor’s unusual hairstyle. I said offhandedly, “Oh, did you? I kind of liked it.” He hesitated, and quickly added, “Uh…what I meant to say is that I liked his hair.” I was immediately turned off. Was he actually afraid to express a different opinion? All you can do with a doormat like that is roll your eyes and be thankful for caller I.D. (but check out SharpDating’s Getting Around Caller ID).

Are you starting to get it? It’s not that women don’t appreciate being treated well, and it’s not that women prefer to hang around inconsiderate guys. Women, like men, prefer a partner who is confident, who doesn’t feel bad for himself, has a life, and who doesn’t give them the sense that they are being conned by a date who agrees with their every word. And of course, there’s the confidence thing — very attractive. If jerky guys exude it, well, then they’ve got an advantage over “nice” guys who behave passively — and evidence insecurity — in their attempts to be nice (which translates to booooring).

Are You “Too Nice?”

How can you tell if you’re being too nice? These are some signs:

  • You have a hard time getting beyond “just friends” with women.
  • You willingly offer to sacrifice your friends, hobbies, and personal life for her.
  • You give much more to the relationship than she does.
  • You avoid conflict by agreeing with everything she says and never offering an opinion of your own.
  • You obsess about her or idolize her (but you think you’re just “showing interest”).
  • You come on too strong, too soon (i.e. on the third date you talk about what your children with her would look like; you present her with diamond earrings after a week).

Consequences of Being “Too Nice”

The most obvious consequence of being “too nice” is losing a woman’s interest, but a less obvious risk is the chance of attracting the few women who are unscrupulous users. If you act like a doormat and a victim, you’ll eventually attract someone who’s more than willing to victimize you. Women (and also plenty of men) of this type search out easy targets: insecure people who are willing to give anything for a relationship. The result could be a destructive relationship which may only further your low feelings of self-worth. So watch it.

How To Be a “Bad Boy” Without Really Being Bad

Women don’t view their need to be independent, modern women as incompatible with their need for a strong mate. Everyone wants to be with a winner — and winners exude confidence. Plus, then there’s that whole modern caveman thing. Just as modern guys still want “soft” women, women still kind of dig “protectors” who make them feel safe, provided for, and who will keep the sabre-toothed tigers away from the cave.

Are you starting to get it? Women (at least, stable women) aren’t really attracted to jerks over nice guys. No one wants a mate who’s really a bad person. What they are attracted to is a man with confidence and strength; someone who’ll treat them well but have a little bit of a fun, wild side — things that “nice guys” don’t always demonstrate because they may be too fearful to step out of “character.”

What does this mean for you?

Live it, dude. Be that sensitive-new-age-postmodern-caveman. Exude confidence and strength. Have an opinion and a life of your own. Don’t follow; lead with her.

Realize that respecting your SharpWoman doesn’t mean that you have to be a doormat. Realize that your attempts to be “nice” may make you look insecure and wishy-washy. Break out of that mold before you find yourself forever doomed to “the friend zone” (for advice on how to break out of it, see the SharpDating Guide to Getting Past “Just Friends”).

Check out our Dos and Don’ts to learn how to benefit from the “bad boy” stereotype, without actually becoming “bad:”