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.