Embrace your body type
We live in an age where, rightly, equality is a keyword and a concept that is more and more embedded in the social conciousness. It is evidently questionable to what extent it exists, one only has to have a quick look at the increasing wealth gap between the top and bottom 1% of the world but you would probably agree that in terms of the increasing recognition of such things as gender equality and equal employment opportunities the situation is generally always improving.
Equality is a word that is today seen as a mandatory consideration in any field or walk of life, which can only be a good thing.
Unfortunately equality is really a man-made concept; nature certainly doesn’t recognise it and one thing is for sure, we are definitely not born equal. Natural selection requires inequality, and evolution is built upon it.
It is a bit like teaching honesty to children; if it were universal it would represent a great ideal for the world, but as you grow up you realise reality doesn’t work that way.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses
When it comes to physical ability it is obvious that equality doesn’t exist. When it comes to training and working towards physical goals everyone starts from a different place, with a different potential.
What is key is accepting your body type, embracing it and adjusting your training and goals to accommodate. Not everyone can be what they want, however when it comes to physical development you can do a lot to help your cause if you know what your limitations are and what is going to work for you.
Generally speaking for both men and women, there are three different body types; no-one is likely to be exclusively one, everyone is generally a mix of two or somewhere in between the extremes.
1. The Endomorph
- Training strengths: naturally large frame with robust joints, naturally good starting strength with potential to gain strength and muscle mass quickly once training.
- Training weaknesses: will put on fat easily, will find it more difficult to get lean. May struggle more than the other types with bodyweight exercies and especially endurance sports.
Endomorphs could be characterised as Rugby Union prop types; very broad shouldered and large framed they can put on muscle and weight rapidly and are likely to be very strong even before training. People of this type will probably have large wrists and ankles, meaning they have a higher maximum muscular potential than other types.
Women who have this body type will similarly have a large bone structure and may find it more diffuclt than others to lose fat, whilst gaining it easily.
Endomorphs will find it hard to get very lean and will have to watch their diet as they can gain weight very easily if eating unhealthily.
Training approach: If the goal is to be ‘aesthetic’ i.e. muscular and lean this body type can train hard and heavy but must be conscientious when it comes to eating healthily (low fat and relatively low carb) as well as doing sufficient cardiovascular exercise to promote fat loss.
If the goal is just to be strong this group have the best genetics due to their natural power and weight as well as their propensity for weight gain.
If you have an endomorphic tendancy for your body it is important to emphasis cardio to shed fat; if you don’t want to get too bulky then staying away from the heavy weights is also advised.
2. The Ectomorph
- Training strengths: a true ectomorph will probably excel at endurance sports where having low bodyweight and leanness is a factor in performance. Leanness or achieving low bodyfat will not be a problem.
- Training weaknesses: Because of their narrower, smaller frames and difficulty in putting on weight and muscle ectomorphs will struggle to excel in strength sports or sports where muscularity is a premium.
Ectomorphs are the direct opposite of Endomorphs; generally quite tall with narrow frames they will have a low bodyfat but will find it very difficult to build muscle or even put on fat weight due to a high metabolism. The advantage of this type is that with a low bodyweight relative to height and no difficulty in staying lean they can excel at endurance based sports.
Training approach: If weight training or wanting to build muscle this group needs to be the most conscientious when it comes to perfoming exercises with good form and eating sufficiently to supply their high metabolism with calories to grow muscle. Unfortunately genetics dictate that building muscle is not going to be easy, however through a good and knowledgable approach to training a respectable physique can be attained (though eating and eating will not get you beyond your limits).
Natural leanness means that training can be more centered on bodyweight exercises where this body type should do well. However if muscle gain is the goal then cardio should be kept to a minimum.
3. The Mesomorph
- Training strengths: the most desirable body type for all-round training ability, mesomorphs have a good combination of the best traits of the other two types; they can build muscle and strength easily (though maybe not to the levels of an endomorph) whilst staying lean quite easily. This bodytype is naturally athletic so should be capable of excelling at weight training as well as endurance.
- Training weaknesses: If specialising in one area at a high level, such as elite level powerlifting or elite marathon running, may not be as genetically gifted as pure endomorphs and ectomorphs; however in general this bodytype is not really inconvenienced when it comes to training ability and potential.
Mesomorphs are naturally athletic and are fortunate in that physcially things come relatively easy. They are in between the two other extremes.
Training approach: Despite genetic gifts mesomorphs must still work hard and observe proper form to make the most of their potential, however a pure mesomorph will find little difficulty in adjusting and being successful in most if not all training goals.
No-one is exclusively one type
So, perhaps unfairly it seems like those mesomorphs get the luck of the draw when it comes to physical performance and training, as well as having a conventionally ‘aesthetic’ body.
However as I stated no-one is a pure version of one type; more likely you will be partly ectomorph and partly mesomorph (i.e. strong and fairly muscular but perform better at longer disatnce running whilst still holding your own in the weight room) or be more like a mesomorph whilst leaning slightly more towards endomorph (i.e. relatively lean and strong but can put on fat quite easily and have to be a bit careful with your diet).
You are probably aware of your rough body type from these descriptions and from your own history of sports and how your body responds to training and diet.
What is important is to accept what you are and do the best with it that you can.
We live at a time where everyone is told they can do anything, where kids are all given medals for taking part, where everyone is told they are the same.
Of course everyone should be treated equally but as nature so starkly points out with everyone’s different physical limitations everyone is different. Nature is not fair.
So a company claiming that they can make you lose x number of pounds in two weeks or build x amount of muscle might be true for someone, but not necessarily for you.
The best course of action is to learn and accept your self, then train knowledgeably towards your unique physical potential fully recognising and embracing your limitations. Once you accept something you can plan and put into action how to deal with it.
This is just to make you aware of the rough body types that exist so that you can focus your training goals and not create unrealistic expectations. I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim high, but there is a huge difference in creating an unachievable lofty goal and one that is as high as you can reach.
There will be more in future regarding this topic and the specifics of training for each body type.
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