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Building a beautiful bod

So you are eating well and working out hard, but seeing little change to your hot bod? ABJ’s in-house fitness expert Antonia McGuire explains how different body types respond best to targeted approaches in training. Read on to learn how to train for your body type and see results.

Although glossy fitness magazines can provide inspiration and variation to your regular gym workout, they do fail to emphasize the importance of training for your body type. Because so many people get advice that is marketed to the masses, the real key to reaching your fitness goal lies in what you were born with—your DNA makeup.

All body types can be sculpted with the specific training and nutrition. But often times, people with different body types forget that they need to approach their training with different objectives, even if they have the same fitness goals. Case in point, there are three types of body shapes: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Many people are a mix of two types, however. Here is an overview of each body type and some tips to help you see success in your fitness plan.

Ectomorph

These skinny people appear fragile, almost delicate and are often lean in shape and narrow in the shoulders. Despite their slender form and low fat deposits, their skeletons tend to have a less developed muscular system, which can lead to postural problems and injury.  Because of their hyperactive thyroids which accelerate their metabolisms, ectomorphs benefit from eating frequent meals throughout the day that are also high in protein. This also helps maintain their weight.

Since they lack overall muscle tone, this can lead to a general lack of stability in the core due to poorly developed muscles along the spine and abdominal wall. The weakened core often causes lower back problems. Ectomorphs must focus on increasing their muscle tone to correct their poor posture.

For these reasons, the ectomorph’s first objective is gaining weight and muscle mass. Because of their DNA makeup, this will be challenging as they are slow to build muscle tone. It is important to stay with the basic exercises and include power moves that build maximum mass.

Training tip: Do an entire training workout (lower and upper body) but take longer rest periods for recovery. Eat five to six small meals, taking in more calories (good quality food, not junk). While in a building muscle phase of an exercise regime, protein drinks can supplement your food intake. Meanwhile, keep cardio training to a minimum, in order to save calories for muscle building.

Mesomorph

These guys and gals are buff. By that, I mean they are naturally athletic. Because mesomorphs are highly muscular with large bones and thick joints, they tend to have well developed forearms, powerful calves, wide ribcages and strong waistlines. Despite being well-toned, however, mesomorphs need to be active regularly. They tend to excel in sports but their high muscle mass may affect those in high endurance activities like long distance running, for example. Only when they overeat do they really develop weight problems, whereas regular physical activity will keep their athletic tone.

Training tip: The mesomorph does build muscle mass very easily by doing a variety of exercises at the gym, which allows muscles to develop proportionately and shapely. Doing a mixed combination of heavy power moves with some shaping exercises is ideal for building a proportional symmetry of the physique. This body type particularly responds well to training, so prolonged workouts are necessary but the key is to have shorter rest times. A balanced diet that includes a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate maintains an even caloric intake level at all times. Watch for any slow creeping fat gains.

Endomorph

The endomorph will not have much difficulty building muscle but will have to be concerned with losing fat weight and be careful not to gain the weight back. They do not need to eat a whole lot, which is a significant advantage when on the go or if food is scarce where they live. However, for superficial reasons they need to have draconian diets. Luckily, endomorphs rarely have back problems because of their well developed musculature along the spine. However, they do experience knee problems often due to the volume of mass weight their skeletal structure must carry.

High sets, high-repetition training with short rest periods is necessary to burn off as much fat as possible. Heavier weight training and HIITs (High Interval Intensity Training) are excellent ways to kick start the endomorph’s slower metabolism. A low-calorie diet should contain the necessary nutritional balance with the minimum amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Speak with a certified nutritionist or naturopath about ensuring you are getting the right amount of vitamins and mineral supplements the body needs.

Training tip: To keep in shape and try to limit the amount of fat carried, endomorphs needs to combine regular cardiovascular activity with heavy weight training. You need to lower your calorie intake (do not skip any meals). Eat small but frequent meals. Avoid all sugary treats, sweets and junk food. Incorporate physical activity into your day, such as brisk walks, a jog here and bike ride there. Try to increase the amount of time you spend exercising each week. Your goal should be to look as close as possible to (or stay looking like) a mesomorph. With the correct, regular exercise and strict nutritious diet this can be attainable.

Even with the knowledge of how to train for your bod, it is still up to you to find the will to discover your potential. With a bit of discipline, focus and a targeted training regime, anyone can reach their fitness goals.

Antonia McGuire is the associate/production editor for the George Media Network, as well as a certified fitness professional instructor-trainer. She is a current CanFitPro member and has been teaching classes for over eight years. McGuire promotes healthy living and eating through her teachings as well as through writing. For a quick overview or more background information, check out Frederic Delariers books on strength training or Robert Kennedy’s fitness titles such as, Maximum Fitness and Oxygen.