Body Type Training (Somatotype)
Let’s face it, we all want to build maximum amounts of muscle while at the same time, burn maximum amount of fat. We all want to have rippling muscles with those big bulging biceps, hard chiselled chest, and sleek, sexy six pack of abs.
That’s why we hit the gym hard and heavy, doing endless sets of barbell curls and bench press’ all the while trying to constantly watch what we eat. I’ll admit, it works, but we really don’t always get the results we’re looking for and if your anything like me, you want the best of both worlds, which is to:
Build Maximum Amounts of Muscle While Burning Maximum Amount of Fat
The word Somatotype is used to describe and categorize a particular body type by physical characteristics.
By using Somatotype profiling, I was able to finally figure out which type of exercises and foods worked best for me.
Basically, I developed a custom system for my body type. The exercises I now perform are a combination of compound exercises and isolation exercises. The compound movements are first and foremost and the weight used is medium to heavy allowing me to perform high repetitions (12 to 15 range).
I only perform 1 isolation exercise per muscle group and this is to exhaust the targeted muscle group which is performed at the end of my session using high repetitions (12 to 15 repetitions).
Over the years, I’ve developed an eating system that is targeted directly to my body type. I now have a custom nutrition plan that I use to keep my body growing/maintaining muscle mass while maintaining/reducing body fat. I absolutely need calorie dense foods!! These foods ensure I’m always growing but I really need to watch how many calories I take in. I take in about 3,000 calories per day, but these calories are all quality foods with a fairly high, complex carbohydrate/protein intake.
This system works great for me. I wouldn’t recommend this type of regime for a naturally heavier individual because they need a totally different exercise and nutrition program. You see, this is where Somatotype profiling can play a huge role in determining the effectiveness of your program.
There are 3 extreme Somatotypes (Body types).
A pure endomorph is naturally heavier person with a pear shaped body. Endomorphs usually have wider hips and shoulders than the average person and carry a lot more body mass including fat, muscle and bone.
Generally shorter or medium in height, Endomorphs have an easy time packing on the muscle but have a hard time losing body fat.
Mesomorphs are naturally muscular with a slightly stocky build. They tend to have an athletic build with large bones and have an fairly easy time putting on muscle. Mesomorphs generally have narrow hips and wide shoulders with muscle arms and lower body.
Generally, Mesomorphs have an easier time losing body fat than an Endomorph.
Ectomorphs are what you call “Hard Gainers”. This group is generally very skinny with long slender bones and slight build. Ectomorphs have a thin build with narrow shoulders and waist. Ectomorphs generally have a very fast metabolism so it is very difficult for this group to put on weight and muscle mass.
It is very easy for this group to lose fat but somewhat difficult to add body mass. My thanks to http://www.fitbuff.com for allowing me to use their images.
Now, in the real world, pure body types are hard to come by and very few people can be classified as a pure Ectomorph, Mesomoprh or Endomorph. We are generally a combination of body types and carry the traits of these extreme body types. For example, an Ecto-mesomorph is a combination body type between an Ectomorph and Mesomorph, possessing more Ectomorph traits. Or a Meso-ectomorph, which is a combination body type of a Mesomorph and Ectomorph, possessing more Mesomorph characteristics.
The thing you have to remember is that we are a combination of Somatotypes and it’s these characteristics that will determine how well we respond to a certain weight training and diet regimes.
Let me give you an example of how a custom regime can greatly enhance your results. Back in high school, I had a good buddy named Ron. Ron was a pure Ectomorph and man, this guy was skinny. Ron weighted about 90 pounds with absolutely no fat whatsoever. He was very fragile and had a real hard time doing anything physical such as running, push ups, and sit ups. He had a real hard in gym class.
After a while, Ron couldn’t take it anymore so he approached me and asked if he could come to the weight room with me. We started working out and I have to say, he was committed. We trained everyday and put in some hard work and to give Ron credit, he kept up and didn’t weasel out.
He was doing everything I was doing but for some reason, this guy couldn’t gain an ounce of muscle mass. I was getting stronger and building muscle but Ron wasn’t getting anywhere. In fact, it look like he was losing muscle mass?!
So, one day, the owner of the gym started talking to Ron. The gym owner was a seasoned power lifter and knew right off the bat what was wrong. Ron was following a routine meant for someone else. At the time, I was doing a lot of super sets, drop sets, partial repetitions, and other nonsense that just wasn’t meant for someone like Ron. I think we were doing about 20 sets per body part at the time which was simply way too much, for both of us (I didn’t know any better).
Sure, I got some results but Ron, he got nothing, in fact he got negative results.
After some consultation, the gym owner put Ron on a completely different weight training routine that cut his exercises and repetitions in half. Instead of doing 20 sets for chest, Ron started doing 8 sets. Instead of doing super sets and drop sets, Ron started doing strict compound movements like the bench press and squat. He changed his entire approach to weight training including:
• The exercises he was doing;
• The amount of sets he was doing;
• The amount of repetitions he was doing;
• The amount of time he spend resting (both in training and not training)
Ron also changed up all his eating habits. He started eating calorie dense foods and a lot of high quality fat and protein. The gym owner made sure Ron was eating at least 2,000 calories, per day above his maintenance intake.
The result? It seemed like Ron’s body changed OVERNIGHT!
His bench press increased from 70 pounds to 185 pounds. He put on another 30 pounds and I tell you, this guy looked like a totally different person. He no longer had a “chicken chest” and his whole body filled out.
As time went on, Ron grew to a very solid 185 pounds and you would have never known he was once a fragile 90 pound kid who couldn’t do one push up!!
So, why did Ron finally start to grow? It’s simple. Ron started doing those things that best suited his body type. You see, Ron was a pure Ectomorph who needed a lot of calorie dense foods consisting of a high fat/high protein diet. He also needed an exercise regime that targeted his overall balance, core, and power. Once he changed his eating and exercise habits, he changed his entire body. In essence, he “re-programmed” his body in order to start growing. He customized his entire exercise regime to match that of his:
• Activity levels;
The point I’m trying to make is that there are significant differences in peoples bodies and a “one size fits all” program doesn’t always work for everyone. In fact, it may even hinder your progress. If your goal is to build the maximum amount of muscle while burning maximum amounts of fat, you really have to understand your own bodies physiology.
An Endomorphic body type (Naturally large) will primarily target fat loss as a priority in a weight training regime. This will be reflected in the nutrition and exercise regime. The main focus will be that of a tightly constructed diet while keeping exercise moderate in order to allow for constant improvements in strength and mobility but keeping strain and injuries to a minimum.
An Ectomorphic body type (Naturally skinny) may want to target fat/weight gain as a priority in a weight training regime. Exercise will possibly concentrate on basic compound movements in order to stimulate as much muscle mass as possible.
Can you see how Somatotype profiling can greatly enhance your muscle building / fat loss efforts?
Now, where do you begin? Let’s find out how you can determine your Somatotype. Using a numeric system, we can classify your Somatotype. Take a look at the chart below:
7. Very High
5. Moderately High
3. Moderately Low
1. Very low
What you want to do is take an honest look at yourself and rate yourself based on the 3 extreme Somatotype’s listed above, which are:
I’m going to use myself as an example. Let’s put a numeric value to my body type. Please remember, I’m being honest with myself to determine the best diet and weight training program that is needed to reach my goals.
• Endomorph - 2. My body type is pretty lean and I’m not a naturally large person so I’m pretty low on this scale.
• Mesomorph - 4. I’m average when it comes to an athletic build.
• Ectomorph - 5. I’m naturally on the lean side so my score is higher with this body type.
My score is 2, 4, 5. What does this mean? Well, it means that my Somatotype is a combination of Ectomorph and Mesomorph characteristics which can be called an Ecto-Mesomorph. My body tends to have more Ectomorph characteristics than a Mesomorph.
I’m naturally lean with long limbs and a fairly active metabolism. My body responds well to weight training, however, it takes a lot of hard work to build muscle mass. My diet has to include a lot of high quality calories in order gain body mass. I need a lot of calorie dense foods to gain body mass and these foods are high in complex carbohydrates and lean protein sources.
The types of exercises that work best for my Somatotype are compound movements with medium to high repetitions and medium rest in between sets. Compound movements are the core of my training routine but I do include one isolation exercise at the end of each muscle group. I find this totally exhausts the targeted muscle and gives me the “pump” I’m looking for.
The question you have to ask yourself is, what Somatotype do I possess? By doing the above noted exercise, you will have a better idea of your body type. Once you have an idea of your Somatotype, you can proceed with putting together a custom diet and weight training regime that will best suit your needs.
What type of program should you be using for your particular body type? Well, this isn’t an easy question to answer because I don’t know your particular situation. However, there are some general guidelines that may help get you started.
Endomorph body types generally carry more body mass and have a slower metabolism. Endomorphs can add muscle mass quite easily, however they can also add body fat just as easy. Have you ever heard the term “Smell a hamburger and put on 10 pounds” well this describes an Endomorphs potential to add unwanted weight.
Because of this fact, Endomorphs must concentrate on improving cardiovascular health (including fat burning cardio), while using a combination of compound and isolation exercises. It is recommended that Endomorphs concentrate on using mid to high repetitions (12 to 15) using medium weight. This is done in order to improve mobility and balance while keeping strain and injuries to a minimum. Rest times in between sets should vary between 40 and 50 seconds.
Cardiovascular activities should be done at least 3 times a week divided into 25 to 30 minute low intensity sessions. This should help keep body fat levels in check.
Emphasis should be on those exercises that concentrate on fat burning and cardiovascular activities.
Endomorphs have to keep a real close eye on their diet, especially when it comes to fat and simple sugar intake. Diet should lean towards the following:
• Low fat (Absolutely no trans or saturated fats);
• Very low / no simple sugar intake (Absolutely no high fructose sugars);
• Low to moderate complex carbohydrate intake;
• Higher fibrous carbohydrate intake;
• Higher protein intake;
• Very low sodium intake
Mesomorph body types generally possess an athletic build with a fairly large bone structure and propensity to easily add muscle mass.
An exercise regime will target those exercises that concentrate on adding quality muscle mass including compound and isolation exercises. Repetitions should be kept in the low to mid range (8 to 12) while rest time in between sets to 40 to 60 seconds. Cardiovascular exercise can be added to improve overall fitness (And should be added), however, it should be kept to a minimum (No more than 15 to 20 minutes in two to three sessions per week).
Emphasis should be on muscle building exercises but incorporating those activities that help stimulate fat loss.
Diet should include:
• High protein;
• Moderate complex carbohydrate intake;
• Low to moderate quality fat intake;
• Low to moderate sodium intake;
• Low simple sugar intake;
• Moderate fibrous carbohydrate intake
Generally knows as “Hard Gainers” Ectomorphs have a super hard time gaining quality body mass. Because of this, Ectomorphs must concentrate on performing those exercises that stimulate the most muscle tissue. This means performing compound movements first and foremost using low to moderate repetitions (6 to 8). No more than 2 (Maybe 3) exercises per body part is recommended using compound only movements. For example, when doing chest, an Ectomorph may want to perform the Bench Press and Dips only.
Rest times in between sets are anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes.
Keep all cardiovascular activity to a minimum. Two cardio sessions per week is plenty (10 to 15 minutes for each session)
Ectomorphs will need to keep a close eye on their diets. Because of their high metabolism, Ectomorphs must eat every two hours and never go without food for longer than 3 hours. Diet should include:
• High quality proteins;
• Moderate to high complex carbohydrates;
• Low to moderate simple carbohydrates;
• High quality fats;
• Low to moderate sodium;
• Moderate fibrous carbohydrates
Ectomorphs need a lot of calorie dense foods but that doesn’t mean junk food. Calorie intake should be well above maintenance levels in order to stimulate body mass growth.
These are a just a few guidelines that you may want to consider when putting together your weight training and diet program. Remember, these are just guidelines because a more detailed look at your current situation must be assessed in order to provide a more effective program.
As I mentioned before, it took me years to finally figure this stuff out. When I first started out, I followed routines and programs meant for other people. I tried using routines and diets from:
• Professional body builders in the popular muscle magazines;
• Routines from my training buddies and other so called experts; And
• Other various techniques from different sources.
All in all, most of those routines, techniques and programs were all wrong for my body type. Most were a waste of time and effort and some were even detrimental, putting my body at risk of injury.
After years of trial and error, I've finally put together a custom program meant for my body type.
I’m writing this article because I want to point you in the right direction when it comes to getting the results you want from a weight training program. I’m not saying it’s easy because it’s not, however, with the right guidance and direction, your journey can be much more fruitful providing you with the best results possible.
Building muscle and burning fat is definitely possible, but one must come to terms and understand their own physiology before going forward.
Now, if you are dead serious about building the kind of body that has the best of both worlds, muscle and fat loss, you need to find those resources that can customize a plan for your body type.
You can always hire a professional trainer but these guys and gals are not cheap. They will certainly design a custom plan for your body type and situation but be prepared to pay a steep price.
Not everyone has the cash or the resources to hire a professional trainer so there must has to be other resources available. I’ve checked all over and to tell you the truth, it was hard enough to find any detailed information about Somatotype specific training and diet.
However, I did find one resource from a professional trainer named Kyle Leon. He runs the Somanabolic Muscle Maximizer site which he calls the “Evolution of Natural Muscle Building”.
I've checked out his video, which you can watch here and listened to what he had to say. I have to say, he hit the nail right on the head with his information. After doing some research on Mr. Leon, I decided to go ahead and purchase the program to see if would customize a complete weight training program for my body type, age, gender, and metabolism.
What can I say, the first time I used the program it customized a complete weight training and diet program for my particular body type. After using the guide to help profile my Somatotype, it gave me a custom 9 week weight training program complete with:
• Types of exercises to build muscle;
• Number of sets;
• Number of repetitions;
• Optimal rest times;
• Training day recommendations;
This program is all based around my particular Somatotype.
The absolute best part of the system is the custom diet software. After inputting some basic details, it provided me with a custom diet plan designed to 1) Build Maximum Amount of Muscle; And 2) Burn Maximum Amounts of Fat all based around my body type.
The program gave me the exact amount of:
I needed to build muscle and burn fat according to my body type. Pretty cool eh?
Really, the software is an absolute breeze to use and takes all the worry out of trying to plan and organize your meals.
After using the program, I decided to write a review about this product. You can see how I used this system and what type of custom weight training and diet program it gave me at:
Somanabolic Muscle Maximizer Review
If you are dead serious about building a body that turns heads, I highly recommend you check out Kyle Leon’s complete program here.
All the best and good luck,
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