Ectomorphs - For women, it is the to-die-for body and for men it’s practically a ticket to getting sand kicked in your face by bullies. Love it or hate it, ectomorphs are the slimmest, leanest and tallest of the three builds. Ectomorphs are lighter in frame, as such they tend to carry less muscle mass and by default look as though they are ideal for marathons (which might not be a good ideas if they didn’t train).
Ectomorphs are quite susceptible to injuries, with less fat and muscle to protect the joints. (Please see this article on injuries on footballers, showing that ectomorphs are the most easily injured of the various builds). And they burn fat very fast with a higher than usual metabolism, as such they also tend to be called hard gainers (Fortunate for the girls and not so fortunate for the guys).
Many male ectomorphs tend to overeat in a bid to gain more muscle while female ectomorphs neglect resistance training or training of any sort. These are rather fatal flaws and assumptions, as male ectomorphs might tend to put on weight but also a lot of fat as well (Skinny-fat kind of way) and cholesterol. Likewise, female ectomorphs who do not develop their strength levels tend to suffer from osteoporosis, and might even suffer from poor cardiovascular health.
Training- Intuitively it seems that cardiovascular training should be out for Ectomorphs, but ectomorphs have an advantage over the rest of the builds in terms of their lighter and taller frames which gives them longer stride lengths as well as lesser bodyweight. It would be good to have a sensible cardio plan for health benefits.
Aesthetics-wise, it would be good if the ectomorph would put on a bit of muscle weight. This would serve to both increase bone density (useful for females) as well as create essential muscles that would be strong enough to prevent future joint injuries. Another benefit is that ectomorphs put on lean muscle, and they have longer muscle bellies which makes it aesthetically pleasing. Unless an ectomorph puts in a huge amount of effort to eat and train, they would not be over-bulked and look like bodybuilders though they have good propensity to be good bodybuilders with their already lean frame (but its hard to put on muscle, that’s why ectomorphs are also called hard-gainers).
A sensible exercise plan would focus on weight training as well as cardiovascular exercises with more focus on weight training. Weight training should be more intensive with compound movements. Compound movements are those that require alot of muscles working in unison to life. The machines that you see in the gym seldom promote compound exercises, so it would be good to invest your time in learning how to do compound exercises. (Tons of literature on this).
The only thing a ectomorph should prevent is overtraining which would actually cause injury and set you back forever, a good rule of thumb is to train every alternate day or train two days and have two days off doing light activity. Weight training and high intensity exercises cause a huge deal of muscular tear (micro tears, dont worry they are not that painful unless you are seriously over-trained). Watch out for symptoms of overtraining which include loss of appetite, extreme tiredness and massive bodyaches , avoid this and you are fine.
Diet - What diet ? No seriously , Ectomorphs have it easy, being able to eat a lot and burn it away quickly. However, the rule of thumb still applies, healthy food and sensible dieting. Ectomorphs eating non quality food would soon see themselves transform into endomorphs with low metabolisms. Yes, it is true weight gain puts a dampener to metabolism, and its possible for ectomorphs to transform into endomorphs with gluttony and lack of exercise.
Ectomorphs looking to gain some bulk and fitness should see reasonable protein in their diets as well as a moderate increase in their diets. Eat normally and add one more small meal, like a sandwich to create a caloric surplus. Mass gainers and supplements are really unnecessary as they are usually laden with the cheapest source of calories available, sugar, which will wreck hell on your mood as well as harden your arteries over time. Eat quality foods, soy protein, whey protein or protein from meat, fish, milk and eggs and low GI food like brown rice muesli. Snack consistently as you metabolism would usually mean you have quite a good appetite.
Mesomorphs - Thick and muscular with solidly built bodies. Mesomorphs are the most muscular of all builds. A good comparison of Mesomorphs and Endomorphs, both of which are big body-types are the elephant (Mesomorphs) and the hippopotamus (Endomorph). Jokes aside, mesomorphs well endowed but should be careful to watch their diets.
Training -Female mesomorphs should not be excessively worried that they might look like men if they train, as a sensible diet would ensure that this does not happen. The female bodybuilders you have seen are a result of drugs (male testosterone) and not excessive and heavy weight training. In other words, it is not humanly possible that the physique you see of women you see in bodybuilding competitions are attainable with weight training and even dieting alone.
With proper training and a sensible cardiovascular training, it is highly likely that a aesthetically pleasing body can be easily reached for females. Likewise, female mesomorphs could do either cardiovascular training or weight training with equal effectiveness.
For male mesomorphs, similarly, cardio and weight training is equally effective. However, this depends on the fitness goals of the individual (ie, to run a marathon or a bodybuilding competition).
Mesomorphs of both genders have a higher amount of muscle fibers which would shorten if excessively trained without stretching so flexibility is definitely a big plus for mesomorphs. A good idea would be to incorporate 15 minutes (no less) of stretching after each workout incorporating upper and lower body stretches.
Diet – Mesomorphs should avoid overeating. Due to a high metabolism and a solid and shorter frame, excessive weight put on would be very obvious as bulk. This bulk is created by a considerable muscle mass covered by a layer of fat, which would make the person look real fat. A real life example of this is an off season bodybuilder who has a lot of muscle but due to improper eating habits carry a lot of fat as well, its like putting a T-shirt over your winter coat, making you look like a combination of the marshmallow man and the incredible hulk. Avoid at all costs.
A sensible diet plan which consists of a modest amount of carbohydrates and protein should be considered. Carbs to fuel the muscles and protein to preserve existing muscle mass. Fat can be avoided unless its Omega 3 and 6 which is good for the heart (present in salmon and nuts). A half decent diet would see mesomorphs at their peak.
For more information on kinds of workout please wait for the next installation of Designing Your Workout Part III