What's your body type?
Whether you tend to gain muscle or be a so-called hard-gainer (in boy-world lingo) is one thing. Where you store fat is another. If you've flatly ignored your basic structure in pursuit of an ideal, reality check your goals against this genetic flat plan.
- Low muscle and low fat
- Tend to be underweight, lanky, and skinny
- Tend to be able to eat like a horse and never put on weight (fast metabolism)
- Can tolerate carbohydrates well
- Looks young
- Small bone structure and fine features
- Slow to grow muscle and keep it
Your body is a perfect canvas for building muscle. With a fast metabolism (perk) and low body fat, your figure is made for strength and interval training. Your genetic makeup means you have a small frame, so you can build up muscle without looking like a tank. Sydney PT Natalie Carter says a great way to utilise your DNA is weights.
"You need to do weights and resistance exercises three to four times a week. Specifically, incorporate dumbbells based on the weight that lets you feel pushed when you reach your final rep," says Carter. Also add three to four HIIT sessions a week to maintain your fitness level. Great exercises to include are mountain climbers, burpees, squat jumps, step-ups, tricep dips and bent-over rows. Steer clear of excessive cardio, including long (over 5km) runs. She says this will "deplete and stress your body, leading to a gaunt appearance".
A 1994 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise analysed androgen turnover rates during endurance running. The participants were required to undertake a gruelling marathon in the Netherlands. Despite their picturesque surroundings, two of the 20 runners collapsed, while researchers discovered that cortisol levels in all participants doubled after the event. Considering your figure is not tailored towards such demanding cardio, you won't be putting your genes to good use by pounding the pavement for excessive amounts of time.
Your figure is also perfect for mat work. Yoga will help to tone your muscles without adding bulk. "Yoga is a great way to increase your flexibility and also will help keep tone and strength through your body. Find the type that suits you, not the one you think will give you buns of steel – that's just a nice fringe benefit.
- High percentage of muscle to fat
- Sporty and athletic body shape
- Better on a protein, fat and vegies diet
- Good posture, upright
- Easily lose or gain weight
- Hourglass shape
- Strong lifter and efficient at sprinting events
- Build muscle easily
You're a natural athlete. Because your body has a high percentage of muscle to fat, your physique is perfect for weights and cardio.
"Work on increasing your lifts and reps every one to two weeks (depending on how advanced you are). Even if it means you lift an extra kilo or push out an extra rep, you are constantly working on improving on your last session," Carter says.
A 2012 study by Boston University School of Medicine used a 'push-up' gene in a mouse to understand how strength training influences metabolism. The scientists concluded that weightlifting helped to resolve metabolic disorders, meaning you'll give your metabolism a boost and tone up nice and quick – just how we like it!
Because fitness and muscle come easily, your body is quick to adapt (body lingo: slack off) so tweak your program regularly to keep your body guessing and aim for PBs to push the limits.
"Constant change is imperative if you want to push your body to its limits. Training is about coming out of your comfort zone and constantly striving to break records or try new activities." Carter recommends keeping an exercise diary to help break through plateaus and push your training to the next level. Recording your workouts will give you objective feedback and makes planning to achieve your goals easier.
- High fat to muscle ratio
- Round (especially in the stomach region)
- Have a hard time losing weight and body fat (slower metabolism)
- Solid frame
- Gain muscle easily
- Store fat easily
Being an endomorph, your body has a higher fat-to-muscle ratio. The good news is that your body will be super responsive to cardio and is built for heavy lifting.
"Changing your body composition requires you to remove your excess fat stores and make room for more muscle. Your goal is less fat, more muscle," Carter says. When it comes to your workout, Carter advises lifting heavy.
"You will not only build lean muscle tissue (essential if you want to become a fat-burning machine) but also keep your body strong and training interesting." To ensure you're getting the best out of your workout, keep reps between 6 and 10RM for three to four sets and include compound movements in your lifts, e.g. squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and push-ups.
For cardio, you're perfectly suited to interval training – try two weekly sessions of 30 minutes comprising 15 sprints of approximately 300 metres with a one-minute recovery of slow walking or jogging (if you're already trained). Continue to alternate between intensities to expedite your fitness progress and churn through calories. "This happens because you are forcing your body to make greater adaptations to your oxygen uptake (your breathing rate). You are also pushing your body out of its comfort zone."
A 2012 study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center supports Carter's claims that aerobic and cardio workouts will put mesomorphs' DNA into action. Researchers compared the physical effects of aerobic exercise with resistance training on 196 overweight, sedentary individuals aged between 18 and 70. After the eight-month study, scientists concluded that aerobic exercise significantly reduced visceral and liver fat, while resistance training did not provide the same benefits to fat loss.
And whatever you do, don't get comfortable. "Our bodies adapt quickly to our increased fitness levels (cardiovascular), so it's important to always add a further challenge to push the boundaries and gain further results," Carter says.