How would you describe your body type? Pear? Round? Athletic? Lean? We’ve been given plenty of guidelines and stencils to categorize a body’s shape, whether it’s a fruit or a type of lifestyle, but we’d prefer to forgo the produce and just call our body type what it is: our body. Period.
For the sake of science and fitness, however, body types are often categorized to help people figure out what diet or fitness regimens will best suit them. For example, if you have a slower metabolism or are prone to a greater percentage of body fat, you need to eat certain foods and physically train differently than someone who gains lean muscle mass and has a higher metabolic rate.
With that in mind, Rodale Wellness recently opened our eyes to three other body types, this time based on each one’s level of body fat: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph (more on that below). This isn’t to say that there are only three body types, but each serves as a general guideline for how best to tone your body based on your body-fat percentage.
L.A.-based Pilates instructor and dance fitness trainer Cindy Leos gave us a breakdown of each body type and the exercises that will best whip them into shape. Keep scrolling to learn more.
Leos explains that endomorphs have a smooth, round body. They also hereditarily have a hard time shedding body fat and, due to a slow metabolism, gain weight rather easily.
For starters, Leos says it’s important to limit your alcohol and sugar intake, as well as to time your carb intake post-workout. She also recommends working out four times per week, choosing high-rep workouts with low weights (three to five pounds).
EAS Sports Nutrition
Leos says one of the best exercises for this body type is lunges with “hug-a-tree” arms. The above video depicts a standing alternating lunge, so add in some light weights and the wide arm movement for the full benefits.
“Start with legs together in a parallel position,” Leos says. “Take a large step forward with the left foot, raise the right heel, and keep the heel raised throughout the exercise. Hold weights in your hands, palms facing forward. Take a deep plié (think of reaching the right knee to the floor while pushing through the left heel and keeping the left knee directly above the ankle joint) while raising arms to a T position with palms facing forward. As you extend the legs straight, hug both arms forward, making a circle with the arms. Repeat 15 to 20 reps three times.”
If you’re a mesomorph, you have a naturally athletic build and a high metabolism. These body types can also gain muscle mass easily, so Leos recommends using small weights or resistance bands in case “bulking” is a concern (oh, to be a mesomorph). She also recommends eating a low-carb diet and switching up your workout every six weeks. These should vary from HIIT to plyometrics to Pilates to yoga, for different results.
Leos recommends doing plié jumps while holding a five-pound weight close to your chest (the above video depicts the positioning—just add a weight to the mix).
Leos says this body type is “skinny fat,” meaning you’re naturally thin, but you have a high body-fat percentage. So while this body type has a high metabolism, you have trouble putting on muscle. In this case, Leos recommends following a balanced diet and incorporating protein shakes to build lean muscle (in tandem with working out, of course). As far as exercising goes, Leos says to aim for full-body workouts that focus on control (like resistance training).
One of Leos’s favorite exercises for this body type is weighted leg lifts (video above). “Raise and lower your leg for 15 counts, rest, and then raise the leg back to hip height, and reach the leg forward into smooth circles for 10 reps and reverse,” Leos says. “Repeat on the other side.”
What exercises work best for your body type? Please share with us below!
This story was originally published on August 31, 2016.