We previously discussed how the DEXA body composition scan can measure visceral fat content in the android (waist) region. That’s important because body shape, or the tendency to accumulate abdominal, or visceral, fat is crucial. It is a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand.
Health professionals have long used several methods to classify human body types. In Ayurvedic medicine, body types and their linked personalities were defined as Pita, Vata and Kapha. In the 1940s, William H. Sheldon introduced his own theory of body types. Sheldon’s system defined the characterized body types as ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.
While not every human body fits into one of these three categories, there are often a few dominant characteristics. Once you know your body’s natural shape, you can follow the fitness plan that suits you best. With that said, here are three somatotypes and here's how to train for each body type.
Ectomorph Body Type
The ectomorph body type is thin and struggles to gain weight, whether it's fat or muscle. They may consume loads of carbohydrates and still maintain the same bodyweight. Ectomorphs also tend to have a lean build with small muscles and long limbs. To gain weight naturally, ectomorphs must consume a higher amount of calories than they are used to.
It is important for an ectomorph to often check body fat percentage. The ectomorph is a classic example of how BMI can be misleading. BMI will often classify the ectomorph as healthy, even if their body fat percentage is unhealthy. That’s because BMI does not differentiate between of the proportion of fat vs. muscle in the body. As a result, the ectomorph could easily be in the “skinny fat” category, which tends to carry potential risks in the long term.
Follow a healthy diet that consists of carbohydrates and protein. Increase your weight through strength training and reduce aerobic activities.
Endomorph Body Type
The endomorph body type tends to gain weight faster and keep it on. Their natural build is wider than a mesomorph or ectomorph. They may have a larger muscle mass and short limbs. While they can have more muscle than any other body type, they often gain a lot of fat in the process as well.
As a result, just like the ectomorph, the endomorph should also be careful about their body fat percentage.
Follow a balanced diet with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Get your heart pumping daily with physical exercise for a healthy cardio burn. If you still cannot see results, you might need to watch your diet.
Mesomorph Body Type
The mesomorph has a natural tendency to be fit and achieve muscle mass with ease. Does this mean that the mesomorph does not have to do anything to achieve an ideal physique? No – but the mesomorph will be able to get back into shape faster than an endomorph or ectomorph.
Aim for moderate weights and follow regular aerobic exercise. Targeting your desired areas, such as the arms, the chest or the abs, will help you achieve results relatively fast.
If you are unsure about what type you are, you might be somewhere in between. The DEXA body composition scan can help you better understand your body type and where your body tends to accumulate fat.
Once you know your body type or mixture, it becomes much easier to personalize your exercise and diet.
Author: Jane Hazel.