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Body types fall into three categories: endomorphs, ectomorphs and mesomorphs. Endomorphs and ectomorphs lie on opposite ends of the body type spectrum; however, most people don't have characteristics of just one body type. You can, in fact, have both endomorph and ectomorph traits. Understanding the strengths and weakness associated with the different body types can help you design more effective workouts for your own body.
Classic ectomorphs have slim, delicately built bodies, with long arms and legs. Their hips are generally slightly wider than the shoulders. Endomorphs generally have short arms and legs, with round torsos. Their shoulders are generally wider than their hips. Endomorphs typically carry excess weight.
Ectomorphs have long, lean muscles and are generally very flexible. They have very efficient nervous systems and respond rapidly to stimuli. While not as naturally flexible as ectomorphs, endomorphs have the potential to be quite flexible if they regularly stretch. Endomorphs also can build their cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength quite easily, though not as easily as the third of the body types, the mesomorphs. Because endomorphs have very efficient digestive systems, they readily absorb nutrients from the foods they eat.
Ectomorphs have inefficient cardiovascular and muscular systems. Because of this, ectomorphs struggle with exercises that require endurance, and they build muscle very slowly. Additionally, the digestive system of a classic ectomorph is inefficient. Ectomorphs do not absorb nutrients very well, and they have a tendency to suffer from hypoglycemia and anemia. The primary weakness of the endomorph body type is that these individuals gain weight very easily. If endomorphs don't pay attention to their diets, they can easily become overweight or obese.
Exercise programs should target the weaknesses associated with your body type. For example, if you are an ectomorph, you should focus on cardiovascular endurance and strength training. If you are looking to build muscular bulk, perform low numbers of repetitions with heavy weights. Endomorphs should focus on cardiovascular exercise, ideally for longer times to maximize the weight-loss benefits of this type of exercise.