These Are The Best Workout Routines For Your Body Type

Hitting the treadmill is not enough to get fit; you also need to adapt your routine to your anatomy. To get you started, here are the best workout routines for your body type.

Once upon a time, from Plato to Nietzsche, thinkers dwelling upon human nature pointed out—obvious as it may seem—that each person has one among several body types. Then science and taxonomy came along to sort how to classify those types. Specifically, American psychologist William Sheldon popularized three basic body-type categories:

  • Ectomorph: Lean, long bodies with super-fast metabolisms that have a hard time gaining weight and building muscle.
  • Mesomorph: Bodies with a good metabolism that build muscle tone and size easily without the need to spend much time in the gym.
  • Endomorph: Bodies with a slow metabolism that have a hard time losing weight, seemingly regardless of how many gym-hours they put in.

    These types are not clear-cut in the real world, however. No one, or almost no one, is a "pure" ectomorph or a perfect mesomorph. Each of us has all these types to different degrees, and the key lies in knowing where exactly in this complex spectrum you fall in.

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    Identifying your body-type.

    There's a popular and relatively straightforward way of rating your body type, called the Heath-Carter method. This system assigns a three-value rating, with each individual value ranging from 1 to 7 and corresponding to each type of body. Your are scored first on your rate of endomorphy, then mesomorphy, and finally ectomorphy. So, for example, a rating or score of 1-7-5 would be a "mesoectomorph"—a tall and muscular person who has very little fat.  

    According to the Heath-Carter system, an extreme ectomorph would be 1-1-7, an extreme mesomorph 1-7-1, and an extreme endomorph 7-1-1. But even these extreme cases should have a little of the other body types—and practically everyone finds themselves somewhere in between.


    If you're a mix of endomorph and mesomorph, for example, you gain weight easily if you don't take care, but can quickly build muscle without too much effort. A mix of mesomorph and ectomorph, on the other hand, would be able to eat as they please while having a perfectly toned muscle mass with just a few gym-hours per week. Lucky bastards. 

    Anyway, you get the idea. Here's a chart to give you some basic references to identify your particular body type.


    Do remember, even if you're close to the far-side of the spectrum, there's always hope. Even an extreme ectomorph can gain mass and even an extreme endomorph can lose fat—It may be harder for them, but not impossible. 

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    Since ectomorphs are really good at processing carbohydrates and turning them into energy, they have high metabolic rates and thus burn fat very quickly. As such, ectomorphs face the biggest challenge when it comes to gaining muscle mass. Sure, they are lucky enough not to gain weight, but that's hardly a blessing when they lack the muscle fibers to make up for it. 

    Given their particular features, ectomorphs should focus on hypercaloric diets rich in proteins. Carbs and fats are not your enemy, but prioritize proteins at the right times to get the best out of your meals—meaning a healthy intake within 30 minutes after a workout. You're probably going to need some supplements to help in your quest for mass gain, but don't overdo it. Consider you'll need to consume around 3,000 calories every day, on average. It does depend on your particular situation and goals, so take that number as a rough measure. 


    As for your particular workout routine: go for strength training rather than cardio. In fact, you'll want to keep cardio to a minimum, lest you accelerate your metabolism and lose more mass than you gain. Forget about the treadmill, for example. Also, ditch isolation moves, such as the biceps curl, as much as possible. You want to focus on compound moves, meaning all those exercises that activate whole groups of muscles, rather than just one or two. In other words, don't do workouts that tackle one muscle at a time. Around 80% of your moves should target big muscle groups (like the deadlift, squat, or bench press) and any isolation exercise should be complementary and left at the end. 

    Also, many ectomorphs make the mistake of thinking they should spend hours upon hours at the gym to build up their muscles. Counterintuitively, the opposite is true. You'll want to hit the gym 3 times a week, at the most, and keep each session under 45 minutes long. Otherwise, you'll speed up your metabolism even further, which won't help you gain weight.


    The German Volume Training regime is a good start for this body type.


    The biggest threat to a mesomorph is overconfidence. When you take your athletic physique for granted, you might eventually get sloppy, neglect your diet, and end up on the far end of the heavy side before you know it—especially as your metabolism will tend to slow down with age. 

    Still, you're one of the lucky ones. Your body type requires less maintenance and time to improve. So, your challenge is actually to make the best of your body shape—and to sustain your luck throughout the years. You'll want to consume around 2,500 calories a day in order to do that. Also, consume creatine, as it aids your muscle recovery after a workout. 


    Being one of the fortunate ones, as a mesomorph, you get to focus on exactly what you want without having to worry much about getting too big or too skinny. Do you want to improve your stamina? Focus on fast-paced, timed athletic activities, such as sprinting. Want to get bigger? Focus on high-weight/low-reps strength training. Want to get slimmer and get better tone? Go for low-weight/high reps weightlifting. Sky is the limit for you. Unlike ectomorphs, you will want to hit the treadmill (or any other cardio training) before to speed up your metabolism a little to get the best results.

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    Ironically enough, once upon a time endomorphs were the genetically lucky ones of the bunch. Evolutionarily speaking, endomorphs have hit the jackpot: they can easily survive when food is scarce, giving them an intrinsic advantage over the other body types. Unfortunately for endomorphs, times have changed. No longer are we struggling to find food like our ancestors once were, and your genes are now double-crossing you in this modern-day life of comforts.

    As an endomorph, you're probably used to storing fuel and concentrating fat and muscle, often on your lower body. Your woes are exactly the opposite of an ectomorph's: your challenge is managing your weight-gain and upkeeping your overall fitness. That's not easy for you, since one careless meal is enough to make you notice some upsetting weight gain. That's because your metabolism is rather slow, which means you must do your best to accelerate it. 


    Cardio works best for that particular purpose. Also, keep your diet to a maximum of 1,750 calories per day, and include plenty of fiber in there. However, you don't actually want to spend hours on the treadmill: it's much better to try short intervals of high-intensity activity, such as jumps or sprints. The sled push also works if you're worried about your joints.

    You need to shed fat through aerobic exercises, which help you burn calories. To replace that fat with muscle, hypertrophy workouts, meaning heavy weight and low reps, to complement your cardio training. Weightlifting will keep on burning calories long after you end your workout session, so it's ideal if done right. And hit the gym about four days per week for the best results. 


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