The Best Workout for Your Body Type

Every body is unique, yet many people are frustrated that their one-size-fitness-plan isn't helping them achieve their goals.

Mike Ceja, a sports therapist in Portland, OR, says, "Most people are a blend of two body types. That means they need to work in more than one fitness area." Ceja says workouts designed for a person's dominant body type can help them reach their fitness goals faster.

Bodies come in three basic models: Mesomorph, endomorph, and ectomorph.

Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and athletic. Ceja says, "Mesomorphs don't have any trouble gaining and retaining lean muscle mass with exercise. They can often handle a high food intake with relatively low fat gain." When they become obese, however, they need to focus on:

  • A healthy diet
  • At least the minimum recommendation of 30 minutes of cardio daily
  • A varied weight program

Many mesomorphs consider their natural ability to gain muscle mass a benefit, but some aren't keen on bulking up. What should mesos do if they want to slim down? Try strength training exercises that tone muscles without building mass, like yoga, Pilates, and resistance band work. Be sure to work all muscle groups, not just target areas.

Endomorphs are naturally soft and round. Endos tend to have higher body fat than muscle mass and their weight gathers in their lower abdomen, hips, and thighs. They need a workout that boosts their metabolism to burn fat. Ceja says, "Since endomorphs gain fat easily, cardio and proper diet are key. Too much weight lifting, however increases hunger and makes maintaining a healthy diet difficult. Endos tend to gain muscle easily, so mixing a mesomorph weight training program with added cardio works best for health and overall fitness." Ceja recommends:

  • A healthy diet
  • 45 to 60 minutes of daily cardio on varied machines (treadmill or elliptical) or activities (like running or biking)
  • Varied weight training

Ectomorphs are naturally slender and lean. They're built more for speed and stamina than strength and tend to do well with sports like long-distance running and swimming. Ectos' fast metabolisms make weight gain a challenge, especially if they do too much cardio exercise and don't eat enough.

What if they want to bulk up? Ceja says, "Ectos have the hardest time putting on muscle mass. They need a body-builder type workout that focuses on muscle fatigue (not stamina), weight training, and muscle building exercises. Ceja recommends:

  • Three to four sets of weight training exercises
  • Limiting cardio to the 30 minutes recommended daily

How do you decide which body type workout is best for you? Most of us know if we're round or skinny, muscular or lean, but if you're not sure, talk to a qualified fitness expert. She'll help you zero in on your fitness goals and design a workout that's custom-fitted to your body type.