There are countless factors that makes you unique, and influence the way your body responds to exercise and nutrition. There is no "one size fits all" exercise regime that will help you get in the best possible shape you can be in, no matter what exercise “specialists” and “gurus” may have you believe.
Before continuing, I just have to mention that this article may get a bit “technical”. This is simply because I want you to understand how your exercise and eating habits may differ vastly from the next person to achieve the best and quickest possible way to get fit and in shape. I will explain each term as simply and thoroughly as possible.
There are a few rough guidelines that will help you choose the best possible training regime to start with. The two most obvious being your body type and metabolism.
Your body type
Your body can roughly be categorized into three types:
1 - Ectomorph
2 - Mesomorph
3 - Endomorph
Let's look at your ectomorph first. Your ectomorph is normally categorised by a slim bone and muscle structure (look at picture for description). You are typically referred to as being “skinny” or “bony”.
Advantage: In general, you tend to keep your fat percentage quite low and stay lean. As you age, especially past 35 years, you will most probably start gaining some fat around you mid-section and other “typically familiar” problem areas. Still, even at these latter stages, you are still able to shed this fat much more quickly than someone with another body type will be able to.
Disadvantage: Unfortunately, due to your thin bone structure and long muscle fibers, it is very difficult to build muscle and gain a healthy weight. And when you do, it can be challenging to keep that weight on, especially if you don’t keep working out regularly and maintain a sufficient calorie intake.
This can be referred to as the “ideal body” type, characteristic by the athletic muscular look.
Advantage: You find it fairly easy to gain muscle, while keeping your fat percentage low. You also don’t lose your muscle mass too quickly. When you do gain fat due to an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise, it is relatively easy to get back in shape a lot quicker than, for example, an endomorph would.
Disadvantage: Although mesomorphs have a lot less disadvantages than the other two body types, it does pose its own difficulties. It may surprise you that the biggest disadvantage is not a biological one. It is actually psychological, to be more specific, complacency.
Unfortunately, due to the ease with which the mesomorph gains muscle and manage to stay in shape, it creates a complacent mind-set which may cause you to lose focus and discipline. As a result it is very easy to neglect your workout routine as well as your diet. The result being an "out of shape body" that may be harder to rectify, especially as you get older.
Your endomorph is characterized by a person with a big bone structure and normally carries quite a bit more fat than the other two body types. Such a person is sometimes referred to as being "stocky" or even "obese".
Advantage: Despite the obvious disadvantages, your endomorph is able to gain muscle mass relatively easily. You are also able to hang onto your muscle gains longer than normal, due to the fact that your body uses your fat storage as energy, and not "eat away" at your muscles. This can be especially useful if you are on a calorie deficient diet, but more on that later.
Disadvantage: The disadvantages should be obvious. The most important one being the difficulty to lose fat. Not only is it difficult to lose, but it's also very easy to regain the fat you were working so hard to lose in the first place. This can happen rather quickly due to lack of exercise and a poor diet.
Okay, so that is your three basic body types. Just remember, this is very rough classification and there are a lot of variation within this classification. My main aim for explaining these three body types, is simply to make you realize that your body type may require a completely different training regime than somebody with a completely different body structure.
This is where things starts getting interesting and a bit tricky. You've probably heard people being described as having an either fast or slow metabolism.
Unfortunately, the term has become the new “buzzword” in the industry, used by “fitness gurus”, celebrity trainers and diet specialists to promote their latest exercise regime or diet program. “Speed Up Your Metabolism And Lose 20 pounds In 3 Weeks” or “Killer Workout To Boost Your Metabolism And Build Your Dream Body In Six Weeks” has become popular catch phrases used in adverts online in social media and even in magazines.
The truth? Very few people really know what your metabolism is and how it works. Even scientists who have been studying it for years, still have a lot of questions. It actually is a complex biochemical process where your body reacts in a variety of ways to nutrition and physical activity, and in turn, the effect your body has on you eating habits and exercise abilities.
It is a very complex interaction between all these components, which makes it very difficult to fully understand or explain. It will probably take a document the size of a novel to begin to explain it in its entirety.
What is important for you to know is the following: In its simplest form, your metabolism is the process by which your body converts whatever you consume into energy, and is therefore also sensitive to external factors like exercise. In turn, it has a direct effect on your energy levels and nutritional requirements.
(In general, the faster your metabolism the quicker you burn calories and fat as a result. It is also generally accepted that people with a slow metabolism normally find it a lot more difficult to lose fat.)
This is where it becomes important to you. You do have more control over metabolism, and therefore your energy levels, than you may think. More about that in a later article. I just feel you need to know about this, simply due to the vital role it plays in the way your body reacts to exercise and nutrition.
If you are very confused at this moment, rest assured in the fact that you can consider yourself one of a very few percentage of people who realize how complex your body and its relationship with nutrition and exercise is.
The real point I was trying to make, is that there is NO one perfect exercise and nutritional plan that can be universally applied to everyone. You may now realize why there are so many contradicting statements and programs out there, as well as why what you have been doing up to know, is not working at all.
Having realized that, there is good news. There are a quite few exercise and training regimes available that use principles and techniques that can be used by anyone and has proven to be effective and reliable. They aren’t perfect, but can be used as a solid foundation or starting point, from where you can develop and mold it to fit your own body’s specific requirements.
I will be addressing and point you to a few of these programs in the next article. I know you have been asking for exercise and training regimes to follow for quite some time now. I realize you are keen to get started, but just felt it was necessary to address some myths and misconceptions first, which I did in a previous article. I also wanted to explain the importance of your body type and metabolism, and how it influences the way you train and why there are so much confusion and contradicting information out there. This has now been addressed in this article.
I promise we will get to the “meat and bones” part in the next article, where I will point you to a few very effective programs I can recommend, as well as give you a brief overview of each one to help you decide which one will suite you best.
As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my mailing list to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.
See you in the next post!