While a healthy approach to diet and exercise can dramatically change the way you look and feel, genetics still plays a large part in our body shape and what exercise and foods are best for us to see results. American psychologist William Sheldon popularized three broad categories of body in the 1940s and those are still what we use today. These are:
Ectomorph: Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle
Endomorph: Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat
Mesomorph: Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells
But what do these three terms mean in reality? In short, ectomorphs stay lean despite hours in the gym, endomorphs struggle to not pack on the pounds, and mesomorphs pack on muscle with ease. Learning which body shape you were born with, and understanding what that means for your training and diet plans, will help you train smarter to maximize your potential and get closer to building the body that you’ve always wanted.
Falling Between Categories
Although there are three clear body types, it’s important to be aware that these aren’t set in stone. The three body types exist but probably never in their pure form. We all have some aspects of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy,” says Professor Lars McNaughton from Edge Hill University.
Whatever your characteristics, you should know that regardless of your body type, anyone can get lean or put on considerable muscle mass – and, equally, gain weight if they’re not careful. It might be harder for a skinny guy to pack on pounds of muscle, but if Justin Bieber can do it it’s not impossible!
In VarCity’s next posts you’ll find more information on how to identify your own body type – or mixture of types – and learn how to tailor your fitness tactics to it: what you should be doing in the gym and the kitchen, where you might be going wrong, what to eat and what moves make the biggest difference. And at the very least, you’ll gain a better understanding of why your body is the shape it is and know how to get the best out of your genetic make-up.
The Importance Of Sleep
Whatever your body type, to get the most out of your training you need to focus on your nutrition and recovery – with the key to the latter being getting enough sleep.
Most of us tend to associate testosterone and growth hormone with pure muscle growth. However, they are equally important in aiding fat loss and recovery from exercise. Sleep has a massive say on your body’s production of said hormones.
A University of Chicago study found that if your levels of sleep fall below eight hours a night over the course of a week, testosterone can be lowered by 10% or more. Your body’s levels of testosterone and growth hormone are also regulated by the amount of sleep you gain within a daily cycle known as a “circadian rhythm”. You should aim to synchronize your circadian rhythm with daylight and night-time.
Your sleep can be negatively affected by unusual or additional light at night. A great step you can take to alleviate any light interaction with sleep is to switch off lights and electronic devices at least one hour before you go to sleep.
To learn more about the importance of sleep click here.