ECTOMORPH BODY TYPE
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BODY COMPOSITION
Research continues to prove that physical training and consistent, habitual changes to the diet have a strong influence on improving body composition. Metabolic conditions such as hyper- or hypothyroidism are fully within the realm of modern medicine to manage and improve, and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes are manageable and can even be remedied in many cases through improvements to diet and exercise routines. Simply type “[exercise/diet] impact on body composition” into your favorite search engine and quickly become overwhelmed with the breadth of research spanning the last century. The human body is highly adaptable and always seeks homeostasis (i.e., equilibrium) within its environment. But it can take a while to break old patterns that the body has gotten used to. This fact – that change takes time and consistency – is more than likely what leads many people to resign to the notion that they are stuck in a somatotype; because change is hard, and it’s often far easier and convenient to chalk one’s body dissatisfaction up to forces beyond direct control. But this is also where Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches have the most opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with clients. Muscle is healthily gained at around one pound per month, and fat healthily lost at around one pound per week. After a desirable body composition has been attained through lifestyle modification, physical training, and healthy changes to diet – and, more importantly, when those new habits are adopted and maintained permanently – the new body that is symptomatic of all those changes will eventually become the “new normal.” Metabolisms and appetites adjust to new energy intakes, physical activity becomes a natural part of the day instead of a chore, and someone who was predominately ectomorphic or endomorphic will eventually see themselves displaying far more mesomorphic traits over time.
HOW TO TRAIN ECTOMORPHS
Most ectomorphic clients have developed bodies with highly active metabolisms and “lanky” bone structures, making it hard for them to put on mass and keep it on. For this reason, exercise techniques for hypertrophy and maximal strength should be prioritized, with a greatly-reduced focus on cardio respiratory training to reduce overall energy utilization. After working through the initial level of the building a muscular foundation of pattern movements, Phases 3 and 4 will be of most benefit to average clients in this population. Hypertrophy and maximal strength resistance training are primarily anaerobic in nature and, when combined with longer rest periods, won’t stimulate elevated calorie burn in the moment like more-intense, fast-paced exercise programs will. When paired with a consistently-positive energy balance, this type of lifting will preferentially help ectomorphs build up their body mass. To accompany the mass gain-focused resistance training, ectomorphic bodies should eat a mass gain-focused diet. These individuals tend to burn through energy sources faster than most, so ample calories will be needed. Low-carb, fat-loss focused diets are not recommended here, and in some cases, it may be prudent to recommend that ectomorphic clients even incorporate “mass gainer” nutritional shakes into their diets. And just like with endomorphic bodies that are working to become more mesomorphic, ectomorphs need high levels of protein too. 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight of daily protein has been shown to be optimal for muscle growth, with some individuals requiring up to 2.2. That protein should then be spaced out every three hours so that muscle protein synthesis are maximized all day long. An additional protein shake at night, right before bed to minimize the fasting window, can also be beneficial for maximizing for individuals with difficulty gaining weight.