Harness The Power of Your Body Type [Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph]
Genetics plays a strong role in the way that we look and the way that our body processes the food we eat.
If you have a difficult time losing weight or building muscle, it could be because your genetics are stacked against you.
Don't worry, all hope is not lost.
This is the second installment of the WCT Muscle Building Series where we help you learn simple, high-yield strategies that’ll help you add some muscle.
In Part 1, we discuss the basic concepts that you need to do in order to build muscle. It is very important that you read that post first. You can find it at How to Build Muscle Naturally Using Scientifically Proven Methods
Today we will talk about the reality of muscle growth- what to expect, and how your genetics will influence how you look.
It has only taken me 10 years to figure all of this stuff out. Now you get it in 5 minutes or less.
This post is going to cover
- Common Muscle Building Misconceptions
- How Fast Can You Expect to Build Muscle Naturally
- How Genetics Influences Your Body Type and Your Muscle Building Potential
- Ectomorphs, Endomorphs and Mesomorph Body Types
Common Muscle Building Misconceptions
Muscle building requires three components- resistance training, nutrition and sleep.
Needless to say, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the best ways to use resistance training to build muscle.
Relying on Isolation Exercises
One of the most common misconceptions about building muscle is that each one of your muscle groups needs to be trained individually.
This is when you see people training Chest on Monday, Back on Tuesday, Arms on Wednesday, Legs on Friday etc etc.
As we discussed in 3 Essential Principles of Exercise Routines, isolation exercises are not the best way to build muscle mass.
You simply cannot stimulate your muscles enough when you train them one at a time.
You can certainly get more for less if you stick to compound exercises: particularly the Big 6 movement patterns described in Creating Quick and Effective Workout Routines
When performing compound movements, you don’t need to do a lot of exercises nor train your muscles until exhaustion.
This leads us to the next misconception...
You Need to Spend Hours at the Gym to Get Results
If you train correctly, (using large compound exercises for most of your training) then you do not have to spend a long time exercising.
Compound exercises always give you the biggest bang for your buck.
They allow you to lift heavier weights then you could with isolation exercises, and stimulate your muscles a lot faster. As a result, you don't need to do endless sets and reps.
In short, we want to stimulate our muscles, not annihilate them.
Check out 9 Simple Ways to Shorten Your Workout and Spend Less Time in the Gym to learn other ways to maximize your training time.
And lastly, my favorite misconception...
You Think You Will Get Bulky
Another common misconception is that lifting weights will get you bulky.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a woman say that she doesn’t want to lift weights because she doesn’t want to get bulky, my student loans would be paid off.
Gaining any noticeable muscle mass is extremely difficult.
Most men will never get bulky, even if they tried. If all you had to do was lift weights to get really muscular, everyone would be jacked.
And women, don’t worry.
You generally don’t have high enough levels of testosterone to get large muscles. The women who are “bulky” lift for a living, and center most things in their lives around exercise.
Ok, so now that we have those out of the way, let’s talk expectations..
How Fast Can You Expect to Build Muscle Naturally
If you are looking to put on a noticeable amount of muscle mass (which I just mentioned is really difficult), you have to focus on the big picture.
Muscles synthesis is a slow process that requires multiple cycles of Stimulus-Recovery-Adaption described in Part 1.
Under optimal conditions, a realistic rate of muscle growth is about 1-2 lbs of muscle per month.
That is only 12-24 lbs of muscle per year. Keep in mind, that this is also for an inexperienced lifter. The longer you have been lifting, the slower this process will be.
For women, this rate is a lot lower. (Another reason why women are a lot less likely to ever get bulky.)
Muscle growth also comes in spurts, with plateaus, peaks and troughs.
Your rate of muscle growth will also be influenced by your body type.
There are three major types...
What Body Type Am I?
There are three different body types: You will automatically know which one you are once you read the descriptions. It is also possible that you have a slight combination of two body-types, which we will describe shortly.
Ectomorphs are the people who have always been skinny their whole lives. They tend to have small joints (skinny wrists, ankles, hips etc) and have a difficult time gaining weight.
If you have ever considered yourself to be scrawny, then you are an ectomorph.
These are the people who generally can eat whatever they want and never seem to gain weight.
Ectomorphs will probably never ever be obese.
Here are a few examples of ectomorphs.
Brad Pitt in Fight Club
Tobey Maguire in Spiderman
- Almost All Victoria Secret Models
Ectomorphs who are into exercise and fitness are always lean with less than 10% body fat. These are the people you see on the cover of fitness magazines. Their muscles aren’t bulky; they are small, well developed and well defined.
If you are an ectomorph and in great shape, you are more likely to look like a fitness model.
An endomorph is the opposite of an ectomorph. These are the people who have always been a little heavier than their classmates. They were never skinny, and can add bodyweight very, very easily.
These are the individuals who struggle the most to lose weight. One bad meal could mean starting over from scratch.
Endomorphs have larger frames with bigger joints.
They will probably never get as skinny as Victoria Secret runway models.
Here are a few examples of endomorphs.
Brock Lesnar from Wrestling
Brian Shaw from World's Strongest Man
Kim & Khloe Kardashian
Endomorphs who are into exercise and fitness generally favor power sports that requires size and strength.
Endomorphs are very strong. People who compete in World's Strongest Man tend to be endomorphs.
They carry a higher body fat percentage, and will probably never be under 15% body fat.
If you are an endomorph and in great shape, you are more likely to look like a World's Strongest Man.
Mesomorphs are in between the previous two. They are generally considered to have the 'athletic' body type. These individuals can go either way. They are not scrawny, nor are they very heavy.
With that said, a Mesomorph can have ectomorphic tendencies, or they can have endomorphic tendencies.
Here are a few examples of some mesomorphs:
Mesomorphs can have the best of both worlds. They can get quite muscular and be very lean at the same time. People who excel at bodybuilding tend to be mesomorphs.
Some people would say that mesomorphs have it the easiest in terms of building muscle. They won the genetic lottery when it comes to exercise and fitness.
If you are a mesomorph and in great shape, you are more likely to look like a competitive bodybuilder.
Final Words on Body Type and Muscle Building
Whatever body type you possess, own it. Do not use it as an excuse to not exercise or lead a healthier lifestyle. Your genetics only determines the hand you are dealt, it’s your choice on how you will play.
Also, keep in mind that your body type is only one piece of the puzzle.
There are several other factors that you can directly modify to make up for your genetics. This includes how you choose to exercise, which foods you choose to eat, and how you perceive yourself.
So which body type are you?
Comment below and tell us if you have had any issues with muscle gain in the past.
In Part 3, The Ultimate Guide to Natural Muscle Building we discuss how to exercise for your body type in order to maximize your muscle building potential, and other general muscle building strategies.
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