“You’re damned if you’re too thin, you’re damned if you’re too heavy. So just say fuck it and be what’s natural for you.”
Ectomorph. Endomorph. Mesomorph. Are you familiar with these words? If not, and you’re looking to better understand your response to workouts and eating, you should read on. If you are and you’re looking to better understand your response to workout and eating habits, I welcome you to also read on.
Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph are the three common categories of natural body types. Without going into a long-winded speech to explain each, think of it in this most simple way: An Ectomorph is a naturally lean body type; an Endomorph a naturally heavier or thick body type, a Mesomorph, more in the middle – think broader shoulders and narrower waist or even somewhat of an hourglass figure. I’ve also included this nifty drawing to illustrate.
Beyond giving you insight into your natural body type, identifying the one in which you most predominantly fit can help you to better understand workouts and eating.
I’ll use myself as an example. I was recently doing some research to find benchmarks for what a woman my height and weight should be able to squat, deadlift, bench press, those types of things. What I ended up doing was getting a bit off track and researching more about body types and how they affect performance. I found out things like Endomorphs (especially taller, leggier ones) have a harder time putting up bigger squat numbers. I also found out Ectomorphs should lift heavier weights with fewer reps for best results. These are things I admit, I didn’t really know, but helped open my eyes to how much more than genetics factors into athletic performance and nutrient, body type itself does too.
I’m an Endomorph. I have a naturally thicker, more muscular build. I have an out-of-control appetite (always have, even before I was a runner) and have always struggled to lose weight or have a slimmer appearance. After college, when I really started to take control of my health, lose some excess weight and become fitter, I had a very hard time with where my body was heading. No matter how much I ran and how little I ate, I never could quite achieve that “thin” body I so badly wanted. I always assumed I was doing something wrong but, taking a few steps back from it (and speaking to trusted fitness experts like my pal, JoeFitness) I began to understand that everyone’s body is programmed to be a certain way, a certain shape, a certain build. You can fight it to an extent but it’s going to be that – a fight. So, if that’s the route you want to go, you have to decide how much and what sacrifices you’re willing to make.
As an Endomorph, I’m not someone who can have that slim, lean look without major sacrifice. I would have to give up lifting, do nothing but steady cardio and drastically reduce my calorie intake. It has taken me several years, horrible bouts with crash dieting and periods of cardio upon cardio upon cardio to finally come to terms with this – and, more importantly, truly be okay with it.
I’ve okay with the fact I’m never going to be able to pull off skinny jeans (it’s hard enough fitting these quads into regular jeans).
I’ve accepted I’m never going to have a delicate, adorable body like Anna Kendrick (hopefully my fiancé has too, he LOVES her).
I don’t mind that, in order to achieve peak racing performance, I have to push my workouts hard and my body has to be thicker and more muscular; I can’t get away with being a “lean” runner while also racking up the distance and mile times I want.
Now that I’ve gotten older and my goals are different, I no longer curse my Endomorph body type – I embrace it. This body type, though some days I know it works against me (Endomorphs aren’t known for their stellar endurance), helps me perform like the athlete I want to be. I’m strong. I’m fast. I’m capable of major bouts of endurance – I just have to work harder for it.
Yes, I may never have a body that makes clothes shopping easy and fun. I’ll never be able to get by with just a couple, easy days of cardio to keep my weight under control. I will always be hungry. All the time. Always.
But, on the flip side, lifting heavy weights works well for me. My big legs and butt help me to run both run sub-7 minute miles for speed training, as well as average just over an 8-minute mile for a full marathon. And my metabolism and muscle mass really helps out the constant need for food. So I’d say this Endomorph thing is working out pretty well.
Do you train to fight your natural body type or have you embraced it and used it to your advantage? Or, are you planning to look further into your own body type and how if affects your workouts, nutrition and goals? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.