Exercise according to your body shape
September 6, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- There are three descriptions used to describe the type of body we have -- ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. In the 1940s, Dr. William H. Sheldon, a physician and psychologist, created this well-known and medically approved system of classifying people by body types.
By photographing and measuring 46,000 men and women, Sheldon and his colleagues eventually developed 88 distinct categories. To simplify his system, he then created three major divisions: ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. Within each of these major divisions are degrees of dominance. In other words, no one is purely ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph but rather a combination of all three body types. One type, however usually dominates the body.
Because each individual is a combination of the three types, it must be noted that humans tend to dominate one body frame type more than others.
In researching body types, I looked at Sheldon's larger base of 88 distinct categories and discovered a broader base to help not only describe body types, but to focus on key exercises that should bring results and shed light (and pounds) on the complexity of our bodies.
How many times do we go to the gym and wonder which exercises would best meet the needs we are trying to achieve for our body? How many times do we try to create a flatter tummy, trimmer thighs, definition in our arms; but, no matter how much we exercise, those areas never seem to shape up the way we would like them to.
Maybe you see others at the gym who are able to improve on those same areas, but when you speak to them, they let you know that getting results is easy, but getting results in other areas is hard. We each have areas that shape up quickly and areas that, no matter how hard we train, don't improve easily.
In his book, "Shape Training," author Robert Kennedy focuses on six categories that better describe the multiple-layered exercises we need to bring a more balanced harmony to our bodies. The body type categories take on the shape of certain letters. They are the A-frame, H-frame, I-frame, O-frame, T-frame and the Xframe. Over the next six articles, this column will focus on each body frame type. I will describe the frame, provide exercises for that frame type, and include healthy eating options.
One of the main features on an A-Frame body type are the hips and thighs. Not only are they more sizeable than you want them to be, but they also store a larger amount of body fat. You more than likely spend the bulk of your workout time on your hips and thighs, but still do not have the results you should (especially with all the work). Your mission is to lean out your thighs and hips and tighten them up. You need to develop the muscles in your lower body. This will only increase the strength in them which will help with making them firmer.
The A-Frame has many characteristics of the endomorph. Endomorphic physiques are typically fuller and soft, with a higher ratio of body fat to muscle. Endomorphs gain lower body weight easily. Body fat is usually distributed in the hips, thighs and buttocks.
Exercises that are ideal for this body type, and more specifically the lower body, are squats, leg curls, dead lifts, shoulder press, side laterals, upright rows, lat pulls, bench press, biceps curl, triceps extensions and basic abdominal crunches.
The exercises listed for the upper body should be performed as well. Never neglect the rest of your body by just focusing on your trouble areas. When you train the entire body you create the balance you have been trying to achieve.
I am sure you are not surprised to see squats on the list. More than likely, you are probably tired of them, but squats are great for trimming and toning. My motto for results is found in my commitment to form and technique. These two approaches bring major changes to our results. Here's how to get maximum results:
-- When you squat, make sure your legs are wider than hip distance apart. This allows you to better target the area of your inner thighs and hips. Try using a body bar or bar bell instead of free weights for your squats. This helps to develop the entire lower body, including the hamstrings and calves.
-- Point your toes outward to target inner thighs and hips. Point the toes straight ahead to target outer thighs.
-- Squeeze up, but do not push the hips forward.
-- Your weight should be heavy but controllable.
-- Repetitions are high. Aim for four sets with about 15 repetitions in each set for all your leg exercises.
-- When performing exercises for your upper body -- since you do not struggle as much in this area -- use heavy weights, but with fewer repetitions. This will develop your upper body in proportion to your lower body without bulking you up.
-- Repetitions for upper body; aim for four sets with about six to eight repetitions in each set. Select a combination of the recommended exercises and practice them at least four days a week for one hour each session.
No workout routine is complete without nutrition. Results are 75 percent more visible when healthy and clean eating are practiced. Make a habit of including the following in your nutrition lifestyle:
-- Drink plenty of water -- at least eight glasses a day.
-- Make fresh vegetables the star on your plate. Eat these low fat, low calorie food items to help keep calorie intake under control.
-- Use a serving size of fruit as a way to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of reaching for sugary, refined flour snacks.
-- Include a piece of lean protein with every meal to keep your metabolism balanced and hunger under control. Protein is very satisfying, unlike carbohydrates which raise blood sugar then makes it dive. Protein is steadier on the glucose level.
-- Reach for whole grains for your carbohydrate choice. They are a great source of fiber, which also keeps you fuller and focused because it keeps blood glucose steady as well.
There are many food combinations you can enjoy from following the tips above -- salads, hearty sandwiches, whole grain pasta dishes and much more. Think of what you can eat -- do not focus on what you cannot eat -- and you will approach your meal times in a new way.
Begin practicing with these lifestyle changes and continue to take control of your health.
In the next column, we'll take a look at H-frame physiques.