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    bex's Avatar
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    Oct 2001

    Bodytype Workout

    Bodytype Workout

    Match your training to your bodytype for maximum gains

    By Jimmy Pena, MS,CSCS

    Lift weights and get big? If only it were that simple! Bodybuilding is an inexact science, where students play scientist by experimenting on themselves, tinkering here and there with the training and dietary variables to achieve optimum results. Some labor hours each day in the gym, lifting heavy weights for set after set, while others with speedy metabolisms can usually get out in half the time -- and have their cake and eat it, too. What's responsible for such a wide variety of training and nutritional strategies that still lead to success as a bodybuilder? Genetics.

    But you already knew that. What you may not know are some of the specific strategies you can use to accelerate your progress. As in metamorphosis. Whether you were born a little on the chubby end (and putting on mass was never a problem) or you're a wiry hardgainer (who seems unable to pack on anything at all), you'll need to make some adjustments in your workouts to suit your individual genetics.

    First, let's recap. The true ectomorph is lean and thin with low levels of both bodyfat and lean muscle tissue. The ectomorph has a fast metabolism, which makes it very difficult to gain muscle. On the other end of the spectrum, the endomorph has a big, wide bone structure and a slower metabolism. For this person, gaining weight is easy but losing fat isn't, so actually seeing muscle gains is difficult. Finally, there are those genetically gifted mesomorphs. For the true mesomorph, muscle gains come relatively easy as opposed to the other two bodytypes. These individuals usually make the best bodybuilders and have a relatively easy time shedding unwanted bodyfat. But that doesn't mean they can coast.

    The Ectomorph
    Ectomorphs have very high metabolic rates, making it very difficult for them to gain both muscle and strength. This is a very frustrating situation for many people. As six-time Ms. Olympia Cory Everson points out, "The trouble that the ectomorph faces with gaining weight is just as important to him or her as it is to an obese person who's trying to lose unwanted weight."

    Because the ectomorph faces a greater challenge than does the mesomorph in gaining muscle, it's important for the ectomorph to be patient with muscle gains when resistance training, says Brett A. Dolezal, PhD, director of the Center for Resistance Training Research at North Dakota State University, Fargo. "Body mass gains will be relatively slow, no more than about 1-2 pounds per week [at peak]," says Dolezal. Putting on weight any faster will result in an increase in bodyfat. Dolezal notes that you can't expect to continue putting on weight at that rate for more than just a few months, optimally. For the long haul, he says that weight gain should likely occur at an even slower rate, to guarantee that most of the gain is muscle.

    "In terms of a resistance-training program, ectomorphs should adhere to the typical hypertrophy phase of training; that is, the 8-12-rep max range," says Dolezal. "The key to maximizing anabolic hormone release and subsequent muscle gain is to train with higher volumes and moderate loads."

    IFBB pro Milos Sarcev takes a slightly different view. He believes in training to stimulate all types of muscle fibers, whether or not you demonstrate characteristics of predominantly one particular bodytype. That means, says Milos, training a muscle using very low-repetition sets (using a weight that allows you to do six reps max), then changing the angle or exercise and using moderate-repetition sets (10RM), and again changing the angle and using high-repetition sets (15 reps minimum), all on the same muscle in the same workout. "That way, you're sure to cover all your bases," says Milos.

    His approach is based on the fact that not all skeletal muscle fibers are identical. The processes by which muscle fibers produce the energy necessary for contraction differ from one fiber to another, and the ability of a fiber to produce energy influences its resistance to fatigue. Thus, what Milos prescribes is to train to stimulate as many different muscle fibers as possible using different repetition levels because certain fibers will respond better in those specific ranges.

    Where Dolezal, Sarcev and Everson come together is their belief that the ectomorph should limit high-intensity cardiovascular work. Cory advises: "Maybe 20 minutes, three days per week instead of every day. They might do low-intensity aerobics like walking or riding the stationary bike."

    Along with cutting down on prolonged intense cardio, Cory also stresses slowing down the training pace in the gym. "Take lots of rest, up to a minute and a half," she recommends.

    Finally, ectomorphs should stick to the basic mass-building movements that hit major muscle groups and deep muscle fibers. Squats, presses and deadlifts work many major muscle groups at once, providing a keen muscle-building stimulus. Isolation-type exercises, on the other hand, don't provide that. (You'll still need to do some, for muscle groups like calves and arms.)

    Don't get discouraged if your gains come slowly; just start making more adjustments in your training and dietary programs that relate to your bodytype. Be patient and watch out for overtraining, because doing more will certainly yield less.

    *Do basic compound movements like the bench press, squat and row for deep fiber stimulation.
    *Avoid isolation exercises (cable crossover, leg extension) that work smaller amounts of muscle mass.

    Sets & Reps
    *Do up to about 10 sets for larger bodyparts; 6-8 for smaller. More sets burn more calories; go intense for just a few.
    *Don't take your warm-up sets to failure.
    *Do a wide range of reps but focus on the 6-10 range, which is optimum for putting on size.

    *Fewer reps means going heavy. That's a high-intensity workout.
    *Rest a little longer so you're thoroughly recuperated between sets for heavier lifting. Take up to a minute and a half between sets for smaller muscle groups to as much as 4-5 for something like heavy squats.
    *With a training partner, try forced reps to shock your body into growth, but only on your heavy sets, and don't overdo them.

    *With high-intensity training, you'll get sore. Train that bodypart again only after muscle soreness has disappeared.
    *Train each bodypart once per week. Again, burning too many calories by adding more workouts is counterproductive.
    *Get lots of rest between workout sessions.
    *Try to maintain some variety in your workouts by doing something slightly different each day (go a little heavier, add reps, try an advanced training technique, etc.).

    *Too much aerobic activity will hinder your muscle gains. That includes your activities both in and out of the gym.
    *Use light walking or biking for your aerobic needs just a couple of days per week. Keep those sessions within reason.

    The Endomorph
    Because endomorphs have a large bone structure, they can probably hoist some relatively heavy weights around the gym, but with a slower metabolism, fat loss is far more difficult, and that can hide their hard-earned muscle gains.

    As opposed to the ectomorph, the endomorph needs to concentrate on maximizing fat loss by adding aerobic-type exercises, says Dolezal. Combing weight training (which builds calorie-burning muscle tissue) with aerobic workouts, far more calories will be burned -- plus, there's the added protection against many of the diseases associated with being overweight (such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, etc.). "Endomorphs usually don't have a problem adding muscle," says Dolezal.

    Seeing that muscle, however, is another problem. Cory recommends you add a simple piece of training equipment -- a heart-rate monitor -- so you can take your aerobic training into the fat-burning zone. She suggests wearing the monitor and doing quick circuit training with very little rest to see the best results.

    In Dolezal's research, he has found that concurrent resistance and endurance training may optimize fat loss and muscle gain. "Since more calories are burned during endurance-type exercises, this should be performed first. Adhere to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines: a cumulative of at least 30 minutes daily, preferably every day of the week in a target heart-rate zone of 60%-75% of max."

    Dolezal says resistance-training exercises should follow the cardiovascular workout with a major emphasis on muscular endurance; that is, performing reps of 15 or more with short rest periods between sets.

    Unlike the ectomorph, the endomorph has more work to do. Failure to see progress can probably be traced back to shortcomings in one aspect of the training program or diet. It takes a multipronged approach to be successful.

    *Include both compound and isolation movements in your bodypart training.
    *Mix up your exercises frequently, and the order in which you do them, to keep your body from plateauing.

    Sets & Reps
    *You can afford to do a few more sets than the ectomorph; do about 12 for larger muscle groups and 8-10 for smaller ones. This will also burn more calories.
    *You still want to work in some heavy days for muscle hypertrophy (to rev metabolism), but staying on the higher end, with reps as high as 12-25, will also help burn additional calories.
    *Avoid training too heavy too often.

    *After warming up, take your heavy sets to muscle failure.
    *Train hard and without long rest periods. This will keep your heart rate up and meta-bolism high.
    *Keep your body on the move during each bout of training as well as between training sessions.
    *Try adding intensity to your sets: forced reps, descending (or drop) sets, partial reps and supersets are great techniques.
    *Do whole-body circuit training every 5-6 workouts for a fast, conditioning workout.

    *Exercise burns calories, which is what we're after, so go ahead and train each bodypart more than once a week, depending on muscle soreness.
    *Change your routine often.

    *Probably one of the most important aspects of your training.
    *Do some form of cardio daily for at least 30 minutes. Fun and low-impact types will keep you motivated and injury-free.
    *Get your heart rate into the fat-burning zone; work up to about 75% of your max.
    *Interval training is also a good way to burn calories.

    The Mesomorph
    Ever see the guy who comes to the gym, doesn't particularly know what he's doing or stay very long, yet grows like a weed? Chances are he's a mesomorph. Some of these individuals grow despite their complete lack of training and nutritional know-how, but imagine what they could do if they did.

    Dolezal says, "People with a higher degree of mesomorphy, when compared to the other bodytypes, will be capable of greater developments of muscle mass even with the same stimulus" (i.e., resistance training load and volume). This means that they can get away with doing less and achieving more.

    Dolezal does warn, however, that mesomorphs can easily overtrain, especially as they see the results coming so quickly. "Sometimes they live with the mentality that more is better, and they may spend way too much time in the gym... Research has made it quite clear that 48-72 hours of rest are needed for the muscle to repair and regenerate from resistance training before stressing that particular muscle group again."

    Mesomorphs can avoid this by following periodized training routines, says Dolezal. He recommends that you build into these periodized meso- and macrocycles, as well as active rest periods of up to one week. Another mesomorph pitfall: Doing the same training routine over and over again. He recommends that you throw a wrench in the system every now and then, changing your training regimen by mixing up exercises, reps, sets and rest intervals.

    Cory has found that pyramid training works well for people with the mesomorphic profile. She says mesomorphs might try high reps on Mondays, power training on Tuesdays, and go back to high reps on Wednesdays, with moderate levels of cardio as often as desired. As with his recommendation for ectomorphs, Milos stresses the importance of utilizing different repetition ranges to stimulate muscle fibers with different fatigue indexes.

    Mesomorphs should include both compound and single-joint movements in their training. A more standardized approach probably works well: Start with three sets of 8-12 repetitions per bodypart, while also utilizing low- and high-rep sets on certain bodyparts like traps and legs.

    Determining the right combination of sets and reps, frequency, intensity and cardio can be a difficult process, even with a few years of experience. If you've been training for some time, make sure you're training in a way that complements your genetic endowment. If you're a beginner, determine as best you can using the parameters mentioned, and make some slight modifications to your program. (Not too much, because most beginners are still focused on building a foundation.) Then, your journey begins.

    Don't mindlessly hit the weights -- stay focused on a plan and note what works. Test some of the theories presented here and others of top bodybuilders regularly featured in Muscle & Fitness. Toss out those that don't work and try something else. What works for Mr. Olympia may, or may not, work for you. Or maybe it just needs some tinkering. Ultimately, your program will be as individual as your fingerprint.

    *Do traditional bodybuilding workouts, consisting of basic, compound movements followed by single-joint exercises.

    Sets & Reps
    *Utilize a wide range of repetitions, focusing on the 10-rep range.
    *Cycle periods of heavy lifting with those using lighter weights for higher reps.
    *Do 3-4 sets per exercise, 2-4 exercises per bodypart (more for larger muscle groups).

    *Hit the gym with a vengeance. You have a head start, so make the most of your genetic advantage.
    *Stick with a routine that works for a short time, then change. By constantly stimulating your muscles in new ways, you'll keep your body guessing.
    *Incorporate both light and heavy days into your training.
    *Manipulate contraction speed for fiber stimulation and recruitment.
    *Train to failure with advanced techniques, but don't always push to the limit.

    *Experiment with a three-, four- or five-day training split that includes multiple- and single-joint movements.
    *Still, be careful not to overtrain. Give yourself good rest periods between training days as well as voluntary periods of time off every couple of months or so.

    *Do cardio to stay lean, but no more than four sessions of about 30 minutes per week.
    *Avoid prolonged activity, which drains both physical and mental energy.

  2. #2
    LittleMeth's Avatar
    LittleMeth is offline Junior Member
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    Mar 2002
    Great post as always bexsome!Keep em comming!

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    NightOp is offline Member
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    Kid Shred's Avatar
    Kid Shred is offline Member
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    Fortress of Soltitude,North Pole
    Fuc*ing Great Post Bex!!

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