Best Workouts for Your Body Type

You’ve signed up for the gym, but now what? Your most efficient and effective exercises are based on your body type.Whether you’re a skinny-winny ectomorph, a fit and firm mesomorph or a soft and feminine endomorph, there are workouts that work best for your body type.Your first move? Stop nitpicking. No matter your body type, approaching your workout with a positive mindset is the best way to get the body you want.

QUIZ: What’s Your Body Type?

Start by setting personal goals. Focus on your favorite features. “Think about what you love, and accentuate that,” suggests Katrina Hodgson, personal trainer and co-creator of ToneItUp.com. “Work your curves. If you think you have a big butt, work that even more so it’s more sculpted.”The right workout helps you feel comfortable and confident in your body. Read on to find specific tips for your body type.

Patrick Lane/ScEyence StudiosAn ectomorph somatotype

Exercises for Ectomorph Body Types

Ectos tend to be tall, with slender limbs, and little excess fat. They can eat everything but the kitchen sink without seeing an extra pound (so unfair!), but neglecting proper nutrition and exercise is often their biggest pitfall. If ectos don’t take care of their bodies, they can become “skinny-fat,” meaning most of their body mass is fat—even if there’s not much there!

Common complaint: Ectos are often worried that exercise will make them too skinny (oh, to have that problem). Actually, building muscle tone will give your body shape and substance, even if you’re slim.Best asset: Your body has very little fat, so if you stick to a strength-training routine, you’ll see big rewards as muscle tone develops.

Nutrition tip: “Complete meals with a carb, fat, and protein are best,” suggests Melissa Groeger, a personal trainer in New York City. To repair muscle, grab a quick protein fix right after you work out. Snack on walnuts, a cheese stick or edamame to help your muscles recover.

MORE: Somatotypes and Body Type Guide

Best cardio exercise: Ectos are built for cardio (long distance running is your forte), but too much cardio makes it impossible for you to keep any meat on your bones. “Avoid long runs if you want to add muscle tone,” suggests Hodgson. “They’ll just make you smaller and leaner.” Instead, try a spinning class or high-intensity interval training—short bursts of speed with cool-down walks in between.

Best strength training exercise: Ectos tend to have trouble building muscle mass, so strength training is your top priority. For each strength training exercise, do three sets of 10-12 reps. To gain muscle tone, use a weight that makes you max out at the last two reps. “You can also try pyramid training,” says Hodgson. “Choose heavier weights for the first two sets—with the second set heavier than the first—then drop down to a lighter weight for the last set.” If you ever hit a wall before the last two reps, “drop” the set (meaning switch to a lighter weight to complete the set).

Best stretching maneuver: Strength training can tighten your muscles, so make sure to balance your body by stretching regularly. You can try Pilates or yoga, or a simple five-minute stretch before and after your workout.

Patrick Lane/ScEyence StudiosA mesomorph somatotype

Exercises for Mesomorph Body Types

Mesos are all muscle—when they’re fit, at least. They lose weight and build muscle easily, so they tend to be pretty buff broads. However, they also gain weight easily, so their biggest pitfall is that their weight can fluctuate often. They tend to maintain good muscle tone, so it can be easy to go awhile without working out. To really stay healthy and fit, mesos need to keep at it.

Common complaint: Mesos are often worried about getting too bulky. Stretching will help lengthen muscles, making your body appear slimmer and taller—not bulky at all!Best asset: You lose fat and build muscle quickly, so you’ll see great muscle tone in little time.

Nutrition tip: “Muscles store glycogen from carbohydrates, which can make you look bloated,” Hodgson explains. “Focus your diet on lean proteins and vegetables, especially in the evenings. If you add a starch, use quinoa, which is technically a complete protein, not a grain.”

Best cardio exercise: Mesos sometimes struggle with cardio (they’re built for heavy lifting), but incorporating it into your workout is important for heart health. “High-intensity interval training—short bursts of speed with cool-down walks in between—is most efficient,” says Hodgson. “Aim for about twenty minutes of cardio, if you can maintain it.” But avoid going overboard on cardio. You’ll just burn off muscle.

Best strength training exercise: Work your whole body to create balance. Over-working one area can lead to uneven muscle tone, especially since you bulk up easily. “It’s easy for mesos to over-train,” says Groeger. “Make sure to allow enough time for proper recovery between sets and workouts.” For each exercise, do four sets of 15-20 reps, using the same weight for each set. Choose a weight with some resistance, but not heavy enough that your muscles max out by the end of the set. Allow your body one to two minutes of rest between sets.

Best stretching maneuver: You build muscle quickly, so your muscles can get really tight. Stretching will help you avoid injury by increasing your flexibility. If your shoulders and back are tight, then stretching will relax the muscles, allowing you to stand up straighter. “You’ll appear taller and leaner when your posture improves,” says Hodgson.

Patrick Lane/ScEyence StudiosAn endomorph somatotype

Exercises for Endomorph Body Types

Endos are soft and feminine. Many women are endomorphs (no surprise there), meaning they gain fat easily and struggle to build muscle. That makes sense: From an evolutionary perspective, women need fat stores for pregnancy and nursing. But in the modern era, it can be frustrating. Endos achieve the best results when they aim for a healthy weight range and commit to daily physical activity.

Common complaint: Endos often say they don’t want to pump up their legs; they only want to shed pounds in their bellies. Unfortunately, losing weight doesn’t work that way. Our genes determine our weight loss patterns, but building muscle tone in certain areas can help shape your body once the weight is off.

Best asset: You have strong, powerful legs that become fat-burning machines as you strengthen them.Nutrition tip: “Endos gain weight easily, so aim to eat fewer fats and carbs,” suggests Groeger. Naturally low-fat foods that fill you up include lean meats, beans and egg whites.

Best cardio exercise: Burning fat is harder for your body type, so you may want to spend more time on fat-blasting cardio exercises.  “Long-term endurance training can be a great way to burn fat,” says Hodgson. Whether you prefer running, spinning, biking or elliptical, “cardio training should be present and regular,” says Groeger. “At least 30-40 minutes, several days a week.” Start at a level that feels comfortable now and challenge yourself to go further as your fitness improves.

Best strength training exercise: OK, we know you don’t want bigger legs. “But think of it this way,” Hodgson says. “Your legs, glutes and back are the biggest muscles in your body, so they burn the most calories per day.” Working those muscles will boost your metabolism and help you burn fat. With a little legwork, you’ll be slimmer all over.

Best stretching maneuver: Mixing up your routine will ensure that your body is well-balanced. Since your body type struggles to build muscle, stretching exercises that also strengthen are best for you. “Pilates and yoga are both great choices,” says Hodgson.

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