How do you find the right exercise? Do you answer quizzes in magazines? Do you observe others in the gym? Do you listen to your best friend and try to mimic her or his workout? Do you try the latest crazes?
Has anything worked?
I subscribe to the simple idea of body type. Think about it: Are you a banana, apple or pear? All three types have their own characteristics, which include body fat and muscle. Your body type is determined genetically and can truly be enhanced by your workout type!
The banana (or ectomorph) is characterized by higher body fat and has a difficult time building muscle. They generally have long limbs, long feet and fingers, and do not gain weight easily. This type is considered “skinny”—and oftentimes too skinny.
We see many of them running long-distance races, which unfortunately, only enhances their body type. I recommend resistance training programs for the banana to build muscle mass and create strong bones, since this body type is prone to osteoporosis. The banana should cut down on their cardio to build muscle and may create more curves by swimming by using water as resistance.
The apple (mesomorph) is characterized by an upside down triangle shape. We see these kind of “fit” folks in Southern California. They are generally more lean and muscular, although if they do gain weight, it is in their upper body. A common belief is that mesomorphs have it made—with strong and athletic builds, although, women especially, find themselves being too bulky too easily.
I recommend a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight training for the mesomorph, to maintain a combination of lean muscle mass and body fat. The mesomorph is also able to keep their muscles longer and less bulky by adding yoga or pilates into their program. The combination of movement, posture and breath control in these two types of exercise can create a less bulky look.
The pear (endomorph) is characterized by a smaller upper body and more curves or body fat around the hips and upper thighs. This type has strong legs and a smaller, less muscular upper body. You will find most women and some men fall into this body type. While endomorphs have a harder time than other body types losing fat, in even the most extreme cases, they can be as fit as other body types.
For pears, who often carry extra fat around the lower abdomen, hips and thighs, the key is to start a program that burns calories instead of strength training. The extra weight they carry can create increased pressure on such lower joints as knees, hips and feet—so it is important for pears to avoid engaging in exercises that can add stress to these areas.
This means trading high-impact exercises (like tennis, jumping rope or other activities that involve intense and repetitive movements) for low-impact cardio workouts like walking or biking. Light-weight training is also important to increase mid- and upper-back strength.
The most important aspect of an effective exercise program is to find the ideal that is right for you, mentally and physically. By finding the appropriate exercises for your body type, you will achieve your desired goals faster and you will find yourself motivated to stick with it... for a lifetime!