On the podcast today, I will talk about the different body types and how they respond differently to training and food. Not only to teach you how to identify where you fit on the body type continuum but also to teach you how to adjust your training and nutrition to match your body type.
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies Radio episode number 45
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, online fitness coach, wife, and mom of four. My guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Hey, hey. Hey. Welcome back to another episode of Biceps after Babies radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke and today we're going to get into a little bit about training and about building muscle. We'll talk a little bit about nutrition as well, but this is a topic that I think is not talked about enough in the fitness industry. And I think if you go to most fitness professionals, they have an understanding of this concept. But sometimes that understanding I feel like doesn't get translated to the general masses of population of people. And so that's what I want to do today. I want to talk about different body types and how they respond differently to training and how they respond differently to food. Because so often we just kind of think, oh, there's just one way to train or there's just one way to eat. And that's the way that is going to work for everybody. And that's absolutely not the case, especially when it comes to building muscle. So I want to start off with this question that I get asked a ton and that is Amber, what is the best form of exercise? And everybody wants this, like, you know, magic pill that like, just tell me one thing to do and I'll do it and it's going to transform my body. And I'm a big proponent of weightlifting, like I will forever and always preach weight lifting, especially weight lifting for women. But that being said, it's not a panacea. It's not a one size fits all. It's not like everybody should train the exact same way. So today we're going to talk about how you should take into account the different body types that there are and which you align with and how that's going to translate into what you're doing in the gym. Because the best form of exercise for one person could be absolutely different for another person. Now before we dive into how this relates to weightlifting, I really want to make the point, and I say this a lot to my clients or people who asked me this question, is that the best form of exercise is really just the one you're going to do. So I don't care how optimal your exercise, if you're not actually doing it, then it doesn't make any difference. So I'm a big proponent of if you'd like to run girlfriend, go out there and run. If you like to lift weights and lift weights. If you like Zumba, then do Zumba. Whatever you will consistently do and however you will consistently move your body and enjoy, That's the best type of exercise for you, my friend.
Benefits of Weightlifting: (03:12)
But when we're talking about weightlifting, and again, I'm a big proponent of weightlifting for women and that's for a couple of reasons which let's just take a little, a little sidestep here from the topic at hand and let's talk about why I'm such a big proponent of weightlifting for women. The first reason is is that having muscle mass is an increasing amount of muscle mass that you have on your body is the only way to increase your metabolic rate. So having more muscle mass on your body is going to increase your metabolism. The second reason is once you hit a certain point in your life, you are only going to see your muscle mass go down and or maintain. You can, I guess that's not completely true. Let me back that up a little bit. You can always gain muscle mass, but as you age it gets a lot harder. Okay. You have to put a lot more time and energy, um, into building that muscle to be able to see appreciable muscle gains, which is why when you have somebody who's in their, you know, 70s they can build muscle, but it's going to take a lot longer than somebody who is in their 20s like in your 20s you are primed to be able to grow and to build muscle, not so much in your 70s so one thing that I think a lot of people don't realize is that once you hit a certain age, your body just doesn't respond to training as quickly as when you're at a younger age. And at that point over the years you start to lose muscle mass. Like we see a decrease in the muscle mass on people as they age. And that's one of the reasons that you'll hear people say as you get older, your metabolism slows down. It's really important to understand that your metabolism and age are not the link. It's not just because you have, you gained a year in age that your metabolism goes down. The reason that you see that metabolism decline in a lot of people is simply because they are losing muscle mass. And so yes, as you age you start to lose that muscle mass and that can cause a decline in your metabolism, but it's not just because you got a year older, which means there's things that you can do about that. By strength training early on in your life by continuing it and by even starting it later in life, to be able to halt or slow down, that muscle mass decrease can really put you way ahead in terms of your health and fitness and your longevity and the length that you're going to be able to do things in your life.
I remember when my husband and I were first married and we were hiking in the Grand Canyon. And one of the things that he said to me that one of his goals was to be able to hike in the Grand Canyon when he was 50 or 60, that he wanted to be able to maintain the ability to do things with his body. And that really comes down to for a lot of people, maintaining your strength and building that strength so that as you age and as you even lose some muscle mass, that you still have a really large reservoir of strength and muscle to be able to keep you high functioning and be able to do the things that you want to be able to do in your life. And then the third reason that I love strength training so much, especially for women, and I've said this before, is that it takes the focus off of necessarily what you look like and focuses a lot more on what you can do. So yeah, you can use strength training to be able to focus on aesthetics and do a more of a bodybuilding style where you're trying to grow certain muscles and maintain a certain aesthetic. Absolutely, you can do that. For a lot of women, it's the first time in their life that there can also focus on how much weight they're lifting, seeing the weight go up on their barbell or seeing the weight go up on the dumbbells and they can really focus on, gosh, my body can do so many things and it really takes that emphasis off of what I look like and puts it onto what I can do.
There's no “one-size fits all in exercise/training programs: (07:13)
So yeah, I'm always going to be a big proponent of women lifting weights. I think it is a really important thing, but I think when it comes to weightlifting particularly, and also nutrition, we'll bring nutrition and wrap that into this as well. When we talk about how to set up programming or what type of workouts you should do while you're at the gym and how much cardio versus how much weights. A lot of times people think it is a certain just blanket, everybody should do the same thing and they'll look at people on Instagram. And they'll say, I want to look like a certain woman And so I'm going to go buy her program, right? Like I want to look like her. How do I do that? Okay, I go by this program that she did or that she followed and I followed as well, and then my body will look like hers. And that really is a false idea. And one of the reasons is is because there are different body types and different body types are going to respond to training in different ways. And so you cannot just look at someone and say, okay, what did they do? I want to do that too because they may have a completely different body type than you do and your body's going to respond differently to the training then than theirs does. So by understanding that you can set yourself up for so much more success than just thinking, oh my body is broken because I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing or I'm doing what this person told me to do and my body is not responding in the same way that my friend's is. Or my body is not responding in the same way that they're, you know, someone else's body did. That comes down a lot to the different body types and how they need to be trained differently to be able to get results.
Three Body Types: (08:59)
Let's talk about the different body types. There are three main body types and as I talk and dive into each of one of these, you will likely be able to self identify which one of these sounds like you. However, if you want to take a quiz and have an algorithm tell you which one is you or which one you lean more towards, I've linked up a couple of quizzes on the show notes. So if you go to www.bicepsafterbabies.com/45 that's where the show notes will be. And that's where I'll link up some online quizzes that you can take that will help you to identify which of these body types kind of fits best with you. So let's dive in to the different body types.
Ectomorphs Body Type: (09:49)
We are first going to talk about ectomorphs. And ectomorphs are often taller people and they usually have a thin, wiry build. So they have these like long limbs and smaller sized bones and they're just more like straight up and down, like kind of just like almost like the boy, the boy look where it's just like straight up and down, kind of a flat chest. Um, and they don't have a ton of muscle. And oftentimes in the bodybuilding world, these people are termed hard gainers, meaning it's really hard for them to put on muscle. Like they have to work really hard in the gym and they have to eat a lot of calories in order to put on muscle. Their body just naturally is like a leaner, leaner type. Ectomorphs have really fast metabolisms. So though that friend that you have that can like eat whatever she wants and like never puts on an ounce of weight, oftentimes those are your ectomorphs. They have a very fast metabolism, which for a lot of people are like, “Oh I wish I had that. That's so awesome that you can like eat whatever you want.” But for someone who is an ectomorph and they're trying to put on muscle, it can be really discouraging because they can eat a ton and still only have like small muscle gains. It's just really hard for them to put on muscle. A lot of the people that you tend to see on fitness magazines or even on Instagram and they have that like long lean look. A lot of those people are ectomorphs and so someone who has a different body type looking at an ectomorph and trying to say that they want to look like an ectomorph can be a challenge because it's a very specific body type that ectomorphs have that someone may be on the other spec under the spectrum, the endomorphs which we'll talk about in just a minute, like an endomorph is never gonna look like an ectomorph for like you have a completely different body type, but we're shown pictures a lot in the media and on social and on social media of these of these bodies have these long like lean bodies and we see that kind of as the ideal of what we want to look like. Again though, there's a downside to being an ectomorph in anybody who is actually trying to build muscle who is an ectomorph will tell you that like sometimes you have to down a crazy amount of calories and really hit it hard at the gym to even see any appreciable muscle gain. And so it can be a challenge to put on muscle as an ectomorph and that can be a downside of it. However, they do tend to lose fat a lot easier and that, you know, that fat loss is a little bit easier process for them, but the muscle gain process is a lot harder.
Endomorphs Body Type: (12:33)
So on the other end of the spectrum, I mentioned endomorphs and endomorphs are kind of the exact opposite of the ectomorph. So the ectomorphs are tall and lean and the endomorph tend to hold onto a little bit more fat. They tend to be a little bit softer, a little bit more pear shaped. They tend to gain fat a lot easier. Like they just put on fat. Their body tends to put on fat a lot easier. They have thicker arms, they usually have bigger bones, um, there maybe sometimes like a little bit more like almost like a rounder shape. And they also put on muscle very, very easily. So I know some of you women are out there listening and you're like, yeah, that's me. Like I touch weights and I feel like I just gained muscle very quickly. And that may mean that you are an endomorph so endomorphs gain muscle very quickly, but they also gain fat very quickly. They tend to be very strong. So, um, for some women, like a lot of power lifters tend to be in the more endomorph category because they are very strong. They can put on that muscle, they can lift really, really heavy, heavy weights. This is the type, the body type that we would kind of refer to as like the big build or the stocky. And they just tend to have a little bit slower metabolism, which is why fat loss can be a lot more challenging for endomorphs. Um, and gaining muscle is a lot easier.
Mesomorphs Body Type: (13:58)
So we have ectomorphs on one end of the spectrum. We have endomorphs on the other end of the spectrum. And then the third body type is, is right in the middle. And those are your mesomorphs. Mesomorphs tend to kind of have the best of both worlds. They may put on fat a little bit easier than the ectomorph, but they don't have a super hard time like the endomorph losing fat. So they're able to put on an appreciable bottom muscle and they also don't have quite as hard time as the endomorphs at losing fat. This is a very athletic build. This is what we kind of think of when we think of someone who like looks like an athlete. A lot of bodybuilders are mesomorphs because they are able to gain the muscle that they need to have the look of a bodybuilder. While the same time they're able to lose the fat that they have to to be able to get on the stage and to be stage lean. So mesomorphs tend to kind of gravitate towards that bodybuilding and do well in that bodybuilding world. Whereas ectomorphs have a really hard time building enough muscle and the endomorph have a hard time losing enough fat to get the look of a bodybuilder. Mesomorphs tend to have more of a like a rectangular shaped body. They are also strong because they can put on a good amount of muscle and they are just naturally more athletic. Like that's just kind of an athlete look.
The Body Type Continuum: (15:24)
So as I described each of those different body types, chances are you kind of self identified. You're like, Yep, that's me. I'm like the typical endomorph where I just put on weight really easily and have a hard time, you know, getting it off. Or you know, maybe you're like, oh yeah, that's me total ectomorph like I've been going to the gym forever and I just like, can't even seem to like see any muscles. Um, a lot of women I think tend to just think that they're endomorph so like, because that last maybe a little bit harder for them and you may or may not be an endomorph. Um, but I think a lot of women are like, yeah, fat loss is super hard for me. So then they automatically put themselves in the endomorphs. It is a lot about your body structure and the way that your body looks. Um, and an endomorph is naturally going to be a little bit more round and no more if it's going to be a little bit bigger boned or a little bit stouter. Um, whereas that ectomorph is um, kind of exact opposite like the tall linky type of look. So you probably self identified and it's really important to say, it's not like you are just an ectomorph and nothing else. There can be some wiggle room, right? Like you may be more of an endomorph but have some of the mesomorph properties as well. So it's, it's really kind of a continuum. Not necessarily like you are an ectomorph and that's all you are. There definitely is a continuum with this and your body may fit more towards one side or the other or you may be more in the middle. And it's not like this is something that kind of, you know, you are what you are in excludes all the other stuff. So as I kind of talk about how we take this information and then apply it to our training and our nutrition, just understand that that while you may gravitate towards one side or the other, that this is a continuum. It's not like a, once you are an ectomorph, nothing of the endomorph applies to you. You may have a little bit of both into you.
Ectomorph Training and Nutrition: (17:15)
So when it comes first to ectomorphs, they really need, I kinda talked about this before, but they really need a lot of calories. If they're trying to build muscle, they gotta get high calories. And specifically high carbs. Like it's not unusual to talk to an ectomorph who's trying to gain muscle, who's eating three, four – If they're a guy – maybe 500 carbs a day. they just need a lot of fuel and a lot of calories to be able to spawn that muscle growth. So they tend to have higher carbs. They tend to eat a lot more and have to eat a lot more in order to, um, see any muscle gain. Ectomorphs tend to need to do less cardio because cardio is catabolic, meaning it breaks down muscle tissue for those ectomorphs who are trying to build muscle and man, you want to hold on to every bit of muscle that you can get. And so typically ectomorphs will do a lot less cardio and a lot more weights. They just have to hit the weights really, really hard and really pull back on that cardio so that they aren't losing all the progress that they're making with their weightlifting.
Endomorphs Training and Nutrition: (18:23)
Now on the other side of the spectrum, we have our endomorphs and these are the people who have a hard time losing fat and a really easy time gaining muscle. They will typically need to do more cardio than an ectomorph. Uh, they will have to, you know, still do weights. Weights is still important for endomorph, so it's not like you shouldn't do any weights. It's still an important part of your training regimen, but you will tend to want to do more cardio because that will help with the fat gain and helping to keep you a little bit leaner as you're gaining that muscle. And that doesn't mean that you need to get on the treadmill and you need to run, you know, 10 miles every day. Um, in fact, doing HIIT training is going to be very helpful for you to be able to continue to get that after-burn effect that comes from high intensity interval training. But just know, if you're an endomorph, you are going to need to do more cardio. However, and I'm going to say it again because what I see a lot of women do is they just do cardio, right? They're like, I'm an endomorph, I have a hard time losing fat. And so I'm not going to even like touch weights. I'm just going to do cardio. And that's going to backfire on you on the long run. You do still need to be doing weights. You do want to be building that muscle mass. You do want to have that strength, but you will do more cardio than an ectomorph will do.
Another thing about the endomorph is that they tend to do better on lower carb. Um, and this is, you know, kind of sad for some people. They want to be able to eat all the carbs. But if you know yourself and you're like, mm, I'm kinda sensitive to carbs, I tend to do better on low carbs, you may be an endomorph because that's a very common, very common thing with endomorph is that they tend to do a little bit better on lower carb. Also really important to talk about with the endomorph, you cannot spot reduce. So while the endomorph may have, you know, more leg fat or more abdominal fat, you can't spot reduce anything. So if you're an endomorph, don't go into the gym doing crunches, thinking that you're going to like whittle down your midsection or don't go, you know, doing specific leg exercises, thinking you're going to whittle down your legs. Spot reduction doesn't work. It doesn't happen. It's not a thing. And all you can do is have overall fat loss. And so by setting your macros appropriately for fat loss, taking into consideration that maybe you might do better on a little bit lower carb. We're not talking about Keto here, we're not talking about like 20 grams of carbs a day. I'm just saying in the overall picture, maybe having a little bit less carbs than maybe somebody else and making sure you structure your workout so that you are having some cardio in addition to your weights.
Mesomorph Training and Nutrition: (20:55)
And then the last in the middle there we have the mesomorph. And the mesomorph, you know, kind of does well with both. Like yeah, they're going to need some cardio, probably a little bit more than the ectomorph but maybe not as much as the endomorph. They're going to respond very well to training, so they're going to be pretty athletic in the gym with like being able to put on muscle and having that balance between the cardio and and and weightlifting will be important for them. So if you kind of thinking of it again on a spectrum over on one side, you have the ectomorphs who really need low cardio and a lot of weights. The endomorphs on the other end who need maybe just some weights and, and a little bit more cardio. And then the mesomorph is somewhere in the middle, kind of has the best of both worlds. And a lot of people just kind of wish that they were mesomorphs. And it Kinda is that, that in between, uh, best of both worlds. But, and let me stress this, just because you're an endomorph does not mean that you can't lose fat. And just because you are an ectomorph does not mean that you cannot gain an appreciable amount of muscle. This is not like a predestined world for you because based on your, your body type. What this does for you is if you understand this, then you can train smarter and you can train for your body type and you can eat for your body type. And you can understand that when you go on Instagram and you see someone who's an ectomorph that you're, and you're an Endomorph, like you're probably not going to look exactly like that person. And just understanding that can, you can give yourself a little bit of grace of being like, you know what, I'm an endomorph and I can work with my body and I can work to, you know, be my best and look my best and feel my best. But making sure you're not comparing your bodily type to another person's body type because they're going to be very different and you're going to need to train them differently.
The Comparison Game: (22:46)
Okay. So that is the three different body types. You have your ectomorphs, you have your endomorph and you have your mesomorphs. And each of them is not good or bad. It just is and needs to be trained differently in the gym and may have some different nutritional needs to be able to hit the goals that you want to hit. So I hope this was helpful. I hope that you are able to pick out some things from this that I was going to help you in the gym that's going to help you in your nutrition and that's going to help you as you're going around in comparing yourself to everybody else, which we're not supposed to do, but you tend to do anyway. Even if people tell you you're not supposed to do it. Understanding this is huge because it really can help you to take a step back and understand that our bodies look different a lot because we have different body types and you can do the exact same program as your best friend and have completely different results because you may have completely different body types. And the that your body has may be a little bit different than your friend's. And I think just understanding that while you're in the fitness space can keep you away from a lot of heartache and a lot of like comparisonitis and a lot of like, why is this not working the same for me? What's wrong with me?
Speaking of which, can we just say really quickly, this is something that us as women I think do a lot of, and I really want to try to make you aware of this. This has nothing to do with body, well maybe a little bit to do with body type, but this is just one of my biggest beef when it comes to women is that when we see a difference between us and maybe another person. So often we go internally. We say what's wrong with me? Or if we go into a program and it doesn't work, we end up coming inside and we say, what's wrong with me? Like why, why, why am I bad? Why am I not as good as somebody else? Um, I see this a lot with people who go to like different macro coaches and the macro coach maybe isn't like super responsive to them and doesn't answer their questions or whatever. And then they're like, oh, it was my fault. It was my fault. Like I should, you know, I didn't do something. Or like, you know, whatever. This like drives me crazy that we always blame ourselves. And I'm all for taking responsibility. Like you'll hear me talk time and time again about taking responsibility for things because the moment you take responsibility in your life is the moment you see you are in control of changing your life. And I absolutely believe that. But I think as women we tend to go way too far to one side and we always look internally and think that there's something wrong with us rather than understanding that you know what? Like it may just be that you have a different body type than your friend. It may mean that you know that program wasn't set right for you and your body type. And so I think bringing this, you know, full circle to the topic at hand, understanding this background and understanding your body type can help with recognizing that, girlfriend, there's nothing wrong with you. Like you may just be an endomorph and that's just the way that you are.
Now on the flip side, I also don't want you to walk away from this podcast being like um, I'm just an endomorph. Like there's nothing I can do about it. And it's just, it is what it is and I'm never going to look the way that I will look because I'm an endomorph. Okay. That's just as bad as the flip side of of setting limits for yourself based on your body type. Are there bodybuilders who are endomorphs? Absolutely. Are there bodybuilders who are ectomoprhs? Absolutely. Are there people who are able to lose fat and maintain it? Who are endomorphs 100%. Okay, so don't let a label tell you what you can and can't do. Use this label to be able to help you to reach your goals, not to give you a ceiling of what's possible. Okay. I really want to make that clear. I think sometimes we use labels to keep ourselves stuck. We say I'm an endomorph, I'm never gonna, I'm never going to lose these 20 pounds. I'm an endomorph. Like that's just who I am. Or you know, I'm an ectomorph and there's no way I'm gonna ever get a 200 pound squat cause I'm an ectomorph. I want you to use these labels to help you reach your goals Smart, in a smart way. And not to set artificial limits for yourself and use it as a crutch because I see that a lot too in women as we try to use these things as crutches and we say, I can't do this because x, Y and Z. And you placing those limits on yourself is going to keep you stuck and it's going to keep you in your little box that you're in right now. And so often we can't break through this little box only because we have set the limit on ourselves. We have said because of of something it means I am not able to achieve. Because I'm an endomorph It means I'm not able to, you know, hit the body fat percentage that I want. And I want you to understand you can do whatever you set your mind to, girlfriend. You do it smart, you use the knowledge, you need to be able to set the goals in a way that's going to be effective for you. But don't let labels keep you from your goals.
That wraps up this episode of Biceps after Babies radio. I'm Amber. Now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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