A few months ago, I wrote an article about discovering the best exercise to complement your personality. And now it’s time to perfect your workout routine even more by picking the right one for your body type.
When I was in college, my friend and I gained the freshman 15—and then some. So we made a pact to become workout buddies and hold each other accountable. We did the same workouts and followed the same diet for months. Yet, I noticed her body was transforming much differently than mine. She lost more weight, gained more muscle, and the only gain I was seeing was bigger thighs and more energy.
Has this ever happened to you? Or have you ever noticed that one type of exercise gives you a better result than others? Well, whether you like it or not, it’s determined by your genetics. That’s right. How your body responds to certain exercises is mostly due to good ol’ family genes.
There are three technical names for different body types: ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs. An ectomorph is someone with a thin, delicate frame with a fast metabolism and usually has a hard time gaining weight. Mesomorphs typically have some muscle and can gain more quickly—they have a strong, athletic build and rectangular shape. Endomorphs tend to be softer, more round, have a slower metabolism, and can gain weight easily.
Yet in my experience of training clients, most have a combination of different body types, which makes it hard to determine what type of workout is best. As silly as it is, the simple yet common description of body types—apple, pear, and string bean—is the best way to figure out what form of exercise will be most effective for you. Remember that although genetics play a huge part, ultimately it’s your healthy choices that determine whether or not you become the best version of you. So learn to love your genetics, and work with them, not against them!
Here's how to figure out your type and adjust your workouts accordingly.
Pear shapes (like me!) tend to be bigger in the thighs, butt, and stomach area, with a smaller upper body. While they might train hard, it can be difficult to get definition, especially in the upper body. They can easily gain weight and usually have slower metabolisms. Typically pear shapes are most interested in losing weight in the lower half of their bodies.
Fitness recommendations: Work multiple muscles (both legs and arms). Do cardio for 30 minutes three times a week, and include weight training, too. Try doing exercises back-to-back with little rest in between. Though pear shapes tend to focus on their lower halves, they need to also work the upper body regularly to build muscle and help create the illusion of smaller hips and thighs.
Apple shapes carry more weight around the mid-section; some "apples" have large chests, flat backsides, or soft arms.
Fitness recommendations: Apple shapes should focus on varied compound exercises, or strength training moves. In other words, it's important to do different exercises that target the same muscle. Make sure to switch up the exercises regularly to keep your body guessing and burning fat. Most apple shapes tend to focus on the midsection, but to keep the body proportionate, it's also important to work the arms and lower body. It's best to keep the rest time between exercises minimal to ramp up the heart rate, and add more cardio to keep the weight off at the middle. Try 40–60 minutes of moderate cardio up to five times a week.
String beans have faster metabolisms, are long, lean, and have a hard time gaining weight or muscle.
Fitness recommendations: When strength training, use heavier weights but do fewer reps to help gain definition. While cardio is always important for any body type, string beans have higher metabolisms, so it’s recommended to do less cardio, and more weight and strength training.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.