With continual trips to the gym, Lyn Boodman thought she was doing everything right. But in her forties, the weight piled on her 5’7” frame until she sought the help of a personal trainer. Rather than prescribe a one-size-fits-all exercise regimen, Stacy Rae Mednick of Body Techniques in Huntington Beach, Calif. educated Boodman about how to work out for her body type.
“I discovered that I had been working out completely wrong for my body type,” says Boodman. “Once I understood and accepted my type and began exercising according to its needs, I lost 30 pounds. Now at 47, I’ve never felt or looked healthier or more attractive.”
All women are different, right? Seems like a no brainer. Unfortunately, thanks to the messages that bombard us every day, many women instinctively fight rather than embrace their genetic structure, says Mednick, author of Stacy Rae Mednick’s Mid-Life Workout System™ Feeling Fit & Fabulous at 40 and Beyond. “On television, in magazines and through conversations, we receive visual and auditory signals of how we should look. Razor-thin super models and certain celebrities are more than famous – they have somehow managed to become our barometer for physical appearance.”
The truth is there are four basic body types, and while most women are born with characteristics from each, usually one of the types prevails.
Think Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift and Michelle Obama. This body type features a long rectangular, angular shape resembling a banana. Ectomorphs are usually small-chested with slender hips and limbs that are longer than the torso. This body type is built for speed and endurance and tends towards low body fat and little muscle on the limbs and trunk.
Cindy Crawford, Mariah Carey and Pink fit this type. Naturally athletic, mesomorphs have the most muscle of the body types and an average to large bone structure. They resemble an apple, with the shoulders often broader than the hips and the chest dominant over the stomach.
Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Kelly Clarkson are in this group. Such types are pear-shaped with an indented waistline and a soft upper body and round, cushioned shoulders. Endomorphs usually have shorter arms and legs relative to their trunk and their muscles are not well defined. They look bottom-heavy when overweight.
Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah share this body type. Combining the muscle of the mesomorph and the curves of the endomorph, the apple/pear-shaped meso-endo has fairly broad shoulders with a large chest and relatively solid lower body. This type has strong bones and good muscle tone, although they tend to have a higher body fat percentage than mesomorphs.
The following mini-tests give you an idea of your probable type, while Mednick’s book and website have more extensive tests.
Circle your wrist with your forefinger and thumb:
Measure your waistline where the natural curve goes inward:
With this body type you have to work hard to add and maintain muscle, but results are easily achieved. The workout plan for this body type is strength training 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes and cardiovascular exercise 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Good strength-training exercises include squats, lunges, leg presses (moderate to high resistance) hand and ankle weights, push-ups, chin-ups, pull-ups and dips.
As a mesomorph, your main objective is to enhance your hereditary gift of muscles while decreasing the body fat that surrounds them. The workout plan for an overweight mesomorph is cardio training 4-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes and strength training for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Mesomorphs not requiring weight loss can do cardio 30-45 minutes, 3-4 times per week. Good strength-training exercises include lunges, squats, leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, upper and lower body crunches and dead lifts.
Many endomorphs make the mistake of training their lower body and neglecting their upper body, producing an even more bottom-heavy look. By strengthening the upper body 3 days a week for 30 minutes using light to moderate resistance and higher repetitions, you can get a more symmetrical look. Do 4-6 cardio sessions a week for 45-60 minutes at a time. Avoid cardio exercises that bulk up the lower body such as the stair master, step classes and treadmill walking with incline.
With this combination body type, you want to train like a mesomorph to gain lean muscle mass, while also working on symmetry by concentrating on your back, chest and biceps. Do strength training 3 days a week for 30 minutes and low- to moderate-intensity cardio 4-7 days a week. Avoid bulking up your lower body by staying away from exercises such as step classes, spinning, high impact aerobics and stepper/stair climbers with resistance.
Once you know your body type, you can set realistic goals to achieve a body image within your reach and look and feel better than you ever imagined.
A body type that features a long rectangular, angular shape with small chest, slender hips, and long limbs resembling a banana.
A body type that is naturally athletic with broader shoulders than hips and chest dominant over stomach resembling an apple shape.
A body type that features an indented waistline, soft upper body, and shorter arms and legs with a shape resembling a pear.
A body type that combines the muscle of the mesomorph and the curves of the endomorph with a shape resembling an hourglass.
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