Women come in all different shapes and sizes, which makes each of us special and unique. According to a popular school of thought, there are three main body types—or somatotypes—that most women fit into. Here’s an overview of these three types and how they can give you a framework to help you plan your exercise and diet plan.
Overview of body types (somatotypes)
The three main body types are ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. William H. Sheldon, PhD, MD, first introduced these body types, and doctors, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists have been using them to describe men’s and women’s bodies ever since. Here are the three different body types for women:
Ectomorphs are naturally long/tall and thin. They have low body fat and little muscle tissue and may have a hard time gaining weight. Ectomorphs tend to be narrow-chested with more of a rectangular frame.
Mesomorphs are more muscular, with a medium-sized frame. Neither underweight nor overweight, mesomorphs can usually gain or lose weight without too much effort. They are solid, athletic, and strong.
Endomorphs have the most body fat and are the curviest of the three body types. They put on weight readily and can build muscle more easily than ectomorphs.
Are body classifications valid?
The problem with the ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph body types for women is that not all women or men) fit neatly into one of the classifications. These body types are generalizations - some women have “hybrid” body types, meaning they are a blend of two of the three somatotypes. While not every woman fits the description of ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph, these somatotypes provide a framework women can use to identify their body type and tailor their exercise and eating plans accordingly.
Working out for your body type
Identifying your body type—or the body type you feel most closely describes you—can help you tailor your exercise routine. Here’s an overview of the best ectomorph workout, endomorph workout, and mesomorph workout:
Ectomorph workout: The primary goal for an ectomorph is to get stronger. Therefore, the best ectomorph workout focuses on strength training and puts less emphasis on cardiovascular exercise.
Mesomorph workout: Mesomorphs are the most naturally athletic of the somatotypes, so a workout routine that incorporates a balance of strength training and cardio is the best combination for this body type.
Endomorph workout: Because they have a higher body fat percentage, endomorphs should focus most on cardiovascular exercise in the gym. They should couple cardio with strength training to increase muscle tone and boost metabolism.
Targeting your full body workout to your body type can be beneficial, but it shouldn’t limit you or make you feel restricted. Ultimately, you want to engage in a workout that feels good and that you will stick to, and one that also combines strength training and cardio. Always keep the following tips in mind as you go through your workout routine:
Don’t limit yourself in your workouts
Always work out safely
If you feel any discomfort, stop what you are doing and seek professional advice
Eating for your body type
Just like there are guidelines for the best workouts for the different body types for women, there are eating tips as well. Body-type eating plans can help you determine your optimum nutrient intake and better understand your dieting potential. Your Curves Coach can help you develop the best healthy eating plan for you.
In general, here’s how the three body types should eat:
Ectomorphs should focus on getting enough calories through a combination of healthy carbohydrates and high levels of protein.
A mesomorph who wants to lose weight should decrease daily calories to create a small calorie deficit. If they want to gain muscle with strength training, they should up their protein intake.
The best nutritional plan for endomorphs is one that is lower in calories and higher in protein.
Most foods in diets for body types are similar—whole grain, lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. The differences lie in the ratios of macronutrients for each. A body-type diet can help you get an idea of the best eating plan for you, but it shouldn’t be too restrictive or difficult to follow.
Overall, whether you are just starting a full body workout or healthy eating plan, or you want to tweak your current plan to make it more specific to you, your body type can give you a starting point and some loose guidelines with which to follow. At the end of the day, your lifestyle will determine the results you get from your full-body workout at Curves and your healthy eating plan.
The Curves circuit combines elements of strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to deliver a full-body workout that’s suitable for all women, regardless of body type. Learn more about Curves women’s exercise programs that are available in-club or at home so you can work out wherever and whenever it suits you.