The problem with the majority of exercise programs is they all claim their way is the end-all-be-all to get the body you want. With all of the programs out there, have you ever wondered why some of them work better than others? With everyone’s body being so unique, how is it possible that one way will work for everyone? Everyone’s body is different, and everyone has different goals. Some goals are more similar than others, but there are always minor differences between lifters’ goals. Before you can understand what routine is best for you, it first is important to understand your body type. I’m not here to give you the ultimate workout, but my goal is to make it simpler for you to give yourself your own ultimate workout to get the results you want faster than ever. Understand your body type, and then you’ll be able to tailor a workout to the results you desire. Most fitness programs are made to give readers a recipe for success. They say by doing x, you’ll get y. So why is that? Does it matter, not only what we do, but how we do it? One of the best feelings I have with my workouts is when I learn a new exercise that works better than a previous one. Everyone is looking for what works and every workout, program, schedule, or diet regimen all state the same thing, “It works!” However, when you try it, you either do not think it’s working for you, or you simply don’t fancy it. I’m here to tell you that these programs are not necessarily wrong, and neither are you! So, this is not so much of a workout program, but more importantly an informative experience on how to get the body you want with the body you are given. I will share my own experiences with experimenting through different exercises and the routine I currently do to inspire you to come up with your own ultimate workout.
Another major pitfall almost every exercise program makes is they do not take your body into account. Unless you have an effective personal trainer that works closely with you to understand your body and goals, chances are you are picking routines off the internet that were not necessarily drawn up for you. Never will you ever read a fitness article where it talks about the importance of your genetic makeup. Why is that? Well if I told you that your body completely relies on your genes as opposed to the actual exercises you do, that would not sell very well. Yes, genetic makeup is a critical piece to the way your body looks and performs, but there are several ways around this. If you were born with a great body and could have a six pack no matter your diet, then hats off to you. For the remaining 98% of us, we have to do the best with what we have. It may take more effort in the gym and kitchen than that other 2%, but that is just the way it goes. In fact, learning how you can control your body now will set you up better health wise for the future. Learning how to implement sustainable habits now will benefit you later when your metabolism slows and your body’s well-being becomes more critical. This transition will be exponentially easier with the tools you learn through this journey. Do not think that there is no hope for you if you are not one of the lucky ones! Be proud of what and who you are and get excited that there are options for you. Accept your body, now let’s get to work.
Your DNA is important. Some people luck out and some people get stuck in the shallow end of the gene pool. That’s OK. Understanding your body’s genetic make-up will give you the tools to not only compete with those born with great genes, but also able you to surpass them. Yes, pedigree is important. There is a reason horse breading is such a big business. Horse owners pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to bread from the very best horses to race. The better the genes, the better odds the horse will be a winner. Taking this all into account, how can we work with the genes we have to find that sweet spot for our workout routine?
The first step is to understand your body. Although there are countless different body types out there, I am going to use three generalized examples for simplicity reasons. You may fit directly into one of these categories or you may have characteristics from more than one, which is completely normal.
The first category is the Ectomorph type. For this body, think marathon runner. This body is very lean with difficulty putting on weight. Those with this body will lack explosiveness. However, they perform better under endurance workouts. Therefore, it is more important to try and incorporate workouts with high weight and low reps in the beginning. Towards the end of the workout session, you should be doing medium weight and medium reps while focusing on controlling the weight. Also, holding the weight at the peak of each rep for a second before bringing the weight down slowly is important and will help fast-track results. Then plug some cardio into the workout at the end or beginning, whichever you prefer. Doing it in the beginning is a nice warm up, while saving it for later helps your body filter out lactic acid buildup. But it really comes down to your preference.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Mesomorph. For this body, I want you to think NFL linemen. This body builds mass very easily and will perform best under explosive workouts. Mesomorphs will usually be more robust and as a result it is more difficult for this body to lose weight. Consequently, those of you with this body type will need to do more cardio than the other body types. For people with this body, you will want to incorporate a hybrid type of workout. This body should focus on compound movements and using heavy weight and low reps in the beginning of the workout. As the workout goes on, go to medium weight and medium reps. On your last exercise, you should take this further and be doing low weight and high reps while controlling the weight, going very slow, and squeezing at the peak of each rep. The biggest difference between ectomorph and endomorph is the amount of cardio. Now it is not drastically different, but mesomorphs will require more cardio due to their bodies great ability to store fat and build muscle.
And lastly there is Endomorph. This body type is a mixture of the two and falls right in the middle. There is typically more variation with this category because it will have aspects from both body types. With that being said, this body type is usually bigger, more athletic, and weight can fluctuate easily depending on diet and exercise. For this body type, you will have to do more cardio than those with an ectomorph body. You should also shy away from isolation and focus more on compound movements to incorporate more than one muscle at a time. This body can store fat easily as well, so doing higher reps will help you tone up. My big suggestion is to add in calisthenics that use your body weight like pullups and pushups. Also, make time for those heavy weight and low rep exercise in the beginning of your workout.
You may be seeing a lot of similarities between the three body types in terms of what you should be doing, and you are right. However, no matter your body type, having a workout that starts off with high weight and low reps that works down to low weight and higher reps is a great start to your dream body. This is a hybrid type of workout, giving your body the variety it craves. This is a very solid initial routine to start from. All three body types that I listed use this as a baseline, but have tweaks in it depending on what the needs of each body type are. I have found a lot of success in this type of workout as well as seen others conquer their goals. The biggest difference between the body types is how the cardio required and how much you should focus on the heavier weight versus the higher reps. Even with this difference, the three types of workouts still follow this common hybrid blueprint. Doing this will not only give you a body you will like, but also a more athletic body and higher performing body because of the variety of movement and weights.
Below is a rough description of the workout I’ve been following for about almost 2 years now and I love the results. Understand that my workouts are constantly changing by adding new workouts, but the structure of how I go about my routine has not changed. Lately I have been pushing more towards a sustainable workout that I will be able to do for the next 15 years or so. This type of workout allows me to be efficient with my time at the gym while still seeing the results I want. In addition, this workout has given me more athleticism which I can see and feel while playing sports. After looking it over, you will notice it is broken into a 4-day rotation that can be done any time during the week. Use this to go to the gym 3-5 times a week. You will notice Day 1 looks a lot more intense compared to Day 2 and 3. That is because I have left room for your own exercises. For example, I do not focus on arms because having big arms is not the look I am going for. Arms are included in almost every upper body workout anyways. However, you may feel the need to add in several arm exercises. If that is the case, I would put bicep curls and tricep extensions at the end of Day 2 or 3. You may also want to add more legs and this would also be the time to add that. I would suggest squats as a compound movement exercise or leg extensions/curls for concentration. For me, I utilize that time to get in cardio by doing some sort of sport or running. Day 4 is dedicated to cardio. This is up to you as well, but find an enjoyable way to get a good sweat. For me, I like to go on a long run, play basketball, or racquetball for my Day 4. I also like to run a quick mile or two as a warmup before my workouts to keep my cardio levels high and get a sweat started.
If you’re looking for ways to take this draft up a level, I would highly suggest getting familiar with deadlifts. I was never originally concerned about Olympic lifts, but lately I have been falling in love with deadlifts and have seen some amazing results. IMPORTANT: Do not do heavy weight without learning proper form. When I started out deadlifting, I did not have the greatest form. I was familiar with it from seeing guys at the gym but knew that if I wanted to go heavy I would need to learn how to pick up the weight without hurting myself. Find a reliable friend or trainer who knows his or her stuff. This is the best way to learn, which is by asking questions. Since I learned how to properly deadlift, my body feels less stress on it and the weight I have been doing has been going up rather quickly. However, it would be smart not to go up too quickly. Taking your time to master each weight will only make you better off with your form and the weight you are able to do in the future.
I have not mentioned one of the biggest variables involved with changing your body. So, last but not least, here is my take on diet. Although my philosophy on diet is fairly brief and simple, it should not be taken lightly. Getting comfortable with productive diet habits now will only make your life easier down the road and give you better results quicker. So here it is. Stick with foods that have had a lifespan at some point. For those who are trying to gain weight, high carbs and high protein is your answer, and of course a hefty serving of something green on the side. For those who are trying to lose weight, cut back on the carbs and fill that space up with vegetables.
There you have it. I hope this article motivates you as much as it has motivated me while writing it. This was by no means an article that tells you what to do in the gym. My objective was to get you to understand that knowing your body type and how it reacts to certain exercises is the golden ticket to get you to where you want to be with your body. Ask questions and try new things in the gym. Do not be ashamed of the body you have. Be excited that you now have the tools to control how you look and feel. Hope this helps.