The first step is to assess your present shape. Take a good look in the mirror. What do you see? A thin, long-limbed frame that could use some flattering curves? A soft round body with more body fat than you’d like? Or a figure that’s naturally muscular and athletic-looking? These are descriptions of the three basic bodytypes (also called somatypes): ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph.
Ectomorphy refers to the degree of thinness a physique has. If your body is ectomorphic, you tend to be slender, with small bones, long limbs, and little muscle or bodyfat. What’s more, you probably have a fast metabolism and rarely put on bodyfat.
Endomorphy characterizes the amount of bodyfat you have. Endomorphic physiques are typically fuller, with a higher ratio of bodyfat to muscle. Unlike ectomorphs, endomorphs gain weight easily. Bodyfat is usually distributed in the hips, thighs, and buttocks.
Mesomorphy describes the relative muscularity of a physique. A square body, large bones, and prominent muscular development are all features of the mesomorphic physique. Women with this bodytype may carry extra bodyfat in the abdomen area-a risky tendency, as studies indicate that upper bodyfat is linked to heart disease and diabetes. The classifications of ectomorphy, endomorphy, and mesomorphy only describe tendencies toward certain characteristics. In reality, most of us are mixtures of all three bodytypes. Later in this article, I describe six bodytypes and recommend bodyshaping workouts for each.
It’s important to point out that no amount of exercise or diet will change your skeletal structure or bone size. Nor can you spot-reduce excess bodyfat. But you can alter the proportions of fat and muscle in your body through diet and exercise. The idea is to reduce bodyfat and tone, tighten, and develop specific muscles.
With a proper low-calorie, lowfat diet and regular aerobic exercise, you can trim off unwanted pounds. Weight training helps in this regard, too. The more toned your muscles are, the more efficiently your body will burn calories even at rest. Besides, weight training expends calories, too-up to 500 calories an hour, depending on how hard you work out. But the outstanding benefit of weight training lies in the transformation it can make in your musculature.
MEASURING UP Before starting your own program, it’s a good idea to take and record your present measurements (including body weight if fat loss is one of your fitness priorities). This data gives you a benchmark against which you can check future progress. The most accurate way to take measurements is to have someone else do it while you stand in an erect but relaxed position. Every measurement should be taken twice-for extra reliability. Here is how to measure each body part: Chest: Place the measuring tape around the chest, across the nipples and parallel to the floor.
Shoulders: To measure the shoulder line, extend the tape across the upper back. The tape should span from the outer tip of one shoulder to the outer tip of the other.
Waist: Wrap the tape around the small- est circumference of the waistline, just above the navel. Hips: Measurements should be taken with the feet together. Wrap the tape around the widest girth of the hips. Legs: Measure the thighs by placing the tape around the largest portion of each thigh. The calves should be measured in the same way-around the widest part of each calf. Arms: This measurement should be taken at the largest circumference of the biceps of the upper arm. About every three months, take measurements again to check your dimensions. But avoid frequent measuring. It could lead to disappointment. Remember, the results you want are achieved gradually-with consistent training over time.