The 3 Body Types: Endomorph, Ectomorph & Mesomorph

Ever wondered why a training routine that appears to be followed by a celebrity doesn’t seem to be working for you? Or what may work wonders for your friends figure has no effect on your shape whatsoever? This is because we all have different body types and need to account for this when planning a workout or nutritional plan.

To begin, identify what somatotype (body type) you are, untrained. This means what your body would look like without any training.

Ectomorphs are naturally thin with a small bone structure, meaning small wrists, narrow shoulder width and thin muscles. This makes it difficult to put on weight, both fat and muscle.

Endomorphs are softer and curvy, naturally hefty with a round shape and thick joint. It is easy to put on weight, both fat and muscle.

Mesomorphs have a naturally athletic physique with an upright posture and broad shoulders, small waist, T shape or a rectangular shape with thick skin. They can even have good definition and muscularity without lifting weights or doing much exercise.

It’s possible to be a combination of the above somatotypes. It is rare to find a person who is at a total extremity. The term phenotype is defined as “The observable physical or biochemical characteristics of an organism, as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences.”

This scale uses three digits, each of which describes how prominent a certain body type is. For instance, a pure endomorph (hefty build) would be a 7-1-1. A pure mesomorph (athletic build) would be a 1-7-1. A pure ectomorph (thin build) would be a 1-1-7. A totally average person would be a 4-4-4 and would have a little of each body type.

There is a clear visible physical distinction between the three phenotypes, but what is not visible and often ignored is the biochemical and metabolic differences between the three phenotypes.

Each phenotype has its advantages and disadvantages with regards to training and these need to be respected in order to achieve a goal or a change in body shape.

An ectomorph will find bodyweight exercises easy with practice such as pull-ups, dips, push-ups, chin-ups due to having a lighter weight than a meso or endo. Ectos are also able to achieve the best definition because of the ease of losing fat, and the natural lean structure.

Ectomorphs may have a disadvantage in gaining muscle mass, but find it easy to stay lean and are better suited to lower intensities. Losing fat can be more difficult as they have less to lose and will inevitably lose a small amount of muscle which they have less of. Endos will find losing fat easier as they can afford to lose some muscle, as with mesomorphs.

Endomorphs have the most limited range of effective workouts and may be unable to do some effective exercises such as pull-ups, dips, push-ups, and chin-ups due to being heavier.

However endos are able to solely focus on strength gains at first since they are naturally big and can often put on size quickly, shortening the time needed for muscular gains. Endos trying to lose weight can do a variety of exercises.

Mesomorphs advantages are broad shoulders, small waist, thick skin, hard body, strong posture and the readiness to gain muscle and lose body fat and can push their bodies very hard.

Training to your body type will work on your strengths, improve weaknesses and help you achieve your goal without overtraining or injuring your body with wasted hours doing the wrong kind of workouts.

Image reproduced from

Training Advice for Mesomorphs

This is the best body type to be in and is characterized by the presence of broad shoulders, a small waist, thick skin and a hard body. Also a strong posture, the readiness to gain muscle and lose body fat, the mesomorph is naturally very strong.

Mesomorphs have bodies are actually designed for the stress of sports involving strength and power such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, rugby and other sports that require great physical exertion, but are unlikely to excel at pure endurance sports such as triathlons or marathon running.

This body type can handle high intensities well and respond better than with low intensity workouts. Needing less rest than other body types they can handle high frequency training efficiently due to their finely tuned recovery systems.

This can be because they are advanced lifters or athletes though an untrained mesomorph will still have a good posture with a decent amount of muscularity even without ever looking at a dumbbell.

Their bodies are physically stronger and therefore less prone to injury. Because of this they can attempt advanced training programs such as HTF (High frequency training), Hypertrophy specific training, German Volume Training, Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty HIT Program.

Metabolic circuits are useful with little rest as the mesomorph body can withstand a great deal of stress. Whole body movements with free weights or suspension kits rather than fixed pathway machines will use more muscles and keep the body in postural alignment rather than accentuating deviations with isolation exercises.

Weight lifting techniques will boost your progress whether your goals are sporting related, or in the pursuit of a better body. Techniques such as drop sets, rest pause training, eccentrics, forced reps, burns, negatives and variations of supersets keep the body guessing and challenge the muscles. This increases the intensity and overloads the muscles to a greater extent. The more stress your muscles are under, the more they will become stronger and grow to respond to that extra stress.

Changing the repetitions during your workouts will also aid strength gains by preventing your body from adapting to a certain rep range and more importantly it works different muscle fibers. Increasing the quantity of muscles fibres recruited during a workout leads to greater muscle growth and quicker body composition changes.

Any alterations in the speed of lifting and lowering of any exercise can help vary the workout so the body is always being challenged and making progress.

Flexibility can be an issue with mesomorphs due to the large amount of muscularity. Regular deep stretching such as Self mysofacial release will help increase the range of movements and so increase the amount of muscle fibers used.

Changing the workout style is an important point you should consider. Different workout programs challenge and exert the body in different ways that will increase your progress and make your body more physically able.

Although mesomorphs are capable or training super hard, explosively and with heavy weights at high intensities, a new comer with little or no experience of training would benefit from a 2 months introductory program.

As for cardiovascular exercise, a mesomorph should do approximately 2 cardio sessions a week that last anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes to keep the heart and lungs healthy.

For this body type high intensity interval training is the most beneficial. Not only will it help speed up gains, it helps to burn fat and stay lean without losing important muscle mass. Interval sprints and other explosive exercises should be used.

Mesomorphs have the easiest task at gaining muscle and keeping it but still need to do resistance training regularly. They can push their bodies very hard without overtraining and will see results fast.

Image reproduced from

Adaptation Gives Better Results when Exercising

Many clients hire personal trainers to achieve their goals, stating that the particular machines or methods of exercising that they have used for a length of time, have not enabled them to yet see results.

For example they may have been using the cross trainer every day for months and have not lost weight, or have been doing the same weights program at the gym for a number of years and have not changed shape at all.

Conversely many people have had the same personal trainer for a period of time and have yet to see a change in shape, body composition or fitness level.

Adaptation and fitness are both fundamental characteristics of plant and animal species, which enable us to survive in a changing climate and to adapt in time to any changes that occur in our environment.

Adaptation is not a new concept. We have known for hundreds of years that the human body, when presented with an enormous amount of physical, psychological or chemical stress, can adapt to the source of stress, allowing the body to tolerate incrementally larger similar stresses.

However, it was not until 1936 Hans Seyle gave us our first understanding of exactly how adaptation occurred. Selye spent a lifetime pursuing a goal of understanding how various stresses cause humans to respond and adapt. His work in this area forms the essential foundation of exercise physiology.

As we know from English Naturalist Charles Darwin’s work nearly 200 years ago, Evolution involves two interrelated phenomena; involving the adaptation to the environment, and speciation, meaning that any two species on earth today have at some stage in history shared a common ancestor.

As amazing and absurd as this sounds, it does demonstrate the importance of adaptation. With our superior human brains, we can use this information to our advantage, and push our bodies in ways we could never do before, causing an adaptive response.

Remembering that the body will only change, whether this be body composition or fitness, if pushed to a point at which it struggles, enables us to see some amazing results.

Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates workouts, was born over 100 years ago with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. In dedicating his life to improving his physical strength he created a body so perfect that he was used in anatomical charts by the age of 14, and devised a range of training programs including Pilates and Contrology, both of which work on improving core strength and postural control.

In conclusion the body will only change when challenged to its limit or very close to that point.

Reaching muscle failure is a common technique used to improve muscle strength.

Cardio training once a week at continuously around 85-90% of your maximum heart rate for 20-25 minutes will improve your lactic acid threshold.

If you find an activity easy then the chances are your body will not have any reason to adapt or improve change. Challenge yourself and keep altering your routines every 4-6 weeks. The options are limitless.

Training Advice for Endomorphs

Endomorphs carry more body fat than other types and tend to be softer and curvier. While this may sound like a disadvantage, they can lose fat with correct eating habits and by training hard, they can afford to lose a small amount of muscle on the way. In fact many of the best fitness models are endomorphs with a little mesomorph and when trained can have a curvy shapely toned body.

Endomorphs aiming to burn body fat need to eat a hypocalorific diet. In addition to controlling your caloric intake, as an endomorph it is vital to control insulin secretion. This can be done by limiting carbohydrate consumption, especially high glycemic carbohydrates. Managing insulin levels will aid fat loss and avoid crashes and cravings.

One way to control your caloric intake is to eat frequent small meals. Waiting for long periods of time with no food causes your body to send signals to the brain telling it the body needs food. Sporadic meals encourage overeating on those meals.

Smaller frequent meals with the right quantity of carbs, protein and fat will prevent overeating. Including fat and protein in a meal will slow down the digestion of carbs, and slow down gastric emptying.

Eating smaller meals controls the secretion of insulin. For instance, eating a 400 calorie meal will result in less insulin secretion than eating a 1,000 calorie meal.

One of the physiological mechanisms that cause endomorphs to gain fat easily can be poor insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity refers to the cells response to insulin or insulin’s efficiency on cells. A cell that is very insulin sensitive needs less insulin to uptake glucose than a cell that is insulin insensitive.

The hormone insulin is anti-lipolytic and prevents fat oxidation increasing fat storage. Therefore, if one has poor insulin sensitivity then more insulin will be secreted and fat oxidation will be blunted and fat storage will be increased to a greater degree than if their cells were more insulin sensitive. In order to lose fat or keep fat gains to a minimum one must control insulin.

The consumption of carbohydrates leads to a large output of insulin since insulin is necessary for the uptake of glucose into cells. Eating large amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day will lead to elevated insulin levels, thereby decreases fat oxidation.

Limiting carbohydrates to times when your body needs them and so earning your carbs will aid in muscle growth and limiting fat gains. Endomorphs should limit their carbohydrates to breakfast and pre/post workout and obtain their carbs from green vegetables in other meals throughout the day.

Training for an endomorph should include cardiovascular exercise to increase stamina and endurance and burn calories. Cardiovascular training is very important for endomorphs, as they are prone to storing and carrying excess body fat. By implementing cardio into your regime, expect an increase in metabolism, a greater feeling of well being, an increase in fat reduction, and increased endurance.

The use of low-intensity cardio, done before breakfast allows one to burn more calories while not hampering recovery and tapping into fat stores when glycogen depleted.

HIIT is more intense than low-intensity cardio. Interval training involves alternating periods of work and rest (or lower levels of work). Bursts of power walking, jogging then walk recoveries or even sprints with walk recoveries shift body fat and retain the muscle and shape.

Since your basal metabolic rate accounts for such a large component of your daily calorie burn, the more you can do to increase it up higher, the better off you’re going to be.

A solid running sprints workout can boost the metabolism for a whole day after it has been completed, and so is very beneficial for endomorphs.

Endomorphs should focus on increasing their metabolism through their training.

A short intense routine that focusing on circuit training using whole body movements rather than fixed pathway machines should take place. Using kettle bells, medicine balls and Olympic lifting gear will help to increase the endomorph’s metabolism. This can last for 25-30 minutes and be repeated 3 times per week for maximum benefits.

For maximum EPOC circuits should be fast and intense. Short rest periods (45-60 seconds) with moderate weights will increase the heart rate, resulting in a greater breakdown of fat tissue. Compared with cardio, circuits will increase EPOC, calories burned after training for up to 72 hours after a session.

Endomorphs are strong and do not need to concern themselves with the risks of overtraining such as with ectomorphs. Endomorphs can push themselves far harder and need to do so in order to shift fat that they naturally store.

Image reproduced from

Muscles and Exercise

1. Quadriceps
2. Hamstrings
3. Calves
4. Chest
5. Back
6. Shoulders
7. Triceps
8. Biceps
9. Forearms
10. Trapezius
11. Abs

 1. Quadriceps

The thigh is formed of 4 large muscles hence the term “quads” or quadriceps. These are easy to work effectively using a range of exercises, the most popular ones being:-

  • Squats
  • Overhead Squats
  • Clean and jerk
  • Lunges
  • Barbell hack squats

Runners tend to have relatively weak quads and building them up will improve performance. Working on your quads can also help reduce knee pain.

2. Hamstrings

The hamstrings are a huge muscle group on the back of your thighs, the antagonist to the quadriceps.

They are the biceps of the lower body yet many people never work them.

Enormously useful when running, and should be trained regularly.

They are used during squats, but you should give them more attention with:-

  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Stiff legged deadlifts

3. Calves

The calves are the one major muscle group that most people fail to train. The calves are a very stubborn muscle group and can be very tough to build without hard work.

The key to building calves is to work each major muscle group in the calf area: the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the tibialis anterior.

Calf raises are the best way to train them such as:-

  • Standing
  • Seated
  • Donkey calf raises
  • Block calf raises

 4. Chest

The chest is one the muscle group most often trained as it is very important to both men and women. However training the chest more often than other body parts will cause injury, pain and a rounded posture. Bench press repeated again and again will not improve your chest. Instead try varying your routine and ensure you train each major body part equally.

There are a variety of exercises including:-

  • Pressups
  • Pec flyes

5. Back

The back is one of the largest muscle groups and needs to be trained as much as the chest. Pulling exercises generally involve the back, and pushing exercises generally train the chest.

To work the lower back, deadlifts are great and increase thickness. They also strengthen your back to prevent injuries when lifting, and train your body to squat down and lift using your legs rather than by bending over, causing injury.

To widen your back chose pullups and chin ups.

Bent over rows work on increasing width and thickness in your back.

6. Shoulders

The shoulders consist of front deltoids, side deltoids, and rear deltoids that make up the shoulder muscle.

The overhead press is the best overall exercise for the shoulders. It works all 3 heads of the shoulder muscle well when the exercise is done with proper form and technique.

Although sometimes ignored, it is important to build strong shoulders to avoid injury and pain and learn how to lift with proper form and technique.

7. Triceps

The triceps make up about 2/3 of the upper arm as opposed to the bicep biceps which only makes up about 1/3 of the upper arm. However most men especially work on the bicep alone in an effort to build bigger arms.

Women tend to work on the triceps as it’s the part often called ”bingo wings” and can be worked by a variety of exercises.

  • Rope/bar Pushdowns
  • Dips
  • Extensions

Compound exercises are much more effective than isolation exercises as they allow you to lift heavier.

Don’t be afraid to use heavy weights, you will get results much quicker.

8. Biceps

The biceps help with back exercises such as chin ups, rows and pull ups.

Compound exercises are the best for developing the biceps such as the close grip pull up with palms facing towards your body. Alternate dumbbell curls also allows you to lift the heaviest weights of all the curl variations.

The biceps get worked very hard during back exercises like rows, chin ups, and pull ups.

9. Forearms

Even though many exercises involving holding, lifting or gripping weights work on the forearms, there are still a few exercises to increase size and strength including:-

  • Hammer curls
  • Wrist curls
  • Pinwheel curls

Improving your forearm strength will enable you to lift more weights and positively affect the rest of your training.

10. Trapezius

The trapezius or ‘traps’ for short is the large muscle in your upper back. It makes a triangle shape with the point in the middle of your upper back.

The deadlifts work the traps very effectively, as do upright rows. Another important exercise for the traps is the power shrug.

11. Abs

Most people dream of getting a perfect 6 pack but unless your body fat is super low, below 9%, the 6 pack wont show.

As long as you train the rest of your body hard with free weights and functional core exercises, you don’t need to invest too much time doing ab exercises.

One myth is that doing ab exercises burns fat, spot reduction is not possible. The best way to get your abs to show is to reduce bodyfat slowly by training hard and keep the lean muscle by fuelling your workouts.

Doing 100 sit ups or crunches a day will just accentuate a bad posture. One should never work one muscle more than the rest as this will result in postural deviations.

As long as your routine includes compound weight lifting exercises like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows, and pull ups, your core strength will increase and your abs will stay strong.

A good cardio fat burning workout or metabolic circuit will help get that elusive 6 pack!

Insulin Spikes

The hormone insulin is secreted by the pancreas in order to reduce sugar levels in the blood. An insulin spike is created when you eat foods with a high glycemic index (GI),that is a large amount of simple sugar. The simple sugars enter the bloodstream and insulin is needed to store the sugars as glycogen in the liver and the muscles. Insulin also stops protein breakdown after a workout and increases amino acid uptake into the body.

Muscles have a high demand for glucose and utilise an enzyme called hexokinase. This is found in skeletal muscle and promotes glucose uptake independently of blood glucose levels. Hexokinase has a high affinity for glucose, which allows muscle to take up glucose from the blood even when blood glucose levels are low. When the glucose reaches the muscle, it remains there and is not released back into the bloodstream. Thus skeletal muscles do not need insulin in order to obtain much needed glucose, however any insulin secreted will cause additional glucose to be taken up.

Another enzyme called glucokinase found in the liver works when levels of glucose in the blood rise. Unlike skeletal muscle, the liver can release glucose when the cells require it. This enzyme only acts in the presence of high blood glucose levels.

Exercise, especially resistance training, has been shown to increase glucose uptake for skeletal muscle in the absence of insulin, so that you do not necessarily need to consume simple sugars in your post workout meal in order to cause an insulin spike so that your muscles will uptake glucose.

While insulin will certainly enhance the anabolic response of a meal post workout, glucose is not actually needed since skeletal muscle is already able to uptake glucose in the absence of insulin after a workout.

For optimum results however, consuming a meal post workout with simple sugars and protein, will bring glucose into the muscles and allow an increase the uptake of amino acids into the body.

Insulin not only controls the uptake of glucose into cells but also has an impact on fat oxidation and storage. When blood glucose and insulin levels are low, fat is the main fuel burned for energy. This is why a low intensity cardio workout on en empty stomach before breakfast can be so effective at tapping into the fat stores when glucose and insulin levels are low. But when blood glucose and insulin levels are high, fat burning is blunted and glucose oxidation is elevated.

When the body senses there is glucose in the bloodstream, it wants to return blood glucose levels back to a homeostatic level. In order to do this the body must get rid of the glucose, which is accomplished by increasing glucose oxidation and storage.

Since the body is focusing on storing nutrients, it would not make sense for fatty acids to be released from adipocytes because they would not be burned. Therefore it is important that blood glucose levels return to normal quickly so the oxidation of fat can once again become the primary source of energy. This can be done by controlling your carbohydrate intake and controlling your insulin secretion by consuming less high GI foods; simple sugars, and more slow release low GI complex carbohydrates.

In the presence of high blood glucose and insulin, hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), the enzyme that catalyzes the liberation of fatty acids from fat cells) cannot act on stored fat. Therefore, fatty acids cannot be liberated from fat cells and fat oxidation is put on the backburner while glucose oxidation and storage is made a priority. Insulin is termed an anti-lipolytic hormone because it blocks lipolysis – the breakdown of stored triglycerides fat into fatty acids.

In addition to blunting fat oxidation, insulin secretion stimulates fat synthesis in the liver and increases fat uptake by fat cells.

Insulin spikes can also be caused by prolonged periods of sitting, such as in an office environment. Studies show that a short walk to the bathroom or the water cooler can alleviate this by getting away from your desk every 20mins after one hour of sitting still.

As useful as insulin spikes are at aiding the uptake of amino acids into the body, a large number of spikes throughout the day can cause the storage of fat and decrease fat oxidation. Regular exercise and a diet consisting of complex carbohydrate allows the body a steady flow of glucose without spiking the blood and increasing fat storage.

Image reproduced from

Barefoot Running

Before roads were created and shoes were produced, humans have been running in the most comfortable and safest manner possible.

There are three ways to land when running, on the Forefoot, the Midfoot or the Heel

Studies show that forefoot or mid foot striking can alleviate injuries such as repetitive stress, plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee as less injury is caused

Heel striking is said to cause a higher impact and as the heel hits the ground 1st, sending shockwaves through the body.

We also know that forefoot running actually strengthens the muscles in the foot, in particular the arch, making it less likely to collapse. If you naturally pronate at all then it is worth considering trying forefoot running

When you spring off your forefoot you use less energy. The more minimalist shoes also weigh less so that each step will be easier than with a heavy trainer. Studies show fore/barefoot running uses 5% less energy

As long as you are careful when choosing the terrain, forefoot running can be very enjoyable as long as you are wary of twigs and sharp objects that minimal footwear will not be able to protect you from. A shoe with a flexible sole is essential to let the foot bend naturally. Though it is possible to forefoot run in standard trainers with a built up heel it is much easier in minimal footwear

To make the transition from heel striking to forefoot/barefoot running, make small changes to avoid injury. As with any changes in your exercise routine, do consult a Dr and take advice from a physician if you have had any injuries from running in the past.

Changing to forefoot or even midfoot striking too quickly can cause many problems including sore calves and Achilles tendonitis.

If you are a heel striker wanting to make the change, try a couple of minutes of forefoot running during your usual training runs. It is easiest to attempt when running up a slight incline. Try it when running at a moderate to fast speed, perhaps during a sprint session, it will be easier to pick up than if you attempt it jogging slowly or on flat ground. The incline/hill will enable you to lean into it and help your hips stay forward

If you develop lasting pain, stop and consult a physician. Attempt to increase the quantity of forefoot running by only 10% a week. Taking it slow will decrease the risk of injury. Make sure you stretch your calves out often after a run when muscles are still warm, preferably with a foam roller (self myofascial release)

There is no right way to forefoot run, but try to relax and land on the ball of your foot towards the lateral side. After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down gradually, bringing the foot and lower leg to a gentle landing as you dorsiflex your ankle under the control of your calf muscles.

Practise this by jumping off a small wall. When you land, you should naturally flex the hip, knee and ankle. The landing should feel soft, springy, and comfortable. Aim to land with the foot nearly horizontal so that the calves don’t need to work excessively. Land gently on your forefoot and gradually let the heel come down towards the ground

Next try running on the spot for a moment, or jumping with a skipping rope, striking the ground beneath your hips

Be wary of over striding while forefoot or midfoot striking. This style of running requires you to point your toe more than necessary, adding stress to the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and the arch of the foot.

When watching a forefoot runner, the movement is far more fluid and natural than a heel striker’s laboured motion. Conserving more energy, the forefoot runner can cover more ground efficiently and can move faster with practice.

Image reproduced from

Yoga or Pilates?

Many people in their zest to improve their body shape will turn to a seemingly easier, floor based class, such as yoga or Pilates.

Whilst both have the advantage of not needing any equipment, and having the added social aspect of participating in a class with similarly minded people. Names of poses are similarly strange; yoga names are often called after animals, including downward dog and camel. Pilates exercise names include the Rocker, boomerang and leg pull. However the similarities end there.

yoga poseYoga has its roots in ancient India and the aim is to attain a state of permanent peace. Pilates however aims to achieve anatomical perfection and core strength.

Yoga followers adhere to a Buddhist set of morals, often going vegetarian. More than a weekly exercise class, yoga is a philosophy, involving karma and the “do no harm” Principle. Yoga claims to tone your muscles by stretching and improving flexibility by holding a range of poses. Primarily involving hatha yoga, it focusses on physical postures sometimes with aspects of meditation. Both of these can have some health benefits. However a percentage every year of yoga practitioners suffers physical sports injuries. In fact due to the risk of injuries, yoga is rarely prescribed for patients as a means to strengthen their backs.

Common yoga injuries include carotid artery tears, bulging intervertebral discs, rotator cuff injuries, ganglion cysts, compression of the spine, vertebral artery dissection and hyperextension of the neck.

Whether experiences or not, yoga can cause injuries. Strenuous yoga said to help weight loss has been connected to a form of stroke in some young women. Hyperextension of the neck is very common and may be a factor in cervical artery dissection.

pilates posePilates, instead of causing injuries aims to alleviate them. Neutral spine is key and any hyperextension of the spine/neck is strictly forbidden. The purpose of the different exercises, often done without any equipment is to ease the body into neutral alignment and to correct any postural deviations.

It has its background in Germany, created by Joseph Pilates, son of a Greek gymnast, a child at the time, born with rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. With the help of self-taught Pilates exercises, Joseph was the epitome of anatomical perfection by 14.

Whilst the exercises are childlike in nature, they aim to strengthen the entire core and realign the spine.

Neither yoga nor Pilates will give you a six pack, but Pilates especially works on the inner muscles with the help of Lateral thoracic breathing. The actual exercises can be as tough or as easy as the instructor allows. Generally the core should feel that they have been worked for 1-2 days after a workout.

Yoga conversely is a great way to get into mediation, spiritual enlightenment and aid relaxation. More of a holistic approach than just purely a fitness class, the poses are challenging and unusual.

With good technique Pilates is not linked to causing any medical conditions. Instead it heals rather than hinders. As such it is often recommended to back care patients and after a few weeks patients can expect to have some relief form pain and stronger muscles. Hip flexors feel more open after Pilates which is especially good for office works or those who spend several hours sitting at a desk, car etc.

Years of working on the chest and abs by doing only pushups and sit ups can cause havoc in the body, tightening up the chest, rounding the upper back and causing various imbalances which can all be alleviated with Pilates. Similarly desk workers with rounded shoulders and a head forward position will benefit from realigning their spine and opening up the chest with Pilates. The neutral spine will actually help to bring the chest out more and the person will look more confident.

Men often find hamstring and calf flexibility lacking, however Pilates improves these areas in a relatively short space of time.

More useful in older or overweight people than yoga, Pilates works on strengthening the inner core muscles, the TVA, RA and Erector Spinae so that the chances of breaking  bones when slipping or falling are somewhat reduced. Better able to stabilise through the core, Pilates students can stay strong and balance their bodies

Like with Yoga, the exercise in traditional mat Pilates use bodyweight alone and so help to increase bone density to some degree. This is naturally decreased with age, so bones are able to stay strong with either of these disciplines.

Also many of the exercises in Pilates, whilst challenging the core also work on strengthening the upper body which is something many people particularly the older generation and women do not actively work on.

The benefits of Pilates are endless when using good technique. The neutral posture once learned makes any other form of exercise safer.  Finding neutral spine is a major starting point in weightlifting, body building or indeed and free weights. It enables you to squat effectively and so any metabolic exercise will be easier to learn and safer to carry out. This will help you lift more and with a greater intensity as your core is fully engaged, helping you to achieve your fitness goal quicker.

Images reproduced from and

Training Advice for Ectomorphs

Ectomorphs have long lean limbs with a limited amount of muscularity. Whilst this gives them great definition, the ectomorph has a limited capacity for stress. Weight training with a hypercalorific diet will help gain muscle, but it’s best not to overtrain with many sets of many different exercises. Limit your sets to between 3 and 5 sets of one exercise for each body part.

It is easy to over stress and over train the slim ectomorph physique. Try not to remain in the same rep range for longer than 2 weeks or the motor unit will be overworked. Pyramid training allows the trainee to briefly tap into increasingly larger motor units from set to set without overworking them.

The ectomorph must rest longer than normal between sets, between 3 and 5 minutes to allow the nervous system to fully recover between sets, and allow for 100% effort in the following sets. Lifting heavy weights will increase muscle.

High rest periods coupled with lower reps (i.e. 5-7) increase the release of testosterone into your bloodstream.

An ectomorph needs to train briefly, intensely but frequently. An ectomorph cannot handle high volume workouts, so his volume should be spread across the week. Three times a week is ideal.

In order to avoid overtraining, an ectomorph needs to start a training plan slowly and steadily, building up volume gradually. Aim for 3 short sessions altogether the 1st week, then wait a few weeks before increasing the intensity or volume.

Overtraining causes stresses to the body and not only slows down any gains; it can also result in reduced muscle mass and strength. Plus each time you do not succeed it lowers your confidence about being able to gain some decent muscle. Also do not add more sets than necessary for your workout. Doing so will not increase gains. Each progressive set decreases in intensity since you get more fatigued.

If you over complicate things then you’re more likely to make mistakes and try the wrong training methods.

Keep workouts shorter, always under an hour each time to prevent overtraining which is a very important factor. Training over one hour increases the chances of overtraining since it taxes the recovery systems so much and adds unnecessary stress to the body.

20-30 minute workouts are more intensive since more is being done in less time. Shorter, more intense sessions are less likely to wear out joints and cause overtraining.

Changing the exercises is another key point to increase hypertrophy. If you keep the same workout for over 2 months, it is likely your body will adapt to those exercises. In this case you will hit a plateau and all your hard work will be in vain because you won’t be making nearly as much progress as when you initially started.

Continuity is vital. Regular training with scheduled rest days will aid recovery. This body type is the least strong and needs all the help it can get to recover and grow without getting injured.

The ectomorph can attempt a range of exercises as their bodies more suited to intensive weight training since it is anaerobic, requiring limited endurance. However certain types of workouts with little rest such as circuit training will not be beneficial.

Circuit training, whilst very effective at stripping body fat and increasing the cardiovascular system at the same time, involves very little rest and often high reps. For an ectomorph this constitutes overtraining.

Benefits are the ability to perform any exercise compared to an equally progressed endomorph or mesomorph due to a light bodyweight. (pull-ups, dips, push-ups, chin-ups) and are very able to achieve the best definition because of the ease of losing fat, and the natural lean structure.

Ectomorphs may have a disadvantage in gaining muscle mass, yet with the right diet they can put on some muscle.

Even though they may not be able to lift as much as an endomorph or mesomorph, they are still receiving the benefit of working out, which is isolated apart from other body types.

Because of their versatility in workouts, ectomorphs have the widest range of effective workouts.

Image reproduced from

The Stiletto Workout

A friend recently asked me if I wanted to do a stiletto workout for women who want to keep fit and put the glamour back in their lives. I’m all for a bit of glamour so I read the poster which claimed; ‘Girls can do what boys can, but we do it in heels!’ – I was intrigued. The poster also suggested that doing this workout would ‘bring my sexy back and coax out that hidden diva within’.

It’s been quite a while since I reached the dizzy heights in stilettos, I resorted to flat shoes a few years ago with the usual knee and hip pains associated with walking in high heels. Taking my past experiences teetering around in high heels into consideration – I had a sudden image of me wobbling around to Dizzy Rascal on 5 inch heels, bumping into someone and setting off a domino effect of other wannabe divas – I deliberated. Would a stiletto workout suit me? I reasoned that if I wanted something different to a gym maybe I should try belly dancing or Zumba classes instead, and googled a few in Cambridge and the surrounding areas. I was quite surprised at just how many dance and exercise classes there are.

However, the following day I read an article in the Daily Mail (Saturday October 6th) about Bristol Clinician Martin Bell’s ‘Perfectly Poised’ class, which involves filming clients walking in their heels. He then analyses their walk and, as well as encouraging them to stand straight and avoid slouching, gives them exercises to help strengthen weak muscles and ease pain. The part that interested me was that Mr Bell doesn’t advocate women ditching their high heels entirely. He claims that they just need to walk in them properly. This was good news. Most short women, like me, prefer to wear high heels. They not only give extra height and make me feel sexy – I always felt more confident in high heels.

The Stiletto Workout has been featured on Gok Wan’s ‘How To Look Good Naked’ tv programme and is getting rave reviews. With Christmas fast approaching and the need to lose weight, shape up and get fit I rose up to my full four feet ten inches and decided that the Stiletto Workout would make an interesting change from pounding away on a cross trainer once a week.

The Stiletto Workout instructor, Gemma Lisa Wingrove, aged 24, has been dancing since the age of nine. She has undertaken a number of fitness training courses including Fight Klub, which uses free standing punch bags and some ‘wicked tunes’ and is also a mentor for a healthy eating food plan called ‘Danceloss’. Gemma explained that the 60 minute Stiletto Workout session included conditioning exercises designed to improve women’s ability to wear heels comfortably and confidently, a seductive dance routine, a catwalk runway and a finale performance to unleash the newfound diva. Ever one to rise to a challenge I signed up for the introductory class – after all, I have nothing to lose except my balance, a spare tyre and a couple of stone.

Healthy Exercising

Know your limit

First of all, I would like to advise you to listen to your own body. Whether you have avoided sport your entire life or are a professional athlete, you have to know your exercise level. I have often observed people completely over-or underestimate their capabilities. Obviously, if you underestimate yourself, you may not get very far. If you overestimate yourself, you risk injury and fatigue. I will explain these points in detail in this article.

For beginners – choose a sport that suits you

Everyone is different and everyone likes different things. The same thing applies to sport and exercise, too. There are three basic categories of sports and they can be classified as:

(1) Team sports. These entail sports like football, basketball, hockey and so forth.

(2) Companion sports. These are sports that you do with a small number of people. Such as tennis, running with your friend or badminton.

(3) Individual sports. For example working out on your own, running on your own etc.

What you prefer can be dependent on your personality type. Your body will tell you what sports are good for you. If you have naturally big legs and are tall, you might find football or rowing easy. If you do not like to spend too much time with large amounts of people, you may prefer companion or individual sports. If you have strong shoulders, tennis might be easier for you. There are so many sports on offer these days and everyone can find his or her sport to enjoy.

I think it is best to choose a sport that is compatible with your personality type (Do you like to compete? Do you like to be on your own or in a team?) in conjunction with the capabilities of your body.

Exercise program

It is important to have a program and monitor your progress. This is somewhat easier if you are participating in team sports as others will help motivate you and improve together with you. If you exercise on your own, it is more important to keep an eye on your performance, progress and on your health. Most gyms offer their clients individual exercise programs these days, so do not hesitate to ask a member of staff.

Frequency of exercise

This is very much dependent on your fitness level. It is recommended to have three cardiovascular exercise sessions a week at a length of 30 minutes for a healthy adult person. Of course, many people like to exercise more. It is also increasingly popular to go to the gym. if you like to exercise a lot, that is fine. However, you should give your body one day rest a week when you do not exercise at all. Your muscles will have to recover.


On average, it is recommended to have three week cycles of more intense workouts and then a week of lighter workouts to recover. This is particularly important if you exercise a lot or train for certain events. Try to adjust your body to it. If you are a beginner or light exerciser, this may not be as important for you.

Warm up and cool down

It is imperative to warm up before any sport. Take your time for that as it may prevent injuries and also increase your performance and health benefits from the exercise you are about to pursue. Equally, it is important to cool down after your sport and give your body time to adjust. Slowly decrease your heart rate and prepare your body that the exercise is finished.


We will soon report on dieting for exercise in another article. The diet is an integral part of your exercise program. Give your body the necessary energy to perform well. Carbohydrates are necessary before cardiovascular exercise. Try to eat about two hours before exercise Equally, if you like weight training, make sure you eat the right amount of protein about half an hour after your exercise, to give your body the necessary ingredients in order to increase muscle size and heal your muscles.

Image reproduced from and

Tips For Your First Gym Class

So, you’ve joined the gym, you’ve had your free session and can now successfully locate the start button on a treadmill. You’ve been given a programme but still find yourself aimlessly wondering around, questioning the use of each piece of equipment.

I see you. I’m the lycrad up instructor screaming into my Britney mic, you’re there, nose pressed up against the glass of the door as I coach 25 eager participants to squat a little lower. Are you brave enough to come inside? Let me take the fear away.

The first assumption you’ll make is that everyone in the class knows exactly what they’re doing. If that were the case I’d be left with very little to say during that class. There is a reason instructors end up with husky voices. What’s that reason? It’s because participants constantly need guidance which is why I am there.

Secondly you may fear that everyone is going to be looking at you, you stepped on the wrong leg, your trainers aren’t brand new or your leggings don’t match your hairband. Once again you are misinformed. Having been a participant and having taught many a class, I can assure you that most people don’t have incredible co-ordination. If you’re thinking about your moves or concentrating on technique the odds are so is everyone else. To be honest, sometimes even I’m thinking about the moves!

Have I tempted you inside yet? I hope so! But let’s make sure that I give you the best possible chances of getting great results, having fun and most importantly, coming back!

Here’s what every instructor hopes a new participant will do:

1. Know What The Class Is

It’s amazing how often people wonder in to register complete surprise the body pump involves weights.

2. Be Early

I know you have a job and this isn’t always possible but if you tell me you’re new I can help you setup (if equipment is needed) or I can explain what you can expect. I almost always tell new people that in a class involving lost of choreography there will be times you’re a little lost but this is normal and over time it’ll get easier.

3. Talk To Me!

Any instructor will (or should) ask if anyone is injured, unwell or pregnant. If you’re asthmatic just tell me, id rather know than panic when I see you reach for your inhaler. Injured or pregnant? Maybe I can keep an eye on you to offer options that are more suited to you.

This also applies to the end of the class. If you want to ask me about something you struggled with then do, it is my job to teach and whilst I cannot speak for other instructors, I am always happy to give you a few minutes of my time.

4. Be Brave

This applies to stepping foot into the studio, lifting that leg a little higher in aerobics, pushing a little harder on those sprints in spin or adding a little weight to that bar in body pump. When you’re brave you face that feeling of real breathlessness, real burning in your muscles and that my friend, is where you get results. I will always commend you if you work hard.

Image reproduced from

Finding it Hard to Wake Up in the Morning?

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about waking up energised in the morning. Follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s website

Thank you for your question regarding the fact that you find it difficult to wake up in the morning. I often hear my clients say they got out of bed the wrong side that morning and they ask how to wake up full of positivity, joy and gratitude ready to embrace the day ahead of them.

There is no one easy answer. Different things will help different types of people, for example if you are an S (Sensory) type personality practising simple morning rituals may help set an elevated mood for the day ahead. By setting out these morning tasks – be it a skincare routine, a leisurely breakfast, morning meditation or yoga – we are telling ourselves that we are important and that we matter. For those N (Intuitive) type people, the concept is still the same but with a little more sponteniety. It is still important to do something spiritually, emotionally or physically important to us before we get carried away with the daily necessities of life and get swept up into our schedule of tasks.

Tony Robbins, a well-known NLP practitioner amongst other things developed the Hour of Power, since then there have been many adaptations to this power hour but the overall end aim is the same. Some divide the hour into three chunks of twenty minutes, be it for meditation, exercise, learning, growth, beauty and health whereas others use it for improving sports performance perhaps running or even rowing. Whatever you decide to do, using this power hour for positive affirmations is an amazing way to start the day. It is my suggestion to spend fifty minutes doing such and the last 10 minutes being grateful for what you have already received the previous day.

However most people reading this are busy professionals and it seems practically impossible to take a whole hour out of your day especially in the morning to give time to yourself. Understanding this, it is a good idea to give yourself five minutes each day and maybe even stretch that to ten or fifteen minutes. Even by adding a few minutes each day you can take extra time for yourself before your heavy workload begins. In five minutes you can do some stretches; in ten minutes you can journal; some people even use their time to make a smoothie in the morning to give them that extra boost of energy and all those antioxidants which are great for the skin.

Whatever you choose to spend time on in your first hour, even if you have to use it commuting, remember this hour sets the tone for the next 23 hours before us and what we do daily can become part of who we are. Perhaps on your commute reading inspirational material will help create positivity in your life. Those who live closer to work could perhaps leave ten minutes early and walk to work instead of taking the bus or another mode of transport.

The morning is a wonderful time to write lists, especially if you are goal-orientated in personality type. It allows your Reticular Activating System to remember that the day is full of potential and will start seeking out ways for you to achieve not only that which you desire but also deserve. There is no one set rule to creating the perfect morning for you but when you next get ten minutes to yourself perhaps look at these questions:

1. What would I need to do to get my day off to the best possible start?

2. What would my body need me to do to enable it to not only look its best but feel its best?

3. What do I need to do to increase my positivity in the morning?

4. What do I find exciting and/or inspiring to do on a daily basis that only takes 5/10/15/20 minutes (or whatever time you have been able to make available for yourself)?

If whatever you have been doing in the past has not been working for you then the best thing to do is break the pattern – be your own pattern interrupt and do something totally different with your physiology. For example, if you normally exercise in the morning perhaps look at cutting down and including fruit smoothies or a nice herbal green tea or even journaling in the morning.

Alternatively, if you have quite a sedate morning full of positive affirmations and gratitude perhaps intersperse this with exercise or taking up a new hobby – be that yoga or meditation indoors or perhaps something outdoors during the summer months like running and or even power walking with a friend.

A good morning can only be as good as the night before, therefore make sure that you get a good night’s sleep and do not drink too much alcohol for your body – and if you do break either of these that you some sort of remedy in the morning be it a natural supplement like milk thistle to detoxify your liver or a pick-me-up in the form of a nice strong coffee if that’s what you desire after a late night.

Whatever you choose to do to feel more energised to embrace the day ahead, remember to take it slowly, step by step, and little by little and these changes will eventually become part of your daily routine and help you feel better about yourself.

Images reproduced from and