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Body Types & Anatomy
We are all different, in our genetics and our body mechanics, and therefore your training must be adapted accordingly.  Body types are also known as Somatotypes after studies made by Dr William Sheldon in the 1940's.  Dr Sheldon (1898-1977) was an American psychologist who devoted his life to studying human body variety and human temperament.  From his studies he developed his theory that there are three basic body types and found that all humans could fit into these types or a combination of them. 

Body Types

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ENDOMORPH

is characterised by a pear shaped body, rounded head, wide hips and shoulders, wider front to back rather than side to side, and have more fat on the body, upper arms and thighs.

Endomorphs do not have a problem with building muscle, but losing body fat is the main issue.  To train effectively, keep rests between sets to a minimum (30 seconds max), and use a combination of compound and isolation exercises.  Cardiovascular training is essential, up to 5 sessions a week is recommended, with sessions lasting 45 minutes.  Pay strict attention to diet, and avoid all junk and fatty foods.

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MESOMORPH

is characterised by a wedge shaped body, cubical head, wide broad shoulders, muscular arms and legs, narrow hips, narrow from front to back rather than from side to side, and minimum body fat

Mesomorphs build the most muscle tissue of all three body types, have a fast working recovery system and can endure very intense training sessions of compound and isolation exercises in the 10-12 rep range with little rest (30 seconds -1 minute) in between sets. There is not as much concern regarding diet, but to maximise muscle gains, consume healthy nutritious meals.

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ECTOMORPH

is characterised by a high forehead, receding chin, narrow shoulders and hips, narrow chest and abdomen, thin arms and legs, little muscle and fat.

Ectomorphs do not easily gain body fat but also find it difficult to build muscle. Training sessions should be kept short, using mainly compound exercises to build mass, keeping the reps in the 6-8 range. Take longer rests in between sets (1 - 2 minutes) and keep cardiovascular training to a minimum, 2 - 3 sessions a week for no more than 20 minutes.

Muscle Diagram

Showing the main muscles worked during specific weight training excersises for different body parts.

click on the image to view the full screen version

 

Basic Muscle Anatomy

There are about 630 muscles in the human body, each one with its own function and importance.

Muscles contain fibres which are composed of complex proteins whose functions are to contract voluntarily or involuntarily to allow body movement.  There are three types of muscle, Smooth, Cardiac and Skeletal, with skeletal muscles being the main muscles stimulated and developed during weight training.  Smooth muscles are found in organs, Cardiac muscles form the working mechanism of the heart, and Skeletal muscle forms most of the body's underlying flesh. .

Skeletal muscle is also called striated muscle, and is attached by tendons to the skeletal bones.  Usually the two ends of a skeletal muscle are attached to two different bones across a joint. The muscle contracts and the two bones are brought closer together. This causes movement of the skeleton at the joint.  Skeletal muscle is usually found in bundles and can often be seen rippling the skin during muscular contraction.  Muscle fibres can be classified by function into slow-twitch (Type I) and fast-twitch (Type II).  Most skeletal muscles are composed of both types of fibres, although one type may predominate.  The fast-twitch, darker coloured fibres contract rapidly and produce bursts of anaerobic power.  The slow-twitch light coloured fibres use oxygen aerobically for greater endurance.  Muscles that are effectively stimulated during exercise possess tone, and as a result of exercise will cause the body to be in an anabolic state (muscle building) whereby the muscle will hypertrophy (increase in size).

Other skeletal muscles, such as those between vertebrae and between the ribs have more of a structural role, helping the skeleton to maintain its shape.