Training for Your Own Body Build

Even though, as humans, we are created equal, we are not created equal in the weight room.  I have figured out long ago that we must lift according to our own body build. There is a reason why a person looks they way they do.  The answer lies within genetics. We basically get what we get when it comes to how much muscle we will have.  According to our genetics and DNA we get only a certain amount of muscle cells. Fat cells can increase in number, but muscle cells cannot.  Genetics also dictates on how big our muscle can get, how big our bone structure will be, the size of our organs, our metabolism, cellular replication.  We basically get what we get.

We get what we get.

It is interesting to me how people treat themselves when it comes to their body.  Many people will beat themselves up because of the way they look.  We have no control over the genetic disposition of our body.  I didn’t choose to have the bone structure that I have, or to be the height I am, or the size that I am.  I didn’t get to choose my eye color, hair color, gender or hormone level. I didn’t have anything to do with how my body is made.  All I can do is work with what I have to improve my body to its greatest ability.  We all have limits to what we can accomplish.

I am never going to have 24 inch arms or a 60 inch chest.

If the old belief about weight training was true then I would have 24 inch arms and a 60 inch chest. The old belief was that if you weight trained your muscles would get bigger and bigger and never stop growing. This is not true.  We all have a stopping point. The muscles of the body can only get so big. Even the guys on steroids will eventually hit a stopping point.  The body is designed to stay within a certain set point size. If we didn’t have this regulatory system in place, then the body would keep growing, and growing, and growing.

Training For Your Own Build

If you are a person who has a tough time increasing the size of your muscles, you must look at your body build for the answer.  There is a reason why you are skinny, muscular or overfat. If you are skinny (ectomorphic) it means that your body has a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers than fast twitch fibers.  Fast twitch fibers are non-oxidative, meaning that they don’t require oxygen to contract. Fast twitch fibers expand when the intensity goes beyond the threshold.  Slow twitch muscle fibers are oxidative, meaning they are saturated with myoglobin. Oxygen is readily available, making the muscle much more enduring.  Though this is a great process for burning fat and sugar, it is not great for the person trying to increase the size of their muscles.  Though there are ways to increase the size of the muscle for the skinny guy, the downside is that they might be able to have that dense thick muscular look that is often desired.   These body types are better designed for running and functional training exercises.

If you have the body type that is muscular without having to really train, then you have a mesomorphic build. This type of body type is the most desirable for bodybuilding. This body type has an equal balance of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle. They have the ability to build bigger muscles and still have the ability to metabolize off fat.

The folks that seem to struggle the most with their fat weight is the endomorphs. The endomorphic body type are those that have a greater concentration of fast twitch muscle fibers and a lower percentage of slow twitch fibers. With a low percentage of slow twitch fibers fat metabolism is hindered. These people have to be very careful with how and what they eat. If they don’t have the ability to metabolize fat effectively they will store a tremendous amount of fat.

How To Train For Your Body Type

Not every exercise program is designed for the every body type. Many bodybuilding programs are designed for mesomorphs. If you are an ectomorph and try to perform a mesomorphic program chances are you will be overtraining. If you are an endomorph trying to perform a mesomorphic program then you will continue to increase the size your fast twitch fibers.

Here are my recommendations for training different body types.


* Perform 1-2 exercises per muscle group.

* Perform 1-5 sets

* Perform 2-6 reps only. Avoid activating slow twitch fibers.

* Duration: 20-30 minutes

* Eat foods that promote an anabolic effect to the muscle cells


* Perform 1-4 exercises per muscle group

* Perform 1-10 sets

* Perform 2-15 reps

* Duration: 20-45 minutes

* Eat a variety of foods that promote an anabolic effect and oxidative effect.


* Perform 1-4 exercises per muscle group

* Perform 1-5 sets

* Perform 12-15 reps. Avoid activating fast twitch fibers.

* Duration: 20-45 minutes

* Eat foods that promote an oxidative effect.

The rule of thumb is: if you are not gaining size on the program that you are on, you must adjust your reps and sets to get a result. Sometimes rather the problem being within the exercise program itselt, it could just be that you need to change the sets and rep count.  Once I was doing a program that called for 4 sets of 12 reps. It was designed to put on size. It was working for other guys in the gym, but not me.  I decided to keep the same exercises but to change the rep and set count. I dropped it down to 2 sets at 6 reps. The results were much better. I began seeing an increase in size.  I realized that I didn’t need to workout as much to get a result.  You have to adjust the program until you get the result you desire.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

tags: daryl conant, vince girona, ron kosloff, body types, boston bruins, u.s. open