The academics call the body types mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph. Most people call the body types apple, pear and skinny (hard gainer). A lot has been written on how to work out for your body type and specific moves will aid reshaping the common trouble zones.
Overall, men have a wider upper frame to support their musculature while women have less overall body mass. This means more body fat to prepare for motherhood, but also a less active metabolism. While men tend to deposit more body fat around their waist and women around their hips, the pattern changes to all quite apples – abdominal body fat- after women reach menopause.
Just cardio won’t be enough
Oftentimes, people think cardio when looking for a body change. However, aerobic exercise is just one part of the equation. Cardiovascular activity will stimulate caloric burnout but won’t help to “shape” your body.
Through my years of experience working with women and men of all body types, I’ve identified common complaints about problem areas for men and women and how to address those areas through exercise.
Women’s body matters
1. Narrow shoulders and back, but wide hips: Complex moves that work several muscles at the same time will boost growth hormone and testosterone, which are needed to increase body mass. Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights on the upper body move to give you a better shape for the shoulders and overall wider back. Even though, you can’t change your natural hips anatomy, more often the problem is not the size of the muscles rather than the fat that gets accumulated around this area. Exercises that combine upper and lower body muscle engagement will increase the caloric burnout providing tone to this zone but not adding muscle mass.
a) Push-Press: In a standing position, feet shoulder width apart, knee slightly flex, hold the bar with a pronated grip at shoulder level. Bend the hips slightly and rapidly lift up your arms in one fluid movement. Keep your abdominals tight at all times. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
b) Squat to arms extension with the pulley or tubing: Grab the handles of the pulley machine in a squat position. Rapidly extend the legs and the arms like in a “V” direction. You should be able to feel the contraction in the back, squeeze the scapula together for one second or so when the arms are extended. Do the exercise in one powerful move. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
2. Wide back and shoulders, but narrow hips: Probably you did a lot of swimming when you were a teen or simply genetics play a role. For the upper body, you don’t want anything that adds more body mass. It won’t be possible to shrink your frame but you can definitely reshape it. Working the triceps along with the pecs will give you more balance. Body weight exercises are great to tone this area. The legs compromise the biggest body musculature so the best way to work them is with an exercise that emphasizes all the corresponding muscles at the same time while heavily targets the gluteus and the hips muscles. These exercises must be done using heavy weight to increase the anabolic response for the muscles to grow.
a) Dips – not shown-: Put your hands on the bench, legs straight. Keep your body close to the bench and chest up. Bend the arms until they reach 90 degrees and fully extend the arms without locking the elbows. Do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps. if you can’t do them altogether either use an assisted dip machine or do as much as you can with proper form, rest and repeat.
b) Deadlift: Place the legs a little bit inside shoulder width apart. Hold the bar with a pronated or alternated grip. Sit back; keep your chest up and abdominals tight. Pushing through your heels stand straight up. Extend and contract the gluteus. Do 2 sets of 8-10 reps.
c) Dumbbell step-ups – not shown-: Use a knee-high bench. Put one foot on the bench and use that leg to lift the body. This should be one fluid movement. Contract your gluteus when in the upright position on the bench. Make sure that the effort comes from the heel of the leg that is on the bench and not from the rear leg. Keep the body straight at all times.
Men’s body issues can be narrowed to two main ones:
1. Narrow shoulder-back-chest: upper body multi joint exercises are a must. These two exercises below will hit these three muscles (shoulder, back and pecs) while others such as the arms will assist in some of the moves.
a) Barbell pull-over: While most exercises for the pectoralis restrict the work to the horizontal shoulder adduction – chest press, flies, etc – this one emphasizes a shoulder extension which tackles the pectoralis muscles, the serratus anterior (an important muscle that aesthetically makes your pecs and back look wider), lats and other important back muscles. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
b) Upright-row: This is a great exercise to bulk up and to stress the lateral part of the shoulder muscles. The exercise above will also make the anterior part of the shoulder worked. Since men usually tackle more this zone than the lateral head of the deltoid muscle (shoulders), this exercise will give you a round shoulder. Make sure that you lift the bar until the elbows are parallel to the shoulders. Going beyond this point will increase the pressure in the rotator cuff. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2. Skinny legs: known is the problem with some men’s disproportionate emphasis to work the upper body so the legs quite sure have been procrastinated to work out or at the most a few leg extensions and leg curl moves are done. And, the calves? Who trains the calves?
a) Squat: Placing your feet wider than shoulder-width apart engages more the hips and hamstrings along with some activation the quadriceps. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
b) Squat jump to box: Follow immediately the squats with this plyometric move to activate the fast twitch fibers of the legs. This will stimulate hypertrophy of the muscles. Do 2 -3 sets of 10 reps. Land softly.
Non gender- specific problems
The belly fat is without any doubt one issue that concerns everyone regardless the gender, studies show that to decrease body fat (specifically belly fat) these methods below work the best:
Aerobic: When doing cardiovascular exercise, sprint interval training, 4-6, 30 s maximum effort, followed by 4 minute recovery for 30 minutes total workout, including warm-up improve aerobic capacity and decrease body fat better than the traditional low-intensity and long-duration aerobic activity.
Circuit training: When comparing single sets of weight lifting with circuit training (3- 6 sets of 8-10 reps and minimal recovery time in between moves) significant body fat reduction was shown in the group who performed the circuits.
And if you’re pressed on time grab a kettlebell. The University of Wisconsin found that kettlebell snatches (an exercise that starts in a knees bent position and goes into an upright row to a shoulder press in a single smooth and powerful move) can burn up to 20 calories per minute. This is more potent than the elliptical (10 calories per minute), Spinning (15 calories per minute) or running at a 7-minute miles pace (18 calories per minute).