By Dean Hodgkin and Caroline Pearce
Pages: Approx. 264
Illustrations: Approx. 261
Available: October 2013
Author explains how to push the boundaries of your genetic predisposition
Genetics play a huge factor in how the body responds to exercise. The average gym contains people of all shapes and sizes, and even those deemed “very fit” will have varying body shapes and response patterns to exercise in the way they develop muscle, burn fat, and improve their cardiorespiratory fitness. “Simply doing the same training as somebody whose body you admire and want for yourself may not work for you,” says fitness expert Dean Hodgkin. “Attaining your goal may require you to train specifically for your body type.”
In their forthcoming Better Body Workouts for Women, Hodgkin and former international athlete and fitness presenter Caroline Pearce explain the three body types and the training recommendations associated with each one to create an effective exercise program. “Body shapes have typically fallen into one of three categories: mesomorph, ectomorph, or endomorph,” Pearce explains. “In reality, most people will share characteristics from all three categories, but it is likely that you will identify with one category more than another. Each category has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of health and fitness, but your understanding of these is the key to your success.”
The athletic physique for a mesomorph includes broad shoulders, narrow waist and hips, good muscular definition, low body fat, and a reasonably fast metabolism. Mesomorph body types respond well to most types of training—especially resistance and body shaping exercises—and sustain low levels of body fat. “The disadvantages for mesomorphs are they can often become overtrained, so they should be mindful of incorporating rest days and lighter training sessions into a training program,” Hodgkin says. “Also, stagnation can easily occur if they are not challenged with varying exercise routines, and they can put on weight quickly when training stops.”
Here are recommendations for mesomorphs:
- Combine both major and minor muscle group exercises into an exercise routine.
- Use superset training to maximize effort during workout time.
- Progress training regularly and keep it varied with regard to exercise modality, type, and intensity.
- If trying to minimize muscle mass, favor steady-state and interval training over maximal sprints and lifts. Also practice yoga, Pilates, and light-weight, high-repetition circuit training to develop longer, leaner muscles.
- If trying to maximize muscle, allow adequate recovery between exercises and sets and between weight training sessions. This allows regeneration of energy systems in the first instance and muscle adaptation in the latter.
The athletic physique for an ectomorph includes narrow shoulders and hips, long and lean legs and arms, small bone structure, and very little body fat. “Ectomorph body types find it easy to lose weight and keep it off,” Pearce says. “They respond well to cardiorespiratory training and are ideally suited to this type of training because of their light frames and low body weight.” But ectomorphs find it difficult to put on muscle and create shapely physiques, are prone to injury because of fragile frames, and risk unhealthily low body fat levels.
Here are recommendations for ectomorphs:
- Use split training, which involves only one or two body parts with resistance exercises per session, and aim to work each body part once per week.
- Take adequate rest between strength workouts to allow for muscle recovery and for optimal repair and adaptation (48 to 72 hours).
- Use heavy, basic power movements that target the deep muscle tissues.
- Use repetitions of 5 to 10 and perform 3 or 4 sets of each exercise.
- Keep cardiorespiratory activity to a minimum (max three times per week) if the goal is to shape up and develop more muscle.
- Ensure good intake of protein and carbohydrate; greater caloric intake than usual will be essential in maintaining body weight and developing lean muscle.
The athletic physique for an endomorph includes wide hips and narrow shoulders that create a pear shape. They have less muscle definition, uneven fat distribution (mostly accumulating in upper arms, buttocks, and thighs), wide bone structure, and a slower metabolism than the other body types. “Weight gain is easy and fat loss difficult if you are in this category, and muscle definition tends to be hidden by fat,” Pearce explains. “Endomorph body types respond well to power and strength training due to natural strength. If muscle is trained and developed, then metabolic rate and fat burning can increase effectively.” The disadvantages for endomorphs are that they can look bulky with too much weight training in relation to aerobic activity and can suffer joint problems if carrying too much body weight. They also can find it more difficult to burn fat.
Here are recommendations for endomorphs:
- Include moderate-intensity, nonimpact cardiorespiratory exercise such as cycling and power walking on most, if not all, days of the week to achieve a leaner, lighter body shape.
- Cross training should be the basis for a training plan.
- Keep weights light, rep range 10 to 25, and recovery time short.
- Eat regularly and reduce starchy and sugar-based carbohydrate.
“Of course, genetics determine that some people are naturally leaner and more responsive to exercise than others,” Pearce says. “With this in mind, you need to be realistic with your goal of ideal body and training targets. But the good news is that with the correct training for your body type, you can really push the boundaries of your genetic predisposition and be the best you can be.”
Better Body Workouts for Women provides the best methods for assessing current fitness levels, identifying physical strengths and deficiencies, setting and refining training goals, and selecting and customizing programs to make an immediate and lasting impact.
Dean Hodgkin was the resident fitness writer for Bodyfit magazine, contributing editor at Zest and a regular contributor to various other publications, including Health & Fitness, Women’s Fitness, Cosmopolitan, Weight Watchers, and She. His writing can also be seen in the Times, Daily Express, News of the World, FHM, Men’s Health, and GQ.
Hodgkin is an experienced presenter, having appeared on various television and radio shows internationally and in more than 20 fitness videos and DVDs. In addition, Hodgkin regularly presents master classes and seminars at trade and consumer events in 36 countries, including the United Kingdom and United States. The recipient of the International Fitness Showcase 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award for services to the fitness industry, he was also voted Best International Fitness Presenter at the One Body One World awards in New York. He is a three-time world champion and two-time European champion in karate. Hodgkin lives in the United Kingdom.
Caroline Pearce is a former international athlete and a current nutritionist, fitness consultant, model, and TV presenter. She holds a first class honors degree in sports science and master’s degree in nutrition and exercise physiology from Loughborough University. She has contributed to and has been featured in and on the cover of numerous fitness and health magazines, including Bodyfit, Women’s Health & Fitness, Women’s Fitness, Zest, Ultra Fit, WorkOut Magazine and Muscle & Fitness.
Pearce’s athletic career started when she represented Great Britain at the age of 15 in the pentathlon and progressed to senior honors and a place in the European Cup heptathlon team at the age of 24, where she helped the team secure their place in the Super League. She is a two-time national AAA heptathlon champion and a silver medalist in the long jump. She transferred her speed and power to ice and made her debut on the Great Britain bobsleigh team at the World Bobsleigh Championships in Calgary, where the Team GB won the silver medal. Her athletic success led her to become the face of the Adidas/Polar clothing line and model for sporting brands Nike, Reebok and Speedo. She is also the official spokesperson for Power Plate delivering accredited courses to trainers, professional sports teams and healthcare officials around the world. In 2008 Pearce took a role as Ice on the television show Gladiators, the UK franchise of the popular American Gladiators television program and she is now a regular TV sport and fitness presenter. Pearce lives in the United Kingdom.
Chapter 1 Training Essentials
Chapter 2 Fitness Assessments
Chapter 3 Nutrition Matters
Chapter 4 Warming Up and Cooling Down
Chapter 5 All In Aerobics
Chapter 6 Go Anaerobic
Chapter 7 Going Strong
Chapter 8 Power Up
Chapter 9 Get Agile
Chapter 10 Personalise Your Programme
Chapter 11 Sample Workouts and Programmes
Chapter 12 Training Diary
- Resistance training actually breaks down the muscle at a cellular level, and the body absorbs protein into the muscles to help them repair. The phenomenon at work, known as super-compensation, allows the muscles to absorb more than is required to repair themselves and so the muscle fibers become thicker and therefore stronger. Over time people will become stronger and if they are working out regularly, the loads they lift will need to be incrementally increased for each exercise, which is referred to physiologically as the principle of progressive overload.
- If the workout goal is weight loss, then avoid a last-minute preworkout snack, because the carbohydrate boost it provides will delay fat burning while your body works to metabolize the carbohydrate as the primary fuel.
- Hydration levels before a workout can directly influence performance. Even mild dehydration can reduce exercise intensity and duration. You can prevent the onset of dehydration during exercise by drinking water before starting a workout. This does not mean glugging copious amounts of water immediately before a workout, because that will simply dilute essential electrolytes, mainly sodium, which is important for muscle contractions.
- Circuit training and other sessions involving high-volume workloads and short recoveries have been shown to increase VO2max. Additionally, heavy resistance training can improve aerobic capacity in deconditioned individuals.
- Anaerobic exercise, especially resistance exercise, has been found to elevate testosterone, growth hormone, and cortisol for up to 30 minutes after exercise. This effect is more pronounced in men but can be found in women as well. Increases in testosterone can produce greater strength development. Consistent resistance training will lead to chronic changes and the ability to exert more effort in successive training sessions.
- Plyometrics are exercises used to produce power. Women often use plyometrics to improve sport performance. These exercises involve a series of explosive movements that stretch the muscles like a rubber band and then contract them again quickly, enabling fast, powerful movements in sports. Plyometrics actually reduce the time it takes for a muscle in the body to contract, which allows the muscle to exert a greater amount of power and force.
Source: Better Body Workouts for Women (Human Kinetics, 2013)
- How can hula hooping help develop agility?
- What is Fartlek training and how can it be incorporated into a workout?
- To maximize fat loss, why should training focus on total calorie burn rather than percentages from fat as a fuel source?
- Explain the 30-minute window after a workout and what people should eat during this time.
- If your goal is to lose body fat and become leaner, why is anaerobic training more effective than aerobic training?
- What are the benefits of interval training?
- What is the difference between slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers?
- How do vibration plate exercises help to improve power?
- How often should an average fitness enthusiast include a power endurance workout into their weekly fitness routine to see results?
- What are the benefits of using a training diary?
To schedule an interview with Dean Hodgkin or Caroline Pearce, contact Maurey Williamson at 800-747-4457, ext. 7890, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Chapter 1, "Training Essentials"
Joining a Gym
Some clubs consist of a single open studio, while others may offer three climate-controlled studios, a fully equipped gym, pool, spa, indoor–outdoor tennis courts, and squash courts. You may not need a fully equipped center if you only want to use the gym, so ask about whether the club offers a partial membership that you can upgrade later if you wish.
Does the club give good service? Staff should be happy and cheerful, and they should know what they’re talking about. Also, they need to be able to talk to members. A good club has staff who give customers the motivation to stick to a routine and achieve their goals. When you visit a club for the first time, investigate it thoroughly by walking around on your own and asking members if they would recommend it. (The best place to get this information is in the sauna or steam room!) On your first tour of the club, keep an eye open for out-of-order signs, because a club committed to high levels of service will not allow equipment to be off line for very long. These kinds of outages are inconvenient for you, the member. Are the staff motivated to serve you? Member comment and feedback forms and signs showing employees of the month indicate that the club cares about what you think.
The club should have varied types of equipment and in adequate numbers. If you enjoy cardio workouts on the treadmills, bikes, steppers, and rowers, be sure there are enough of them to go with the high volume of members at peak times. The last thing you want is to have to wait to use equipment. A good sign is a club imposing a time limit on cardio equipment during busy periods. On the conditioning side, look for clean gym stations. Feel free to ask if these are serviced regularly, because you want to ensure they are safe to use. In addition, there should be a functional area for core and whole-body exercises with the latest pieces available for use, such as ViPR, Flexi-Bar, Powerbags, kettlebells, and the TRX suspension system.
The Price Is Right
There are varying price scales and ranges of facilities and services, so shop around. Often you can get reduced prices if you attend when the club is less busy. Recent government intervention has prevented clubs from tying you into long periods of payment, but it’s worth checking the details. For example, will they defer your membership if you have a long-term illness or have to work away from your home city for a period? Be wary of the recent market addition of budget gyms that offer little service but have the bonus of being low cost with no contractual commitment.
Open All Hours
Club operating hours should fit with your schedule. If you join a club close to home, make sure you can go in the early morning or evening. If it closes at 9:30 p.m. on weekday evenings, does this give you adequate time to travel from work, exercise, and then shower afterward?
If you like taking classes, make sure there is a good range of cutting-edge sessions available. You should check to see that distinctions are made between beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
A Good Fit
Do you feel comfortable in the club environment? Can you picture yourself working out in the gym? Some clubs have separate gyms for women and men. Is this important to you? Most people join clubs within easy reach of the home or workplace because when it’s cold, dark, and late, you’re more likely to opt out of your session if it takes too much effort to get there. If you need parking space, is there enough? If you have children, are they welcome at the club? If so, at what times? Is a day care facility or perhaps a children’s activity program at the facility?
Let Your Hair Down
Does the club have a social events calendar, and is it the sort of thing you might be interested in? Events such as themed cuisine nights and activity holidays are clubs within the club, which will enable you to really get the most from the investment you have made in your membership. Will you really feel a part of the club and valued by its staff? Perhaps you’ll receive regular newsletters so you will not miss out on anything new. The staff at the club might even send you birthday and holiday cards. All of these could lead you to feel just that little bit more comfortable and so more willing to stick to your fitness routine at the gym.
Is there adequate locker storage in the changing rooms? Are the wet areas kept clean and dry to prevent the spread of germs and viruses? Are hair dryers, towels, soap, and shampoo provided? Are the showers group style or private, and which do you prefer? Are there adequate mirrors and dressing tables? Above all, a club, particularly the changing rooms, should be kept spotless.
From Chapter 5, "Building Strength"
Strength and Muscle Structure
To understand how various improvements are made, you need to appreciate that muscles are composed of two distinct types of fibers. This is a vital concept because each type responds uniquely to training stimuli and so determine the results. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are white in color and contract quickly but also tire equally rapidly, so they are suited to high-intensity, short-duration exertions. Fast-twitch fibers can be subdivided into two categories: Some fibers are able to contract quickly but with a little more staying power than typical fast-twitch fibers. These pink fibers, as they are known, are incredibly useful because they can assist the slow-twitch fibers if the intensity increases in an endurance event and also support the fast-twitch fibers when they begin to fail, allowing for a few extra repetitions, yards, or seconds. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are red because they hold myoglobin, where oxygen is stored. They also contain a high concentration of mitochondria, an enzyme that is vital for the production of energy in the muscle cells. These muscle fibers are slow to contract but also slow to fatigue so are ideally suited to activities of a lower intensity and longer duration (in other words, endurance events). Your predominant fiber type depends on your genetics. (It has been suggested that if you wish to win an Olympic gold medal, you should choose your parents and grandparents very carefully!)
This understanding of muscle structure leads to the following training advice:
- Strength will improve through stimulating the fast-twitch fibers, meaning that you should lift heavy loads. By definition, this allows for only a few repetitions. The body’s adaptive response will be to enhance the neuromuscular processes that govern the number of muscle fibers recruited in the exercise together with how frequently they fire, resulting in an increase in the force generated.
- Working with a moderate load will allow for a greater number of repetitions, resulting in the deployment of both fast- and slow-twitch fibers. Since more muscle fibers are taxed and therefore develop by increasing their cross-sectional area due to a thickening of the individual fibers, this is the optimal mode for increasing muscle size.
Endurance capacity will be heightened through adaptations in the slow-twitch fibers that respond to low resistance and high repetitions. Training for endurance carries an associated loss in strength and muscle mass. Although the slow-twitch fibers increase in size, they are much smaller than their fast-twitch counterparts.
From Chapter 3, "Fueling for Recovery and Performance"
What to Eat?
It is easy to choose good preworkout foods according to their macronutrient category, so we will look at carbohydrate, protein, and fat, as well as fiber, to help you make the best food selections.
The majority of calories in your preworkout meal, around 60 to 80 percent, should come from carbohydrate. Carbohydrate will raise your blood glucose level, boost muscle and liver glycogen levels, and aid performance, particularly endurance performance. Choose carbohydrate that has a low glycemic index (GI) and therefore releases energy slowly. All types of ingested carbohydrate release sugar, which triggers the release of the hormone insulin from the pancreas. This results in a rapid decrease in the blood sugar level, followed shortly by increased hunger. But different sources of carbohydrate release their sugar at different rates. The GI indicates the speed at which a food releases its sugar. Good examples of low-GI carbohydrates are whole-grain breads, oatmeal, beans, and lentils. As a general rule, the earlier you eat before a workout, the lower-GI food you should choose.
You should add some protein to your preworkout meal to further slow the release of the carbohydrate and delay the onset of fatigue. Complete proteins (those that contain all the essential amino acids your body needs) are a good choice and include eggs, lean meats (chicken and turkey), and fish. But you can add incomplete proteins (those that contain some but not all of the essential amino acids) because they are often more convenient to prepare and readily available. These include nuts, beans, lentils, and yogurt. Three essential amino acids in particular, known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), have been found to benefit performance when consumed before aerobic exercise. And other research has shown that combining BCAAs with carbohydrate before strenuous exercise stimulates protein synthesis after exercise, improving your speed of recovery. Whole eggs are a good source of BCAAs, or you can use supplements.
Avoid excessive fat in your preworkout meal because fatty foods (especially fried foods) delay digestion and can cause discomfort.
Though high-fiber foods are an excellent way to lower the GI of a food and are great as part of your general daily diet, they may not be ideal as a preexercise meal. The fiber in some foods can be so dense that it sits in your gut for several hours, soaking up fluids and swelling, which is an uncomfortable feeling at the start of a workout. So keep your preworkout meal low in fiber to avoid unnecessary discomfort.
Here are a few options:
- Chicken and soft vegetable broth-based soup.Lean protein combined with easily digestible vegetables is a great combination of slow-release carbohydrate and protein with the added bonus of hydration from the broth.
- Sweet potato with tuna. Sweet potato has a lower GI value than a regular potato and is packed with vitamins, while the tuna containss omega-3s and lean protein.
- Boiled egg and fresh fruit. Eggs are loaded with protein and easily digested. Combine with a banana or melon for an easily digested fruit choice.
- Whole-grain crackers with cottage cheese—This snack feels quite substantial and satisfying. Cottage cheese is high in protein and low in fat and can be combined with pineapple chunks or herbs for added flavor.
- Baby food. This may sound like an odd choice for an adult, but it is readily available and easily digested. Good choices are those with fruits or vegetables combined with chopped meats such as turkey, fish, or chicken.
- Meal-replacement bars. Though these are our least recommended option because they are highly processed, they can be a valuable option when “real” food is not readily available. They’re available almost everywhere and are stored and carried easily. Though most are primarily carbohydrate based, they also contain protein to slow the glycemic reaction and add some BCAAs to the meal. However, be aware that they can be dry and may draw fluids from your cells into the gut to assist with digestion, leaving you dehydrated, so you must drink lots of water with them.
Blended low-fiber fruit, fruit juice, and protein powder. Combining easily digested carbohydrate with protein, including BCAAs, will help release energy slowly. Some people digest this liquid formula more easily than whole foods. Add some low-fat yogurt if you need a more substantial meal.