Women aren’t the only ones looking in the mirror – men are increasingly conscious of body image these days. Having well-defined “six-pack” abs, great biceps and pecs, and low body fat are stereotypical ideals suggested by men’s fitness magazines.
Whether your goal is toning, body building, or improved fitness and stamina, you expect a certain result from the time you invest in exercise. It can be frustrating to find that hours spent sweating in the gym or on the track don’t produce the same results for you that others enjoy. So why is it that your body doesn’t respond to exercise like other guys?
The reason is that different body types respond differently to exercise, and to different types of exercise. Even the best time of day to exercise varies by body type. Musculature characteristics also vary by body type, and should be factored into a realistic physique goal. Fortunately, knowing your body type allows you to achieve your most optimal physique.
DIFFERENT BODIES, DIFFERENT EXERCISES
Are you getting the results you want from your current exercise routines? What kinds of exercise are optimal for you?
Traditional gym exercises and machines repetitively work one muscle group at a time, to tone and build muscle. The more weight and reps, the more you gain, right? Sure – as long as you’re a Medulla, Nervous System, Pituitary, Stomach or Thymus body type. However, these repetitive, high impact exercises are counter-productive for certain body types. Blood and Intestinal body types can become exhausted from heavy exercise, leading to digestive or other issues. Other body types will also achieve different levels of result from conventional gym activities.
Aerobic exercises and full-body activities come in many forms, and target multiple muscle groups. They can provide cardiac and metabolism benefits in addition to muscle toning, with less emphasis on muscle building. Low impact exercises, such as walking or swimming, are the most beneficial form of exercise for Blood and Intestinal types, which can easily be physically stressed by intense workouts. Vigorous exercises targeting specific areas of the body are especially beneficial to some. Kick boxing can be great for Eye and Lung body types, as they benefit well from vigorous lower-body activities, both physically and through the release of stressful emotions.
Activities such as dancing or tennis are great for fluidity and hand/eye coordination, which especially benefit Liver and Medulla body types. Hypothalamus body types also benefit from activities which aid in physical integration.
Exercise should feel good to you, or you’re less likely to be consistent. Know what you enjoy, and what feels good to you. Do you prefer interactive forms of exercise – such as classes, team sports, or group activities? Then you might be a Heart, Nervous System or Skin body type – which need interaction and connections with others in nearly every aspect of their lives in order for it to appeal to them.
Do you prefer exercising outdoors? Adrenal body types benefit from exercise involving geographic movement, such as biking, running or swimming, because it releases pent-up energies in the body, while stationary exercises (such as gym machines) can have the opposite effect. Other body types gain a specific benefit from sunlight while exercising – including Balanced, Gonadal and Thymus. Don’t overlook hiking as a great form of exercise - if you enjoy it then you’re more likely to do it.
Do you get easily bored with an exercise routine? Variety is especially important for certain body types – such as Balanced and Lymph – in order to keep them interested.
WHEN TO EXERCISE?
It may not surprise you that there’s an optimal time of day to exercise; but it may surprise you to learn that it varies by body type. Each body type has a different metabolism pattern, and has enough reserve energy for productive exercise at different times of the day.
Medulla body types are better off exercising later in the day, as morning exercise results in fatigue by mid-afternoon. Pineals are the opposite, as they have more energy for productive exercise before 3:00 PM. Intestinals are more easily exhausted by morning or evening exercise, so 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM is the best exercise time in order to leave them with energy for the rest of their day.
For some body types, exercise serves other benefits such as the release of stress, clearing the mind, or activating the immune or lymph systems. Lymph body types are best exercising first thing in the morning to get everything moving, while Adrenals benefit more from exercising after 5:00 PM as this releases the stress built up throughout the day. For Thalamus body types, the key benefit to exercise is clearing the mind, so brief activities scattered throughout the day are best for them.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXERCISE?
When toning, and especially building, muscle, conventions say that a 24-48 hour rest is important for muscle building and recovery between workouts. Physical trainers typically suggest a 5-day routine with specific muscle groups targeted every other day. While this is true for many or most, there are exceptions.
Sometimes the best frequency for exercise has nothing to do with muscle building. For example, while Adrenal body types do get physical results from exercise, their greatest benefit is that it helps them release stress. So exercising at least 40 minutes daily will help them emotionally as much as physically. And while Eye body types are recommended to exercise every other day, during times of higher stress they will benefit from daily workouts to help release pent up emotion.
For some, steady exercise is essential. Lymphs should exercise at least every other day or they can easily become depressed. Nervous System body types should also exercise every other day, as this activates their immune system.
DEFINE YOUR OWN GOALS
The success of any workout program is measured by setting realistic goals. Despite best efforts, not all men can achieve that Adonis physique – for more than one reason.
Some body types enjoy a naturally solid musculature that’s easy to maintain. This is most obvious with Adrenal, Brain, Kidney, Liver, Lymph, Stomach and Thymus body types. Most of the other 25 body types can attain at least a moderate musculature with some work.
The typical football linebacker will be an Adrenal or a Stomach body type. Many basketball players are Hypothalamus or Thymus body types, tall and slender with long, lean muscles. Bodybuilders are often Lymph or Adrenal – they have the proportions as well as the musculature. Lymph and Kidney body types are the most likely to be personal trainers or teach an exercise class.
Others have a naturally soft musculature that makes muscle definition difficult – including Eye, Heart, Intestinal, Skin and Spleen. Even with toned muscles, some body types have a persistent soft layer that hides torso definition and abs. This is most prevalent with Gallbladder, Pancreas, Pituitary and Skin body types.
While Adrenal body types have broad shoulders and solid musculature which responds well to exercise, they have a tendency to easily develop a fat layer or even a “beer gut” quite easily. Thymus body types are tall with solid musculature but they are very lean and seldom can “bulk up” with muscle mass – emphasis on muscle toning is more productive for them, and they find it especially difficult to develop muscle mass in their calves.
As described in many examples above, exercise has many benefits beyond muscular definition – including weight management, stress release, social interaction, and even digestion. Knowing your body type allows you to set a realistic goal for your own physique and enjoy the many benefits of exercise without frustration or disappointment. When you set your own standards based upon your body type, success becomes realistic and achievable!