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Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body: A Workout Plan for Your Unique Shape (Quick & Dirty Tips) Paperback – May 8, 2012
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About the Author
Voted the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Trainer of the Year in 2008, Ben Greenfield is recognized as one of the top fitness, triathlon and nutrition experts in the nation, with multiple books and DVDs to his credit. He is the host of the popular Get-Fit Guy podcast at QuickAndDirtyTips.com with an average 170,000 downloads per month.
Ben coaches and trains individuals for weight loss, lean muscle gain, holistic wellness, and sports performance all over the world via his company, Pacific Elite Fitness. He also runs the Rock Star Triathlete, the Internet's top school for learning the sport of triathlon and the business of triathlon coaching. Ben's popular fitness, nutrition and wellness website (BenGreenfieldFitness.com) features blogs, podcasts, and product reviews. His credentials include: Bachelor's and Master's degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology, personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the NSCA, a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), and over 10 years experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports. Ben is a top-ranked triathlete for Triathlon Northwest and has finished multiple Ironmans.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Take a look at your ankles. Are they bony? Thick? Muscular? Now move up to your calves. Are they square? Round? Embarrassingly nonexistent?
What about your hips? Are they narrow or curvaceous? As you continue to move up your body, you’ll see and feel unique anatomical characteristics that specifically define you, including the shape of your waist and stomach, the breadth of your shoulders, the thickness of your chest, the length of your neck, the size of your wrists, and the roundness of your arms.
Based upon your personal genetics, your fitness, and your health history, your body is unique. Sure, you may have certain characteristics that you’ve probably noticed on other people too (like broad shoulders or skinny ankles), but life would be pretty boring if we were all identical carbon copies of one another.
And that’s not all. Not only is your current body unique, but your ideal body is also unique. To understand what I mean, let’s try this exercise: Close your eyes and imagine the perfect you. What does that perfect you—your dream body—actually look like? Are your dream body’s shoulders broader than your current shoulders? Are your dream body’s waist and calves thinner than your current versions? Do your dream body’s buttocks fit better into your favorite pair of pants?
Personally, I would prefer less annoyingly bony shoulders, a thicker and more muscular waist, and a more developed backside that might fill out my favorite jeans.
But that’s just me.
So whose ideal body is perfect—yours or mine? The answer is neither. Based on the biological individuality of human beings, each of us will have a different shape for our perfect body. Those of us who get fit or lose weight won’t finish with identical bodies, and the same is true for those who lose fitness or gain weight.
As a matter of fact, in traditional medical and exercise body typing, also called somatotyping, people are never just skinny or fat. Instead, each of us is placed into one of eight basic body types: female ectomorph, mesomorph, meso-endomorph, and endomorph; and male endomorph, ecto-mesomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.
Each of these body types has a different basic shape and a different possible ideal body. That’s why the perfect shape for one body type simply may not be aesthetically pleasing (or possible) for another body type.
So where did these oddly named categories come from? We’ll have to rewind a few years to go back to the first instance of body typing. Back in the fifth century BC, the philosopher Hippocrates proposed two basic body types, and the Latin phrases he used to describe them can be translated as a long thin body or a short thick body.
More than a thousand years later, in the early 1800s, French physicians began to refer to three different body types: digestif, musculaire, and cerebral. But body types weren’t quantified or described more fully until 1919, when an Italian anthropometrist named Viola took ten measurements of the bodies of a large group of people, compared the individuals to a group average, and came up with three different and difficult-to-pronounce body types, which he quantified and described as:
Microsplanchnic small trunk and long limbs, 24 percent of the population
Macrosplanchnic large body and short limbs, 28 percent of the population
Normosplanchnic an intermediate group 48 percent of the population
A few years later, Ernst Kretschmer, a German psychiatrist, described three body types (and interestingly linked each one to psychiatric problems, which I will conveniently not address in this book). His types were:
Pyknic broad, round, and sturdy
Leptosome long and thin, a linear body
Athletic large and muscular thorax and shoulders
Later, in the 1940s, American psychologist William Sheldon outlined his take on the three basic physiques, using language with which you may be slightly more familiar:
Endomorphic spherical body, weak arms, fatty arms and thighs
Mesomorphic broad shoulders and chest, muscled arms and legs
Ectomorphic linear, spindly limbs, narrow chest and abdomen, little muscle and little fat
Sheldon took his definitions one step further and devised a method of body typing called somatotyping, which was eventually turned into a mathematical model in the late 1960s. In this model, bone length, height-to-weight ratios, fat percentage, photographic analysis, and other measurements were used to develop what is called the Heath-Carter anthropometric somatotype. This model, although very complicated and a real head scratcher if you don’t have a math degree, still serves as the basis for scientifically identifying body types.
Of course, most people don’t have access to the many tools of measurement and mathematical prowess required for the Heath-Carter anthropometric somatotype method, so you’re going to find a far more simple body-typing method within the next few pages of this book.
But first let’s delve into a better description of what each body type actually is, since all these “morphisms” can seem confusing. Although I’ll give you more detail later on, the lists below briefly illustrate each of the body types for both women and men.
Female Body TypesEctomorph
Female ectomorphs are waifish and slim, with thin necks, shoulders, hips, wrists, calves, and ankles—shaped like a ruler. Ectomorphs usually put on weight in their stomach and upper hips, while maintaining slender arms and legs. Taller female ectomorphs tend to be slightly more muscular and are often skilled at endurance sports, but lack the ability to develop curves without the proper exercise program. Gwyneth Paltrow, Thandie Newton, and Kylie Minogue are examples of ectomorphs. Cameron Diaz and Katherine Heigl are taller ectomorphs.
Female mesomorphs tend to have a classic hourglass shape, with wide shoulders and hips and a distinctively narrow waist. They tend to gain weight and lose weight proportionally in the hips and buttocks, upper back and chest, and have curvy bodies that balance out a bikini top and bottom. A slight weight gain can appear sizable because the mesomorph’s body fat easily hides muscle. This type tends to be very athletic and good at a variety of sports and activities. Jessica Simpson, Beyoncé, Scarlett Johansson, Britney Spears, and Jessica Biel are examples of mesomorphs.
Because of the biological tendency for females to carry more fat than males, female meso-endomorphs are far more common than the male equivalent cross of an ectomorph and mesomorph. They tend to have mid-thickness waists and ankles, small to medium-size shoulders and chests, and wider hips—shaped like a pear. Although out-of-shape meso-endomorphs appear to have a frail upper body with a disproportionately large lower body, they can easily create balance with a proper exercise program. Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Hurley, Kim Kardashian, and Minnie Driver are examples of in-shape meso-endomorphs.
Female endomorphs are generally bigger on the top half of their bodies than on the bottom. They commonly have narrow hips and a large chest and stomach, with a curvaceous apple shape. Endomorphs tend to gain weight above the waist or along the buttocks. They are typically good at cardiovascular endurance, but can easily put on weight without a customized exercise and nutrition program. Queen Latifah, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Coolidge, and Alex Borstein are examples of endomorphs.
Male Body Types
Male ectomorphs have skinny arms and legs; thin waists, wrists, and ankles; and low muscle mass—shaped like a twig. When they do gain weight due to lack of fitness, they put the weight on their stomach and waist. Ectomorphs are often described in the fitness industry as hard-gainers, because they have a tough time building and maintaining muscle mass. However, they usually have a great deal of physical endurance. Clint Eastwood, Ethan Hawke, Billy Bob Thornton, and Chris Rock are examples of ectomorphs.
Male ecto-mesomorphs can easily fluctuate between being incredibly lean or very muscular. They tend to have broad shoulders; narrow waists, ankles, and wrists; and a V-shaped torso. Like ectomorphs, when they do gain weight, the fat tends to be on the stomach, but can also be on the buttocks. Ecto-mesomorphs can quickly build muscle and tend to be fairly athletic, but not as powerful or explosive as mesomorphs (think of a swimmer versus a linebacker). Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Dwayne Wade are examples of ecto-mesomorphs.
Male mesomorphs are naturally muscular and have a thick, athletic build. They tend to have round, jutting chests, rectangular waists, large arms, thick thighs and calves, and a square shape. Male mesomorphs tend to gain weight easily, especially in the hips, buttocks, upper back, and stomach. Because of their athleticism, mesomorphs respond well to fitness routines and perform well at most physical activities, but must constantly stay active to maintain a fit physique. Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sylvester Stallone, and LL Cool J are examples of mesomorphs.
Male endomorphs are round and typically short (although tall examples, such as Alec Baldwin, do occur). They tend to be curvaceous males with short necks, small shoulders, and thick waists, calves, and ankles—shaped like an apple. Although they tend to have good cardiovascular endurance, endomorphs also have the most difficulty losing weight, and require frequent variations in volume and intensity to maintain fat loss. Seth Rogan, Danny DeVito, Jonah Hill, and Jon Favreau are examples of endomorphs.
You’ve probably noticed that there are two different combo body types: the female meso-e...
Top Customer Reviews
I bought this book anticipating to find out what body type I am and the best workouts and nutrition program for my type. As soon as I got my copy of the book, I excitedly took the questionnaire. But my results ended up with almost equal A, B, and C answers. The book has no explanation for this phenomenon. This makes the rest of the book pretty irrelevant, as the advice hinges on the body type given by the questionnaire.
While I'm sure only a small percentage of people are whatever type I am, I am ultimately left wanting a refund (or an explanation). I say take the online questionnaire BEFORE buying this book. If you are a common body type, definitely buy it. If not, just stick to Ben's more general programs and routines.
Highly recommended for those who are frustrated with their inability to "measure up" to the cultural ideal of beauty. Also great for those who are obsessed over a body type. Great also for offering assurance to those people who feel their bodies are just "built wrong." Those who for some reason are limited in mobility may want to check out Get Fit in Bed by Tartell and Kavanau as well.
Recommended for those who prefer highly customized approaches to fitness and life in general.
Also the workout structures are a bit antiquated and follow more the old style traditional body-builder workout's with body part splits. This is a bit of surprise because Ben in his other resources seems to be more of a functional trainer.
Overall I would recommend this book to the starter or the person with just a small amount of experience in the gym. I would more highly recommend following Ben's blog and podcast!
Taking the lessons he learned from American psychologist William Sheldon, Greenfield says that most people (male and female) fall into various body type categories:
Endo-Mesomorph (Female) or Ecto-Mesomorph (Male)
Each of these categories are described in full detail for you with major characteristics that you may recognize in yourself. Greenfield also provides the names of famous people who fall into each of these categories. Questionnaires are included in each chapter about these body types so you can determine which one you are. Your body's strengths, limitations, ideal body look, proper workout plan and preferred nutrition are all included in each chapter for the body type you are.
Greenfield outlines some excellent workout tips for the uninitiated and and outstanding list of 10 reason why you're not losing weight that are worth the price of admission in this book. He even guides you around your local gym giving you an insider's view on what to do and what not to do when you're there. Pictorial exercise photos at the end of the book take the ambiguity away from whether or not you are doing these exercises properly.
All in all, this book could help get you going in your pursuit of your ideal body. It's not gonna happen on its own, but Ben Greenfield has give you the tools to make it happen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another great hit from Ben.
This is great for me (very fit guy) and my wife (trying to get fit but can't seem to get the right combination of things to make it come together).
Excellently written and informational. Information is well-presented and easy to follow without getting overly technical. The exercise examples and photos are also very helpful.Published on January 3, 2013 by C.Hyde
Interesting book with details of how to work out your body type. Great information about the food to eat and the exercises that will work for you.Published on November 5, 2012 by Isis
Great book for establishing a start on the road to changing your body and creating goals. Ben has great plans for getting into weight training. Read morePublished on July 21, 2012 by Kandice
Ben has written a great book for those beginners starting into fitness training. (We more advanced can always stand to learn a few things too! Read morePublished on July 21, 2012 by Kay L. Lilly, NASM-CPT
As we all know we are all different so one fitness/diet book does not work for everyone. In this book, Ben breaks people into groups and teaches each group the best nutrition and... Read morePublished on June 25, 2012 by Mike