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What's Your Type?...Body Type, That Is.

by StephenKelly

Gay men love good bodies: They like looking at good bodies, and they like having good bodies. Gay men love to sing the body electric.

But before trying to build the type of bod that may one day be featured on a shopping bag, it's important to know your body type. This knowledge will help refine your goals, determine your diet and choose the workout routine that works for you. It will also help you avoid setting unrealistic expectations.

There are three basic body types. Thin, lean guys are "ectomorphs"; athletic, muscled guys are "mesomorphs"; and bulky, bearish types are "endomorphs." While everyone shares traits of the three, we all have predominance for one specific type. To determine your true body type, try looking at pictures of yourself as a kid. If you were a skinny kid, chances are you're a skinny adult.

The problem is that a lot of guys are dissatisfied with their body types. The bulky guys want to be lean, and the lean guys want to be bulky. But your genetic infrastructure was determined back when you were just a gleam in your daddy's eye. And the harsh fact is that it's hard, if not impossible, to bust out of those genes.

The good news is that although we may be somewhat restricted by our genetically predetermined body shapes, we can look damn good working within those parameters. Let's take a close look at the three body types and how to approach a workout regimen that will bring results. Which body type are you? You be the judge:

The Endomorph: Hey, Big Boy
If you've ever been called "husky," "stocky" or "big-boned," you're probably an endomorph. Thick, short and squat with physical qualities attractive to the average bear, the endomorph tends to have a high percentage of both body fat and muscle. So while the endomorph has a hard time shedding fat, he also has little trouble building muscle. But slimming down enough to make those muscles pop is the challenge for the endomorph looking to go from beefy to beefcake.

So the endomorph wanting Russell Crowe's "Gladiator" look needs to jack up his metabolism, effectively turning his bulky bod into a mean, fat-burning machine. And that means a workout routine that's high in cardio. That's right, endos, it's time to get on your bikes and ride. Or run. Or walk real fast. But it's going to take at least four sessions a week of sustained aerobic exercise to deflate that pesky spare tire.

In the meantime, the endomorph should be lifting moderate weights at higher reps, ideally 12 to 15 per set, emphasizing some of the bigger muscle groups such as chest and legs. Remember: The harder the work, the higher your metabolism level is going to rise, and that's what it's all about for you big boys.
Of course, proper nutrition plays a big part in shedding body fat, so every day the bodybuilding endomorph should be eating six to seven small-portioned meals that are low in fat and high in lean protein sources, such as poultry, fish and egg whites.

The Ectomorph: The Slim Jim
The polar opposite of the endomorph, the ectomorph is usually lean with delicate features and a linear physique noted for its flat chest, slight muscles and long arms and legs. Now that description might scream "geek," but I assure you it's not as bad as it sounds. Think Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps in his Speedo. Or Lycra-clad Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. Now focus back here. Both athletes are perfect examples of the ectomorph at his physical peak.

But getting that kind of body is a challenge for ectomorphs, as their naturally high metabolisms and lack of body fat make them what we fitness professionals call "hard gainers." That may sound like a new Jeff Stryker video, but it's actually a term describing someone who has difficulty putting on weight and muscle.

So ectomorphs looking to bulk up should lift heavy weights at lower reps to promote deeper muscle stimulation, which in turn increases mass. Barbells and dumbbells are best for this, as they allow full range of motion while mimicking natural body movement. You endomorphs needn't worry about the cardio, either, as the goal is to put on weight and muscle rather than shred it off through extended aerobic activity.

And eat. Eat! You skinny endos need to be packing on the calories through a diet of frequent, complete, healthy meals and snacks, ideally six to seven a day. Look at the foods you are eating now and add another 500 to 1000 calories per day. You guys burn through fuel quickly, so it's important to keep the tank full.

The Mesomorph: Best of All Worlds
Don't hate them because they're beautiful. But the lucky mesomorphs fall directly into that middle zone that collects the best attributes of all three types. Athletic-looking with a solid, symmetrical body and excellent posture, the mesomorph has little trouble putting on muscle and is able to maintain a desirable weight, provided he stays on a healthy diet. Think gay icon Reichen Lehmkuhl or CSI hottie George Eads and you've got the idea.

However, this ability to build muscle easily is often the downfall for the cocky mesomorph, who can often go weeks of inactivity and eating binges in the faith that his genetics will help him snap out of such stretches. This becomes a tad trickier as we grow older and the inevitable changes in metabolism start happening. But the mesomorph who keeps on a regular fitness routine will have no trouble building and keeping muscle and will probably be in good shape for his entire life.

Because they grow muscle easily, mesomorphs should be giving it their all in the gym. Heavy weights at higher reps performed explosively will keep that body ripped, while four weekly 30-minute cardio sessions is all the mesomorph needs to shed body fat without losing precious muscle.

Of course, all this muscle-building demands a diet high in protein, and the mesomorph should be going for a meal/snack every three to four hours that includes some kind of protein, either through natural food sources or powders. As with any healthy diet, the mesomorph should also be getting a healthy balance of carbs and fats as well.