By Sophia Godkin, PhD
It’s no secret that exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s also no secret that 75% of adults don’t get enough of it and of these, 25% or so don’t get any. Couple these numbers with the fact that about 1/2 of adults who start an exercise program drop out within 6 months and it’s clear that something about the way we’re exercising isn’t working.
Why Your Last Exercise Routine Didn’t Stick or Didn’t Work
Whether to feel better, look better, lose weight, tone, or be in better health, when we devote time and effort to moving our body, we expect to see results.
“But I did 100 burpees, 150 situps, and 200 squats each week for the last five weeks, and still- nothing! I don’t feel better, I don’t look better, and the number on the scale hasn’t changed an ounce.” How could this be?
There is one big reason why you may be putting in effort and hard work yet not seeing results.
And it is this: Your workout isn’t working because it wasn’t made for you.
You’ve got a body like Oprah Winfrey but are doing exercises intended for Tyra Banks. You’re built like Will Smith but are training like The Rock. You’ve got the musculature of Reese Witherspoon yet you’re pushing yourself as if you’re Serena Williams. Not only are you not getting the desired benefits to your health and appearance, it’s likely that you’re not enjoying your workouts very much either.
How To Find The Best Workout For You
Make your workouts count by getting to know your body. What body type do you have? Are you a long and lean ectomorph? A medium-framed mesomorph? A large-boned endomorph? Or a combination of types? If you’re not sure or just want some confirmation, take this 3-minute health type test to find out. By knowing how your body is built, you will better understand how it responds to certain types of training and what types of movement it benefits from most so you can create the best possible version of your body to look and feel your best.
To help you on your way, here are the best types of workouts, along with the best moves (no equipment or just a pair of dumbbells needed), exercise classes and activities to try for your unique body.
If you are an Ectomorph…
Activities of light intensity like aerobics, walking, light bicycling, and stretching for about 30 minutes a day are a good start for you. Boot camp-style classes, on the other hand, can lead you to push yourself too far. Don’t overdo it. If you reach exhaustion and your heart is racing exponentially, that is a sign that you have pushed yourself too far. Be mindful of what works best for you as an Ectomorph (Sensor or Crusader according to the health type test). You don’t need to move for a long time like some of the other body types though your body will enjoy activities with rhythmic, repetitive motion like running or cycling. Know that just as you have a hard time gaining fat, you also have a hard time gaining muscle no matter the intensity or frequency of your training. Lifting heavy weights will be stressful to your body so keep the weight and reps low-to-medium if you include strength training as part of your workout. Given your thin frame and scant fat and muscle, be sure to stay warm and don’t exercise outside in the cold winter months.
Moves to Try:
Classes/Activities to Try:
- Dance or Step Aerobics
- Distance Cycling (consider trying a Pro-Cycling class)
- Swimming (heated pools preferred)
- Running (consider training for a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, or a Triathlon)
- Ballet or Barre (consider giving Pure Barre or Barre3 a try)
- Core- and Spine-Strengthening (check out Foundation Training)
- Yoga (Vinyasa, Bikram, and/or Kundalini Yoga, heated class preferred)
- Tai Chi (especially good for you if you are a female blend of an Ectomorph and Endomorph)
If you are a Mesomorph…
As a mesomorph (Activator or Connector according to the health type test), continuous movement of high intensity, or that alternates between medium and high intensity, is great for your body. Make it a priority to move regularly throughout the day. Sports that include a challenge like hiking and climbing are great to engage your competitive, driven, determined nature, motivate you to perform your best, and bring you a sense of achievement. Strength training, jogging, explosive activities and exercises that engage hand-eye coordination will work wonders for your body too. If you are a meso-endomorph blend (ie a Connector), be sure to keep exercise fun for maximal long-term benefit. Exercising in nature, enjoying the views and the cool air is great for you too. No matter the activity, be sure to get some deep rest once you’re done. At the end of the day, get plenty of sleep to help your body build muscle while at rest.
Moves to Try:
- Dumbbell Chest Press
- Reverse Dumbbell Chop
- Legs Up The Wall
- Jump Squat
- Dumbbell Chest Fly
- Flutter Kicks
Classes/Activities to Try:
- Rhythmic Cardio (Zumba, Cardio Kickboxing)
- Resistance Training (BodyPump)
- Challenging Sports (Hiking, Climbing)
- Sports with Hand-Eye Coordination (Tennis, Volleyball)
- Interval Training Workout (Tabata, Circuit Training)
- Group Spin Class (try a class like SoulCycle or FlyWheel where you can compare your performance to others’)
- Core Strengthening (give Pilates with Cassey Ho of Blogilates a try)
- Yoga (Vinyasa Flow, Hatha, or Power Yoga, non-heated class preferred)
If you are an Endomorph…
As an endomorph (Guardian or Diplomat according to the health type test), you are strong and sturdy, rendering endurance sports ideal for you. Weight training can help to move blood through your veins and cardiovascular exercise of light to moderate intensity can help to decongest and promote circulation of oxygen through your body. Dancing can be a great way to work on your poise and balance while simultaneously encouraging you to move your body in the company of people who are friendly and supportive. If you are an endo-ectomorph blend (ie a Diplomat) and a male, exercises that strengthen your upper body are ideal; as a female endo-ectomorph, your body will love light aerobics and yoga. Whatever you do, go at your own pace and be easy on your joints. Make sure to warm up properly before you get moving to keep your feet, ankles, and knees healthy well into the future.
Moves to Try:
Classes/Activities to Try:
- Light Aerobics
- Full Body Strength Training (like BodyPump or a Kettlebell Group Exercise Class)
- Dancing (consider trying POUND, Zumba, or a Ballroom Dance Class)
- Contact Sports (Boxing, Wrestling, Rugby)
- Endurance Sports (give Swimming or Rowing a try)
- Yoga (Vinyasa, Hatha, and/or Restorative Yoga variations)
Whatever your body type and preferences, there is a workout that will leave you seeing results, feeling great, and coming back for more. So get to know your body and then get out there, try something new, and see how your body responds. Remember: Your body is your home for the rest of your life. Nourish it with the right kind of movement and it will keep you happy for a long time to come.
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Sophia Godkin, PhD is a Psychologist, Personalized Health, Happiness, and Mindset Coach, and a University Professor. Her life mission is to help people on their journeys to gain utmost joy, health, and freedom. She supports her clients in one-on-one sessions and group workshops to better understand the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of who they are. By guiding them to see clearly the wisdom contained within their own body, mind, and heart, Sophia helps people to rise up from life’s challenges. Her clients become happier, braver, and more fulfilled than they ever thought they could be. Sophia enjoys traveling internationally teaching the principles of happiness to all who are interested and ready for the pursuit of a lifetime. Join Dr Sophia’s ‘Happiness Doctor’ community and follow her on Twitter.