Although I am “in shape” now, it has not always been that easy.

I have been lean enough to have veins on my stomach and back, and I have felt overweight enough to be uncomfortable in my clothes or at the beach (probably around 25% body fat at those times).

The good news for me is that I’ve figured out for myself what it takes to get in shape and look close to my “ideal” image of how I’d like to look. The bad news is that it takes me a lot of effort. I’ve never been the guy at the gym that eats McDonald’s every day, drinks soda, and skips working out for a month at a time and still somehow keeps muscle mass and stays lean.

Understanding your body type and your body’s reaction to what you take in is key in creating the body you want. If you don’t know the body types, there is essentially 3 types, ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. You can read some more about them here (I would ignore the psychological inclinations they suggest for each body type).

Don’t read into these body types as some sort of prophecy for how your physical body will/should be. There is a lot of cross over, and it is very imprecise “science.”

What you do need to figure out is what are your tendencies?

Have you been skinny easily without watching what you eat, can you put muscle on easily, can you lose fat easily, what happens when you eat certain things?

I’ll walk you through what I have learned over the years about myself. I am closest to being an endomorph with some mesomorphic tendencies. If I’m complacent, eat bad, and don’t work out, I’ll probably gain fat easily. It has always taken effort and consistency to stay lean. However, I can put on muscle quickly (part of that is also understanding the mechanics and nutrition to put on muscle). I just start eating more and lifting heavier and harder. I am also very carbohydrate sensitive. If I eat a lot of carbohydrates, I tend to be more tired, and I tend to gain fat. Also, when I eat them I always want more! I don’t do cheat days because they turn into cheat weeks.

I have had friends that were always skinny and had trouble gaining muscle (typically closer to an ectomorph). For them, once they applied the right workout techniques, they needed to eat more calories because their natural tendency was to have/use more energy, and to burn more calories. You cannot put on muscle when you’re burning more calories than you take in.

When you figure out your body type and body tendencies, you can then use them to your advantage to get in shape, build more endurance, more muscle, more strength, sculpt your body, or hit whatever your goals are easier.

Have a question? You can comment below.