The Best Workout for Your Shape

If you're stuck in a workout rut or find yourself flat-out uninspired to get in shape, perhaps a fitness mismatch is to blame. "One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to exercise," says our mind-body fitness expert Ellen Barrett. A friend's "amazing workout" may be your recipe for boredom, just as what motivates you may fail to inspire her. The key to staying fit for life, our experts say, lies in pairing your program to your body type. You'll see the best results -- and have the most fun along the way.

Schools of thought in both the West and East (specifically, India's Ayurveda) put people into three camps: muscular/athletic, slender/quick, or curvy/steady. You probably lean toward one grouping, but "most people are hybrids," explains Barrett. "You'll often have both a primary and secondary type." Each category has its strengths, and the optimal fitness plan capitalizes on these while also helping you to balance out your weaknesses.

To find the one that best caters to your body type, identify yourself in the descriptions that follow. "You'll be much more likely to stick with a program that suits your individual needs," says Jennifer Kries, a Philadelphia-based Pilates instructor and creator of the Hot Body Cool Mind: The Life Force Power Workout DVDs. "You'll also build greater self-respect as you do." And that might be the best benefit of all.

Decide your body type and get your new customized workout:
Ectomorph: Slender (Energetic and Quick)
Endomorph: Curvy (Strong and Steady)
Mesomorph: Muscular (Driven and Athletic)

Text by Kate Hanley; photographs by Henry Leutwyler

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Comments (11)

  • Shortcut73 28 Jun, 2009

    The links on the right work! I guess the IT dept is taking a break.

  • PhoebesMom 24 Feb, 2009

    Hey... the links don't work, are they going to be fixed?

  • Linda1149 23 Feb, 2009

    Would love to read more.....but your links don't work! Please repair! Thanks.

  • cherylrc 23 Feb, 2009

    The links still do not work. Please fix them. Thank you!

  • Romero55 14 Feb, 2009

    The above links still don't work. Can you fix them? Thanks.

  • 38DDD 24 Jan, 2009

    The above links do not work - please fix.

  • mmovita 10 Mar, 2008

    What do you focus on to pick a workout? Do you look at the results you'd like to achieve? Do you look at the trendiest? How do you compare the usefulness of one workout vs. the other? What could I get from Ayurveda vs. Tai Chi vs. Yoga?

    There is a site being built that might be just what a consumer needs to make these choices. Would you find this useful?

  • Glittermist 2 Mar, 2008

    I think that it is a little offensive to link the way you look to your personality. That is what this field of thinking does. I think what they suggest for exercises are not helpful. What if you are an ectomorph but hate walking? We should just do the types of exercises we enjoy, which is the point of the article anyway. Duh.it.chttp://www.marthastewart.com/images/assets/module/registration/reg_submi...
    submitrap, thats what this article means.

  • ellenlouise3 28 Feb, 2008

    I am not any of these shapes or personalities. Is there a way to combine soem of these workouts for a slender person who is steady and sdriven but not quick or athletic?

  • karenlmartin 27 Feb, 2008

    What about middle-aged pear-shape?? I was disappointed to see there were only 3 categories and I wasn't one of them. Used to be ectomorph. Am I now a sub-category of endomorph?

  • julieaboyd 17 Feb, 2008

    I bought the Skinny Jeans CD after seeing it on your show - was a little disappointed it was so short. I teach at the YMCA and hoped to use it in classes (it sounded motivating) but with classes 45 - 60 minutes in length and the CD only 30 it was disappointing - liked the CD - just too short!

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