Maxing It Out Part 2: The Mesomorph
by Dr. Peter Fong, M.D.

I hope that all the endomorphs out there have found my last article helpful in their quest to attain their ultimate physique. Now let's spend some time with the mesomorphs. Remember, mesomorphs are those athletes who generally have no problem putting on mass. Their shoulders are broader in relation to their hips, giving them a naturally athletic appearance. Although their belly muscles are thick and powerful, they still must pay attention to their diets as they tend to accumulate fat along with their weight gains.

Resistance training should be at the core of the mesomorph's training program. Since mesomorphs tend to have thick, powerful muscles, I’ve found that moderate to heavy weights are necessary to stimulate growth. Novice mesomorphs don’t always need to push until failure. Your goal is to stimulate muscle growth, not kill your muscles. Muscular growth occurs when a muscle is taxed or challenged. As you become more experienced, you can push yourself to failure, but only with a training partner to spot you properly.

So how do you know when your muscles have been challenged? The "pump". A good, full pump is a sign that your muscles are working maximally and recruiting a high volume of blood to meet their needs. If you push further, your muscles' needs will not be met. While training to failure can promote growth, the risk for injury increases. As you gain more experience, you may want to try this, but only with a good spot from a training partner. Train smart! Also, remember to take your rest time between sets. During this time, I recommend that you stretch and flex your muscles to further promote growth and development.

Following a thorough warm up, 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps per exercise with increasing weight loading should be your target. Remember to strive for a solid pump. Don’t overtrain your muscles though. Start with 3-4 exercises per muscle. Remember, once you’ve properly stimulated your muscles, further stimulation doesn’t equate to larger muscles. Heavy weight loading is not the only way to skin a cat. Be creative. Change the order of your exercises and the type of exercises. You may even want to train with lighter weights and higher reps every now and then. Constantly challenge your muscles with variety of stimuli. This will minimize your injury risk and maximize your gains. Avoid the mistakes of overtraining. Adequate rest and proper nutrition are also parts of the equation for optimal growth and muscular development.

On the subject of training partners, let me say that I favor them. While many elite bodybuilders can train alone, I find that a good training partner helps you work harder and cheat less. I feel that a two to three person training team is a good place to start, especially if you’re lifting heavier weights and require longer rest periods between sets. As you progress and become more conditioned though, I think you’ll find a two man team more productive. The timing between rest periods is better and it’s easier to maintain your intensity and focus.
Now that your training has transformed you into a huge beast, you may look in the mirror and smile. Smile until you notice that your waist is thick and soft. Remember, although mesomorphs gain mass easily, they also tend to gain fat. How do you solve this little problem? You guessed it… Cardio.
Mesomorphs don’t need to perform as much cardio as an endomorph. Cardio (treadmill, stationary bike, Versaclimber, or Stairmaster) training for approximately 35 minutes three times a week is usually sufficient. If you're goal is to increase body mass, don't overdo it. Adjust your cardio program to meet your needs. If you prefer a leaner harder look, then increase the frequency. Generally, you don’t need to perform cardio for more than 45 minutes at any given time.

Wrapping it up, let's turn to nutrition. I feel that mesomorphs attain optimal results with a balanced diet. I usually start my clients by outlining their protein requirements. When training regularly, to adequately build muscle, you'll need 1.5 grams of protein or more for every pound of bodyweight. In other words, a 200 pound mesomorph requires at least 300g of protein per day. With increasing muscular demands, you may find that your protein intake will increase as well.

Next come carbs. Mesomorphs should aim for a protein:carb ratio of 3:4 (300g protein and 400g carbs). Therefore, if you’re consuming about six meals a day, you'll need 50g/protein along with 66g/carbs per meal. Be careful to select complex carbs with lower glycemic indices. Remember, it’s quality, not quantity.

I usually don’t concern myself with fats too much because they're naturally limited by the type of protein you consume. If you’re taking in red meat, you should be getting enough fat in your diet. If it’s fish or chicken, you may need to add some fat, usually in the form of nuts or flaxseed oil. Often, I increase my fat intake if my energy levels are low or my muscles appear worn out and unhealthy. I usually don’t increase my carbs unless my muscles appear extremely flat.

To summarize, mesomorphs need to train with moderate to heavy loads, but with adequate rest periods. They need to be careful not to overtrain or they will notice diminishing or slower gains. Maximum gains can be achieved by adding variety to your workouts–keep your muscles guessing! Training partners can be very beneficial in this regard. Cardio is a must if you want to maintain a tighter waistline. Finally, a balanced diet is a good start for leaner muscular gains. Good training and good luck.