When it comes to fitness, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
This is because we all have our own unique body types.
You’ve probably heard women with large hips describe themselves as pear-shaped or others lacking in curves joke they’re built like stick-straight rulers.
With men, you’ve got those who are built, buff, doughy, and lanky. We’re top-heavy or bottom-heavy, we’ve got beer bellies and chicken legs and muffin tops.
But body type is much more complicated than the everyday labels we give ourselves.
Everyone belongs to one of three somatotypes: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. These body types differ in efficiency in metabolizing calories and nutrients, storing energy, and building muscles.
The 3 Body Types
Your body type, known as your somatotype in the world of physiology, will help you determine your own unique needs from workout programs to supplements and diets.
Using a body type calculator, you can find out what your body type is and create a specific workout and diet plan designed for your success.
In this article, we’ll tell you what your body type is and how that should shape your diet and workout so you can reach your fitness goals.
Let’s start with the three main body types: the endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. These are physiological terms, so they of course sound more complicated than they really are.
Here are the three main body types explained, in plain English:
1. Endomorph Body
Stereotypical endomorphs are really good at gaining weight – but that doesn’t mean they’re always overweight.
Endomorphs are people who have soft, round bodies with a high proportion of fat. (1)
Oftentimes, this fat is localized around the stomach, hips, and thighs.
These are people we typically call big-boned; even if they’re muscular, they’ll look heavier than others.
Endomorphs have a hard time building muscle definition and losing weight, even if they try a variety of diets and workouts.
This is due to a naturally low metabolism and a low tolerance for high-carbohydrate foods. Even a little break from regular exercise (especially cardio) could result in pounds creeping back into those unwanted trouble spots.
The endomorph physique is characterized by:
- Thick rib cage
- Wide, thick joints
- Short limbs
- Blocky physique
Think you sound like an endomorph? Check your body type with this calculator.
2. Mesomorph Body
Mesomorphs are the lucky ones: they have fantastically good genes when it comes to physique.
Mesomorphs are people who have compact, muscular bodies.
These are the people we typically call built or in-shape.
They’re the jocks who make pull-ups look perfectly effortless, and according to most people, they’ve got the ideal body type.
Mesomorphs have “problems” many of us couldn’t relate to: if anything, they bulk up too much and need to slow down the weightlifting.
They’re naturally great athletes and can push much harder and longer than other body types.
The mesomorph body type has:
- Wide clavicles
- Narrow waist
- Thin joints
- Proportional physique
Want to find out if you’re a mesomorph? Check out the body type calculator here.
3. Ectomorph Body
Ectomorphs are naturally skinny, lithe, and slender – the exact opposite of endomorphs. (2)
People with the ectomorph body type have lean and delicately built bodies.
Ectomorphs are low on fat and muscle tissue alike. These are the people we tend to call lanky and skinny.
Typically, ectomorphs have high metabolisms – they’re those friends you hate because they can eat all they want without gaining a pound, while they’re frustrated they can’t seem to build muscle no matter how hard they work out.
Women lack those feminine curves, while men can’t grow out of that boyish look.
Ectomorph bodies tend to have:
- Narrow hips and clavicles
- Small joints
- Long limbs
- Thin physique
Does it sound like you’re an ectomorph? Check out this calculator here to get your results.
Training & Dieting tips For Each Body Type
Figuring out your body type isn’t always as simple as looking at a handful of pictures and saying, “Yeah, that’s me!” To calculate your body type, check out this calculator.
So you understand what characterizes each body type, and you’ve figured out what yours is. But what are you supposed to do with this information, anyway?
Ectomorphs and endomorphs are near opposites when it comes to physique. Naturally, we’re not going to recommend that they eat the same thing and lift the same weights.
Here are some training tips and dieting tips for each of the three body types.
1. Endomorph Body Type
Typically, the problem you’re going to face is being a little on the heavy side, as endomorphs are great at gaining weight but struggle to lose it.
If you feel like you can’t drop the pounds no matter what diet regime or insanity workout you adopt, you’re not alone.
But don’t worry. There are ways to eat and work out that will help you reach your goals.
Endomorph Dieting Tips:
Endomorph Fitness Tips:
The endomorph body type isn’t a death sentence, but it does require more dietary control and workouts that combine compound weightlifting with high-intensity cardio.
As long as you keep an eye on your diet and find ways to enjoy regular workouts, you can maintain a near-mesomorphic physique.
2. Mesomorph Body Type
Mesomorphs have a wide variety of goals – some are looking to avoid bulking up too much while maintaining an athletic lifestyle.
This is especially true for women who want to maintain a more feminine, hourglass physique.
Others are bodybuilding experts and are completely content to continue to bulk up.
Let’s look at how diet and fitness plans can help mesomorphs reach their unique goals.
Mesomorph Dieting Tips:
Mesomorph Fitness Tips:
As a mesomorph, it’s less about a struggle to gain or lose weight and more about deciding what you want and adjusting your workout and diet to that goal.
When you know what you want, it’s just a matter of eating and exercising smart. Here are some workout samples you can do if you are a mesomorph.
3. Ectomorph Body Type
Whereas endomorphs would give an arm and a leg to lose some of their fat, ectomorphs struggle to gain fat and muscle alike. (3) This is where protein powders, increased caloric intake, and multivitamins are really important.
Just as weight loss ultimately isn’t impossible for endomorphs, weight gain is possible for ectomorphs with the right diet and exercise plan.
If this is your situation, here are a few tips to get a little more meat on your bones.
Ectomorph Dieting Tips:
Ectomorph Fitness Tips:
Bulking up takes a lot of effort, dedication, and calories for ectomorphs, but it’s doable with the right diet and workout strategy. Eat a lot, get lifting, and don’t worry about hitting the treadmill too hard.
4 Main Women Body Types
Although dividing people into three different body types is an imperfect system, typically, most people fall fairly neatly into one of these categories.
When it comes to women, though, the amount of body types can range anywhere from three to eight, depending on who you’re asking. (4)
Here are the four most common female body types:
1. Apple - Women with the apple body shape have broader shoulders and large chests, while their hips are narrower. Women with the apple body shape would be considered mesomorphs.
2. Banana - Women with the banana body shape have a more rectangular physique. They are lacking when it comes to curves as well. Unsurprisingly, they fall under the category of ectomorphs.
3. Pear - Pear-shaped women simply have larger hip measurements than bust measurements. Often, pear-shaped women are endomorphs with a higher fat to muscle ratio than the average person.
4. Hourglass - This is the ideal feminine form: the hips and bust are nearly the same size, and the waist is thin. Nearly half of women, though, are banana-shaped, and a mere 8 percent have the hourglass figure.
Usually, women with the hourglass figure fall somewhere between mesomorphs and endomorphs, as they have the curves of an endomorph but maintain the thin waist of a mesomorph.
If you hadn’t heard of endomorphs, mesomorphs, or ectomorphs before reading this article, you’re not alone. We love to talk about fitness as a one-size-fits-all type of thing, but knowing your body type is going to give you that edge to really reach your goals.
Whether you’re aiming for weight loss or gain, muscle growth or simple weight maintenance, your diet and workout plan needs adjusting based on your body type.
Are you an endomorph looking to lose weight? A mesomorph high on bulking up? An ectomorph just looking to get toned?
Whatever your goal is, try out these tips.
How’s your experience been with your body type?
1. Joel Snape, Ectomorph, Endomorph And Mesomorph: How To Train For Your Body Type, retrieved from https://www.coachmag.co.uk/lifestyle/4511/ectomorph-endomorph-or-mesomorph-what-is-your-body-type/page/0/1
2. Bodybuilding, What Is The Best Workout For An Ectomorph?, retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/what-is-the-best-workout-for-an-ectomorph.html
3. Muscle & Strength, How To Gain Weight Fast: The Ultimate Guide For Skinny Guys, retrieved from https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/weight-gain
4. Menopause Health Matters, Different Body Types, retrieved from http://menopausehealthmatters.com/menopause-and-weight-gain/different-body-types/