- What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test!
- Take The Test And Find Out
- How To Determine What Body Type You Are
- An Overview Of The 3 Different Body Types
- Is That It?
- Ultimate Guide to Body Types | Endomorph, Mesomorph, Ectomorph Calculator
- The 3 Primary Body Types – Somatotypes
- Somatotype Calculator
- Limitations of Using Somatotype Classification
- Are You an Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?
- THE BODY TYPE BREAKDOWN
- TRAINING & NUTRITION TIPS FOR THE BODY TYPES
- About Jen Jewell
- Blog Post
- What are the Three Different Body Types?
- Figuring out your body type: Are you an Ectomorph, Mesomorph, or Endomorph?
- The Ectomorph
- The Mesomorph
- The Endomorph
- Body Type Quiz Q & A
- The Final Question
- Know your body type (somatotype)
- The 3 basic body types (somatotypes)
- Some background: Dr Sheldon and the Heath-Carter method
- Applying body types (somatotypes) to athletics
- Applying body types (somatotypes) to fashion
- 2 schools of thought
- A coarse approach to estimating your body type
- Limitations of somatotype classifications
- It’s not all about weight
- Don’t let your body type hold you back
- Track your health with mPort
- Read more on:
- The “Know Your Body Type” Series:
- The three main body types
- Ectomorph (thin)
- Mesomorph (muscular)
- Endomorph (curvy)
- Which BODY TYPE am I?
- Twitch Muscle Fibers: Fast and Slow
- Role Playing Games and Body Types
- I am an Ectomorph, Endomorph, or mesomorph. What do I Do?
- What happens if I don’t like my category?
- While we’re at it, comparisons are silly.
- Go. Level up.
What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test!
Before you start your training and nutrition regimen, it’s a good idea to figure out your body type. Knowing which of the three basic body types you’re closest to will help you better tailor your diet and exercise plan to meet your needs, and set realistic, attainable goals that pave the way to your success.
Take the test to find out your body type, your ideal workout, and the best supplements for your goals!
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Take The Test And Find Out
What does my body type mean?
There are three basic human body types: the endomorph, the mesomorph, and the ectomorph. Despite what it might feel like at times, you’re not completely bound to one category or the other. Your lifestyle, genetics, history, and training style all play a part in how you look, and you can definitely change it over time.
That said, many of us to have certain tendencies toward one group or the other. Here’s what typifies each one:
An ectomorph tends to be thin, and struggles to gain weight as either body fat or muscle. They can eat piles of food and stay looking the same, even when gaining muscular weight is their biggest goal. People who battle to gain muscle are often known as “hardgainers.”
Ectomorphs tends to have a lean build, long limbs, and small muscle bellies. Even if an ectomorph manages to put on weight, they may still look skinnier than they are, particularly in the calves and forearms.
Being an ectomorph doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be weak, though. You can still get remarkably strong, and you can be every bit as fit and healthy as someone who looks larger and more muscular. But if you want to gain weight, you’d better be prepared to eat like you’ve never eaten before.
The mesomorph has a middle-of-the-road build that takes the best of both worlds. They tend to have wide shoulders, a narrow waist, relatively thin joints, and round muscle bellies.
In short, if you’re a mesomorph, you have a natural tendency to be fit and relatively muscular. Does this mean you can do nothing, eat everything, and get away with it forever? Definitely not—and you’re not necessarily healthier than the other two types, either. But you may be able to “bounce back” from being out of shape more easily than the other two body types, gaining muscle and burning fat with comparative ease.
The endomorph tends to gain weight and keep it on. Their build is a little wider than an ectomorph or mesomorph, with a thick ribcage, wide hips, and shorter limbs. They may have more muscle than either of the other body types, but they often struggle to gain it without significant amounts of accompanying body fat. If you ever feel like you gain 5 pounds simply walking by a donut shop, you may be an endomorph.
This definitely doesn’t mean that an endomorph can’t be healthy. They can be every bit as strong, healthy, and capable as the other two groups, and may actually have some strength advantages due to their additional muscle mass. But if and when they decide to lean out, it’ll take hard work!
- Narrow hips and clavicles
- Small joints (wrist/ankles)
- Thin build
- Stringy muscle bellies
- Long limbs
- Wide clavicles
- Narrow waist
- Thinner joints
- Long and round muscle bellies
- Thick rib cage
- Wide/thicker joints
- Hips as wide (or wider)
- Shorter limbs
What’s the best way to train for my body type?
Only you can say what your goals should be. Many great bodybuilders started out as either rail-thin ectomorphs or endomorphs who struggled with their weight. They learned to overcome their natural tendencies and take control of their life, and so can you!
That said, you may very well find that you have the most success if you use your body type to your advantage.
Ectomorph: Eat a lot of protein and carbs, regularly lift heavy with good form, and don’t overdo aerobic activities. Just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy, so still take your diet and fitness seriously!
Mesomorph: Lift moderate weight on a regular basis, and engage in aerobic activities regularly. Don’t worry about getting “bulky,” but watch out for creeping fat gains. You’re not invincible to them!
Endomorph: You may benefit from using moderate weights and maintaining a relatively fast training pace. Getting your heart pumping daily with some form of activity is a good idea for both health and calorie burn. If you find yourself doing lots of work and still gaining weight, the answer is probably in the kitchen.
Sometimes, you’re a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As with most training programs, the right program for in-betweeners might be a mix, so it’s important to know who you are.
An ectomorph might have naturally huge arms and self-identify as a mesomorph but be a hard gainer everywhere else.
In this case, the basic rules of training for ectomorphs should still be followed, with a de-emphasis on upper arm isolation, in favor of compound exercises, if balance is one of the goals.
Likewise, a mesomorph with naturally skinny arms might accidentally, in service to bulking-up those arms, pack on extra torso weight where it’s not wanted.
Even endomorphs might have slightly thinner legs and tighter glutes than usual for their body type, viewing themselves as mesomorphs and gobbling down carbs without worry, with a dietary intake more fitting to the slimmer athlete.
The curse of the in-betweeners is to see themselves a little less clearly, favoring the body type they’d want to be, and following the wrong program. In-betweeners should know thyself, and train accordingly.
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How To Determine What Body Type You Are
Everyone’s body is different.
And that probably goes without saying, right?
I mean, some of us are taller, some of us are shorter.
Some us have of a small frame, whereas others seem to be bigger boned.
But what you may not know is that there are actually 3 distinctive body type classifications, also known as “Somatotypes”.
It can be useful to know your specific somatotype, since it can help you tailor your fat loss or muscle building approach accordingly.
This article will help you better understand these 3 main body types, and allow you to see where you best fit in.
An Overview Of The 3 Different Body Types
As I mentioned before, there are 3 specific body types that pretty much all guys fit into.
These 3 classifications are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph.
Take a look at this diagram to see what each one looks like:
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As you can see, each of these 3 body types is quite visually distinctive.
Ectomorph body types are thinner, smaller-boned, with naturally lower amounts of both body fat and muscle mass.
In contrast, Mesomorph body types are more traditionally ‘athletic’ looking, naturally having more muscle mass and moderate levels of body fat.
Finally, the Endomorph body type is rounder, and softer, naturally having higher levels of body fat.
Can you pick out your body type from the list?
If not, no worries – we’re about to take a closer look at the specific characteristics of each body type, so that you can accurately place which one you are.
The Ectomorph Body Type
Ryan Gosling is a classic example of an Ectomorph
Classically known as ‘hard-gainers’ in fitness parlance, Ectomorphs don’t have to worry as much about getting fat, but often struggle with putting on muscle mass.
Here are the common characteristics of Ectomorphs – the more of these that sound like you, the more likely it is that you fit into this body type classification:
- Your shoulders are narrower than your hips
- Fitted jeans generally feel loose around your butt
- Your forearms are on the smallish side
- Your body tends to stay skinny by default
- Your body looks long and narrow
- If you grip your wrist between your thumb and middle finger, the 2 fingers overlap
- You have trouble gaining weight – both in terms of muscle and fat
- The circumference of your chest is 37 inches or less
If you are an Ectomorph, you are likely going to have to eat more calories than either of the other 2 body types if you want to consistently put on muscle.
You should focus primarily on heavy weight lifting, and keep cardio to a bare minimum – especially if you are having trouble gaining muscle.
The Mesomorph Body Type
Arnie is an example of an extremely well-developed Mesomorph
Mesomorphs are typically thought of as the luckiest of these 3 body types – given their ability to build muscle without putting on too much excess fat.
Let’s take a look at how you can determine if you fit into this body type:
- Your shoulders are roughly the same width as your hips
- Fitted jeans generally feel snug, but not too tight, around your butt
- Your forearms are moderately thick
- Your body tends to stay lean, yet somewhat muscular, by default
- Your body looks rugged and squarish in shape
- If you grip your wrist between your thumb and middle finger, the 2 fingers just barely touch
- You can gain or lose weight without too many issues
- The circumference of your chest is between 37-44 inches
If you are a Mesomorph, you are likely going to find it easier to maintain a lean, muscular body than the other 2 types.
In terms of your training, you should focus on a well-constructed strength training program, along with moderate amounts of cardiovascular exercise.
Diet-wise, you likely won’t have to eat too much extra food to gain muscle mass, although you’ll still need to be maintaining an adequate caloric surplus.
However, it is important not to be complacent.
You can still gain fat slowly, but steadily, over the years if you’re not careful!
The Endomorph Body Type
The Rock is an Endomorph that has been able to limit fat gains
Finally, we come to the Endomorph…
This is the body type that traditionally has the most difficult time losing weight – although they can often put on a decent amount of muscle mass reasonably easily.
Here are some of the traits that are likely to indicate that you’re an Endomorph:
- Your shoulders are wider than your hips
- Fitted jeans generally feel tight around your butt
- Your forearms are on the thicker side
- Your body tends to carry extra fat by default
- Your body looks round and soft
- If you grip your wrist between your thumb and middle finger, the 2 fingers don’t touch
- You can gain weight fairly easily, but find it quite difficult to lose
- The circumference of your chest is over 44 inches
If you fit several of these characteristics, you may indeed be an Endomorph!
This means that your biggest concern will be adopting a lifestyle where you don’t put on excess fat – and, if you’re currently holding onto a few extra pounds, adopting a workout and diet program that will help you lose it.
This will involve adopting a diet where you can eat at the appropriate caloric deficit, until you are able to get to a weight that you’re happy with.
And as with the other 2 body types, I would recommend an effective strength training program, that will help you improve your muscle-to-fat ratio.
You will also likely want to add cardio into your routine, to help you burn additional calories. Specifically, I would recommend a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Is That It?
If you’ve read though this list, you might be feeling slightly discouraged right about now…
I mean, based on these body types, there does indeed seem to be a substantial genetic component to your ability to lose fat and build muscle.
And the reality is that you can’t change the hand that you’ve been dealt, in terms of your actual body type.
However, this is by no means something that can – or should – limit the goals that you have for yourself.
I’ll say this very clearly:
Regardless of your body type, if you follow the right workout and diet protocol you will be able to build muscle and lose fat.
Yes, you may need to tailor your lifestyle to your genetics, but if you do this you can build a body that you’re happy with.
I can promise you that much.
Also, don’t worry if you share characteristics from several of the body types listed above.
People come in all different shapes and sizes, and will often have characteristics from 2 different body types.
So you might be a mix of Ectomorph and Mesomorph.
Or perhaps you have both Mesomorph and Endomorph traits.
The point is not to get too focused on the labels.
Instead, use these body types as a rough guideline for how you should approach your workouts and diet – but always remember that you’ll need to adjust based on how things are specifically progressing for you.
What body type are you? Tell us in the comments section below!
Ultimate Guide to Body Types | Endomorph, Mesomorph, Ectomorph Calculator
Next time you step into the gym, stop, look around, and examine the body types utilizing each area of the gym. Every person has a unique body, but there are some main characteristics across them all. We want to help you figure out where you fit into the main body types: endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph.
In this article, we will dig a bit deeper into the differences in body types, take a more detailed look at their bone structure, and dive into fat and muscle distribution.
One scientist in the 1940s, William Sheldon, PhD, MD, attempted to group individuals based on bone structure and weight distribution. His studies yielded three primary body types called somatotypes – ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Each somatotype was said to have unique characteristics that may influence an individual’s preferred form of physical activity based on their strengths and weaknesses.
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Dr. Sheldon further expanded on this concept of body types in his 1954 book entitled Atlas of Men. He offered a three-digit scaling system to determine someone’s somatotype. Each digit, based on predefined criteria, ranges from 1 to 7 where a pure ectomorph is 1-1-7, a pure mesomorph is 1-7-1, and pure endomorph is 7-1-1.
He likely designed this system after receiving a critique that someone may exhibit characteristics of more than one somatotype.
The 3 Primary Body Types – Somatotypes
Now that we’ve discussed the history of somatotypes, let’s examine the three pure somatotypes – the ectomorph, the mesomorph, and the endomorph.
The ectomorph body type is your stereotypical self-proclaimed hardgainer. An ectomorph has a hard time adding mass to its long and lean build, but naturally carries less fat than other somatotypes.
In general, ectomorphs have a high forehead, receding chin, narrow shoulders, hips, chest, and abdomen, as well as thin arms and legs. From the personality standpoint Dr. Sheldon describes ectomorphs as intellectual, introverted, emotionally restrained individuals who crave isolation and solitude due to their tense, anxious, and secretive nature.
Ectomorph body types typically don’t excel at power and strength sports since they have a hard time gaining muscle mass, but they do excel in endurance sports and gymnastics. Being able to naturally maintain very low levels of body fat allows ectomorphs to keep a high strength to bodyweight ratio as well as undergo less physical stress during repetitive movement long-duration activities such as running and cycling compared to mesomorphs or endomorphs.
One study of 63 men ages 18-40 years found that ectomorphs had the greatest ratio of carbon dioxide produced to oxygen consumed in one breath as well as the lowest peak oxygen uptake during peak exercise. Because of their smaller surface area, ectomorphs can regulate their body temperature and breathing more efficiently than mesomorphs and endomorphs; a trait that is particularly important in aerobic endurance activities.
Famous athletes with an ectomorph somatotype include Frank Zane, Ulisses William Jr., Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, Kevin Garnett, Manny Pacquiao, Usain Bolt, and Bruce Lee.
The mesomorph body type is your stereotypical ideal bodybuilding physique. Mesomorphs are athletic, strong, not underweight or overweight, and can increase and decrease their bodyweight weight with minimal effort.
In general, mesomorph body types have a wedge-shaped body, cubical head, broad shoulders, muscular arms and legs, narrow hips, minimal fat, and are narrow when viewing their side profile. From the personality standpoint Dr. Sheldon describes mesomorphs as rugged and thick-skin individuals who are extroverted, aggressive, direct, dominant, courageous, and prone towards physical activity and taking risks.
Mesomorphs have the ideal physique for physical activities requiring strength, agility and speed such as football, wrestling, and Olympic lifting. They are the genetically gifted individuals that can easily maintain low body fat, increase or decrease weight based on the requirement of their preferred physical activity, and develop all muscle groups evenly. These individuals are the ideal athlete because they not only have a have a medium bone structure and height but they typically excel at both cardiovascular and resistance training activities.
Famous athletes with a mesomorph somatotype include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Cutler, Anna Kournikova, Terrell Owens, Bo Jackson, and Jackie Chan.
The stereotypical endomorph body type gains weight easily so they naturally carry significant amounts of both mass muscle and fat mass, but they’re not necessarily always overweight. In general, endomorphs have a pear-shaped body, short arms and legs, a round head, wide hips and shoulders, significant amounts of fat on the body (especially upper arms and thighs), and are wide when viewing their side profile.
From the personality standpoint, Dr. Sheldon describes endomorphs as sociable, easy-going, slow-to-react, easily complacent, comfort-seeking individuals that enjoy food, people, and affection. Endomorphs do not excel in activities requiring high levels of agility, speed, or weight-bearing aerobic activity like running but do excel at pure strength activities like powerlifting, rugby, and playing the lineman position in football.
Endomorph body types can quickly gain fat and lose conditioning if they decrease or discontinue physical activity. However, they typically have a large lung capacity which is beneficial in non-weight-bearing aerobic activities like rowing and they can increase their muscle mass much quicker than ectomorphs.
Famous athletes with an endomorph somatotype include Benedikt Magnusson, Konstantin Konstantinovs, Lee Priest, Vince Wilfork, and Ndamukong Suh.
Now that we’ve discussed the characteristics of the three primary body types, the somatotype calculator below provides you with your somatotype blend. Although rare, you may be a pure ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph. Most individuals are a blend of these three somatotypes.
Ectomorph body type tendencies:
- Lean and thin
- Narrow hips, chest and shoulders
- Do not have much muscle OR fat
- Long legs and arms
- Higher forehead and thinner face
Mesomorph body type tendencies:
- Naturally muscular
- Narrow hips and wide shoulders
- Strong legs and arms
- Modest amount of body fat
Endomorph body type tendencies:
- Larger frame
- More body fat than most
- Narrow shoulders and wider hips
- Slim ankles and wrists
Limitations of Using Somatotype Classification
On the surface, the somatotype classification system sounds logical and useful. However, there are a few glaring limitations.
Firstly and most importantly it’s extremely rare to find someone who is a pure version of one of the three primary somatotypes. Most individuals exhibit characteristics of two or even all three somatotypes. One study of 524 men and 250 women found that 95% of subjects fell within five somatotype categories – endomorphic mesomorphs, mesomorph-endomorphs, mesomorphic endomorphs, balanced mesomorphs, and ectomorphic mesomorphs.
Additional classifications include ectomorphic endomorphs that have pear-shaped bodies with small upper bodies and high fat accumulation in the hips and thighs as well as endomorphic ectomorphs that have apple-shaped bodies with small lower bodies and high fat accumulation in the midsection. As you can see, with the exception of a balanced mesomorph, none of those aforementioned classifications are pure somatotypes. This study also found men were most likely to be endomorphic mesomorphs and women were most likely to be mesomorph-endomorphs.
Related: Bench Press One Rep Max and Percentage Calculator
Another study of men and women found that the average distribution of somatotypes is 51.6% endomorphic mesomorphs, 17.1% mesomorph-endomorphs, 16.7% mesomorphic endomorphs, 6.1% balanced mesomorphs, and 3.0% ectomorphic mesomorphs. 65% of men in this population were endomorphic mesomorphs and those 40+ years old shifted towards more of a mesomorph somatotype. This indicates that your somatotype classification is not static and can shift over time.
On average mesomorphic endomorphs typically have a higher lean body weight compared to endomorph-ectomorphs and endomorphic ectomorphs. Mesomorphs typically carry a significant amount of muscle with minimal fat mass and when paired with the large frame of an endomorph, this is the recipe for a large and muscular individual.
Furthermore, the average lean body weight to weight ratio, lean body weight to total adipose tissue weight ratio, and total body water to weight ratio were lowest for mesomorphic endomorphs. This further indicates that mesomorphic endomorphs carry a significant amount of lean mass and minimal fat mass.
Secondly, Dr. Sheldon’s attempted correlation between somatotype and personality is exceptionally inaccurate. I know plenty of outgoing ectomorphs, non-aggressive mesomorphs, and introverted endomorphs. Personality and somatotype are mutually exclusive characteristics.
Furthermore, playing into the somatotype classifications encourages individuals to victimize their situation and avoid activities they may enjoy in fear that their body type isn’t built for such activities. For example, I have broad shoulders, short legs, long arms, and do not have a narrow side profile, but that didn’t stop me from running cross country in high school. Instead of victimizing my body type I embarked on a proper training regimen which resulted in my 5k PR of 18:12 which works out to a 5:51 mile pace.
In conclusion, the somatotype classification system is an interesting yet outdated tool for grouping individuals based on their bone structure and weight distribution. Somatotypes have no correlation to personality types but somatotypes can be a useful tool for examining common or ideal body types for specific sports.
1) “THE 3 SOMATOTYPES.” University of Houston. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2015.
2) Sheldon, William Herbert (1954). Atlas of Men: A Guide for Somatotyping the Adult Male at All Ages. New York: Harper.
3) “Body Type and Build – Somatotype.” Direct to Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2015.
4) Kamlesh, M.L. (2011). “Ch. 15: Personality and Sport § Sheldon’s Constitutional Typology”. Psychology in Physical Education and Sport. Pinnacle Technology. ISBN 9781618202482.
5) Roeckelein, Jon E. (1998). “Sheldon’s Type Theory”. Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology. Greenwood. pp. 427?8. ISBN 9780313304606.
6) “Association of Dominant Somatotype of Men with Body Structure, Function During Exercise, and Nutritional Assessment. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2015.
7) “Somatotype and Disease Prevalence in Adults. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2015.
8 )”Somatotype, Nutrition, and Obesity. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2015.
9) Komiya, S., et al. “Body Size and Composition in Different Somatotypes of Japanese College-aged Women.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Appl. Human Sci., Jan. 1996.
Are You an Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?
There’s a lot of talk on the topic of “body types.” Some people, it seems, are naturally blessed with good genetics while others struggle to stay in shape. Everyone is different but most people fit into three main body type categories, or somewhere in between two.
The three categories are: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs, and each one will take a different approach to training and nutrition.
THE BODY TYPE BREAKDOWN
Ectomorph: These are naturally thin individuals who are also known as “hardgainers.” These types usually have lean frames and find it difficult to put on muscle mass.
Mesomorph: The “envy” of the body types; these people are naturally athletic looking. A typical mesomorph has a decent amount of muscle mass. They are relatively lean and are able to gain muscle fairly easily.
Endomorph: A typical endomorph has a shorter and rounder appearance. Endomorphs typically have slower metabolisms and generally have a difficult time shedding fat. They also tend to gain weight and muscle easily.
TRAINING & NUTRITION TIPS FOR THE BODY TYPES
If you fall into this category and you want to add lean muscle to your frame, don’t spend countless hours in the cardio section. Focus on weight lifting routines that emphasize large muscle groups to help you build overall strength. These include the squat, deadlift, bench press and shoulder press. Instead of following a fast paced workout full of supersets, take it slow and opt for longer rest periods between sets. This will allow you to lift more throughout your routine. As an ectomorph you have the fastest metabolism of the body types, so you should aim to eat every few hours to keep fueled. This is not an excuse to eat poorly though. Eat quality, nutrient dense foods such as lean meats, fish, potatoes, brown rice, fruits and veggies. Don’t shy away from carbs!
If you’re a mesomorph you’re naturally muscular, and you benefit from a variety of training styles and exercises. In terms of strength training, isolation moves are good for you, as they allow you to dial into your already muscular frame and help you bring lagging muscles up to par. Split your workouts to focus on one body part per day and perform cardio or interval training regularly to help improve your results and highlight your muscular frame. Your nutrition should include a balance of lean protein, whole grain carbs and healthy fats at each meal. You may have it a little easier than the other body types, but that doesn’t mean you should eat poorly.
If you are part of the endomorph club, you may be a bit stockier in appearance than the other body types. You gain muscle more easily than an ectomorph, but you also put on fat very easily. To help minimize fat gain, you should do 3-5 cardio sessions each week, alternating between steady state and HIIT. You should also follow a strength training program that is fast paced to help keep the intensity high. When it comes to nutrition, select meals that are full of lean protein, complex carbs and heart healthy fats. You’ll have to watch food intake a bit more than other body types, so if you’re trying to shed excess body fat that means a few less cheat meals.
About Jen Jewell
Jen Jewell is the bubbly meets badass fitness personality who takes a versatile “fun with fitness” approach to training. Although she is a fitness pro, she isn’t overly restrictive with her nutrition and workouts. She loves yoga, hiking, and outdoor workouts. She actively coaches people around the world who want to get healthy and fit. Follow Jen on her journey.
One of the reasons why people need a customizable workout planer for their fitness goals is because everyone’s bodies are different. In fact, there are three different body types that people seem to have, and it is your body type that dictates how well you respond to certain types of training and food intake.
What are the Three Different Body Types?
The three different body types are: ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph. Each has their own typical characteristics that can help you determine which body type you have. Then you will be able to adjust your training and eating habits accordingly to reach your fitness goals.
1. Ectomorph Body Type
- Long and lean
- Delicate frame
- “Hardgainer” – Finds it difficult to build muscle and fat
- Body similar to a marathon runner
- Fast metabolism
If you have the ectomorph body type, then you will find that it is difficult for you to gain muscle as well as fat. To help with this, try focusing on compound movements as opposed to isolated movements. This is because you will use more muscle groups in the one exercise.
For example, the bench press works out muscles in your chest, shoulders and triceps using your shoulders and elbow. In contrast, the bicep curl is an isolated movement that only uses the bicep.
While you shouldn’t completely shun isolation movements from your training, your main focus should be on the big compound exercises. Then use isolation movements as accessories or to finish a workout.
Those with the ectomorph body type are able to get away with eating more carbs than endomorphs and mesomorphs. However, this doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want and not have it affect your body.
That being said, it is best to stick to complex carbs that can leave you feeling fuller for longer. It will also help to push protein to your muscles to help them to grow. This includes brown rice and brown bread.
As ectomorphs can find it quite challenging to pack on size, it may be beneficial to use additional supplements in conjunction with a healthy and well-rounded diet. Supplements such as BCAAs or protein shakes could give you that extra boost.
2. Endomorph Body Type
- Stocky build
- Wider body
- Stores fuel (both muscle and fat) in the lower half of their bodies
- Has more muscle as well but usually, this comes with more fat
- Has the best strength advantage out of the three different body types but may find it difficult to stay lean
- Slow metabolism
To help shock the body into losing fat, it is best for endomorphs to up their intense aerobic exercise by focusing on interval training such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) over LISS (low-intensity steady state cardio).
They should train their overall body to see results and not just focus on one area.
To further enhance their metabolism, endomorphs should include both hypertrophy (muscle building – heavy weight, fewer reps) with conditioning. This way, your metabolism will be fired up, even hours after your training is done.
Endomorphs do need to have a stricter eating plan than the others. Unlike ectomorphs, those with the endomorph body type should eat fewer carbs and increase their higher protein intake. They should avoid simple carbs like white bread and eat more complex ones.
Stress levels can cause endomorphs to keep fat around their midsection. To help with this, you should avoid overtraining so that your body can properly recover. Also, get your beauty sleep.
Mesomorph Body Type
- Middle of the body types
- Can be lean and muscular simultaneously
- Natural athletics build with well-defined muscles
In between ectomorph and endomorph is the mesomorph body type. Mesomorphs find it easier to build muscle and lose fat than the ectomorphs and endomorphs respectively.
This is why the mesomorph body type means that you do not have to go insanely heavy on the weights to get results. You can lift moderately and still progress.
However, it is also best to include some aerobic exercise as well, because while they can lose fat easier than mesomorphs, it doesn’t mean that they are completely immune. Aerobic exercise with help get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.
If you have a mesomorph body type, your eating plan should include equal amounts of protein and fat, with a moderate amount of carbs making up the rest. Like I mentioned with the ectomorph and endomorph body type, you should still focus on complex carbs to help give your body energy and keep full in a sustainable and healthy way.
Can You Be a Combination of Two Body Types?
When it comes to these three different body types, there is no one-size-fits-all. You can be a combination of two, sharing characteristics from both. Hopefully, this post has given you the information you can use to help identify your body type or see if you share traits from two. This way, you will be able to adjust your diet and training regime accordingly to optimize results.
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Figuring out your body type: Are you an Ectomorph, Mesomorph, or Endomorph?
Designing your workout can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the whole idea of a ‘workout’. In order to maximise the effectiveness of your training, learning more about your body can help, and one of the standard guides is the concept of having three typical body types: the ectomorph, the mesomorph, and the endomorph. Instead of feeling hindered by the category you may fall into, you can use this information as an advantage to tailor a routine that suits you.
The ectomorph is considered as the thin body type. They usually have narrow waists and shoulders and have a high metabolism. If you’re an ectomorph, you may find it difficult to put on muscle or gain weight. Even you’re not a picky eater at all or do eat a lot, you don’t look as if you’re putting on fat. You may be long-limbed and you may have some trouble handling extreme training. Compound movements are suggested for ectomorphs.
The mesomorph has a body that can easily put on muscle and has no trouble losing fat. They are considered lucky for having the good traits of the other two body types. They typically have a low-fat percentage and a large bone structure. If you’re a mesomorph, you may have a hard or muscular body type, and you usually appear lean and athletic. You may find yourself excelling when it comes to bodybuilding.
The endomorph easily stores fat in their bodies due to a slow metabolism. Endomorphs can build muscle quickly, but can also easily gain weight. If you’re an endomorph, you probably have some trouble losing weight. You may be considered as having a curvy body type. You may also have a soft build and you find it easy to do leg exercises. Aerobic exercises with heavyweights are good for endomorphs.
It helps to know that these classifications don’t need to limit what your body can do. You may come across some traits that you can identify within more than just one category since every one of us is complex. XFC Gym is your 24 7 gym, allowing you to spend enough time and effort in getting you closer to the body that you want.
Any extra weight that you carry can put additional strain on your heart and muscles. And some people find it really tough to shed the extra pounds no matter how hard they exercise.
So, why is it that some people seem to have such luck with sculpting the body they want? And others have no success no matter how hard they try?
The reason lies in a poor understanding of somatotypes, or body types.
This body type quiz will help you discover your body type and how to best take care of it.
Body Type Quiz Q & A
You have to figure out what a healthy plate of food looks like and what a decent exercise program is for you.
The first thing to know before you begin the body type quiz is that there are three primary somatotypes. But most people are a combination of at least two types.
The three somatotypes are endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph.
Endomorphs have shorter, wider frames with powerful legs and narrow shoulders.
Ectomorphs are tall and slender with long, lean limbs.
Mesomorphs have proportional hip-to-shoulder ratios with an even distribution of muscle and fat.
Where do you fall between the three somatotypes? Ask yourself the following:
1. What is your gender?
Gender is important because it may help you determine your ideal fitness routine.
For example, male mesomorphs (people with an athletic physique) might want to build muscle and utilize weightlifting workouts. But female mesos may benefit from high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
2. What is your shoulder to hip ratio?
The answer to this question is one of the primary distinctions between the different somatotypes (body types).
Endomorphs usually have much broader hips than shoulders, resulting in a pear-shaped look. Mesomorphs tend to have wider shoulders than hips, especially for males. Ectomorphs tend to have proportional hip to shoulder ratios.
3. How does your waist compare to hips and shoulders?
Women with an hourglass figure (read: a waist that’s significantly smaller than the hips and shoulders) and men with broad shoulders and a narrow waist are likely in the mesomorph category.
In comparison, ectomorphs often have the same hip, shoulders, and waist. By comparison, endomorphs struggle with a larger waist and narrow shoulders.
4. Where do you store excess weight?
Mesomorphs tend to gain and lose weight in an even distribution across their bodies.
Endomorphs store weight in their thighs and hips. Ectomorphs don’t store much excess weight at all.
5. What’s your fitness challenge?
Endomorphs are often burdened by thick legs and arms. It’s easy to build muscle but tough to lose fat.
On the other hand, ectomorphs inherently have low muscle mass and need to work hard to increase it. For ectos, weight training is the way to go.
6. What does your body look like?
This has to do with general appearance. Long and narrow figures are associated with ectomorphs while endomorphs usually have softer, rounder bodies.
If your body seems rugged and has a square or triangular shape, you are likely a mesomorph.
7. What’s your wrist size?
Encircle your wrist with the middle finger and thumb of your other hand.
If the fingers overlap, you’re probably an ectomorph.
If your fingers just touch, you’re likely a mesomorph.
And if your fingers don’t touch at all, you’ve probably got some endomorph in your gene pool.
Like the jeans test, this is not an exact science but another quick test for identifying your body type.
The Final Question
Congratulations, you’ve just completed the body type quiz. And you probably realize that your body displays the characteristics of at least two body types.
With this knowledge in mind, you can look for a workout routine that hits all the problematic areas of your body. And don’t forget to be mindful of your diet, because it’s both diet and exercise that contribute to your overall wellbeing and appearance.
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Which body type fits your physique? Share your results in the comments below.
Know your body type (somatotype)
FITNESS June 7, 2017 by John Quinn – Product Owner – mPort
There’s no body like you. Before you start your training and nutrition regimen, it’s a good idea to know your body type so you can get results faster.
Understanding your individual bone structure, fat and muscle distribution, will help you better tailor your diet and exercise plan. If you know your body type you can set realistic, attainable goals that pave the way to your success. You’ll also be able to look your best by dressing for your body type.
The 3 basic body types (somatotypes)
People are born with an inherited body type based on their skeletal frame and body composition. Most people are unique combinations of the three body types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. Nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and even doctors use this classification system to help design effective, individualized fitness plans. Most people have combinations of traits from each body type.
Physical traits of the Ectomorph
- Hard to gain muscle (known as a “hardgainer”)
- Slender frame
- Narrow shoulders and hips
- Narrow chest and abdomen
- Small bone structure
- Very fast metabolism
Read more about the ectomorph body type here (including exercise and nutrition tips).
Physical traits of the Mesomorph
- Medium build, rectangular/wedge body shape
- Wide broad shoulders
- Fairly lean with a hard body
- Can gain muscle easily
- Are usually strong
- Muscled arms and legs
Read more about the mesomorph body type here (including exercise and nutrition tips).
Physical traits of the Endomorph
- Usually short in height or stature
- Difficult to lose body fat
- Bulky physique, round body
- Can gain both fat and muscle easily
- Wide shoulders and hips
Read more about the endomorph body type here (including exercise and nutrition tips).
Some background: Dr Sheldon and the Heath-Carter method
William H. Sheldon, PhD, MD, introduced the concept of body types, or somatotypes, in the 1940s. He proposed that people are born with an inherited body type based on skeletal frame and body composition. Sheldon theorised that you could predict human temperament by visually assessing someone’s body type. This has has since been rubbished by the scientific community, but his initial research was developed further by his assistant, Barbara Heath (and later Lindsay Carter), to create a more formulaic approach that has academic merit today. This measurement system became known as the Heath-Carter method and one of its applications is to track the development of college athletes.
Dr Sheldon evaluated the degree a body type was present on a 1 to 7 scale where 1 is the minimum and 7 is the maximum. An individual is scored by each body type to give 3 numbers represented as “endomorph rating – mesomorph rating – ectomorph rating”.
A rating of 7-1-1 is a pure endomorph, 1-7-1 a pure mesomorph, and 1-1-7 a pure ectomorph.
Most people have combinations of the three body types.
For example, some have an upper body that is ectomorphic and a lower body that is endomorphic, resulting in a slim upper body and a more fat-prone lower body, creating a pear shape. Sometimes the variation is not as clear-cut as having one body type for the upper body and another for the lower.
Applying body types (somatotypes) to athletics
The “perfect” bodybuilder would perhaps be a 1-7-3, while 4-7-5 might be better suited for football, and 1-4-7 a basketball player. Having scores in multiple body types, for instance the football player’s 4-7-5, does not mean he has all of the traits of each body type mixed together. It may mean he has the heavy thick build of the endomorph combined with superior musculature and strength of the mesomorph, with the above average height of the ectomorph.
Applying body types (somatotypes) to fashion
Understanding your body type has applications beyond the fitness world. It’s all about the illusion your body type structure creates. An ectomorph will naturally look skinnier than he or she is, an endomorph will look heavier even when ripped, and a mesomorph will look well proportioned even with a little added weight. The aim is usually to make yourself look like a mesomorph even if you’re not.
Height has little to do with body type, despite the fact that people tend to think of skinny people (ectomorphs) as tall and heavy-set people (endomorphs) as short.
2 schools of thought
The main difference between the Heath-Carter method and Sheldon’s has to do with a philosophical perspective about somatotypes. Sheldon believed the somatotype is relatively constant throughout an adult’s life. This view fit into Sheldon’s intent of determining a causal relationship between somatotype and temperament or personality. His classification system was not trying to measure fat or muscle mass but the propensity to gain fat or muscle mass. Conversely, the Heath-Carter method abandons that idea, preferring instead to describe the somatotype as a structure that can have wide variation over time.
The Heath-Carter method is preferred for tracking the development of athletes because it perceives a person’s physique as changeable.
Sheldon’s visual assessment technique is more formally recognised as the Trunk Index method today. The Trunk Index is the ratio of the upper and lower torso areas. This measurement remains very constant throughout a person’s adult life, even with weight gain or loss.
The Heath-Carter method uses various anthropometric measurements, including skinfolds: weight, height, upper arm circumference, maximal calf circumference, femur breadth, humerus breadth, triceps skinfold, subscapular skinfold, supraspinal skinfold, and medial calf skinfold.
A coarse approach to estimating your body type
Knowing whether a person has a small, medium, or large frame can indicate which of the body types is a close fit.
Small frames tend to be primarily ectomorphs.
Medium frames tend to be primarily mesomorphs.
Large frames tend to be primarily endomorphs.
Measuring the circumference of your wrist in relation to your height is a simple and straight forward way to estimate your frame size. This is a coarse approach to get to know your body type.
Female Wrist Measurements:
- If your height is less than 5’2″ (157 cms):
- If your height is 5’2″ to 5’5″ (157 to 165 cms):
- If your height is more than 5’5″ (165 cms):
Male Wrist Measurements:
- If your height is less than 5’5″ (165 cms):
- If your height is more than 5’5″ (165 cms):
Don’t have a tape measure handy? Wrap your thumb and middle finger around your wrist, just above the wrist bone.
If your fingers overlap, you have a small frame and lean towards the ectomorph body type; if they just meet, you have a medium frame and are probably a mesomorph; but if they don’t meet, you have a large frame and are more likely to be an endomorph. If you are unsure, assume you have a medium frame size.
Limitations of somatotype classifications
It’s extremely rare to find someone who is a pure version of one of the three primary somatotypes. Most individuals exhibit characteristics of two or even all three somatotypes. Dr Sheldon’s original research was heavily criticised after it attempted to label people with personality traits based upon their body type. The Heath-Carter method has academic credit and can be used to classify someone’s body type at a given point in their life, but it’s by no means a final assessment. Diet and physical activity can result in someone changing their classification over time.
It’s not all about weight
Relying on weight as a factor for assessing body type is also flawed on numerous levels. It can change throughout the day, and can be affected by medication, injuries, depression, or other health issues. Quite often a person will be underweight at the point their body has stopped growing. The early twenties can be a stressful time due to the adjustments of college. Also, it can be a time of intense social activities that distract a person from a regular eating routine. A significant number of people in their thirties and forties choose a life style of healthy dieting and regular exercise. These individuals are not going to show the usual weight increase that comes with middle age. Instead they level off at a weight you would normally see in their late twenties.
Don’t let your body type hold you back
Don’t let your body type be the deciding factor in choosing which types of activities to pursue, or decide the limitations of what you can physically achieve. Some people have to work harder than others to gain muscle or lose body fat. Empower yourself by setting realistic, attainable goals, and track your progress to see what’s working for you. Regardless of your body type, with a solid training program and nutrition plan in place, you can actually change your health status as well as your body composition.
Track your health with mPort
Get to know your body with an mPort 3D body map. It’s the easiest way to see your measurements and track your health. Find your nearest body mapping pod at mPort.com.
Read more on:
For more information on the physical traits of each body type, including exercise and nutrition tips.
The “Know Your Body Type” Series:
- Know your body type (somatotype)
- The ectomorph body type
- The mesomorph body type
- The endomorph body type
We are all unique.
Yes, even you. Your mom was right!
And you’re here because questions about your body type and genetics:
What body type am I?
How does it affect my training and diet?
I have bad genetics, how screwed am I?
I am a . Does that mean I shouldn’t do ?
We all have different bodies, genetics, reactions from certain foods, strengths, and weaknesses, and thus we each have different activities and behaviors that we’re predisposed to be good at (or struggle with!).
The standard way of thinking tells us that we have three main “body types”:
(Don’t worry we’ll get into each of those below too.)
HOWEVER, when it comes to your genetic benefits and shortfalls, there is way more to it than just which category your body fits in.
As you’ll soon learn, just because you’re predisposed to be good at one thing or terrible at another doesn’t mean you should be pigeonholed or limited with what you can do.
With a bit of help from our favorite Role Playing Games, we’re going to dig into body types, character classes, and ways to buck the genetic lottery.
Before we jump in, I want to mention that our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program has helped many clients realize they are not shackled to their genetics. Our coaches have helped busy people just like you lose weight, build muscle, and completely transform themselves.
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The three main body types
Back in the 1940’s, an American psychologist named William Herbert Sheldon tried to classify us non-superheroes into three neat categories called “soma types”:
Over the years, these three body types have become widely accepted as three solid classifications for how our bodies will generally react and grow based on our training and diet.
We’re going to ignore the parts about Sheldon trying to equate people’s body types to wildly generalized psychological traits, or the fact that he obtained the photos for his study under shady circumstances. Or the fact that these “somatypes” may be BS to begin with We’ll roll with it for educational purposes.
Because the 3 body types that Sheldon created managed to endure and have found a place in fitness, so that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Sure, there is this complicated math formula that you can use to calculate your “soma type,” but we’re going to skip the formula and go right into the stuff you actually need to know.
These are the three types and how they’re characterized. I bet you’ll find you fit into one of them:
Ectomorphs are characterized as having long, slim, and thin muscles/limbs and low fat storage. Ectomorphs are not predisposed to store fat nor build muscle.
These are the “hardgainers” that can’t gain weight even when they “eat so much.”
I am an ectomorph, and fought my genetics for 10 years – I also used this “diagnosis” as a crutch before finally overcoming it – I’ll talk more about this at the end of the article.
Mesomorphs are the “lucky ones.” They have medium bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders with a narrow waist.
Mesomorphs are predisposed to build muscle but not store fat. Aka “lucky AF.”
You might know somebody that can just look at a weight and seem to get bigger and stronger: that person is a mesomorph.
Endomorphs play the game of Weight Loss on extreme difficulty. These are people with wider waists, large bone structures, and are predisposed to storing fat instead of building muscle.
If you struggle to lose weight, or you put on fat easily, you MIGHT be an endomorph.
Again, I’ll explain why the diagnosis isn’t as important as how you respond to it!
IMPORTANT NOTE: These body types are not to be confused with the fourth classification: Animorphs, who possess the ability to change into any animal they touch.
Animorphs are necessary for the defense of Earth against the secret alien invasion.
Which BODY TYPE am I?
Although the three categories give us a decent foundation on which to build, there are a litany of other factors that are at play here.
For starters, instead of us fitting neatly into three categories, it’s more like a massive 1-1000 scale.
Imagine there is a triangle with each point representing one of the three body types.
We humans can exist at any point inside that triangle, from storing fat easily to not gaining weight easily to building muscle well. The reality is that we all have some parts of each of those.
What it really comes down to:
- Some bodies are efficient at burning energy for fuel.
- Some bodies are less efficient and tend to store more energy as fat.
- Some bodies are really efficient at building muscle.
- Some bodies are inefficient at building muscle.
Despite our genetics, our lifestyle choices, the foods we eat, and how we train will ultimately determine our body shape!
Where the problem with “soma types” begin: It’s very easy to use one’s classification as a crutch for being unhealthy or weak.
Let’s use a different example: have you ever taken a personality profile for work (“I’m an INFP! You’re an ENTJ!”), and then used that as an excuse: “Sorry, the test said I’m an introvert, it’s not that I’m an ass. Deal with it!”
Just like with personality tests, our Soma Type should be a starting point for us to put a plan in place.
We are not going to use our genetics as a crutch anymore. I did it for a decade until I finally allowed myself to create a different identity!
- “I’m an endomorph, so I’m screwed and that’s why I’m overweight.”
- “How lucky is he? He can eat whatever he wants and not gain weight!”
- “That dude just looks at weights and gets bigger. Must be nice.”
Here’s the truth: We have all rolled a random character in this Game of Life. We don’t get to pick our parents, we just have to play the hand we’re dealt to the best of our ability:
Some people hit the genetic lottery and get to play Life on Easy difficulty.
Some people have really crappy genetics and have to play on Legendary difficulty.
Your genetic makeup isn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility.
And this whole concept of dramatically different metabolisms due to soma types is overblown, which is GREAT NEWS:
Studies have shown that most people tend to fall within 200-300 calories of each other on the “metabolism speed scale.”
Your genetics can only help or hinder you so much – it’s the decisions you make after your character has been rolled that determines how quickly you progress through the game.
What this means:
- If you are really overweight, you don’t have as slow of a metabolism as you think. In fact, your metabolism is FASTER than somebody who is thinner than you (your body burns more calories to fuel your extra mass). What it really means is that you probably eat too much compared to how many calories you burn.
- If you are really underweight (as I was), you don’t have as fast a metabolism as you think. Although you think you eat “so much,” I bet if we tracked it, it’s significantly less than you are estimating.
I’ll address each body type below with specific instructions on how to react!
This is great news, but it means you’re going to need to work for it!
Now, in addition to body types, we also get a lot of questions about muscle fibers and how they affect your physical fitness…
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Twitch Muscle Fibers: Fast and Slow
To further emphasize that we are all unique snowflakes, our muscles have different types of qualities as well.
Based on your genetic makeup of what percentage of each type of muscle fiber you have, you might have a higher athletic ceiling when it comes to certain activities.
Again, this is just a starting point; I’ll get to how we can change our fate later.
Our muscle fibers can generally be classified as fast-twitch or slow-twitch:
- Slow twitch fibers (Type I): These muscle fibers can carry more oxygen and sustain longer periods of aerobic activity (activities that require your muscles to use oxygen) than other types of fibers, using fats or carbs as fuel. They can contract for long periods of time, but are weak. Think: long distance running or hours of cardio.
- Fast twitch fibers (Type IIb): These muscle fibers can carry less oxygen and only work with short periods of anaerobic activity (activities that require your muscles to burn glycogen) before becoming exhausted. They have the greatest potential for strength and for gaining size. Think: sprinting, power lifting, strength training.
- Fast twitch fibers (Type IIa): These are a mix of Type I and Type IIb fibers, and thus can be used for either aerobic or anaerobic activities.
So, if you are somebody that genetically has more slow twitch fibers than fast twitch, you’re genetically predisposed to be a better distance runner.
If you have more fast twitch fibers than slow twitch, you’re genetically predisposed to be a better powerlifter or sprinter.
Either way, we have some of each: as we age, our Type I fibers remain generally unchanged, while our amounts and sizes of our Type II fibers will decrease.
So, are we born with muscle fibers that have cemented our fate, and we can either be marathon runners or sprinters?
We can actually change our muscle fibers based on our training!
A study performed on males who were tasked with “sprinting” all out on a bicycle with a specific training regimen for 4-6 weeks resulted in decreasing their slow twitch fibers from 57% to 48% while increasing their Type IIa fibers from 32% to 38%. .
In another study performed on females who went through a rigorous endurance training schedule, Type I fibers did not increase, Type IIb fibers decreased, and the Type IIa fibers increased significantly. Type IIa fibers are the “switch hitters” that can be used for increased power or endurance.
Although more studies should (and will) be done on muscle fibers and how they’re affected by training, and how it differs between men and women this is the conclusion I’ve drawn:
Genetics be damned.
It might be an uphill battle, but we can change our fate. Body type, metabolism, muscle fibers, they are merely a starting point for discussion.
We can change our size and the percentage of our muscle fibers with the right training, just like we can change our body composition with the right diet.
Yes, at the upper echelon of elite world-class athletes, those with a higher genetic ceiling might have a physical advantage over those who have less of the beneficial muscle fibers.
But for regular muggles like you and me, there’s no reason why we can’t be who we want to be, and look how we want to look.
To hammer this point home, we’re gonna dive deep into online role playing games.
Even if you’re not a gamer, I guarantee this analogy will make you go “I get it, and damn Steve you are both clever and smart and really good looking and also modest.”
Role Playing Games and Body Types
I remember playing Everquest (the game that paved the road for World of Warcraft) back in 2001.
I spent hours reading the official strategy guide in order race for my character, Morphos Novastorm, who was to be the most kickass wizard in all of Norrath.
Why wizards? Because they always start scrawny and weak and end up really freaking powerful. Duh.
According to the guide, my best choice was to select the Erudites: they possessed the highest amount of intelligence to start (INT), and thus would give me an advantage over against non-Erudite wizards.
I agonized over this decision and spent hours before even starting the game because I assumed this decision that would forever haunt me if it was the wrong one!
And then I started playing.
As I watched Ogre Wizards, Gnome Wizards, Elf Wizards, Halfling Wizards kick serious ass in the later levels, it made me realize that although my character’s skill potential was slightly affected by my race….it had NO impact on how good I was at the game!
There were so many other factors that were more important:
- My style of play.
- The equipment my character is wearing
- Who is in my group.
- Was I having fun and challenging myself in a certain way?
Do you see the point I’m trying to make here?
YOUR BODY TYPE IS NO DIFFERENT.
Genetically, you might fit into one of the soma types above: ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph (animorph? call me).
Ultimately, think of your body type as your character’s “race” in a role-playing game:
How you choose to PLAY that character in this game of life makes all the difference in the world.
SO we’ve established the 3 soma types. We’ve discussed muscle fibers and genetics. And then we learned that the difference between the body types is minimal and that you can change your muscle fiber composition with training.
I have a few final points to make, but you might be looking for some recommendations:
I am an Ectomorph, Endomorph, or mesomorph. What do I Do?
Okay okay okay, you’ve read all this way, and now you’re wondering what you should actually do.
Let’s say you firmly believe you are an Ectomorph, Endomorph, or Mesomorph, and you want to know the best steps forward. This assumes that you REALLY are the soma type listed below.
Just know that I bet a LOT of people who think they gain fat easily are actually not an endomorph, they just have a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits! I’ll cover that below though:
I AM AN ECTOMORPH: Congrats, you are somebody that can’t put on any weight or muscle! I am too, and assumed for a decade that I was doomed to be thin as a rail. The reality was I just wasn’t eating enough. I had to break my own identity to go from Steve Rogers to Captain America.
If you are trying to get bigger, you should minimize cardio, maximize strength training, and whenever in doubt eat more calories!
I’d also recommend reading the following articles:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Muscle and Strength
- 9 Mistakes Skinny Nerds Make trying to get Bigger
- Strength Training 101
I AM A MESOMORPH: Congrats, you get to play life on easy difficulty! You’re more likely to build muscle and not store fat, but that doesn’t mean you get to rest on your laurels!
You’ll want to strength train, and depending on how old you are, you’ll have to become more disciplined with your diet. You can get away with it when you’re younger, but building healthy habits at a younger age and keeping your nutrition on track means you’ll keep a good physique as you get older!
I would recommend reading the following to help determine HOW you want to train: How to build the physique you want.
I AM AN ENDOMORPH: Congrats, you are playing life on a higher difficulty level. For starters, I want you to remove the stigma from your mind that you are a lost cause.
For starters, your metabolism isn’t slow, I PROMISE. The truth is that you most likely eat more than you realize, and you don’t do enough strength training to combat it.
You might also eat unhealthy foods (and/or consume a lot of sugar) that lead to physiological responses in your blood that promote fat storage!
What this means: you can’t use your genetics as a crutch or an excuse. It just “is what it is.” This means you’ll need to address both the quantity, and the quality of your food. I would focus on eating protein and healthy fats and try to minimize carb consumption.
As you start to strength train and make better food choices, you can affect HOW your body processes the calories you consume and start to change your body’s make-up. You can change it from “store fat” to “build muscle,” but you need to be disciplined about it!
May I recommend:
- The beginner’s guide to eating healthy
- What healthy nerds do that unhealthy nerds don’t.
Regardless of what you THINK your body type is, and what your ACTUAL genetic make-up is, it is a tiny tiny tiny piece of the puzzle.
The rest comes to how you want to play the game!
What happens if I don’t like my category?
You might have a few final questions, and I bet they fit into these categories:
Steve I’m kind of an overweight guy but I hate strength training, can I still run?
I’m skinny and I hate running, and I want to strength train, is that cool?
Here’s what to do if you don’t line up with what your genetics say you’ll be good at: acknowledge them, and then move on.
Write your own destiny.
Become the hero you want to be, not who you’re “supposed” to be.
The Truth: Your body will store fat and burn energy in a certain way. Depending on your genetics, sex, hormone balance, age, and medical conditions, you might need to be more careful with your consumption of sugar and processed foods than other people, as you might be genetically more likely to store those foods as fat rather than burning them as fuel.
I’ve come to learn there is so much more to being healthy than just “eating less” and “moving more.” It’s a complex topic involving dozens of variables that we still don’t fully understand yet. Your genetics are the opening act, and your diet is the main actor in this story.
It sucks, but that’s the truth.
Your diet will be responsible for 80-90% of your success or failure when it comes to weight regulation. So the BEST way for you to change your fate is to focus on eating the right kinds of foods.
How you chose to exercise makes up the other 10-20%. Ultimately it comes down to one big rule with exercise:
We’ve already covered the different “professions” and how you can be whatever you want in real life, be it Warrior, Druid, Assassin, Monk, Scout, Ranger, or any combination.
Hell, we even built a free character creation system here at NF so you can ACTUALLY treat life like a role playing game!
I can’t think of a better example of somebody deciding to Write their own path than Staci on Team NF.
She recently got her genetic testing done as well, and discovered that she’s supposed to be terrible at powerlifting based on her genetic makeup. Luckily, she didn’t listen to this, and now consistently deadlifts 400+ pounds:
I’m definitely an “ectomorph.” I have thin wrists, skinny legs, skinny ankles, and have struggled to put on any weight, be it muscle or fat, for most of my life. I’m genetically predisposed to be a good distance runner, and I’m not built for strength training.
On top of that, I have a genetic spinal condition that will severely limit my potential when it comes to getting big and strong.
I don’t care!
I love strength training, so I strength train.
I don’t like distance running, so I don’t run. I train the way I want to because that’s WAY more fun for me – I don’t care what my peak genetic alignment says – I want to do the stuff that makes me feel alive. And that’s gymnastics!
You might be an overweight guy or gal and want to become a Parkour Assassin or Martial Arts Monk or Elite Scout.
That is amazing! Freaking go for it. Yes, you might have an uphill battle on your hands, but there’s no reason you can’t get to a great level of proficiency with your desired profession and HAVE FUN WITH IT.
We have a community full of characters of all races who are playing the game of life on different levels of difficulty….and having a damn good time doing so.
I want to leave you with one final public service announcement.
While we’re at it, comparisons are silly.
I once wrote about why comparing ourselves to our celebrity heroes in movies is silly: their lives are so different, their motivations are different, and their situation is different.
It’s not a fair fight.
The same is true on comparing yourself to others in the gym or those you see in magazines.
You might walk into the gym and see a level 50 guy or girl, absolutely jacked/ripped/toned/thin/whatever in the weights section and think, “Wow! If I only had their genetics! Must be nice…”
“Must be nice” is one of the most dangerous phrases in the English language. Followed closely by “Hold my beer, watch this,” and “trust me, they don’t bite.”
The truth of the matter is, the people you wish you were like, no matter how good their genetics are, achieved their high level of fitness through consistent dedication to regular workouts and a healthy diet.
No matter watch edge you might possess genetically, you won’t see results without hard work.
Don’t let the fact that everybody is at different points in their quest be an excuse to blame genetics! You have NO idea what somebody’s genetics are like – it’s just easier to say “it must be their genes” rather than “they work WAY harder and are way more disciplined than me.”
We have different genetic makeups: different amounts of fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers, different bone densities, different levels of efficiency when it comes to fat storage and fuel consumption.
For these reasons, don’t compare your “reality” with somebody’s highlight reel:
- If you are a Night Elf, comparing yourself to an Orc when it comes to being a tank/warrior isn’t going to be a fair fight.
- Conversely, comparing yourself as an Orc to Night Elves on the topic of quickness is a losing proposition.
Just because somebody is muscular or skinny doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Just because somebody might be overweight compared to others doesn’t mean they aren’t in great physical condition.
So, the only comparison you should be making is to who you were yesterday.
Get your Nerd Fitness Starter Kit
- The 15 mistakes you don’t want to make.
- Full guide to the most effective diet and why it works.
- Complete and track your first workout today, no gym required.
Go. Level up.
And that concludes today’s World of Warcraft lesson on Genetics.
Remember, there is only one thing we say to our genetics: Not today!
Like in any role playing game, your character has strengths and weaknesses in the game of life, but it shouldn’t determine how you play the game.
So regardless of your soma type (ectomorph, endomorph, or mesomorph), or your muscle-fiber composition, you can do whatever the hell you want. Training and the correct nutrition can fix nearly any genetic shortcoming, it just might require a very strict regimen and discipline and assistance.
If you want to be an elf warrior, or an ogre wizard, go for it.
I’d love to hear from you:
And what “soma type” are you, and have you changed your fate or decided to do so?
Leave a comment and let me know!
PS: If you are somebody that wants to know they are following a program that is tailor-made for their body type and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself, and program your nutrition and workouts for you.
Photo Sources: Wizard, World of Warcraft Minis, apple and orange, punch, mushroom, pipe, butterfly, Oky – Space Ranger Inside Out minifigs