Your body type influences how you respond to diet and training. Understanding your body type; Ectomorph, Endomorph, or mesomorph can help you to strategically plan your strength training and diet regiment. Here are 3 Male & Female body types explained...
Male & Female Body Types
Image courtesy of Govt. of Western Aust. Dept. of Health
An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy or gal. Ecto’s have a light build with small joints and lean muscle. Usually ectomorph’s have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Shoulders tend to be thin with little width. Ectomorphs are the body type that is the most resistant to weight gain due to a fast metabolism. In other words, ectomorphs are often able to overeat, while gaining little or even no weight. This body type is mainly characterized by it’s lack of mass, i.e. ectomorphs tend to have little body fat, are only lightly muscled and have a small frame (and joints). Because they have little fat, bone and muscle, ectomorphs naturally weight less and would be at the lower end of the BMI scale. This lack of mass also means that female ectomorphs tend to have a more linear body shape.
- Small “delicate” frame and bone structure
- Classic “hardgainer”
- Flat chest
- Small shoulders
- Lean muscle mass
- Finds it hard to gain weight
- Fast metabolism
Ectomorphs find it very hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism which burns up calories very quickly. Ecto’s need a huge amount of calories in order to gain weight. Workouts should be short and intense focusing on big muscle groups. Supplements are definitely recommended. Ectomorphs should eat before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night. Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them. However, even the skinniest of guys can bulk up. Yes, it’s harder but if you’re willing to put in the hard work it can be done.
A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for bodybuilding. They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong which is the perfect platform for building muscle.
- Generally hard body
- Well defined muscles
- Rectangular shaped body
- Gains muscle easily
- Gains fat more easily than ectomorphs
The mesomorph body type responds the best to weight training. Gains are usually seen very quickly, especially for beginners. The downside to mesomorphs is they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs. This means they must watch their calorie intake. Usually a combination of weight training and cardio works best for mesomorphs.
The mesomorph body type is the most desirable body type for men. However, mesomorphic women tend not to feel so lucky. While muscle mass is greatly celebrated in men, it isn’t so much in women. Mesomorphic women who like to workout, are the most likely to fall foul of exercise programs that do not take their body type into consideration. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are able to grow much larger with exercise and mesomorphs who do not wish to have a long, lean body have to be careful in their exercise choices. Unlike ectomorphs who gain muscle with great difficulty, mesomorphs can gain muscle almost by accident. This means that mesomorphic women often end up bigger and bulkier than when they started exercising. In other words, instead of their goal of losing inches and becoming smaller, they gain inches and become larger. If you find, that you haven’t become smaller, but grown bigger since you started exercising, you most likely have been exercising wrong for your body type.
If you are a mesomorph who wants to lose weight and reduce inches, you should focus on fat loss through diet and exercises that are right for their body type. Once you’ve lost the weight you wanted, you can always add resistance training to add muscle to specific parts of your body where needed.
Another problem mesomorphic women face, is that in a bid to reduce the size of their body they may over-exercise or restrict their calories too severely, losing too much fat. Fat is important as it gives women softness. Unlike ectomorphs who have a delicate skeleton and naturally carry less fat and less muscle, mesomorphs do not look “right” skinny. Mesomorphs have larger bones and bigger muscles, which will stand out if body fat percentage is very low. Musculature will be particularly marked if the workout includes weight lifting. Thus, the result is a muscular, masculine body that is smaller than suits your mesomorphic frame, with sinewy limbs, along with bulging veins and muscles. This look becomes worse with age, as skin loses collagen and plumpness.
The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft. Endomorphs gain fat very easily. Endo’s are usually of a shorter build with thick arms and legs. Muscles are strong, especially the upper legs. Endomorphs find they are naturally strong in leg exercises like the squat.
- Soft and round body
- Gains muscle and fat very easily
- Is generally short
- "Stocky" build
- Round physique
- Finds it hard to lose fat
- Slow metabolism
- Muscles not so well defined
When it comes to training, endomorphs find it very easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, a large portion of this weight is fat not muscle. To keep fat gain to a minimum, endomorphs must always train cardio as well as weights. Usually supplements may not be needed as long as the person has a high protein intake in their diet.
Once you know you are endomorph, you know that you were born this way. Your propensity to gain weight is in your genes. It’s not your fault that you gain weight easily. Once you understand that, you can stop blaming yourself for who you are and start educating yourself on how to maximize your body's potential.
As an endomorph, you may feel as though your body has let you down a little. It isn’t working as well as it should do in defending against weight gain. However, this doesn’t mean you are destined to be overweight or even obese. Your body’s internal weight regulatory systems may be short circuiting, but that doesn’t mean your head has to as well. Where your body falls short, your head should lead the way. In other words, you have to make a conscious, concerted effort to do the things your body should be doing for you automatically. If your body isn’t instinctively telling you to get moving, you have to make sure that exercise is part of your daily routine. If your metabolism is sluggish, you need to eat the right foods that will fire up your metabolism. To put it plain as day, you need to bust your ass by exercising and eating right for your body type.
Endomorphs don’t have to be fat. In fact, endomorphs shouldn’t even be fat. Female endomorphs who are in shape are simply stunning. J. LO, Scarlett Johansson, Beyonce, Raquel Welsh and Elizabeth Taylor all have endo bodies. Sure, ectomorphic women tend to look great with their clothes on and can wear almost any style of clothing (most "models"), while endomorphs are more restricted in their look (endomorphs do best in fitted clothes, which is the reason Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian wear the clothes they do or design their own). However, I'm going to toss in my opinion that no ectomorph can beat an in-shape endomorph in swimwear or sports clothing. The ectomorph’s body lacks curves, while the endomorph’s body is all about the curves. It’s the reason that every pin-up has been an endomorph and not many have been an ectomorph. Your body doesn’t need clothes to look its best! In shape endomorphs look good naked!
So what’s my point? You are at a disadvantage in that you have to work harder that any of the other body types to control your body fat percentage but once you master this art your body can be incredibly spectacular.
A combination of Body Types
These body types aren’t set in stone. In fact, most people have a combination of two body types. These combinations are either ectomorph/mesomorph or mesomorph/endomorph. It is not uncommon to find a pure mesomorph that gains weight like an endomorph for example.
Given the information above you should be able to identify your body type. You may also want to optimize your diet and training to suit your body type.
I am a combination of a Ectomorph and Mesomorph. I have small bones but I find it extremely easy to build muscle but also easy to gain fat. I keep my body balanced by eating mostly vegetables for my carbs, lean proteins, and supplement my fats with fish oils and flax seed.