People are born with an inherited body type based on skeletal frame and body composition. Most people are unique combinations of the three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Your body type is a combination of your musculature, and your bone structure, and density. These characteristics are genetically determined and unchangeable. The width of your hips or shoulders, for example, you can’t change them with exercise. No amount of exercise can transform a short-limbed woman into a lithe supermodel, or a diminutive jockey into a muscle-bound linebacker, hence the need for developing specific workout goals for your body type.
What you can do is learn to eat and exercise in a way that emphasizes and develops your best features, while downplaying those you’d love to change if only you could. Knowing your body type can definitely help you do the exercises that are best for you. You wouldn’t want to do a lot of lunges if you’re bottom heavy to begin with, because you might get discouraged and quit.
Slender. Narrow. Petite. All these descriptors fit a typical ectomorph. A fast metabolism plays a big role in keeping this body type thin, with long, lean frames. An ectomorph can have trouble gaining weight and building muscle, though. To some, that may sound like a good problem to have. And one that means you can eat whatever you want and not exercise. But that’s not actually true. Ectomorphs still need to focus on a healthy diet and physical activity to support their best possible life.
The dietary specifics for the ectomorph body type include:
- Packing the menu with nutrient-rich foods, and not simply feeding on less nutritious foods to fuel a fast metabolism.
- Shooting for a high-protein approach. This macronutrient is essential for everyone, but is especially helpful for ectomorphs to maintain or bolster muscle mass.
- Aiming for an energy imbalance of more calories eaten than burned if weight gain is the goal. Use these extra calories on beneficial fats, lean proteins, and nutrient-rich options.
The exercises an ectomorph chooses should fit specific goals—like any body type. But that frequently means heavy weight training for those looking to bulk up. These weight-bearing exercises are also good for the bones and joints. A tip for ectomorphs is to take more rest between sets. This leads to fewer calories burned during exercise. And that’s a good thing because ectomorphs’ fast metabolisms can quickly rack up a calorie deficit that hampers efforts to gain mass.
You might recognize an endomorph by their stockier or rounder shape. This body type has a tendency to accumulate fat around the midsection and hips. Some of that can be attributed to a slower metabolism. Sedentary lifestyles and calorie overages exacerbate fat build up without specific workout goals for your body type.
Diet suggestions for endomorphs include:
- Watching refined and simple carbohydrate intake (especially sugar). The propensity to store fat leads to these easily overeaten items to help pack on unwanted pounds.
Turning to lean proteins to fill up and fuel muscle growth.
- Choose the right fats. Don’t shy away from beneficial omega fatty acids like those found in cold-water fish and plant-based fats just because fat storage is a common concern for this body type.
- Keeping a watchful eye on calories in vs. calories out. It’s the key to weight management for any body type, but it’s even more important for endomorphs.
Fill up on colorful, fiber-rich plants. These fruits and vegetables are lower calorie and have the fiber to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Exercising as an endomorph should focus on burning fat while maintaining muscle mass, stabilizing joints, and promoting cardiovascular health. That means using a mix of cardio exercises (walking, running, biking, etc.) and strength training. This helps burn extra calories while working to maintain or grow muscle. Using a combination of cardio and strength exercises has also been shown to burn more fat after your workout ends than sticking to one type of exercise.
If endomorphs are stockier and ectomorphs are thinner, mesomorphs stand athletically in the middle. Broader shouldered and muscular, this body type takes more of a v-shape. Much of this springs from the mesomorph’s place in the metabolic sweet spot. Weight goes on and comes off fairly easily. So, muscles are easier to grow, but fat isn’t as hard to burn. If this sounds perfect, that’s because many cultures have held up the mesomorphic body type as the aesthetic ideal. And the average gym is full of different body types trying their hardest to achieve a mesomorph somatotype.
That doesn’t mean people with this body type can ignore their diet. A mesomorph should target a diet that:
- Focuses on proper calorie balance. They can turn the calories dial to add weight or lose it.
- Promotes nutrition through a focus on fruits and vegetables. Fitness goals need to be supported by quality nutrition. It’s no different for mesomorphs, and nutritious plant foods are vital.
- Splits the essential macronutrients basically in thirds. An efficient, but not overachieving metabolism means this body type can aim for a fairly equal split between fat, carbs, and protein.
When it comes to a workout routine, the mesomorph has definite advantages. Pick a fitness goal, and this body type makes it a bit easier to hit it. Building muscle means aiming for light cardio and more strength training. Dropping weight may look like more running or biking. The raw materials for gaining speed, power, or enhancing athleticism are on the surface for mesomorphs. It’s just a matter of matching a fitness goal to the right exercises. Any activity that helps hit the recommended 150 minutes a week works great as workout goals for your body type. Even though mesomorphs rule the gym and the pop culture spotlight, they aren’t immune from the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle or poor diet.