Body Types: Which One Are You?

Body Types

There are different three body types, and we all fit into one of the three. And most often we fit into a combination of two different types. It is rare that a person is exactly one body type, and much more common that you are a combination of several body types.

The three different body types are:

  • Endomorph – naturally higher body fat content
  • Ectomorph – naturally tall and skinny
  • Mesomorph – naturally lean and fit

Determining your body type is important, as it will affect your fitness and nutrition plan. If you’re naturally chubby like most of us (it’s a curse!), then you need to be very carb-conscious in your diet and do plenty of exercise. This is most people in Western culture, hence the very high obesity rates.

On the other hand, if you’re lean and skinny and have difficulty putting on muscle, then heavy-duty protein is in your future if you’re trying to build a lean physique.

And if you’re naturally lean and muscular without a lot of effort, well, we really don’t like you much! You are blessed and have what the rest of us want – a naturally fit frame. And considering that most adults are overweight or obese (65%+), there seems to be very few mesomorphs out there. Most of us have to really work at it. Which is why it’s helpful to know the keys to a lean physique

Body types are all quite different, but they can be generally categorized into one of three groups.

Table of Contents

Main Takeaways

  • There are 3 main body types: Endomorph, Ectomorph, and Mesomorph. Each has their own appearance, diet and gym priorities. Most people are a combination of two body types.

  • Your body type does not dictate your current physique! With proper diet and training, you can achieve your ideal body.

  • Resistance training, when done correctly, builds lean muscle in any body type.

  • If your natural body type is an Endomorph, you will have a higher likelihood of body fat, so cardio will need to be a central focus in your fitness regimen.

Your Body Type and What it Means

Here is the run down on what your body type means, and how body types impact fitness goals, as well as your diet. (1)

Different Body Types

Ectomorph Body Type

Ectomorph Body Type
Appearance – Lean and long; generally skinny in appearance.

Gym – An ectomorph body type generally has difficulty building lean muscle, and does not naturally have a muscular frame.

Focus on compound movements that work multiple muscle groups like squats and deadlifts (as opposed to isolation moves like bicep curls); compound movements also provide a hormonal boost to help build muscle.

Too much cardio can be detrimental to your muscle-building goals, as you generally need to be in calorie excess (not deficit) to build muscle.

Diet – Eat a balanced, nutritious diet consisting of carbs, protein, and fat, and you don’t have to worry about carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes, etc). And you’ll likely need to pack on calories and do resistance training to build lean muscle.

To build a lean, muscular physique it is really important to eat protein with every meal, and also drink a high protein shake after your workout [mix a few scoops of whey protein power like Muscletech Nitro with 8 oz of whole milk or Muscle Milk], and drink the shake within 30 minutes of your workout ending. You might consider two high-protein shakes per day.

Endomorph Body Type

Body Fat Calculator
Appearance – Generally pear-shaped; tend to be overweight or even obese without proper fitness. The good news: all controllable with a clean and nutritious diet and solid fitness plan.

Endomorphs also generally have larger bone structure, so if have two men who are both 5”10” tall with identical body fat %, the endomorph will likely outweigh the ectomorph by 15 pounds or more

Gym – Good, balanced attack in the gym. Endomorphs should always make cardio workouts a high priority. Cardio should be done on a daily basis, that is the always the best solution. Cardio is the best way to burn calories and burn fat. 

You’ll also want to do resistance training to build lean muscle, as a muscle burns substantially more calories than fat.

Diet – A low-carb diet (on most days) is a must to maintain a healthy weight. Focus on a diet high in lean meats and vegetables (see these foods here).  

Unless you are doing 30-60 minutes of cardio every day, then you must be very carb-conscious. Carbs are the kryptonite to a healthy weight for an endomorph (by carbs we mean: bread, pasta, potatoes, etc). Focus on lean meats and vegetables.

Mesomorph Body Type

Mesomorph Body Type
Appearance – Athletes; very good physical shape; lean muscle; high metabolism. A naturally lean person, with a naturally good muscular frame.

Gym – Balanced workout program with resistance training and cardio. Mesomorphs build lean muscle quite easily, and can develop an impressive physique without even being a gym regular. It is akin to the genetic lottery. 

However, don’t take fitness and training for granted, for as you age things will not always be quite as easy. Develop and follow good habits.

Diet – Focus on an even balance of proteins (lean meats), complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables), and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts etc).  

You likely don’t need to avoid carbs, but also don’t take clean dieting for granted. A clean, nutritious diet is important for mesomorphs (just like everyone else) to maintain excellent long-term health.

Body Types

Shaping My Physique Beyond My Body Type 

Your body type does not determine your physique. I am a natural endomorph and carry body fat very easily. But I have been lean the past six years after losing 60 pounds, and have maintained this weight loss through a combination of cardio and resistance training.

As a natural endomorph, I cannot eat whatever I want and maintain a lean physique. So it’s important to know your natural body type, and you can determine your fitness priorities based on that.

If you are naturally lean and have a hard time gaining weight, then you’ll need to eat more and do resistance training to build lean muscle. But cardio will not be a central focus in your workout routines.

And if you’re a natural mesomorph, then you hit the body type lottery and you are a blessed soul! Only about 5-10% of the adult population is a natural mesomorph.

Habits Defeat Body Type | Can We Change Our Body Type?

The key to remember is that your body type does not determine your physique. Your habits and your focus determine the shape that you carry daily. And most people are mainly endomorph, which is why the obesity and overweight rate is over 75% in the United States.

The fact is, most adults in Western culture are between chubby and fat. And the reason is because most people are a mix of two body types, but the main and dominant body type is endomorph.

So if you want to maintain a lean and fit physique for the long term, you likely need to do frequent cardio and resistance training. And resistance training is very important because when you build lean muscle, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) increases.

This means you burn more calories when you have a higher percentage of lean muscle versus body fat. So resistance training is key in building this lean muscle so that you burn more calories during the day. Your body essentially becomes a more efficient furnace burning calories as you build lean muscle.

Your Genetic Body Type Does Not Determine Your Destiny 

The body type you are genetically born with does not determine the body type that you live with! An endomorph has the ability to look like a mesomorph, just as a mesomorph can look like an endomorph. (2)

So even if you don’t have ideal body genetics, with a lean diet and daily exercise, you can achieve a lean, muscular physique. There is no doubt that you will have to work harder, have good discipline, and most importantly you’ll need consistency. 
 
However, once you develop a routine, it’s pretty easy to stay on track. Learn more about the keys to a lean physique.
 

Resistance Training is Key for All Body Types

Regardless of your body type, all of us benefit from resistance training to build lean muscle. It is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy body as you get older, and the single best protection against muscle loss. Click the button below to learn more about building lean muscle.

Having a Hard Time Losing Weight?

And if you are struggling to lose weight, you might consider a meal replacement shake for one meal each day. Meal replacement shakes are very healthy, and lower calories which can assist in weight loss. Check our comprehensive review on the best meal replacement shakes for weight loss in 2024.

Click to know the difference between cardio and lifting weights. Click to learn more about body wellness.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

See All Posts

References

  1. Payne, A. (2019). Body Types: How to Train & Diet for Your Body Type. National Academy of Sports Medicine. https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/body-types-how-to-train-diet-for-your-body-type.
  2. Kandola, A. (2020). Mesomorph body type: Definition, diet, and working out. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mesomorph-body-type.

Click to see our medical disclosure.