Everybody is different, and there are countless workouts and exercises out there that serve different purposes to achieve specific goals. This can make it hard for you to find exactly what type of exercises and workouts give you the best results. One thing that could help you figure that out is finding out which body type you have.
Each of us has a genetic and physiological design that determines our body types. There are three main body types that have different responses to certain types of workouts, and knowing about them can help you figure out the best way to structure your workout routine in order to help you reach your fitness goals in a realistic and attainable manner. And although there are three main body types, there is a possibility of being a mix of more than one. So, how do you determine your body type? And most importantly, how do you train for it? We’ll give you everything you need to know about body types including tips on how to train for your specific body type!
What are the different body types?
According to American psychologist William Sheldon, there are three main body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph, which are defined by bone structure, muscle mass, and metabolic rate. Most people are unique combinations of these three body types, primarily aligning with one of them.
The ectomorph body type is characterized by being lean with long limbs, and narrow at the shoulders and hips. People with this body type are thin since their naturally fast metabolism usually makes it difficult for them to gain weight, and have relatively small muscles.
Right in the middle is the mesomorph body type, which has a medium bone structure and broader shoulders. Their efficient metabolism makes it easier for people with this body type to gain or lose body mass, and they also have a tendency to be relatively muscular and fit.
Last but not least, there’s the endomorph body type, which is characterized by having wider hips, shorter limbs, and more muscle mass than the others. People with this body type have a tendency to store fat more easily because of their naturally slow metabolism, so weight loss tends to be a struggle.
How to identify your body type
According to their description above, you can identify your body type by determining which one aligns with you more. To sum it up for you, you’re probably an ectomorph if you have primarily:
- Lean shape
- Small muscles
- Long limbs
- Narrow shoulders and hips
- Fast metabolism
Meanwhile, a mesomorph mostly has:
- Athletic shape
- Relatively muscular shape
- Medium limbs
- Broad shoulders
- Efficient metabolism
And you’re probably an endomorph if you mainly have:
- Blocky shape
- A lot of muscle
- Short limbs
- Wide shoulders and hips
- Slower metabolism
If you fall somewhere in-between types, that’s okay! Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, so most people are like this. You could have long limbs but otherwise have an endomorph body type, or have a slow metabolism and little muscle mass, but still mostly have a mesomorph body type. That’s perfectly fine and doesn’t mean that you won’t find the right workout for your body shape, you’ll just have to find which one seems best for you, or try a mix of both body types that you align to. You’ll most likely do a few trial runs to see which training methods work best.
Training tips for different body types
These training tips should be used as guidance for how to structure your workouts. Strength training, or doing any type of training is beneficial and will get you results as long as you follow a healthy balanced diet. But knowing how to train for your specific body type can help give you an upper hand on tailoring a better training routine and it can even help you break through a workout plateau whenever you hit one because you’ll know what works best for your body. Let's get started!
People with an ectomorph body type are naturally lean, so they don’t need as much aerobic exercise like cardio as the other two body types - but don’t discount it either, cardiovascular health is important. It just doesn’t have to be the main focus, what ectomorphs really need to focus on is strength and weight training in order to build muscle mass and get stronger.
Here’s what the National Association of Sports Medicine suggests to do:
- Maximize muscle gain using lower-intensity hypertrophy and maximal strength resistance training with longer rest periods.
- Consume a high-protein diet with balanced carbs and fats that maintains a positive energy balance.
To be more specific, focus on strength training, specifically compound movements! Compound exercises tackle several muscle groups and joints at once to help build muscle effectively. To give you an idea, think - barbell squats, deadlifts, or even bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, pull-ups. These exercises will help you build strength effectively. Throw in a few isolation exercises, single-joint movements (think bicep curls, hamstring curls), at the end of your workout to help you tackle any problem areas. And cardio doesn’t have to be your main focus, but you should do it a few times a week to keep your heart healthy! Pick cardio exercises you like steady-state cardio like walking, jogging, cycling, or challenge your muscles even more with high-intensity cardio like running and HIIT workouts. But don’t overdo the cardio, the main focus should be weight training and compound exercises.
Endomorphs have the greatest potential for having well-defined muscles and getting super strong. But this body type gains weight easily, so it’s important to watch what you eat and focus on eating a diet of mostly whole foods. Also avoid sedentary lifestyles, it could impact your body, so physician activity is of utmost importance!
Here’s what the National Association of Sports Medicine suggests to do:
- Maximize calorie burn and the improvement of metabolic efficiency by primarily using high-intensity, metabolic training techniques.
- Consume a high-protein diet with balanced carbs and fats that maintains a slightly negative energy balance.
To be more specific, focus on high-intensity workouts that promote fat loss, like cardio or strength training. HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) are known for burning massive amounts of calories in a shorter amount of time than steady-state cardio. They also help increase your metabolic rate for hours, meaning you can burn calories even after you’ve completed your workout! Everyone can benefit from these workouts, but endomorphs even more! So try to focus on doing a few HIIT sessions a week, but do what works for your fitness level. Since high-intensity workouts like HIIT are more taxing on the joints they require more experience, so if you’re new to it work your way up! Plus, HIIT workouts aren’t the only ones that burn fat. Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) workouts do too! Doing a LISS workout fasted (on an empty stomach) can improve the body’s ability to use fat as fuel instead of glycogen stored in your muscles. You can start with low-intensity steady-state workouts, like using the treadmill, stairclimber, or just going hiking, in order to condition your body and build a good level of cardiovascular fitness. Then you can start adding HIIT to your workouts.
Aside from cardio, your other main focus (besides your diet) is strength training. Strength training is not only important for building and maintaining muscle mass, it also improves your metabolic rate. The more muscle you have the quicker your metabolic rate will be, meaning that your body will be able to burn more calories at rest.
Unlike ectomorphs, who don’t need to focus on cardio too much, endomorphs should aim to do cardio at least 3-4 times a week, along with a mix of strength training with moderate weights.
If you’re a mesomorph, you probably have it a little bit easier than the other two, but that doesn’t mean that you should slack off! Whatever your goal is, you need to stay on track in order to keep it, because if you don’t you will reverse back just as easily. For mesomorphs who have no specific goals in mind and just want to stay in shape, a LISS workout is recommended in order to maintain that shape. You can also change things up with HIIT workouts and sprinting occasionally. However, if you’re a mesomorph wanting to achieve muscle gain, you should take a look at the ectomorph approach and focus on strength training. On the other hand, if your goal is to lose body fat, the endomorph approach focused on cardio could help you achieve your desired results. It’s all about deciding what you want for your body and taking a step towards that change.
The bottom line is: Your body type is not a “life sentence”. An endomorph can get just as good results as an ectomorph. It all comes down to your lifestyle, eating habits, and physical activity. Knowing how to train for your body type can help improve your exercise technique, but it won’t define whether you get results or not. Instead use this information as a tool to guide you on what to do to make your workouts more effective, and to help you when the results start slowing down!
After you know which body type you mostly align to, we strongly suggest that you start calculating and tracking your macros as well to maximize your results! Calculating your macros will give you the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need to eat to reach certain goals or maintain a healthy weight. By knowing your body type and macros, you will exercise in a way that works for your body while supporting it with the right diet for you! Many don’t take body type into consideration when calculating macros, but it is important since different body types have different metabolisms. Ectomorphs tend to benefit the most from a high-carb, high-protein diet. Endomorphs on the other hand can struggle with weight loss so they’ll benefit from a slightly bigger calorie deficit and a high protein diet with moderate carbs and fats. With that being said, body types should be considered when tracking macros, and luckily, our macro calculator takes it into consideration! Use our macro calculator to help you determine what the best macros are for your body and goals.