Somatotypes are the terms mesomorph (meso), endomorph (endo) and ectomorph (ecto). That determine different body types. But do they really matter?
And should you train and eat differently depending on your body type?
That’s the questions I’m going to be answering in this article. So that no matter what your current body type is. You can still make progress in the gym.
Another reason for writing this article. Is because when I first started training. I thought that I needed to eat/ train differently depending on my body type.
And this just added a layer of complexity to my fitness journey. So know this. No matter your body type. The fundamentals work for everyone.
For example, if you want to get stronger and build muscle. You need to progressively overload your muscles. Or if you want to lose fat you must eat in a calorie deficit.
These are true no matter what your body type is currently.
The Takeaways On How To Eat/ Train For Your Body Type
- Somatotypes: endomorph ( overweight to obese). Ectomorph (skinny & tall). And mesomorph ( having a muscular build). Are terms that describe your current body type.
- Most people fall in the middle of these body types. And across your training journey. You’ll have times when you’ll be more mesomorphic, endomorphic and ectomorphic.
- Although some people will be primary ecto’s, Mesos, or endos. Think sumo wrestlers (endos) and basketball players (ectos) & top-level bodybuilders (mesos).
- The fundamentals like energy balance and progressive overload work. No matter your body type. Your body type doesn’t curse you to always be fat or skinny.
A Quick History On Somatotypes (Meso, Endo Ecto)
In the 1940s an American psychologist named William Herbert Sheldon. Gave the name “somatotypes” to categorize human physiques.
These somatotypes were ectomorphy, (characteristics of an ectomorph). Mesomorphy (characteristics of a mesomorph). And endomorphy (characteristics of an endomorph).
What Somatotype Are You? Are You A Meso, Endo Or Ecto?
The easiest way to determine your somatotype is to look in the mirror.
If your body type is Aesthetic, muscular and athletic you’re most likely mesomorphic. If your body type is round and wide you’re endomorphic. And if you’re tall and skinny you’re ectomorphic.
Do Different Body Types Need To Eat Differently?
In short, the quality of your diet doesn’t need to be different depending on your somatotype.
For example, a dieting approach of eating 80-90% whole foods and 10-20% from junky goodness can work well. No matter your body type.
You want to mostly eat foods like these:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- lean meats.
- Healthy fat sources like nuts, olive oil and fatty fish.
These are just a few foods that should make up the majority of your diet if you want to stay healthy.
But the main point is this. Your somatotype will determine if you should be in a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit.
And this is solely focused on the goal of building a more mesomorphic physique.
For example, an endomorph normally has a higher body fat percentage than an ectomorph.
Anyone Can Become More Mesomorphic
So if someone who is more endomorphic wants to become mesomorphic.
The only change to their diet. Will be that they’ll need to eat in a calorie deficit ( eating fewer calories than you burn).
And on the training side they’ll need to be strength training.
Which will result in losing fat and becoming less endomorphic.
Whereas someone who is an ectomorph. Will probably need to eat more calories so that they can put on weight and become less ectomorphic.
And on the training side also incorporate strength training.
Although if you’re a primary mesomorph. Then your physique already embodies muscularity. And a low body fat percentage.
For example, some people are just born to be more mesomorphic. Take Ronnie Coleman. He was already big and strong before ever touching a weight or obsessing about his diet.
But Ronnie is an outlier. For us mere mortals mesomorphy doesn’t come so easy.
More on specific prescriptions for your diet and training. That is tailored to your body type later in this article.
Do Different Body Types Need To Train Differently?
In short, no matter what your current body type is. Getting strong at the compound exercises.
Such as the:
- Bench press
- Military press
- Chin ups/ pull ups
Will make you build more muscle and become more mesomorphic.
But genetics do play a part.
Certain Body Types Lend Themselves Better To Mesomorphy Than Others
For example, individuals with a bigger build ( like Ronnie). Which means a wider bone structure such as bigger wrists & ankles.
Can naturally build more muscle & become more mesomorphic.
As opposed to individuals with a naturally slender bone structure.
But that’s not to say you’re doomed if you’re not broadly built.
I’ve personally got an average bone structure (6.75-inch wrists & 8.5-inch ankles) and although I’m not “huge”. People recognise I lift weights.
Because no matter what your body type or bone structure is. Most people can gain a lot of muscle naturally.
Individuals who are naturally more mesomorphic. Are generally better at activities that require the use of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Such as sports like sprinting & weightlifting.
Whereas the ectomorphic physique. Lends itself better to exercises that use slow-twitch muscle fibres. Aerobic sports like long distance running.
The Endomorphic physique doesn’t do well.
For example, some of the strongest natural powerlifters are endomorphic. And because of the extra weight, they’re carrying. This affects their leverages and absolute strength positively.
But when it comes to bodyweight exercises and relative strength. They are not the endomorphic physique’s strong suit.
This is due to the extra weight they are carrying. Whereas ectomorphs have a positive correlation with bodyweight exercises & relative strength.
A Mesomorphic Phsique Correlates With Higher Strength As Opposed To The Ectomorphic Physique
If you go to your gym. And look around. You’ll see that. The strongest men & women in your gym will 9/10 times be the most muscular.
And this is also backed up in this study. Where the mesomorphic participants displayed greater strength. In the 3 rep max bench press. And the 3 rep max squat.
Whereas the ectomorphic participants weren’t as strong in the same exercises.
The reason for this is simple. A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. So if someone has a mesomorphic physique.
It’s more than likely that they’ll be stronger than someone who is less muscular. Because the more muscle that you carry the greater potential for strength that you have.
The Only Way I Like to Use Somatotypes
If your goal is to become more mesomorphic and get to a healthy body fat percentage. Then Knowing your somatotype can be a good indicator of how you should start this process.
Also, these somatotypes aren’t set in stone. Someone may be more mesomorphic, endomorphic, or ectomorphic at one point in their life.
If someone with an endomorphic physique made some dietary & training adjustments ( a calorie deficit & lift weights).
This would result in them being less endomorphic. Although now they’ll be more mesomorphic and ectomorphic.
Because if you lose weight you get skinnier (ectomorphic). It’s inevitable. And if you lift weights you build muscle and become more mesomorphic.
I’ll give you a few solutions for different situations. These solutions are geared to becoming more mesomorphic. So that you can develop a lean athletic physique.
I Personally have been more endomorphic, ectomorphic and mesomorphic in my lifting journey. At different periods.
Not everyone starts off as mesomorphs. A mesomorphic physique is normally the goal for many people.
Do Different Somatotypes Lend Themselves To Different Exercises?
You could say so. For example the traditional ectomorphic physique.
Which is tall and skinny. May find that. Because of his long limbs, he finds he has better pulling mechanics for the deadlift (because longer arms mean the bar doesn’t have to travel as far).
But that same person can also become endomorphic if he gains a lot of fat. So for the most part. It’s more about limb length and anthropometry than somatotypes.
When coming to a conclusion if your body type is better suited to certain exercises.
One area where Your Somatotype can affect your performance Is In range of motion.
For example, if you’re an endomorph. Who stores more fat in their chest & gut. Then that will result in more weight being able to be lifted.
The reason for this is simple. It’s because you’re carrying more fat in your chest and gut. So in the bench press, the bar doesn’t have to travel as far as it would have to if you didn’t store as much fat.
This is one of the main reasons why your bench press normally goes down in strength. When you’re losing weight. Because the bar has to move further.
Simply put. Carrying more weight can affect your leverages.
Practical Training & Diet Solutions Depending On If You’re A Meso, Endo Or Ecto
The Endomorphic Prescription
If you’re currently an endomorph like I was in this picture. Where you’re carrying more fat than you like. The solution is easy.
If you want to build a more mesomorphic physique you need to lose some fat and build some muscle.
You can do this by following 3 simple steps.
- Make sure you’re eating in a 20-30% calorie deficit (eating 20-30% fewer calories than you burn).
- Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight.
- Lift weights at least 3x per week.
If you want more in-depth information on how you can do this. Read this article.
The Ectomorphic Prescription
If you’re currently skinny and slender this solution applies to you. Although if you were an endomorph. And now you’ve lost some weight after following the first prescription.
Yet you feel slightly skinny. And that your physique resembles an ectomorph.
Which happens to many people.
Then there’s an easy 3 step solution.
- Make sure you’re eating in a 10-15% calorie surplus (eating 10-15% more calories than you burn).
- Eat 0.82 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight.
- Lift weights at least 3 x per week.
This solution will help you build more muscle and become more mesomorphic.
For an in-depth article on how you can do this. Read this article.
The Mesomorphic Prescription
By the time you’ve reached a more mesomorphic physique. Which means bulking and cutting for the first couple of years. Then the solution is entirely up to you.
You can try and gain all the muscle you can naturally and aim for a completely mesomorphic physique.
Which is the goal for many lifters (including myself) or you can just maintain.
Although if you want to get really lean ( below 10% body fat) and show that newfound muscle off. That can be an option as well.
Why You Should Focus On Your Body Fat Percentage Rather Than Your Somatotype
If you use the Accu measure body fat percentage calliper. You get a good estimate of what your current body fat is.
And once you know what your body fat percentage is. You can make adjustments with your diet accordingly.
For example, if you’re an endomorph your body fat percentage will probably be high ( 20%+). And if you’re an ectomorph your body fat percentage will probably be low (10% or less).
So if you’re an endomorph you simply reduce your body fat percentage. By following the steps in the endomorph prescription.
Until you’re roughly at 10-12% body fat.
And if you’re an ectomorph you’re probably starting off very lean. So you can add weight until you get to an upper limit of 20% body fat. Although I mostly bulk up to 15-17.5% body fat.
But 20% body fat should be the upper limit of your body fat percentage.
Because when you get at and beyond this point it can take you a long time to cut back to 10-12% body fat.
And getting to a high body fat percentage (20% or more) can cause unwanted side effects like insulin resistance.
What If You’ve Always Been Endomorphic?
I see this a lot. Many people assume that because they’ve always been fat, that means that they always will be. This isn’t true. You can radically transform your body shape if you do the right things.
Do People With Endomorphic Physiques Store Fat Easier?
No they don’t. You only become endomorphic if you eat more calories than you burn for a long period of time. This leads to fat gain.
If you’re currently an ectomorph. And you eat a small amount over your maintenance calories. But you don’t lift weights. Then those extra calories get stored as fat.
And if you do this for long enough.
You can gain a lot of fat. And this is one of the main reasons why people become endomorphic. Which can be interchangeable for overweight.
Is it Harder For Ectomorphs To Gain Weight?
Ectomorphs gain weight just like anyone else. And they can change their body type to a mesomorph or an endomorph.
For example if an ectomorph bulks properly (builds muscle).
Then they can actually become mesomorphic.
Although if a different person who is also an ectomorph. Doesn’t lift weights and eats way more calories than he burns. He’s just going to become fat and endomorphic.
The Bottom Line On How To Train/Diet If You’re A Meso, Endo Or Ecto
- You’re responsible for your somatotype. Your current somatotype is not a curse.
- If you eat & train properly you can build a mesomorphic physique that you can be proud of.
- Don’t spend too much time obsessing about what body type you currently are. Instead, use that time building muscle (bulking). And losing fat (cutting) so that you can get the body composition you desire.
Above all, if you use the information in this article for your specific body type.
You can radically improve your physique and become healthier and stronger.
I hope this article helps.
If you have any ideas on how I can do things better I’d love to know.
Or if you’d like to ask me a question.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And I’ll get back to you asap.
What’s the one thing you’re going to do today to come 1% closer to your fitness goals?