We all have a different body type which falls under 3 main categories…Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph. When you filled out our health questionnaire at IntoYou, you would have been asked which one you think you are. In this article I thought I would give you information on each body type and their characteristics along with what exercises are recommended for each.
Depending on what body type you are, you can adjust your workouts to maximise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. Our bodies are different and how you train and workout can affect the way your body responds to that workout. Like everything, there is a spectrum, not everyone falls neatly in to one of these categories, and it’s not unusual to be a blend of two, or for your body change throughout the lifespan.
According to Phil Catudal, a celebrated National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)–certified personal trainer in the Los Angeles area, 70% of people are not training the right way for their body type(1).
“Each of us has a genetic and physiological design that determines our body type, or somatotype and different body types have different responses to certain fitness programs,” says Catudal.
It’s a common mistake, Catudal says, and it can be easily remedied by properly identifying your body type, that is, whether you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph, then figuring out how to challenge your body with the right regimen.
Here’s more about the body types…
Ectomorphs are generally tall and slender with a delicate build. Usually they’ll have a small bone structure, thin chest, small hips and narrow waist.
Metabolic Characteristics of Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs have a fast metabolism. They can be slow to gain muscle and lose weight easily. Often they’ll have difficulty gaining weight.
If You’re an Ectomorph, you don’t need as much aerobic exercise as other body types to stay slim. Because they’re already lean by nature, ectomorphs don’t need much cardio. “If ectomorphs do too much cardio, their cortisol levels may increase, which signals their body to store fat because their body believes it’s under stress,” Catudal explains.
What ectomorphs really need to build muscles; to prevent overuse injuries and common chronic problems, like back pain and osteoporosis.
Endomorphs generally have a strong bone structure with a more rounded appearance. They’re often a ‘softer’ body with less well-defined musculature. In comparison to ectomorphs, endomorphs often have shorter leg bones.
Metabolic Characteristics of Endomorphs
Endomorphs have a slower metabolism but also a ‘strong constitution’. They gain muscle and weight easily and find it harder to lose weight.
Shapely, Curvy Endomorphs Have the Potential to Be Super-Strong Athletes with Well-Defined Muscles
To get there, start with a low- to moderate-intensity cardio regimen to torch stubborn fat stores, then add a strength-training program once you’ve made progress. “The cardio is more important in terms of conditioning and fat loss,” Catudal says. However, long endurance or high intensity cardio should be rare and monitored, just in case it stresses their bodies and hormonal system, causing them to “hold on” to body fat stores.
Once you get to the strength-building part of the equation, keep in mind that endomorphs are particularly responsive to isolation exercises (working one muscle at a time).
Mesomorphs are fairly tall & athletic-looking with broad shoulders and narrow waists. Often, mesomorphs will have broad hips and naturally possess upright posture. They look more muscular and have a more overall ‘triangular’ appearance.
Metabolic characteristics of Mesomorphs
Mesomorphs have a fairly fast metabolism and they can both gain and lose weight relatively easily. Their training history is an important factor in how they look. Mesomorphs also respond well to all kinds of training and can gain muscle relatively easily.
For Maintenance; low-intensity, steady-state cardio is most important for mesomorphs
If you’re happy with your size and shape and want to stay that way, your best bet is to focus the majority of your workouts on low- to moderate-intensity cardio. It can be as simple as brisk walking, performed at 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.
However, “Because mesomorphs have fewer slow-twitch muscle fibres [which have a high aerobic capacity and are used in distance running, for example], they have lower endurance levels, which can lead to frustration or fitness plateaus if they don’t manage their training properly,” Catudal says. Therefore it’s better for mesomorphs to change up their workout styles — add occasional sprints or HIIT, for example — on a regular basis. Think of this as a way of tricking your muscles and cardiorespiratory system to get fitter faster because you’re specifically working on the types of activity that don’t come as naturally to you.
There’s a Good Chance You’re Misclassifying Your Body Type…
“Very few people see themselves accurately — in my experience, about 50 percent of people misclassify their body type,” Catudal says. Some endomorphs (who generally have a larger bone structure with wider hips, narrower shoulders, and more pear-shaped bodies) may believe they’re mesomorphs (who have naturally muscular, athletic builds). Meanwhile, some ectomorphs (who tend to be lean and slender with a small to medium frame and relatively long limbs) may identify themselves as endomorphs, especially if they have a soft midsection.
The most common reasons for these cases of mistaken identity? People, especially women, are viewing their bodies from a critical lens, or they have become deconditioned. It’s easy to choose your category from a judgmental, rather than impartial perspective. Body ideals that are portrayed in the media are often digitally altered or enhanced with special filters or other forms of manipulation, which means they’re not real. However, that doesn’t stop most of us comparing ourselves to that ideal.
That leaves the rest of us with potentially warped perceptions of what descriptors like “slender,” “lean,” “muscular,” and “big-boned” actually mean.
Most People Are Hybrids of Two Body Types Rather Than Purely One Type…
Body types also lie on a spectrum, which means that you could have a dominant body type with a few characteristics of another one, or a body type that has qualities that are evenly divided between two different ones, Catudal says. So while we group people into general categories, being a combination body type means you have the strengths of two different body types to work with — for instance, you may naturally have both the endurance of an ectomorph and the muscle strength of a mesomorph, which can lead to big training gains.
“The most common natural hybrids are ecto-mesomorphs, who have long, lean limbs and broader chests and shoulders, and endo-mesomorphs, who have thick but compact physiques that are muscular, not soft,” he says.
Endo-ectomorphs, on the other hand, tend to have thin legs but substantial fat storage in the midsection. Sometimes this can flag a hormone dysfunction in menstruating women, and other times it’s typical of a post menopausal woman.
Many of you may have misclassified your body types due to body insecurities or lack of information of what each one is, so hopefully this helps explain a little more and shows that it’s not all black and white, there’s a lot of grey. In short…if you understand your body type, factor in your age, hormones, stress levels and time of life, it will be easier to customize your nutrition and exercise to suit what YOUR body needs and that’s all that matters!
x Charlie (check out what else i offer here)
(1) Colino, Stacey (2019) 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Training Right For Your Body Type everydayhealth.com, retrieved 18th October 2023 from https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/things-you-didnt-know-about-training-right-for-your-body-type/