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What is your body type: Endomorph, Mesomorph, or Ectomorph ?

By Lee Hayward



I am curious to know why some people (myself included) with smaller frame types and long bones take longer to develop muscle mass?

All things being equal, isn't protein intake processed the same way inside someone with a smaller frame type as it is someone with a larger frame type?

Please help me understand why folks with smaller frames have a harder time developing mass as compared to someone who is shorter and with a larger frame?



There are three distinct categories of the human body: the endomorph, characterized by a preponderance of bodyfat; the mesomorph, marked by a well-developed musculature; and the ectomorph, distinguished by a lack of either much fat or muscle tissue.

The three body types are described below.

Ectomorph Mesomorph Endomorph
  • Thin, little bodyfat or muscle mass

  • Has Trouble Gaining Weight

  • Muscle growth takes longer
  • Muscular Body

  • Gains Or Loses Weight Easily

  • Grows Muscle Quickly
  • Soft Body

  • Round Shaped

  • Trouble Losing Weight

  • Generally Gains Muscle Easily

Obviously, most people do not fit exactly in one category or another. We tend to have a combination of the 3 body types.

For example, some people are thin and very lean (ectomorph). But others may be what I call "skinny fat". They are thin, but still lack muscle definition and they have a high percentage of bodyfat. Some people are overweight with high levels of bodyfat and muscle mass (endomorphs), but there are also people who are overweight with high levels of bodyfat, but they do not have much muscle mass.

Here are some general training and nutrition guidelines to follow for each of the 3 body types...


Ectomorphs need to focus their efforts of gaining muscular bodyweight.

Heavy weight training will help ectomorph’s stimulate muscle growth. Slower paced workouts with longer rest periods (i.e. at least 2 minutes between sets) will allow heavier weights to be lifted and thus help stimulate more muscle growth. Ectomorph’s also need to train less frequently in order to give their body plenty of time for growth and recovery. 3 weight training workouts per week would be ideal.

Cardio and other aerobic activities should be kept to a minimum until you are happy with your current bodyweight. This will conserve calories and allow them to be utilized for muscle growth.

Ectomorph’s need to make sure that they consume more calories then they burn off in order to have a caloric surplus from which to grow from. Ideally they should not go any longer then 2 hours without eating something. Each meal should contain protein and starchy carbohydrates. While the diet should be focused around natural unprocessed foods, some higher fat foods like peanut butter, red meat, whole eggs, and full fat dairy products can be added to the diet to help increase the caloric intake.

Ectomorph’s have really fast metabolisms so the risk of gaining bodyfat is low. And even if they do gain some bodyfat during the mass building phase, they will easily be able to get rid of it once they return to a lower calorie diet.


An Endomorph's biggest problem is losing bodyfat and keeping it off.

Weight training will help endomorph’s develop a better muscle to fat ratio in their body and therefore speed up their metabolism. Ideally endomorph’s should train at a fast training pace (very little rest between sets and exercises) to help burn up more calories during their workouts.

A minimum of 30 minutes of daily cardio, preferably done first thing in the morning before eating, will help burn up stored bodyfat and help increase the metabolism. Moderate intensity activities like brisk walking, bike riding, and cardio machines at the gym are ideal.

Endomorph’s need to eat less then maintenance calories in order to burn up stored bodyfat for energy. 5-6 small meals spaced out every few hours during the day. These meals should be based around lean protein and green veggies. The only time starchy carbohydrates should be consumed is immediately after exercise. At these times the body is primarily concerned with replacing muscle glycogen and the carbohydrates will be unlikely to get stored as bodyfat after exercise. Obviously, sweets, junk foods, and heavily processed foods should be eliminated from your diet, except for an occasional treat once or twice per week.


Mesomorph’s tend to be in the middle of the road as far as muscle mass and bodyfat. They generally have a naturally fit body, but to maintain it or improve it they need to exercise and diet correctly. Most successful bodybuilders have this body type.

Weight training can be done more often and for longer sessions then would be good for an ectomorph, but mesomorph’s still need to be careful not to overdo it. Depending on the individuals fitness goal, a mesomorph could focus on the guidelines suggested for an ectomorph and gear their training towards gaining muscular bulk. Or they could focus more alone the guidelines outlined for the endomorph and gear their training towards fat loss and getting ripped.

A lot of mesomorph’s like to cycle their training by bulking up and gaining muscle mass during the fall and winter months. And then switch to training for fat loss during the spring and summer months, in order to have a lean fit looking physique for the summer.

Eventually ectomorph’s and endomorph’s can take on a similar training cycle pattern as their physiques get more developed and they begin to take on some of the characteristics of the mesomorph. But they will still have a tendency to need more work on their trouble areas (i.e. gaining size for ectomorphs and losing fat for endomorph’s).

When a mesomorph is happy with their muscle size and leanness they can simply train to maintain it by sticking to a good healthy diet and performing moderate cardiovascular exercise several times per week to keep the bodyfat in check.


When you know what body type you have and then train and eat properly for your body type, you will make much better progress with your workouts.

Your goal should be to look as close as possible to a mesomorph. With the correct exercise and diet this is an attainable goal. And while some people may have to work harder then others to either gain muscle or lose bodyfat, progress is possible regardless of genetics. And very often people with a stronger work ethic and more determination will be able to overcome their limitations and surpass those with better genetics.

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