The best workout for your body type

Body Type Workouts >> What You Need to Know!

The best workout for your body type

by Lunden Souza




3 minutes

Perhaps you’ve heard about the 3 different body types, but did you know that it is also important to train according to your body type? Your body type is predominantly genetic, but that doesn’t mean you are doomed to your genetics. You probably won’t ever get that hourglass figure if you have a more straight and narrow physique ( me!), but there are ways you can train in order to make the most your body type and have the body you’ve always wanted!

What are the 3 body types?

The three body types are Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph. You can get a good idea of what those body types look and where they are prone to store more fat (or muscle) from the image below.

Are you able to identify which body type you are? Not everybody is going to fit exactly into one or the other, of course, but you might notice that there is one that is more predominant. Let’s break it down a bit further and talk about each body type in more detail as well as how you should approach your strength and cardio training in order to maximize results.


The Ectomorph is naturally very thin, has narrow hips and shoulders, very low body fat and very thin arms and legs. The Ectomorph might say things , “No matter how much I eat, I cannot seem to gain weight.” Quite contrary to popular belief, not everyone is looking to lose weight.

Strength training for the Ectomorph:

  • Train with heavy weights and lots of rest in between sets (2-3 minutes) as well as in between exercises (5 minutes).
  • Only train 1-2 body parts per training day to avoid too much caloric expenditure.
  • Aim for 5-10 reps and 6-8 sets of each exercise.
  • Take plenty of rest in between workouts and never train a muscle group that is sore. And if you’re feeling really sore, try out foam rolling for recovery.

Cardio training for the Ectomorph:

  • Very minimal cardio.
  • Moderate and low-intensity bike rides and brisk walks (think of them more as relaxing cardio activities to reduce stress).


The Mesomorph is kind of in between the Ectomorph and the Endomorph. They are able to put on muscle easily and genetically are the ideal body type for bodybuilding. They have very strong legs, broad shoulders and a narrower waist. Generally, they also have very low body fat as well.

Strength training for the Mesomorph:

  • The more varied the training, the better the results.
  • Light, moderate and heavy weight training as well as bodyweight training with the adidas Training app.
  • Basic exercises (squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows, chest press, shoulder press, etc.) with heavy weights, followed by isolation exercises with moderate/light weights.
  • Aim for 8-12 reps for most exercises. When it comes to leg training, you can incorporate really heavy weights with around 6 reps and really light or no weights at around 25-30 reps for 3-5 sets.
  • Add in any other strength training activity that you think is fun and want to try out, this resistance band workout.


The Endomorph is more round and pear-shaped. They tend to store more body fat throughout the entire body, especially in the legs and arms. It’s much harder for the Endomorph to put on muscle and much easier to gain weight.

However, as mentioned before, you can’t sit on the couch and blame your genetics! You can be thankful for the body you have and work towards becoming more fit and healthy — it just might take a bit more time and effort than for the Mesomorph.

Strength training for the Endomorph:

  • Total-body workouts with compound movements to burn the most calories. This can be a mix of bodyweight training with the adidas Training app as well as moderate weight lifting.
  • Avoid heavy weight lifting with low reps.
  • Aim for 8-12 reps and 3-5 sets for upper body and 12-20 reps for lower body.
  • After reaching initial weight loss goals, it is okay to start to isolate muscles you want to shape a bit more.

Cardio training for the Endomorph:

I know this was a lot of information, but I really hope you find it useful. With so much information out there, it can be quite confusing to find the right training style to best meet your needs.

This is a great jumping off point to help lead you in the right direction.

And remember, long-lasting results, regardless of your body type, take time and consistency! Keep it up, and you’ll get there — I believe in you!



What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test!

The best workout for your body type

Before you start your training and nutrition regimen, it's a good idea to figure out your body type. Knowing which of the three basic body types you're closest to will help you better tailor your diet and exercise plan to meet your needs, and set realistic, attainable goals that pave the way to your success.

Take the test to find out your body type, your ideal workout, and the best supplements for your goals!

There are three basic human body types: the endomorph, the mesomorph, and the ectomorph. Despite what it might feel at times, you're not completely bound to one category or the other. Your lifestyle, genetics, history, and training style all play a part in how you look, and you can definitely change it over time.

That said, many of us to have certain tendencies toward one group or the other. Here's what typifies each one:


An ectomorph tends to be thin, and struggles to gain weight as either body fat or muscle. They can eat piles of food and stay looking the same, even when gaining muscular weight is their biggest goal. People who battle to gain muscle are often known as “hardgainers.”

Ectomorphs tends to have a lean build, long limbs, and small muscle bellies. Even if an ectomorph manages to put on weight, they may still look skinnier than they are, particularly in the calves and forearms.

Being an ectomorph doesn't mean you're doomed to be weak, though. You can still get remarkably strong, and you can be every bit as fit and healthy as someone who looks larger and more muscular. But if you want to gain weight, you'd better be prepared to eat you've never eaten before.


The mesomorph has a middle-of-the-road build that takes the best of both worlds. They tend to have wide shoulders, a narrow waist, relatively thin joints, and round muscle bellies.

In short, if you're a mesomorph, you have a natural tendency to be fit and relatively muscular.

Does this mean you can do nothing, eat everything, and get away with it forever? Definitely not—and you're not necessarily healthier than the other two types, either.

But you may be able to “bounce back” from being shape more easily than the other two body types, gaining muscle and burning fat with comparative ease.


The endomorph tends to gain weight and keep it on. Their build is a little wider than an ectomorph or mesomorph, with a thick ribcage, wide hips, and shorter limbs.

They may have more muscle than either of the other body types, but they often struggle to gain it without significant amounts of accompanying body fat.

If you ever feel you gain 5 pounds simply walking by a donut shop, you may be an endomorph.

This definitely doesn't mean that an endomorph can't be healthy. They can be every bit as strong, healthy, and capable as the other two groups, and may actually have some strength advantages due to their additional muscle mass. But if and when they decide to lean out, it'll take hard work!

  • Narrow hips and clavicles
  • Small joints (wrist/ankles)
  • Thin build
  • Stringy muscle bellies
  • Long limbs
  • Wide clavicles
  • Narrow waist
  • Thinner joints
  • Long and round muscle bellies
  • Blocky
  • Thick rib cage
  • Wide/thicker joints
  • Hips as wide (or wider)than clavicles
  • Shorter limbs

What's the best way to train for my body type?

Only you can say what your goals should be. Many great bodybuilders started out as either rail-thin ectomorphs or endomorphs who struggled with their weight. They learned to overcome their natural tendencies and take control of their life, and so can you!

That said, you may very well find that you have the most success if you use your body type to your advantage.

Ectomorph: Eat a lot of protein and carbs, regularly lift heavy with good form, and don't overdo aerobic activities. Just because you're thin doesn't mean you're healthy, so still take your diet and fitness seriously!

Mesomorph: Lift moderate weight on a regular basis, and engage in aerobic activities regularly. Don't worry about getting “bulky,” but watch out for creeping fat gains. You're not invincible to them!

Endomorph: You may benefit from using moderate weights and maintaining a relatively fast training pace. Getting your heart pumping daily with some form of activity is a good idea for both health and calorie burn. If you find yourself doing lots of work and still gaining weight, the answer is probably in the kitchen.


Sometimes, you’re a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As with most training programs, the right program for in-betweeners might be a mix, so it’s important to know who you are.

An ectomorph might have naturally huge arms and self-identify as a mesomorph but be a hard gainer everywhere else.

In this case, the basic rules of training for ectomorphs should still be followed, with a de-emphasis on upper arm isolation, in favor of compound exercises, if balance is one of the goals.

wise, a mesomorph with naturally skinny arms might accidentally, in service to bulking-up those arms, pack on extra torso weight where it’s not wanted.

Even endomorphs might have slightly thinner legs and tighter glutes than usual for their body type, viewing themselves as mesomorphs and gobbling down carbs without worry, with a dietary intake more fitting to the slimmer athlete.

The curse of the in-betweeners is to see themselves a little less clearly, favoring the body type they’d want to be, and following the wrong program. In-betweeners should know thyself, and train accordingly.


The best workout for your body type

The best workout for your body type

Home Best You Workout Routines

Ever wonder why all those hours clocked at the gym are not producing the results you want?  Maybe following the same routine as everyone else isn’t for you. Quit preventing your body from reaching its full potential by paying attention to the type of exercise your body type needs. We all come in various shapes and sizes and require a proper training routine to achieve success in the gym.

Which body type best describes you?

Use the guide below to determine your dominant body type (hourglass, athletic or straight). The result will let you know what training style will benefit you the most. Take the middle approach if you feel you’re between two body types.

Hourglass‘ Do you gain weight easily and have difficulty losing weight?‘ Are your hips wider than your shoulders?‘ Do you have a large bone structure that has an extra layer of fat over it?‘ Do you have a round, curvy or soft appearance?

‘ Are your limbs shorter in relation to your torso with small hands and feet?

Athletic‘ Do you have the ability to gain and store excess fat easily, particularly around your abdomen?‘ Are your shoulders slightly wider than your hips?‘ Do you have a large and heavy bone structure?‘ Do you have a sturdy and firm appearance?

‘ Are your limbs proportionate with large wrists and hands?

Straight‘ Is it a challenge for you to gain weight and muscle mass?‘ Are your shoulders and hips approximately the same width?‘ Do you have delicate bone structure?‘ Do you have a straight and fragile appearance?

‘ Are your limbs poorly muscled?

If your body is hourglass in shape:
Circuit training will benefit the hourglass silhouette who finds building muscle mass easy but losing body fat a challenge.

This type of training works best as it keeps your heart rate elevated and metabolism burning, even after you leave the gym.

Choose exercises that are compound (multi-joint) movements in order to keep your body challenged and stimulated enough to use its own fat stores as energy.  Try the ultimate 10-minute workout to get started.

Weight training: At a light to moderate intensity, do 12-15 repetitions, and 2-4 sets, with 30 seconds of rest between each set. Do a weight training workout 2-3 times per week.

Cardio: Do a cardio workout 3-5 days per week for maximum fat and calorie burn. On longer cardio days (20-45 minutes), exercise at an intensity of 50-70 percent. On shorter cardio days (20-30 minutes in length) your intensity should be between 70-80 percent.

Nutrition: Eat six smaller meals, rather than three large meals to keep metabolic rate elevated. This will result in increased fat burn.

If your body is athletic is shape:
This body type does not have to worry too much about muscular tone.  Exercises that help maintain a svelte narrow waist with a well-balanced lower body are best.  Choose exercises that are compound movements and alternate between lighter and heavier weightlifting days so the muscles develop proportionately and are not bulky.

Weight training: At a moderate to difficult intensity, do 8-12 repetitions, and 2-3 sets, with 45 seconds of rest in between each set. Complete a weight training session 2-3 times per week.

Cardio: Do a cardio workout 3-4 times per week at varying intensity levels for 30-45 minutes. This will help maintain a lean body and improve heart health for maximum fat and calorie burn.

Nutrition: Eat a well balanced diet with whole foods and a good amount of protein.

If your body is straight in shape:
Gaining muscle mass is a very difficult and slow process for the straight body type. Focus on strengthening the postural muscles and incorporate weight bearing exercises. This will reduce the chance of injury due your bone structure and reduce the lihood of osteoporosis. Engage in exercises such as Yoga, Tai Chi and QiGong.

Weight training: At a moderate to difficult intensity, do 6-10 repetitions at a slower, controlled pace. Do 2-3 sets, pausing for a 60 second rest between each set. (The slower the tempo you are working at, the better.  This keeps the muscle under tension longer, increasing the chance of muscle building.) Do weight training 2-3 times per week.

Cardio: Do a cardio workout 3 times per week at a moderate intensity. Cardiovascular exercises should be kept to a minimum because of your fast metabolism, which makes it difficult to gain weight and muscle. You don’t want to burn the muscle you are trying to build.

Nutrition: Eat a well balanced diet full of nutritious calories.

Note: All body types should eat whole foods, avoid sugars, processed and junk food.  Eat your last meal at least 3-4 hours before going to bed. Increase water intake to keep tissues moist and functioning properly.

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This Is The Workout You Should Try, Your Body Type

The best workout for your body type

When I first started working out, I had no idea what I was doing.

I took dance lessons as a kid, so I never thought to try to burn calories outside of that. But then, I hit puberty.

On the one hand, I developed boobs, but I also grew a belly.

I thought to myself, “That's not what Fergie meant when she said, 'lovely lady lumps,' is it?”

My first attempt at exercise was just running alone through a hilly neighborhood, which was super painful. I decided the kids in cross country were insane for ever doing this.

Then, I tried weight lifting and loved it, but I noticed I wasn't losing my belly. I was just gaining abs underneath it. 

It wasn't until after college that I learned there are different work-out routines and tricks to follow, your body type.

There are three body types: ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. All vary in workout strategy.

If you think you are a mix of two, you can combine the workouts and find a middle ground that best suits you.

So, which one are you, and how should you be sweating it out? 

Ectomorph body type

The first body type is the skinny, lean, model-types Emily Ratajkowski.

A lot of people envy you because you can eat basically anything you want without a muffin top growing over your low-rise jeans.

This is amazing, but some people would a little more junk in the trunk.


Men, especially, can envy the broad shoulders and muscles of their peers.

So how do you get the gains in the right places, and grow past your naturally wire-thin bod?

First off, ditch the treadmill and don't run marathons. If that's your life's passion, then by all means, do it. But it will hinder your ability to gain muscle and curves.

For this body type, there is a naturally low number of cells surrounding your muscle fibers, and it's harder to gain more of them.

Compound exercises squats — which involve multiple muscle groups in one move — will give you the best results.

Isolated moves bicep curls just won't cut it.

Some great compound exercises include deadlifts, chin ups, bicycle crunches, crunches on an exercise ball, the leg press and, of course, squats.

Personal trainer Mark Hughes suggests that ectomorphs work out only three days a week.

Each day should focus on strength training, with a quick low-intensity cardio session as a warm-up.

There's no need to become a gym rat because that would boost your already-amazing metabolism!

Supplements are worth the time and money.

It will be easier for your muscles to hold on to their mass if you have a protein shake with carbohydrates before — and after — working out.

That way, any calories you burn will come straight from the food you just consumed.

Endomorph body type

You're an endomorph if you're fuel-storing, curvy and have a bigger bone structure than the ectomorphs. Endomorphs also gain muscle quickly but then often find it hard to see the muscle underneath the layer of cushion.

This cushion is called adipose tissue — also known as fat — which can be used as energy when there is no food in the belly.

That means back in caveman days, you were amazing survivors. But in today's world, we usually don't go long without food, and we're sitting most of the time.

I'm an endomorph, and I will tell you right now that we have our work cut out for us. But, it's totally worth it.

It's not hard for us to get hard muscles; we just have to work at getting rid of that layer of tissue to reveal the hard work that's been done.

Cardio, cardio, cardio!

Although this is probably the hardest and most uncomfortable exercise for us, it is the most effective way to shift weight away from the belly.

But be aware that running at the same pace for long periods of time won't do the trick.

High intensity intervals such as sprinting and box jumps are the fastest and most efficient way to cut straight through to the fat.

Kickboxing is an all-body workout that uses intense quick spurts of energy that will burn a lot of fat and boost your metabolism.

Doing crunches won't slim your waistline! It's important to remember that spot training isn't how you lose fat — it's how you gain muscle.

Although cardio is super important for us, weight training may be just as — if not more— important because weight training burns calories, even after working out. So do both!

You want to use a moderate amount of weight so you can do higher reps. Go for about 15 reps per set, and about three sets should be good.

By the end of each set, you should feel you absolutely can't do any more.

If you think you could do more, the amount of weight isn't high enough. 

Endomorphs should try to be active about four to five days a week, with one of those days focused around a more calming workout such as yoga.

Two of those days should consist of high interval training, and two days should be made up of compound strength training exercises the Turkish get-up.

Overall, it's important to train with intensity and cut out sugar as much as possible.

Mesomorph body type

The third body type is muscular with a high metabolism.

You are a natural jock and after just one day at the gym, your veins are already poppin'.

You are one lucky person because you have the best traits of the two body types above: a combo of great metabolism that also easily puts on muscle.

But if you know you can pack on muscle and don't have to worry about your diet — but still aren't seeing the results you want —  it's time for you to amp it up.

Personal trainer Will Purdue says it's important to have a progressive plan that continually challenges you without getting too bulky.

Train athletically.

Low reps with high weight and power moves such as vertical jumps and plyometrics will help you build on goals and raise the intensity.

Start timing yourself to track progress and try to beat your own record regularly.

Make sure to take care of your body on rest days by doing a little movement such as light yoga or brisk walking.

Your body will respond well when pairing strength moves, such as the deadlift, with a power move such as a power clean.

For all body types

No matter your body type, there are three major rules to stick to:

1. Listen to your body, and don't push yourself to the point of passing out or getting hurt.

2. Form is everything. If you are not paying attention to how your body is placed and aligned, it can lead to major injuries or a waste of your time because the muscles that are supposed to be working, aren't.

3. Explore your options, find a routine you enjoy and GO!


The Best Fitness Plan for You Your Body Type

The best workout for your body type

Have you exhausted your body with multiple workouts and trendy diets in order to get the results you want? Perhaps you’re tired, can’t manage to find time to workout, or maybe your job has you bogged down and stressed out?

The problem may be that you are expending unnecessary energy doing exercises that contradict what your body needs in order to get the results you want. Once you understand your body type, you will begin to understand why less is more, and maximize your workout time.

Everything you need to know about the best fitness plan for your body type is right here.

First of all, there are three body types:

  1. The thin ectomorph,
  2. The thick endomorph
  3. The muscular mesomorph

Photo credit:

If you aren’t aware of these categories, you have probably been training your body in a way that doesn’t support your body type and, therefore, you’re lethargic, you can’t gain muscle mass, and you can’t lose weight to save your life. It is ly that you are over-working your body instead of allowing it to do the work it was intended to do.

Part of my preparation for this article was a long hike in Los Angeles’ highly populated hiking trail, Runyon Canyon. As I hiked, I assessed each person’s body that I came into contact with. Not surprisingly, the majority of hikers had a mixture of body types.

 For example, I saw a woman whose body was more muscular in her arms, shoulders, and back – a mesomorph – but her lower body stored more fat in her thighs, hips, and buttocks — That of of an endomorph.

I also saw a man who was both lean and muscular which placed him in the ectomorph-mesomorph category.

So while the three body types are a good guide to pinpointing the type of workout you need, keep in mind that there are variables. In some cases, it may be necessary to train your body differently for your upper body than your lower body. That is, perform a combination body-type workout.

The Fitness Plan for Endomorph Body Type

If you have the body of an endomorph, watch out! Your body ly stores more fat than the other two body types.

The trick is to head the fat off at the pass. In other words, regularly do cardio, almost daily, and perform weight-training exercises that burn fat.

Exercises, such as high reps and low weight speed up your metabolism, especially if you’re female. For weight-training, concentrate on the larger muscle groups, such as thighs, glutes, and back. The bigger the muscle group, the more calories you will burn.

In addition, multi-joint exercises for the lower body work best. For example, a squat involves the knees and hip flexors, while a leg extension only involves the knees:

If you’re not a gym rat, cycling and hiking are also multi-joint movements that burn calories.

If you stay consistent, you will see the pounds melt away.

The Fitness Plan for Ectomorph Body Type

So what if you’re tall, skinny, and have little muscle mass? Well, that would make you an ectomorph. You ly have a fast metabolism, a lot of energy, and eat whatever you want, which in many ways is a blessing, but in other ways a curse.

If gaining mass is your goal, you’ll have to work just as hard to maintain it as a person whose metabolism is slow and wants to lose weight.

So what’s the solution for an ectomorph? Less cardio, more weight-lifting, and more food!

Nutrition is extremely important for the skinny ectomorph. You must eat within one hour of your workout with a meal consisting of complex carbohydrates, brown rice, protein – such as chicken or fish – and green leafy vegetables, preferably kale or spinach which are full of potassium. Your body needs potassium, especially after a workout, to replenish electrolytes.

Because the ectomorph has a speedy metabolism, you will need to lift heavy weight, do low reps, and take long rest breaks, about three to five minutes, between sets of no more than five, with four different exercises, which are also referred to as “Giant Sets”. 

If you are performing the exercises correctly, using slow, controlled form, your body begins to heat up due to the energy used throughout the exercises. And when your body needs energy, it begins to look for stored resources , muscle. We don’t want that. Therefore, three to five sets is key.

Begin with light weight to warm up your muscles, with 15 reps. Rest for one minute. In your first “Giant Set,” perform 12 reps with a weight load in which you can (only) perform 12 reps. Rest for five minutes.

In your next set, perform 10 reps with a weight load in which you can (only) perform 10 reps. Rest for five minutes. Get the picture? Perform another two sets with the previous instructions, dropping down to eight, then six reps.

With the combination of proper nutrition and weight-training, you should see results within a month.

The Fitness Plan for Mesomorph Body Type

Onto the mesomorph – The physique that everyone wants. A well-balanced, symmetrical body, the mesomorph doesn’t need to work hard to retain muscle.

The mesomorph is not without its challenges, however. Because this body type gains weight quickly, it is prone to becoming bloated when too many carbohydrates are consumed. The mesomorph must consume protein and vegetables to maintain their muscular physique.

As long as the mesomorph hits the weight room a few times per week, watches his/her diet, and stretches in order to lengthen bulky muscles, they need not kill themselves with a lot of cardiovascular activity. Explosive, anaerobic cardio, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for up to 20 minutes is ideal.

Supersetting is the mesomorph’s friend. Because the mesomorph is able to retain muscle mass, it need only chisel its physique to expose muscle. For example, rapid workouts comprised of 15 reps per body part, with no rest in between, will sharpen the mesomorph frame.

Stay away from heavy weight-training, cut down your cardio sessions, and you will see a chiseled physique in no time.

Essential Advice for Your Diet

Body-type exercises alone will not work. Nutrition is a key component in getting your body to run a well-oiled machine. In the following, you will see that the three body types have their own formula, comprised of exercise and proper food to maximize results. Your diet must be low in sugar. Sugar turns to fat and slows down the fat-burning process.

So, stay away from simple carbs, candy, and “bad” complex carbs white rice, white pasta, white flour, and white bread. These are refined carbohydrates that cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, causing our body to crave more of the same.

Even some fruits are better for you than others. For example, pears and apples are lower in sugar than papaya and pineapple. Instead, eat “good” carbs fibrous whole grains, vegetables, and beans that slowly digest into your bloodstream. The slower the digestion of these “good” carbs, the less hungry you’ll be throughout your day.

Final Words

Now that you know what it takes to achieve results, you can begin to take your body’s appearance to the next level. No more time constraints due to a busy schedule and lack of energy because now you have the proper tools to transform your body and save time.

It is not necessary to spend up to two hours on a workout. Simply pinpoint your body type and implement a nutrition and exercise plan that reflects an endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph, or any combination of the three.

In addition, consider getting a BMI test (Body Mass Index) so that you know the amount of fat your body has.

There you have it! Knowing which fitness plan is best for your body type will save you from frustration and get your body to where you’ve always wanted it to be.

Featured photo credit: Gades Photography via


Ectomorph, Endomorph And Mesomorph: How To Train For Your Body Type

The best workout for your body type

When you look at your naked body in the mirror, what do you see? Unless you are some sort of genetic muscle mutant, your body will fall into one of the three typical body shapes.

The idea that human body types are genetically pre-set into one of three camps is nothing new. Plato mentions it in The Republic, which was written around 380 BC, and 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referred to the idea in The Antichrist years before the American psychologist William Sheldon popularised three broad categories of body in the 1940s.

Since Sheldon’s conclusions were published it has become widely recognised that most people have a body type. These are:

  1. Ectomorph: Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle
  2. Endomorph: Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat
  3. Mesomorph: Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells

But what do these three terms mean in reality? In short, ectomorphs stay lean despite hours in the gym, endomorphs struggle to shift their gut, and mesomorphs pack on muscle with ease.

Learning which body shape you were born with, and understanding what that means for your training and diet plans, will help you train smarter to maximise your potential and get closer to building the body that you’ve always wanted.

Falling between categories

Although there are three clear body types, it’s important to be aware that these aren’t set in stone.

“The three body types exist but probably never in their pure form,” says Professor Lars McNaughton from Edge Hill University.

“We all have some aspects of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy.”

There’s even a system for rating what mix of types you are, the Heath-Carter method, where you are given a score between one and seven for each body type (you can go outside this range, but it’s generally within those numbers).

“You are scored in an order with endomorphy first, then mesomorph, then ectomorphy,” says McNaughton.

“So a 1-7-5 would be a mesoectomorph – a tall muscular person with little fat.”

Under the Heath-Carter system, an extreme mesomorph would be rated 1-7-1, an extreme endomorph 7-1-1 and an extreme ectomorph 1-1-7. Almost everyone is a mix, though, so it’s case of identifying your own body type and how it fits into each category.

You could be a mix of mesomorph and endomorph where you gain muscle quickly but also put on weight easily if you relax your diet. Or the dream combo: a muscular mesomorph who can strip fat rapidly from just a couple of HIIT workouts. If that’s you, try not to rub it in everyone’s face.

The chart below shows where athletes from various sports fit in the Heath-Carter system. It’s a good starting point for identifying your own body type.

Whatever your characteristics, you should know that regardless of your body type, anyone can get lean or put on considerable muscle mass – and, equally, get fat if they’re not careful. It might be harder for a skinny guy to follow in Arnie’s Mr Universe footsteps, but it’s not impossible.

Below you’ll find more information on how to identify your own body type – or mixture of types – and learn how to tailor your fitness tactics to it: what you should be doing in the gym and the kitchen, where you might be going wrong, what to eat, what moves make the biggest difference and how supplements can help you improve further. At the very least, you’ll gain a better understanding of why your body is the shape it is and know how to get the best your genetic make-up.

The Importance Of Sleep

Whatever your body type, to get the most your training you need to focus on your nutrition (more on which below) and recovery – key to the latter is sleep. The positive effects of getting forty winks are huge.

Most of us tend to associate testosterone and growth hormone with pure muscle growth. However, they are equally important in aiding fat loss and recovery from exercise. Sleep has a massive say on your body’s production of said hormones.

A University of Chicago study found that if your levels of sleep fall below eight hours a night over the course of a week, testosterone can be lowered by 10% or more.

Your body’s levels of testosterone and growth hormone are also regulated by the amount of sleep you gain within a daily cycle known as a “circadian rhythm”.

You should aim to synchronise your circadian rhythm with daylight and night-time.

Your sleep can be negatively affected by unusual or additional light at night. A great step you can take to alleviate any light interaction with sleep is to switch off lights and electronic devices at least one hour before you go to sleep.

Ectomorph Body Type

Ectomorphs are good at processing carbohydrates into energy and your fast metabolism means that you burn off fat easily. The downside is that you struggle to bulk up because your fast-twitch fibres are underdeveloped.

To become more muscular, you need to keep cardio sessions to a minimum and focus on intense workouts using compound exercises to maximise growth hormone release.

You’ll also need to take on about 3,000 calories a day including plenty of starchy carbs and whey protein, possibly from a supplement.

Are You an Ectomorph?

You’ve got the build of a marathon runner – lean, but short on muscle. It can be hard to pack on size despite hours in the gym.

What’s Going On?

It’s all to do with satellite cell-mediated myonuclear addition – or, in layman’s terms, the number of cells surrounding your muscle fibres and your ability to add more by training.

In one study of 66 people, the top 17 “responders” experienced a 58% gain in muscle cross-sectional area, while the bottom 17 gained nothing.

Unfortunately for ectomorphs, they tend to be the worst “responders”.

What Ectomorphs Might Be Doing Wrong

First, ditch the treadmill. “Ectomorphs often gravitate to long, slow distance work, but it’s the worst thing they can do,” says trainer Will Purdue.

And it may be tempting to pack your routine with classic bodybuilder moves such as the biceps curl, but that’s another mistake, says Purdue.

“I often see ectomorphs focusing on isolation moves, whereas big, compound movements such as the squat will involve more muscles and give you the hormonal boost that helps build muscle.

I still use isolation moves, but they’re supplementary to the main workout moves – 80% of moves should be working big muscle groups.”

What Ectomorphs Should Be Doing

Three days of strength training should be coupled with two days of low-intensity cardio. Effective abs exercises include the captain’s chair, the bicycle crunch and abs crunches while sat on an exercise ball.

“Compound movements, sets in the eight-to-12 rep range and quite a lot of volume are what you’re looking for,” says Purdue. “So a system such as German Volume Training is ideal.” Popularised by muscle expert Charles Poliquin, GVT prescribes ten sets of ten reps in key moves such as the bench press or barbell squat.

And there’s no need to live in the gym to put on muscle – quite the contrary, in fact. “If you’re working out four, five days a week you’ll be speeding up your metabolism too much,” says trainer Hughes. “I tend to limit my ectomorphs to three workouts a week, keeping the actual training time after a warm-up to 45 minutes or less.”

What to Eat

In terms of nutrition, a diet that is high in calories, carbs, protein and fat will aid you in your quest for muscle gain. This should not be mistaken for eating precisely what you . Rather, it just means you should eat more of what is healthy. Good news: you don’t have to steer clear of carbs such as oats, wholemeal bread and potatoes.

Fats found in nuts, seeds and avocado will also bring about the right results. “Ectomorphs should respond well to carbs, which will spike blood sugar and help to drive protein to their muscles,” says trainer Mark Hughes. “Stick to the complex kind, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice.

” Aim for 2g per kilo of bodyweight per day of protein minimum, but be wary of overdoing it.

Ectomorphs who are sub-15% body fat should aim for 8g carbs, 4.3g protein and 1g fat per kg of bodyweight on training days. On rest days reduce the carbs to 7g. A high carb diet will spike blood sugar, helping drive protein to your muscles without elevating insulin resistance.

What Else?

“It’s important for ectomorphs to use supplements properly,” says Hughes. “I’d advise a carb/protein shake to drink before and during your workout, and either another one or a good meal afterwards.”

Money Moves

The deadlift is your best friend: people with long arms should find it relatively easy, and it uses the entire body so it’ll pack on mass. Although squats and benching will do wonders for your physique, taller ectomorphs might find them difficult. “Your longer levers might give you trouble getting below parallel in the squat,” says Purdue. “That’s when I recommend the leg press.”


  • Train with compound moves
  • Get enough protein
  • Use isolation moves as finishers


  • Overemphasise isolation moves
  • Do too much cardio
  • Ectomorphs have to work harder on the weights in order to gain a toned physique