Body Types: How to Exercise and Eat for Your Body

Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph body type? Learn your body type so you can customize your exercise and nutrition for the results you want!

Body Types: How to Exercise and Eat for Your Body banner

Chasing a fitness or physique goal? Looking at how you eat and exercise right now are crucial parts of starting off right. So is knowing your body type.

Here's why it's important: Knowing your body's natural tendencies can help you work with your body, rather than against it. That way, you can customize your nutrition and exercise plan to fit your needs and set realistic goals to help you succeed.

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

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What are the 3 Main Body Types?

The three basic human body types are the endomorph, the mesomorph, and the ectomorph. These categories, or "somatotypes," were developed in the 1940s by psychologist William Herbert Sheldon. And while some aspects of Sheldon's system have been debunked, contemporary research has confirmed that body type does have implications for athletic performance.

For example, a 2018 study in the journal PLoS One found that mesomorph men performed better than ectomorphs on squat and bench press tests. Their conclusion was that body type could predict as much as a third of strength potential. On the cardio side, a 2005 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that combination mesomorph-ectomorphs showed the greatest ability to improve their aerobic capacity in training.

Despite what it might feel like at times, you're not completely bound to one category or the other! Research has shown that both diet and training can influence your somatotype, allowing you to change the script over time. Here's what all three body types should know to help make the most of their potential.

Ectomorph Body Type

  • Naturally lean
  • Struggles to gain muscle
  • Narrow shoulders and hips
  • Fast metabolism

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 like you've never eaten before.

Mesomorph Body Type

  • Narrow hips and clavicles
  • Small joints (wrist/ankles)
  • Thin build
  • Stringy muscle bellies
  • Long limbs

The mesomorph has a middle-of-the-road build that includes 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!

You should still eat well and train according to your body type, but you may be able to "bounce back" from being out of shape more easily than the other two body types, gaining muscle and burning fat with comparative ease.+

Endomorph Body Type

  • Heavier bone structure
  • Squarer torso
  • Wider waist, larger hips
  • Slower metabolism

An endomorph tends to gain weight easily and struggle to lose it. 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 like you gain 5 pounds simply walking past a donut shop, you may be an endomorph.

This definitely doesn't mean that an endomorph is somehow less healthy. They can actually have some strength-training advantages due to their additional muscle mass. But if and when they decide to lean out, it'll take hard work!

No matter what your body type is, protein can help you make the most of it. Have a shake post-workout, or as a healthy meal replacement anytime. - View All

Want to go in-depth on training for your body type? Check out the guide, "Training Tips to Match Your Body Type." To get systematic about your success in all areas, use's other most popular fitness calculators: