Since about 1992, the concept of body types has been a part of the bodybuilding world. But body type research began long before that. An American psychologist by the name of William Sheldon spent a lifetime and career observing body types as they affected and impacted human behavior, metabolism and a host of other things.
A lot of research culminated following Sheldon's work. He died in 1977 and his work was taken up by mostly exercise physiologists, endocrinologists and kinesthetic practitioners who then took the research and extrapolated that body types respond differently to both training and nutrition.
As a result of this research from about 1940 on, now a bodybuilder can devise a training, nutrition and workout program according to his or her body type. Identifying your own type is the first step.
There are three body types listed below, but there are also amalgams of these types that are more realistic for most people as they age beginning as one type and becoming a little bit like another, in combination.
- A true "Hard Gainer"
- Fine bones, delicate looking
- Flat Chest
- Lightly Muscled
- Small Shoulder and back spread; small hips
- Thin or emaciated
The true extreme ectomorphic physique delicate and sometimes fragile a kid who got sand kicked in his face or a girl who could eat and eat and never gain weight. Bones of this type are light, joints are small and muscles are not eye-popping examples of hypertrophy, but rather small sloping muscle bellies that never seem to gain bulk.
Arms and legs are relatively long in proportion and shoulders torso differential. Ectomorphic body types have what we could call a linear physique straight up and straight down. They might also appear longer than height might indicate, due to the length of limbs an overall lack of muscle mass in and around the limbs. Not naturally powerful or explosive, this type has to work hard for everything he or she wants in the gym. But endurance is a strong point and many of this type become runners.
Ectomorphic Workouts and Diets
This is a thumbnail sketch. Much more complete workouts and diets should be examined, but it's a good look at what you need if you are this type.
Workouts: Typically should be slow and deliberate. Heavy, low reps. However, exercises such as walking lunges and other high rep work for large muscle groups should be done by this type, because it caters to cultivating and recruiting the kind of fiber that this type can recruit. Growth will be greater for this type in the gym if they do heavy workouts with few reps, but also incorporate and execute a few exercises here and there that their body will understand and respond to in kind. No cardio needed.
Diet: High protein, High Carb, High Fat diets are best here. Just a ton of food yet still the ectomorph will not pack on tons of mass. Deliberate meals and eating habits will further this type's cause.
- Hard Body
- Perfect Hourglass Shaped (Female)
- Rectangular Shaped (Male)
- Mature Muscle Mass
- Muscular Body
- Excellent Posture
- Gains Muscle Easily
- Gains Fat More Easily Than Ectomorphs but still metabolically superior
- Moderately Thick Skin
The Mesomorph Body
The mesomorph has always been seen as the ideal type and they are. They have great proportion, well-defined muscles and large strong bones. Torso taper is great on this type and goes from wide to narrow to pleasantly sloping from top to bottom. Good shoulder and back width along with appropriately thick chest cavity, and a narrow waist. Features of the face are clearly defined, such as cheek bones and a square, heavy jaw. Arms and legs are often naturally developed and this type is exceedingly athletic and good at almost all physical pursuits naturally. Muscle is natural on this type and they gain muscle in relation to the work they do.
Mesomorphic Workouts and Diets
Workouts: This type responds to almost anything they do, but workouts that are cyclical mass workouts for a period of weeks of a cycle and then followed by several weeks of high intensity, higher rep work. Really, this type can't lose. Heavy and intense is almost the best use of time for this type, but working up to it is important to avoid injury. This type can overtrain, but it's difficult to get them there. Moderate cardio here.
Diets: Diet should be moderate to high in calories, since this type's metabolism is good and not a lot of fat will accumulate from diet unless no exercise is completed daily. Even this type can get fat, but it's difficult. Diet should be about 40 percent protein, 30 percent fat and and 30 percent carbs for most of the year working out. Keep it clean in all macronutrient groups and you'll stay lean as can be as you build more muscle.
- Soft Mushy Body
- Underdeveloped Muscles; but capacity for muscle exists
- Round Physique; larger hips
- Big Bones
- Weight Loss is Difficult looks at food and gains
- Gains Muscle Easily Like the Mesomorph and can leverage body weight for this purpose (look at calves of heavy people when they lose calves are diamond shaped)
The Endomorph Body
The body of a true endomorph is round and soft and often overly fleshy usually fat, even. It's difficult for this person to lose weight and most of the weight carried is around the midsection, though many mesomorphs who have gotten older or out of shape can appear much the same. Look for heavy bones, larger joints and lumbering type of gait. Round face is often the case here, but usually because of overweight. The arms and legs of the extreme endomorph are short and heavy and can lend a stalky appearance to the overall picture. The hands and feet of the endomorph are often small, and the upper arms and thighs are often more developed than the lower parts of the arms or legs. The body has a higher than normal waist and
Endomorphic Workouts and Diets
Workouts: Should be done in a circuit format almost always. When one exercise for one body part is finished, it's time to either do a superset or another exercise for another body part, so that the body is always moving, moving, moving. This is important because movement is what will help endos shed pounds while building muscle. If this type can get a foothold in building muscle and losing a little fat, they can actually look like a mesomorph with a lot of hard work, or can become and live as a combinative type if maintaining that initial transformative hard work in the gym a lot more desirable than being a straight endomorph.
Diets: Diets for this type need to be high protein, low carb and moderate fat. Cyclical diets for maintenance, such as 3 days low carb, 1 day moderate or higher carb, and then back to two days zero carb, is the best maintenance diet after a period of total low carb dieting. Cyclical ketogenic diets is the only way this type can maintain any level of low body fat period.
Combinations of Body Types
Combination body types exist probably in greater abundance than strict types listed. So when people cannot be pinned down and classified as one particular type, typically they are combinative types: Meso-Endo, Meso-Ecto. I also like to talk about types being Endo-Meso and Ecto-Meso, because they are more like the first body type listed, though still a combination type.