What's My Body Type? (Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph)

Genetics plays a strong role in the way that we look and the way that our body processes the food we eat. 

If you have a difficult time losing weight or building muscle, it could be that your genetics are stacked against you.

It all starts with the body type you were born with. Your body type will determine how easy or how difficult it will be to change your body composition.

So, the inevitable question is: What's my body type?

what's-my-body-type

Welcome to the second installment of the WCT Muscle Building Series where we help you learn simple, high-yield strategies that’ll help you add some muscle to your frame.

In Part 1, How to Build Muscle Naturally Using Scientifically Proven Methods, we discuss the basic concepts of exercise physiology that you must understand in order to build muscle. We highly recommend that you read that post first.

Today we will talk about the reality of muscle growth- what to expect, and how your genetics will influence how you look.  

It has only taken me 10 years to figure all of this stuff out.  Now you get it in 5 minutes or less.

 

This post is going to cover

- Common Muscle Building Misconceptions 

- What Body Type Are You? Ectomorphs, Endomorphs, and Mesomorphs

- How Genetics and  Body Type Influence Your Muscle Building Potential

- How Fast Can You Expect to Build Muscle Naturally

Common Muscle Building Misconceptions

Before we discuss the three body types, it is important to lay down some basic ground rules. Regardless of the body type, you may be, the principles of building muscle stay the same.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding the best ways to use resistance training to build muscle.

It doesn't matter if you are a mesomorph, an ectomorph or an endomorph, these are things you should avoid

 

Relying Strictly on Isolation Exercises

One of the most common misconceptions about building muscle is that each one of your muscle groups needs to be trained individually.

This is when you see people training Chest on Monday, Back on Tuesday, Arms on Wednesday, Legs on Friday etc.

As we discussed in 3 Essential Principles of Exercise Routines, isolation exercises are not the best way to build muscle mass.

You simply cannot stimulate your muscles enough when you train them one at a time.

  We occasionally do isolation exercises, but they only constitute a minority of our exercise selection

We occasionally do isolation exercises, but they only constitute a minority of our exercise selection

We occasionally do isolation exercises, but they only constitute a minority of our exercise selection

You can certainly get more for less if you stick to compound exercises: particularly the Big 6 movement patterns described in All Fitness Training Programs Need To Include These 3 Things

When performing compound movements, you don’t need to do a lot of exercises nor train your muscles until exhaustion.

This leads us to the next misconception...

 

You Need to Spend Hours at the Gym to Get Results

If you train correctly, (using large compound exercises for most of your training) then you do not have to spend a long time exercising.

Compound exercises always give you the biggest bang for your buck.  

They allow you to lift heavier weights then you could with isolation exercises, and stimulate your muscles a lot faster.  As a result, you don't need to do endless sets and reps. 

In short, we want to stimulate our muscles, not annihilate them.

Check out 9 Simple Ways to Shorten Your Workout and Spend Less Time in the Gym to learn other ways to maximize your training time.

And lastly, my favorite misconception...

 

You Think You Will Get Bulky

Another common misconception is that lifting weights will get you bulky.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a woman (and some men) say that she doesn’t want to lift weights because she doesn’t want to get bulky, my student loans would be paid off.

Gaining any noticeable muscle mass is extremely difficult.

Most men will never get bulky, even if they tried. If all you had to do was lift weights to get really muscular, everyone would be jacked.

And women, don’t worry. 

You generally don’t have high enough levels of testosterone to get large muscles. The women who are “bulky” lift for a living, and center most things in their lives around exercise.

  Brittany can Squat >200 lbs and Deadlift > 300 lbs and she is not 'bulky'

Brittany can Squat >200 lbs and Deadlift > 300 lbs and she is not 'bulky'


Ok, so now that we have those out of the way, let’s talk about body types

 

What Body Type Am I?

There are three different body types: The Ectomorph, The Mesomorph, and The Endomorph. 

It is highly likely that you will automatically know which one you are once you read the descriptions. It is also possible that you are a hybrid, meaning that you have a slight combination of two body-types, which we will describe shortly.

Let's begin with the ectomorph.

 

Ectomorph

Ectomorphs are the people who have always been skinny their whole lives. They tend to have small joints (skinny wrists, ankles, waist etc) and have a difficult time gaining weight. 

If you have ever considered yourself to be scrawny, thin or lanky, then you are an ectomorph.

These are the people who generally can eat whatever they want and never seem to gain weight.

Ectomorphs will probably never ever be obese.

 

Here are a few examples of ectomorphs.

  • Brad Pitt in Fight Club
  • Tobey Maguire in Spiderman
  • Almost All Victoria Secret Models

Ectomorphs who are into exercise and fitness are always lean with less than 10% body fat. These are the people you see on the cover of fitness magazines. Their muscles aren’t bulky; they are small, well developed and well defined.

So what are the hallmark characteristics of an Ectomorph?

- Thin
- Small Joints
- Narrow Waist
- Minimal Muscle
- Difficulty Gaining Weight

 

If you are an ectomorph and in great shape, you are more likely to look like a fitness model.

 

Endomorph

An endomorph is the opposite of an ectomorph. These are the people who have always been a little heavier than their classmates. They have never been skinny and can add bodyweight very, very easily. 

These are the individuals who struggle the most to lose weight. One bad meal could mean starting over from scratch.

Endomorphs have larger frames with bigger joints.  

They will probably never get as skinny as a Victoria Secret runway model unless they completely starve themselves to death.

 

Here are a few examples of endomorphs.

  • Brock Lesnar from Wrestling
  • Brian Shaw from World's Strongest Man
  • Kim & Khloe Kardashian
 Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brock_Lesnar

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brock_Lesnar

Endomorphs who are into exercise and fitness generally favor power sports that require size and strength. 

Endomorphs are very strong. People who compete in Sumo Wrestling, or in World's Strongest Man tend to be endomorphs.

They carry a higher body fat percentage, and will probably never be under 15% body fat.

So what are the hallmark characteristics of an Endomorph?

- Curvy
- Big Joints
- Wide Waist
- High body fat
- Difficulty losing weight

If you are an endomorph and in great shape, you are more likely to look like a World's Strongest Man.

 

Mesomorph

Mesomorphs are in between the previous two. They are generally considered to have the 'athletic' body type. These individuals can go either way. They are not scrawny, nor are they very heavy. 

If you do not fall into either of the above categories, then you are likely a mesomorph.

With that said, mesomorphs can be hybrids.  You can be a Mesomorph with ectomorphic tendencies, or have endomorphic tendencies. 

If you are a meso/ectomorph, you can put on muscle easily, but lose it quickly if you don't eat enough calories.  Conversely, a meso/endomorph can put on muscle easily, but also put on the pounds if they eat a little too much.

Here are a few examples of some mesomorphs:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Aly Raisman of Team USA Gymnastics

Mesomorphs can have the best of both worlds. They can get quite muscular and be very lean at the same time. People who excel in bodybuilding or other physique type sports tend to be mesomorphs.

Some people would say that mesomorphs have it the easiest in terms of building muscle. They won the genetic lottery when it comes to exercise and fitness.

So what are the hallmark characteristics of a Mesomorph?

- Well Rounded
- Average Sized Joints
- Narrow Waist
- Noticeable muscle
- Responds well to exercise

If you are a mesomorph and in great shape, you are more likely to look like a competitive bodybuilder or professional athlete.

 

How Fast Can You Expect To Build Muscle Depending On Your Body Type

If you are looking to put on a noticeable amount of muscle mass, you have to focus on the big picture.

Muscles synthesis is a slow process that requires multiple cycles of Stimulus-Recovery-Adaption described in Part 1

Under optimal conditions, a realistic rate of muscle growth is about 1-2 lbs of muscle per month. 

  Building Muscle Takes Time: A Realistic Rate of Growth is 1-2 lbs of muscle per month when starting out

Building Muscle Takes Time: A Realistic Rate of Growth is 1-2 lbs of muscle per month when starting out

That is only 12-24 lbs of muscle per year. Keep in mind, that this is also for an inexperienced lifter. The longer you have been lifting, the slower this process will be. 

For women, this rate is a lot lower. (Another reason why women are a lot less likely to ever get bulky.)

Muscle growth also comes in spurts, with plateaus, peaks, and troughs. 

Your rate of muscle growth will also be influenced by your body type. Ectomorphs will struggle to achieve this rate of muscle synthesis, while mesomorphs will get it easily.  Endomorphs will also build muscle fairly easily however it may be hidden under high body fat percentages.

 

What Do I Need To Do If I Am An Ectomorph?

If you are perfectly happy with the way that you look, then you don't need to do anything.  Some people like being thin and see it as a blessing.  Some endomorphs wish they were ectomorphs.

But if you are thin, and you would like to build muscle, then you must pay attention to your diet. It is important to eat more calories than you are already consuming to add more muscle to your frame. 

In addition to exercising in a way that is ideal for ectomorphs (which we discuss in Part 3 of this series), you must focus on consuming more protein, more carbohydrates, and more fat. Just make sure that they are of high quality like we discuss in A Simple Clean Eating Meal Plan For Busy Professionals.  


What Do I Need To Do If I Am An Endomorph?

Endomorphs have the opposite problem.  They need to focus on decreasing their body fat percentage in order to appreciate any muscle gain.  

Endomorphs must consume super high-quality calories while being in a slight caloric deficit, in addition to exercising. (Again, we cover the best way to exercise if you are an endomorph in Part 3 ).  You can start by checking out All Diet Plans To Lose Weight Must Follow This 1 Rule to get started. 


What Do I Need To Do If I Am An Mesomorph?

Congratulations, you will have an easy time building muscle and improving your fitness.  It is still important to eat clean, however, as no one is immune to gaining unnecessary fat.  To learn the ideal way to train as a Mesomorph, stay tuned for the last post of this series.

 

The Bottom Line On Your Body Type and Muscle Building Potential

Whatever body type you possess, own it. Do not use it as an excuse to not exercise or to not lead a healthier lifestyle. Your genetics only determines the hand you are dealt, it’s your choice on how you will play.

Also, keep in mind that your body type is only one piece of the puzzle.

There are several other factors that you can directly modify to make up for your genetics. This includes how you choose to exercise, which foods you choose to eat, and how you perceive yourself.

Now we turn it over you

Have you ever heard of these three body types before?

Which body type are you? 

Which Body Type Are You?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Can you gain weight easily? Can you lose weight easily?
 

Comment below and tell us if you have had any issues with muscle gain in the past.

In Part 3, The Ultimate Guide to Natural Muscle Building  we discuss how to exercise for your body type in order to maximize your muscle building potential and other general muscle building strategies.

Don't forget to share this article if you found it useful, and subscribe to receive a copy of our free Ebook- The White Coat Trainer Nutrition Guide!

 

workouts-for-busy-professionals

 

Don't forget to share this article if you found it useful, and subscribe to receive a copy of our free Ebook- The White Coat Trainer Nutrition Guide!


alex-robles-md-brittany-robles-md

Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here