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Your Body Type - Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?

Average: 4.1 (156 votes)
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Body type influences how you respond to diet and training. Understand your body type in order to plan your muscle building training and diet program.

Image courtesy of Govt. of Western Aust. Dept. of Health

When I first got into the muscle building scene I was overwhelmed by the amount of different training programs, bodybuilding supplements, diets, articles and information there was out there. There were so many conflicting diets and training programs available and I had no idea what I “should” be doing. The result of this was about 6 months in the gym with little gains and almost no motivation to workout anymore.

I was at a complete loss and about to throw in the towel and give up. Then a guy in the gym gave me a magazine and told me to read the article in there about body types. So I did and it opened my eyes up to the reason why I wasn’t making any gains in the gym.

I am a true ectomorph (classic hardgainer) and my bodyweight was 60.2kg (132.5lbs) when I first walked into a gym. I had no idea about body types back then. I assumed (like most beginners do) that the more I worked out the bigger I would get. Thinking that “more was better” I started following a program designed for an elite bodybuilder. This resulted in gains of about 1.7kg in 6 months.

After reading the body type article in that magazine I started to understand more about how my body type worked, my metabolism, and gaining weight. Being an ectomorph I need to focus on calorie intake, long rest periods, and minimum cardio. It was only then I started making some real gains and I’ve never looked back.

So it’s important to be able to identify and understand your body type. Different body types require different training methods and diet plans. So listed below are the 3 male body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph, along with their characteristics.

Ectomorph

An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy. Ecto’s have a light build with small joints and lean muscle. Usually ectomorph’s have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Shoulders tend to be thin with little width.

Typical traits of an ectomorph:

  • Small “delicate” frame and bone structure
  • Classic “hardgainer”
  • Flat chest
  • Small shoulders
  • Thin
  • Lean muscle mass
  • Finds it hard to gain weight
  • Fast metabolism

Ectomorphs find it very hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism which burns up calories very quickly. Ecto’s need a huge amount of calories in order to gain weight. Workouts should be short and intense focusing on big muscle groups. Supplements are definitely recommended. Ectomorphs should eat before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night. Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them.

Mesomorph

A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for bodybuilding. They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong which is the perfect platform for building muscle.

Typical traits on a Mesomorph:

  • Athletic
  • Generally hard body
  • Well defined muscles
  • Rectangular shaped body
  • Strong
  • Gains muscle easily
  • Gains fat more easily than ectomorphs

The mesomorph body type responds the best to weight training. Gains are usually seen very quickly, especially for beginners. The downside to mesomorphs is they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs. This means they must watch their calorie intake. Usually a combination of weight training and cardio works best for mesomorphs.

Endomorph

The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft. Endomorphs gain fat very easily. Endo’s are usually of a shorter build with thick arms and legs. Muscles are strong, especially the upper legs. Endomorphs find they are naturally strong in leg exercises like the squat.

Typical traits of an Endomorph:

  • Soft and round body
  • Gains muscle and fat very easily
  • Is generally short
  • "Stocky" build
  • Round physique
  • Finds it hard to lose fat
  • Slow metabolism
  • Muscles not so well defined

When it comes to training endomorphs find it very easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, a large portion of this weight is fat not muscle. To keep fat gain to a minimum, endomorphs must always train cardio as well as weights. Usually supplements may not be needed as long as the person has a high protein intake in their diet.

A Combination of Body Types

These body types aren’t set in stone. In fact, most guys have a combination of two body types. These combinations are either ectomorph/mesomorph or mesomorph/endomorph. It is not uncommon to find a pure mesomorph that gains weight like an endomorph for example.

So which body type are you?

Given the information above you should be able to identify your body type. You may also want to optimize your diet and training to suit your body type.

One final point I want to mention is that no matter what your body type you can build a big, ripped, muscular physique. Even the skinniest of guys can bulk up. Yes, it’s harder but if you’re willing to put in the hard work it can be done. I have about the skinniest natural build possible and at the time of writing this article I have gained about 30kg (66lbs) of lean muscle mass.

Learn more:

Learn more about how to build lean muscle naturally on your body type by joining Muscle and Strength. Muscle and Strength has a huge community of Muscle and Fitness enthusiasts who can help you reach your goals!

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    Average: 4.1 (156 votes)
  • About The Author
    Damien Mase is the owner and CEO of Muscle & Strength, LLC. The goal of Muscle & Strength is to provide people with the tools they need to build the body they want.
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Comments (324)

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vipin
Posted Sun, 12/13/2009 - 01:11

my body is a mixture of endo and meso i gain and lose very fast but just cant get rid of my ponch,i like to drink and i do also i stop drinking wen i desperately want to lose but start drinking again the ponc becomes flat but never gone comes back before i look at it pls help ,i find very difficult to give up drinking totally my age is 40/m life style Sadatry .

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brandon u
Posted Sat, 09/10/2011 - 21:31

calm down with the drinking give it up. i gave up soda and once you do it for a while its easy to say no like a guy lifting for a month and a guy lifting for years its easier to give up for the guy lifting for the month because hes not losing much. hope that makes since in a way.

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Fabzy4L
Posted Mon, 05/13/2013 - 15:06

Don't want to be rude, but it's "sense" not "since"!
I apologize beforehand, but i had to point that out.

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Elite4587
Posted Thu, 05/16/2013 - 00:47

Actually, if you were apologizing beforehand then your apology would be at the beginning, not the end, of your statement. Why don't you try worrying about yourself before correcting others.

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Elite's Mother
Posted Thu, 07/11/2013 - 02:49

Funny coming from you...Didn't I tell you to clean your room and to stop telling others to stop correcting others who were correcting others?

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OliveOIle702
Posted Sat, 07/20/2013 - 12:27

That's funny.

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Elite's Papaw
Posted Sat, 03/08/2014 - 22:00

I think you meant to end that with a question mark, young whippersnapper.

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Harry
Posted Tue, 08/13/2013 - 10:34

Keep on saving the world

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Myk
Posted Wed, 05/15/2013 - 10:25

Stop drinking calories. That means alcohol and sweet beverages. That's a HUGE problem for people that think they are just filling up the stomach. No, Soda and while you're at it. Cut the Bread. In America and developed lands it's the number ONE cause for over weight related diseases.

Filter your water so taste won't be an issue. Instead come home from work and run 3 miles every other day. Try different diets. You need to low carb, Stick with fruits and vegetables. That means by around 50 bucks in fruit. every two weeks. Snack on it. Oranges and Apples are best. they are 120 and 60 calories respectively. Keep your "large" meals small. Don't exceed 1,000 calories for dinner and eat a "large" meal once a day. You will be satisfied and show great results requickly with a routine workout once the fat melts away you'll look great.

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Logikal
Posted Sun, 12/22/2013 - 04:07

I spend a lot of time responding to those quick to give advice on subjects they know nothing about if only for the benefit of those who might actually believe what's written. In this case several things jumped out to me as being downright dangerous if followed.

From his posting it's pretty clear Myk has a drinking problem. He's not referring to soda [pop] but to alcohol. While he may not be a full-fledged alcoholic there's no question he has a problem which he himself acknowledges. He can try AA - which helps some, but not all problem drinkers or some other method like Anabuse to keep his drinking under control. FYI: There are absolutely NO stats on AA's success rate since no records are kept. No one knows for certain how many succeed/fail. It's up to the person to opt for it - or be forced into it by the legal system when facing DUI charges.

Bread is not a problem. For thousands of years almost every civilization's eaten some form of it. American white 'bread' is pretty awful stuff - it lack's fiber, has almost no flavor & it falls apart when touched. Carbs in & of themselves are not a problem, either. I make my own using whole-grain Indian chappatta flour which gives a lighter texture & isn't quite as heavy as other flours.

What's REALLY bad is anything containing high-fructose corn syrup related products. HFCS is used to fatten animals like cows, sheep & turkeys because it makes one eat far more calories since a starving man could drink a whole bottle of HFCS (~18,000 kcals) & think he hadn't eaten a thing. Peer-reviewed studies by no less than 5 universities/centers confirm this, as do MRIs done while subjects are injected with 250 calories each of glucose, dextrose, fructose & high-fructose corn syrup. Note: high-fructose corn syrup is nothing like regular corn syrup. (HFCS) is manufactured from corn syrup by converting a large portion of its glucose into fructose using a chemical enzyme xylose isomerase,[Due to the fact our gov't charges huge tariffs on sugar we pay 4x more than any other country for sugar. HFCS's cheaper,plus it has the added value of making one feel hungry even after eating a huge serving.] This produces a sweeter compound due to higher levels of fructose but it is not recognized by the body as having caloric value.

In 1970 less than 5% of processed foods contained HCFS, Currently 78% have some/all of it as the sweetener or simply to make people eat more. Obesity has risen in direct correlation to the amount of HFCS in our food supply. That, plus the fact schools have dropped almost all PE programs, people are too scared to let their kids go out to play anymore, cities have cut free sports...on and on.

Telling a man who's out of shape, drinks, hasn't exercised regularly in who-knows how long to go home & run 3 miles is outright stupid. Unless he's been cleared by a doctor, preferably a cardiologist,he shouldn't start ANY exercise routine. As to diet, the doc needs to determine if MYK is diabetic (or pre-diabetic) before making diet changes, esp that of eating oranges which put large amounts of quick sugars into the bloodstream. Further, your idea of 'running 3 miles a day' might have disastrous results. It would be not unexpected for such behavior to trigger what medical pros call a 'widow-maker' - a massive MI i.e. heart attack no one survives. The younger one has their first MI the greater the risk of death.

To lose weight, it's far better to eat 4-5 smaller meals a day, evenly distributed throughout the day. This keeps blood sugar at an even level so binging on junk food is rarely a problem.

Advising '1 large meal a day' is pure nonsense - on a par with the 'rule' of drinking 8 oz of water every hour. All that does is make you pee like crazy. Separating food into equal portions over the day is proven to work on leveling blood sugar AND leads to significant weight loss over time, which is good since rapid weight loss rarely works in the long term. 94% of those who lose weight at greater than 2 lbs/wk gain it all back, plus more. Even people who have gastric bypasses are known to revert to old eating habits, gaining back a lot of weight even though it's a serious risk to their life. I've treated several hospitalized for eating to the point they blew their bypass to hell.

I hope this clears up some things for those who may have read your posting & are thinking of following it. I hope all persons posting 'helpful' information will restrict themselves to subjects in which they are proficient.

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Human
Posted Fri, 01/10/2014 - 11:59

You type way too much. Most people wouldn't read what you typed. I personally did not read what you typed. If you want to give advice KISS "Keep It Simple Stupid" and do not try to write a book about it.

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nunya
Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 14:36

Stop being lazy and just read!

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nunya
Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 14:35

Thanks Logikal, You wrote a lot of good information in here.

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highclass
Posted Sat, 02/15/2014 - 07:46

thank you for this info it is so needed

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Zia
Posted Wed, 07/17/2013 - 22:29

Spinach and broccoli are low carb. You don't have to cut out bread, as your brain is the only organ in your body that is completely dependent on carbs. Just make sure you're eating the right kind (wholegrain). You should be having 130g of carbs each day.

Stay away from saturated and trans fats. Burn more calories than you're consuming to lose weight. I'm assuming by ponch you mean funt (or gunt-Aussie slang) or "muffin tops". To lose that I'd recommend doing various exercises which target your core muscles. Ask your PT to show you the different types of situps you can do to lose that. Just changing the angle will work on different core muscles.

When I was waist training, I knew the imported beer I love so much made me bloat so I switched to drinking vodka instead and lost a few inches off my waist a lot faster. Team it with juice rather than softdrink.

Try to go for a run at least twice a week. I find cardio teamed with situps does wonders to the appearance of my tummy. Don't forget to stretch before your run! Can't stress that enough!

Hope this helps :) Good luck!

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ManBear
Posted Sun, 09/01/2013 - 23:49

Your brain doesn't have to run on carbs. Look up the ketogenic diet. Carbs aren't necessary and whole grains are actually terrible for you.

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Frank
Posted Wed, 11/20/2013 - 19:32

The worst thing you can do when someone asks for advice is spread misinformation. If you are going to spout this garbage, at least back it up with some fake references so it sounds legitimate.

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nunya
Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 14:31

Thanks Frank, I was going to say where is that guys references to back up that nonsense he's spreading.

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brad
Posted Mon, 08/12/2013 - 17:06

read the wheat belly book. you probably retain some water and have slightly high blood sugar. loose weight, loose weight, wheat is everywhere but go cold turkey and drop it and its easy to live without

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nunya
Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 14:38

Lose not Loose

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Jake
Posted Fri, 05/27/2011 - 00:13

Hey Damien, my name is Jake and I was wondering if there was a way I could get in contact you or if just posting here is fine? I'm the same height and body type as you and you have had success in building muscle so I have a few questions I would like to ask you about diet, muscle fiber type, and how to gear workouts towards my body type. Thanks!

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Paul
Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 04:53

Hi, I would also consider myself an endomesomorph and ime struggling to gain and lose weight, if you could swing some advice my way it would be hugely appreciated, thanks

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Dave
Posted Fri, 06/21/2013 - 04:28

Hey Paul: I consider myself endo meso. I have been fat for most of my life (6'3" 315 pounds). I have lost 65 pounds this year. I had tried everything before. Low carb, no carb, whatever. What finely worked was breaking the problem down into it's simplest form. Calories taken in vs Calories used. I didn't cut back on food intake at all. But I changed what I ate. I cooked at home a lot more, made my own pasta sauce from scratch, pizza from scratch. This all gave me great food with less bad crap. I also cut out soda. I used to drink a 1 liter bottle of Mountain Dew per day. That is 800 calories.
So this allowed me to actually eat more, while still cutting calories by 1/3.
Then I started burning more. I walk 3 to 5 miles per day. I also use dumbells. Low weight, high reps. I do about 6 different exercises with 5 pound weights 50 reps each, 2 times per day.
I may be doing this all wrong, but I haven't weighed this little in over 25 years.
So my advice is burn more calories then you take in, and make better food choices.

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dave
Posted Fri, 12/25/2009 - 19:16

hi mate, thanks for writing this article iv been searching for some explanation like u gave on what type of body i have nd suppliments to use. I naturally have muscles but i dnt no theyr not big enough. Im nt sure if its due to my small stature or not. Pls i would like an advice from you on what suppliments to take to increase my body muscles and also give me some body flesh a im too skinny for my liking.

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beast
Posted Thu, 10/25/2012 - 19:03

Supplements aren't going to get you anywhere if you don't workout and don't have the right nutrition!

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Rhaspun
Posted Wed, 03/13/2013 - 23:08

So true about supplements. Too many people forget that for the serious bodybuilders it is the combination of exercise, supplements and diet that gives the best gains. It would be the same if taking steroids. You still have to work out. Steroids aren't magic. You'll still need to hit the weigh room. There is no easy way.

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saoud
Posted Sun, 01/24/2010 - 02:30

hello

i really like this website and im glad that im learning a lot from this site, my name is saoud al ahmad im 22 years old I've been working out for 1 year and 2 months, i was too fat a couple of years ago so i started working out till i became thin and my workout used to include aerobics, running and a little bit bodybuilding but i remember when i became thin i still had fat , and the kind of fat i used to have made my body look very ugly i don't really know how to explain it to you but what im trying to say is that my body wasn't tightened and that was 3 years ago and now as i told you its been 1 year and 2 months of training and im really serious about going to the gym every day and it became a hobby and i really love it when i exercise i became serious about bodybuilding and till this day i go to the gym .now my body is getting better and its looking good cause i have been training for over a year , my work out includes running everyday before i hit the weights i run 5 times a week because running had changed my body a lot and since i started running i began to see cuts in my body that i never saw before and i keep loosing fat,im really obsessed in running in all my life i never used steroids , im a natural bodybuilder, now the thing is that i always keep thinking about it is that if i ate 6-7meals a day as usual as im doing know and instead of ruining everyday before my workout i just run 2 to 3 times a week and the bodybuilding stays the same 5 or 6 times week so its only the running that im changing in my daily routine, by any chance is there a possibility that i would gain fat ? or would i still loose fat and gain more muscles

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shane
Posted Sun, 08/01/2010 - 08:13

you should try HIIT every other morning. This will jumpstart your metabolism for the day. Also, make sure your eating a high protein diet. If you lifting weights, i would suggest also getting a casein before bed so your protein levels don't diminish throughout the night. Another thing I noticed, is AFTER you lift weights, go and do your cardio. This way, you burn all your energy during the workout, and all you body has left to burn during cardio is Fat. So try this and maybe you get some better results.

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james
Posted Thu, 02/10/2011 - 21:36

do not listen to what shane said, there IS something left after your energy is spent and its called your body. after your hour long workout your body is pumped full of catabolic hormones that will eat muscle, thats right i said EAT. unless you are supplementing with a protein based drink throughout your workout running after will only hurt you and possibly cause injury due to nutritional depletion. other than that everything else is sound advice though :)

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Tyler
Posted Thu, 09/20/2012 - 23:11

I'm sorry but I agree with shane, with doing cardio first all of your energy would be used up. You wont have a good workout after from the energy drain. better to do cardio after

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Jim
Posted Fri, 09/21/2012 - 11:18

To be honest, cardio for our body types should be kept to a minimum. if your going to do cardio, do not do it on those days with your weight training and to be honest if you keep your rest periods inbetween your reps to no more than 45 seconds you will get a great cardio benefit, instead of depleteing all your energy reserves on cardio that is really un-needed.. To each his own...Jim

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CHARLIE
Posted Thu, 04/19/2012 - 13:16

ok thanks you. ( GEM )-

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Andrew Mckay
Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 07:09

Hi saoud,
I'm Andrew and I live in Jamaica. I've been trying to lose the fat in my upper body and around my abs for years. Finally I got serious about the gym last year November and I've seen much change. But this is due to running and now I'm thinking about cutting back at the gym and doing more aerobics too. I ask the same question as you.

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Lena
Posted Wed, 08/17/2011 - 20:01

you should stop working out so extensively due to the fact your body will wear and tear and by the time your 30 you'll feel 50. As for the weight loss, congrats :), and i with the regimine you were on (6 meal diet w/ cardio) did its job and fufilled the purpose of loosing weight. Now its a matter of working out concentrated muscle groups in order to get those "cuts" you want and more tonation. You would have no need to continue the 6 meal diet and iwould reccomend the 3/4 meal diet sine those added calories are no longer needed in your past extensive cardio workouts. your body has seemed to transformed into a more ectomorph shape since your training the last 3 years which i commend your persistance. As for the extra weight left over from the past 3 years; it may/may not subside but doing cardio will not help this problem (weights and concentrated machince workouts would work best). I do not believe any more fat will come with your exercise training bc you are past that point and ready to tone in and focus on different areas you would like to stress/work on; maybe just do light cardio once a week. Your muscles will strenthen than grow doing your new workouts and you DO need at least one day of rest/recouporation for your muscles to rebuilt in their bigger/stronger form. I would rec. doing this at least 2x a week. I am proud of you usuing no substances to get where you are today and the determination you took over the last 3 years. good luck, aloha

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Jacob
Posted Thu, 01/05/2012 - 17:18

Cardio is good, but running 5 times a week is a bit much. Stick to about 3 times a week, and mix up what you do. Biking is beneficial too.

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Jenni
Posted Sat, 02/04/2012 - 00:28

run if you love to run :) wear and tear will happen either way...just remember to respect your body...if it hurts, let that part relax and heal..I go to the gym 5 days a week and Karate 2 to 4 times a week , sometimes more...I'm also a mother of 3.....I have trouble with belly fat (must be all those wonderful babies :) dont put so much concern in gaining a few pounds...keep the excercise up and a healthy, balanced diet and you will be fine...also...life is short...enjoy the little things my friend :)

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Steve
Posted Sun, 01/24/2010 - 07:41

Saoid...I think it would be better to post your question over at the forum. We would love to help. Your question deserves a better answer then what I can provide here in the comments.

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/

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Raul
Posted Tue, 02/09/2010 - 17:00

I’m 40 years and have been away from exercising for at least 15 years. I started back again about 5-6 weeks ago with some basic exercises and now I feel ready to get serious and committed to making a drastic change in my physique. I'm 5'10" & weight around 195-200 lbs. I'm an ectomorph body type so therefore a hard gainer. My goal is to gain some noticeable size while obtaining as much definition at the same time. I understand the ectomorph's diet should consist of 50:30:20 ratio (Carb/Protein/Fat), however since I want to gain muscle mass while at the same time getting lean, should I go for a 50:40:10 ratio?

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SteveMc
Posted Thu, 09/29/2011 - 22:52

Raul, bearing in mind that too little fat (under 15% or so of total calories) seriously inhibits testosterone production and given your stats and your goals, I'd recommend 35:45:25 with cardio three times a week. Best to ingest the bulk of your carbs pre and post workout (lower GI after workout). Cheers Steve.

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Jonathan
Posted Tue, 03/26/2013 - 19:59

That adds up to 105

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Tyrone
Posted Mon, 01/06/2014 - 13:27

No shit sherlock

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chris
Posted Thu, 02/11/2010 - 13:31

Are body types meant for adults ? Im 16 years old and i think im still growing so i dont know what body type i am.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 02/11/2010 - 15:39

Chris...generally you can get a good gauge of your body type post-puberty. What is your height and weight?

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dan
Posted Thu, 12/23/2010 - 20:56

i'm 15 years old, 5'11 tall and 10.5 stone, my shoulders aren't that broad but i am quite naturally muscular and strong. whats my body type??

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chris
Posted Thu, 05/19/2011 - 04:32

Hi steve, very late reply but I'm turning 18 now and am 5' 10" and weigh around 11 stone 9/10 pounds.

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shell
Posted Fri, 02/26/2010 - 04:35

this was great help with my coursework! yey thanks (:

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Craig
Posted Mon, 04/05/2010 - 18:58

I am certainly more of an ectomorph but when I weight trained as a young man, I gained surprisingly easy. But even after years of training seriously, my ectomorphic nature always surfaces and dominates when I stop training seriously or stop eating. Kind of stinks, you can change your body significantly but only to a point.

What I would have given to have been a pure mesomorph. But I ought to be thankful I was not an endomorph I suppose.

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Abaddon
Posted Thu, 05/27/2010 - 01:57

From personal experience, I can refute these 3 'body types' as quakery.
As a small child through to age 17, I was obese (reaching 113kgs with no muscle mass and a round, flabby body). My doctor at that time told me I had a typical endomorphic body.
From 17 I started a diet that saw me drop 43kgs in 7 months, leaving me with a very slender, thin frame (I'm 6' 3" tall) @ 70kgs. I stayed this way for nearly 2 1/2 years, and was considered by another GP to be a classic ectomorph.
In early 2000 I started properly working out, and from my wiry 70kgs I grew to 95kgs on 4 percent body fat in the space of 1 1/2 years, and had all the traits of a typical mesomorph.

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bbuilder
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 09:01

another way of telling what type of frame size you have is wrapping your wrist at the thinnest point ( 1 half inch under your plam line with your middle finger and thumb. if tou can overlap you are thin. if you can just barely touch or touch you are medium framed, if you are cant touch you are large boned; hope this helped, bye

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