Your Body Type - Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?

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.

The Three Body Types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph

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.


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: Ectomorph body type
  • 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.


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.

Mesomorph body typeTypical 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.


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.

Endomorph body typeTypical 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.

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399 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 06/27/2017 - 16:55

I am a meso, and I have always been like this, all you have to do to be a meso is eat healthy and maybe go to the gym a little. I dont even have to go to the gym, though, I can just stay like thus forever, and I have. I am already almost in my 20's.

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Posted Wed, 03/22/2017 - 07:00

Me and my partner are both ectomorph/mesomorph accorning to this article (thanks for this by the way, I finally know!) We are both tall but he has wide, strong shoulders and I have an hourglass figure.

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Posted Fri, 03/17/2017 - 21:54

I was an endo at 14, an ecto at 16 and a meso at 30. At 50 i am back to endo. This is the Endo.

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Posted Thu, 02/09/2017 - 15:23

I'm an ectomorph who's simply not obsessed enough with the idea of being big and muscular to find the motivation to consume huge amounts of calories. I'm just going to keep lifting 3 times a week and eating when I'm hungry, and if it takes years and years to show then so be it haha...

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Posted Wed, 01/11/2017 - 15:01
Melinda Bradbury

This long established classification of the anatomical cards one was born with is often overlooked today. Case in point: I just heard an educational children's TV show promoting healthy eating and exercise as a way to become "thin and strong". Some children will never be thin unless there's a famine or they develop a phycologically induced eating disorder. I honestly believe that some ectomorphs don't understand that those of us with long strong legs that must excersise and eat carefully to be healthy because we can put on fat in the blink of an eye just don't get it. "Thin" isn't the only way to be healthy.

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Posted Fri, 02/17/2017 - 19:19

Very true

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Posted Thu, 10/06/2016 - 15:21

I don't know if i'm a meso only or meso combined with endo because i can gain muscles very easily but also my muscles doesn't have HD (only 4K LOL) but that can also be because maybe i don't do enough aerobic exercise. Don't really know.

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Posted Tue, 03/29/2016 - 18:34

I am so glad I found your article, I married an ectomorph and wondered why in the world he couldn't gain muscle mass! I thought w/my life style he'd bulk up. His arms have always been thin as well as his legs, and no pecs. I have a very small frame but I gain muscle mass extremely easy, and since we've been together he has gained weight (due to my heavy protein diet) but it's all gone to his waist, no muscle gain (we play tennis, bike, miles of speed walking; I do weight training, but he avoids it at all cost, he finds it useless and boring). Anyway, thank you for the article, I now can show him why he's always been the "skinny guy".

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 03/30/2016 - 11:26

Somatotyping is largely physiologically irrelevant. See here:

To quote myself from the article itself: "Somatotypes were originally developed by a psychologist from Rhode Island named William Herbert Sheldon. Originally, body typing was developed to characterize individual’s psychological state based upon their anthropometry.

In the end, the bodybuilding and fitness community adapted the somatotype classification system as a way to categorize physical deviations present in trainees.

Not only that, the original model developed by Sheldon was designed entirely for men so what are women supposed to use?

As you can see, somatotypes are fairly limited in their design, application, and significance.

Somatotypes were never designed as a means to estimate muscle growth potential or an individual’s genetic response to training.

Remember, body types are not the “be all, end all”; you’re not destined for hardgainer hell simply because you’re tall and lanky with narrow shoulders.

Similarly, you’re not doomed to put on fat if you’re an endomorph who loves carbs. This is merely a reference point, nothing more, nothing less.

Don’t limit yourself psychologically by believing your somatotype is something you can’t control and the limiting factor for your gains.

As Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes has said before,

“More than anything else, I think somatotypes are useful for the most general of classifications for beginning trainees, not as a rationale to limit one's potential. Your somatotype isn’t even “real.” Don’t use somatotypes as an excuse to create a preconceived limit where there isn’t one.”"

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Posted Sun, 02/21/2016 - 19:45

My body ECTOMORPH ... Please help me find a suitable training program

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Posted Thu, 02/18/2016 - 17:36

People still believe this trash? Body-morph types are a bro-science thing of the past. There is no such thing as being an "ecto" or "endo". Yes, one can either be born with, or develop metabolic disorders that either speed up or slow them down greatly, but they are EXTREMELY, I repeat, EXTREMELY rare. If you think you're an "ectomorph" and can't gain weight, or an "endomorph" and can't lose weight, I'd immediately ask, are you counting your macronutrients and caloric intake with a proper measure of your Basal/resting Metabolic Rate (BMR) and also accounting for your daily activities to find your true Total Daily Expenditured Energy (TDEE)? 99.9% of the time, no, you aren't properly calculating your intake or even your TDEE because you're either more or less active than you think, and your 1 cup of rice is actually more like 3. Please leave any citations with real proof that any of this crap is real (and make sure it isn't date information from a 30 year old medical journal).

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 02/19/2016 - 10:24

I would agree 100%. This article is fairly antiquated in nature and I've already covered the "somatotyping myth" in another more recent article which you can find here:

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Posted Tue, 07/12/2016 - 16:20
Michelle Haynes

Nice Comeback, Mr. Wines. You need to give me some lessons:)

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Posted Tue, 02/21/2017 - 12:35

Rare, yes but we do exist. At 23 I topped out at 132 lbs, from age 25 to my present age of 74 I have never varied more than 5 pounds & currently weigh 133. This trivial variance exists despite high mileage running, cycling (racing) and winter work in the gym to build core strength. I do get stronger but at best only gain a pound or two and I lose it quickly as soon as summer comes. It doesn't matter what/how much I eat, what my diet is (but I'm not much of a meat eater) or my carlorie intake. As long as I get about 3200 a day I'm happy.

Perhaps there's a diet that would help me gain weight but I doubt it.

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Posted Thu, 09/07/2017 - 20:01

Trash? Hardly. It's not just about gaining or losing weight and muscle, and whether or not people are doing what they can to achieve either of those. Your telling me you don't see different types walking around regardless of diet/exercise? A average height, less slender/stout guy with a wide frame and a natural disposition towards having muscle mass is exactly that, and a taller guy with less width, less natural muscle mass will never become the first guy through diet and exercise. WHY? Because it BODY TYPE has it's own natural disposition. Now, anybody can develop their physique one way or another but not everybody come out of the womb the same. THERE ARE BODY TYPES. You don't have to be a slave to it and resign yourself to your natural physical disposition, but be real. There are different types.

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Posted Fri, 01/22/2016 - 12:46

Hi I'm new to the gym looking for and one to help with routines would like to build a little bit of muscle but not sure if doing rite exercise

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Posted Sat, 12/19/2015 - 12:08

What the author fails to mention is that as we age, our body types rarely stay the same (due to slower metabolism/dietary habits). Of course you can't change your height, but if you are a lazy ectomorph in your 20's, you can very easily become a mesomorph borderline endomorph even by your early 30's. I've seen it happen to many non-gym types. Metabolism and aging is something that should be addressed here.

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Posted Thu, 02/18/2016 - 17:39

Ok can you stop using the morph words? First of all, they aren't real to begin with. So if you're saying as you age you can get fat because you're lazy and don't work out... duh? Metabolism actually doesn't change too much from mid 20's - late 30's for most individuals (pending the change of testosterone levels). If you maintain an active lifestyle for most of that time, chances are you T-levels won't dip too much, hence your metabolism (or in other words BMR/TDEE) won't change much. In fact, if you exercised moderately through your 20's, you should have a greater muscle mass and thus be able to intake a higher caloric amount. Metabolism and aging isn't really a thing, if you're talking about aging and drop of testosterone, then fine I agree, but that's why there's medical options to tackle that (TRT either creams or injections).

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Posted Thu, 07/07/2016 - 09:23

Ryan, I would also look at the ingredients that have changed in our food as well as the mutation known as our children. When junior is coming from a 5 4 mother and a 5 8 father yet ends up being 6 5 ar 12. Their eugenics as well as Familia traits show their bloodline was never of the tall gene. The government is helping create a new body type. Myself as for exercising am lean and focus on cardiovascular be it through road bikes, bmx, and a bit of skateboarding. Age has halted the skating a bit as well as health. Appreciate your comments. You seem to be of utmost knowledge on the subject. I do crack up watching the "natural" ha meathead gasp for air because they lack wind. You should also address slow and fast twitch muscles. Thanks again..

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Posted Tue, 07/12/2016 - 16:23
Michelle Haynes

He should maybe write his own article instead of berating everyone else.

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Posted Wed, 07/13/2016 - 09:32

hahaha... yeah agreed.. my post was trying to be a tad more subtle.. twenty thumbs up...

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Posted Sun, 09/25/2016 - 11:36

Ryan: 20s to 30s does not constitute 'aging'. 40s to 50s is where you'll see metabolism slowing down. So it is a 'thing'. Plus, it isn't about testosterone when you're female. I'm 45 and I eat less than I did at 25 when I weighed 115 lbs (a little underweight for my frame). I weigh 155 lbs now (a tiny bit overweight for my frame). And my lifestyle is no less active. Trust me, Ryan, it really is a thing for most of us. Then there's my husband: skinny his whole life and right buff and hot when I met him. He eats the same and can't seem to lose weight despite the salads. (I know some things he could do, but I'm not into being my man's critic). Fact is, a person needs to alter his/her habits as they truly age. And 20s and 30s do not represent true aging. It wasn't till my 40s that fat loss became difficult. ☺

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Posted Wed, 10/28/2015 - 14:45

Can a 6ft 5inch man be a endomorph

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Posted Sun, 09/06/2015 - 03:58

So many idiotic comments on this forum, involving nutrition, and body types. My god, Majority of yall aren't educated and devoted your entire life to fitness and nutrition. Not saying some of yall posses some knowledge but idiotic comments such as "I'm right and you're wrong" and stuff like "Well, I looked online and it said to do this". People please...I need something stronger than this tea for all this bullshit.

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Posted Mon, 09/14/2015 - 04:45

how? i buld my body pless reply me

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Posted Fri, 06/03/2016 - 13:44

If you were educated you wouldn't say "yall", you would be able to spell 'possess,' and you wouldn't use offensive language to make up for your limited vocabulary.

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Posted Sun, 08/23/2015 - 08:39

I am a mesomorph , slight muscles , I never got in a gym . now I want to join a gym ,but I want a atheletic body (not bulky but flawless when u remove your shirt ) .
Anyone help , should I take gainers ??!!
Search sj.menac on Facebook u will get me
I will be great full for your help

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2016 - 09:18
Garry Pierre

You start on basic body weight exercises push ups squats lunges sit ups pull ups and seated dips first after 2 weeks of this routine gradually go to weights

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Posted Sun, 08/23/2015 - 08:39

I am a mesomorph , slight muscles , I never got in a gym . now I want to join a gym ,but I want a athepetic body (not bulky but flawless when u remove your shirt ) .
Anyone help , should I take gainers ??!!
Search sj.menac on Facebook u will get me
I will be great full for your help

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Posted Fri, 08/07/2015 - 15:11

Thank you this has encouraged me.I am mostly ectomorph, with some mesomorph and little endomorph... which means I need to work twice as hard... feeling a bit frustrated about it, but I won;t give up.

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Posted Sun, 07/12/2015 - 13:37

hello evry one !

i am an ectomorph , and i eat a TONES of natural foods evry day !!
some time i eat 1kg of sardines just in breakfast !!!!
that mean moor then 240g of proteins !
lets not count what i eat in the last day !

and i never get mass !
ESPECIALY my leggs ( calves ) and butts , and Triceps -___-

SOS Help :P
and if i have to tak a Supplements protein , please tell me what is the best for me , i wanna get only Muscles
Thanks you

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Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 23:02

This is how I gained mass, eat a full sized meal every 2 hours, with as many calories as you can possibly take in. In about 2 months you will gain atleast 20 pounds

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Posted Sun, 08/09/2015 - 22:57

your body will only absorbs certain amount of protein per sitting (example 150g). There is no point eating 1kg of sardines for your breakfast, it will go to the waste, what I recommed is splitting the 1kg sardine in to 3 meals and your absorb full of the proteins e3ach every few hour , you will size gain in no time.

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:17

Thanks you kevin , i will try that and see what i gain

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Posted Fri, 01/15/2016 - 20:30

First of all.. if you keep eating "1kg of sardines", you will get very sick. It's not a question of if you will get sick but when. Natural whole foods are great and you do not need supplements. As long as you are getting all vitamins and minerals and a surplus of calories, you're all good.
Secondly.. not even Big Ramy needs 240g of protein a day or he actually requires somewhere around that amount daily. The PROTEIN hype is all bullshit suggested by the "fitness" industry, that you need that much protein. It's a hustling moneymaking industry which takes advantage of idiots who will buy anything and believe everything.. You need 1-1.7g of protein pr kg body weight a day. Anything above that is fine but not necessary.
If you are not making gains, your training program is wrong or you are not doing the work required. If you are trying your hardest and not seeing results, my guess is, you are following a workout meant for someone on gear(drugs). Try a novice or medium 5x5 type program. Something simple with compound movements where you hit every body part in each workout. Do this for at least 5 months.

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Posted Fri, 01/15/2016 - 20:37

I forgot to mention.. try eating at least 3500-4000 calories a day. Don't worry about your macros to much. But do take in at least 1-1.7g protein pr kg body weight and 0.75g fat pr kg body weight. Carbs are your actual fuel! And don't do any cardio for the first couple of months. Good luck!

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2016 - 14:21

Thanks you soo much brow ! i will try that !!

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2016 - 15:22

be careful to not work out too frequently as you'll end up burning more than you gain.
It may be different for us (I'm also an ecto) but I train 2x - 3x times a week since I have schedule restrictions. Top it off with eating a lot. Carbs are a big deal.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/25/2016 - 10:13


One isn't better than another, it depends upon what you're trying to accomplish (i.e. your goal), your level of experience, and your maximum recoverable volume.

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Posted Fri, 04/29/2016 - 15:27

Do not only concentrate and isolate such few muscle groups per day, you need to work on all muscle groups each and every day so you dont screw up like i did... building properly is vital, you need to make notes and moniter each individual muscles's growth rate/shape and make sure to pay attention to the other muscle groups in comparison to make sure they are proportianate to one another.

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2016 - 14:34

one another thing please !
what is better ? 5 days or 4 days ??? per week
( I am not nuw for bodybuilding... )
my 4 days was gona be
D1 Chest / Triceps
D2 Back / Biceps
D3 Rest
D4 Legs / Abs
D5 Shoulders / Abs
D6 Rest
D7 Rest

or in
D2 i do Back and Abs
And D5 i do Shoulders and Triceps

And for 5 days i would do

D1 Chest / Abs
D2 Back / Abs
D3 Triceps / Biceps
D4 Legs /
D5 Shoulders / Abs
D6 Rest
D7 Rest

What do you think ???

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Posted Tue, 06/07/2016 - 06:31

Pray to God

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Posted Thu, 07/09/2015 - 12:07
Kurt Wetzel

First regardless of body type it's best to do strength training and cardio. I would say I am a combo of a mesonorph/ectomoroph. I have a harder time gaining muscle and gaining fat but if I do not exercise and just sit around eating junk I will gain weight. I am tall and lanky which does not help me out. Oh well I am stronger and in better shape than people think. That leads me to say regardless of body type, to an extent, you really can't look at someone to judge their fitness levels.

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Posted Mon, 11/28/2016 - 20:50
Wiremu Pickering

There are several different types fitness components to work at along with cardio when trying to gain or loose weight.not just strength training.speed,agility,flexibility,power etc.

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Posted Fri, 04/17/2015 - 04:01

Decamorph. Genetics are invalid

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Posted Mon, 03/09/2015 - 12:16
appiah richmond

My body is a mixture endo and meso type.I like to eat fatty foods that I cannot get rid of.

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Posted Sun, 12/21/2014 - 13:05
Zack C

I have never seen such horrible grammar spelling and general bad English. You guys must be joking. Don't people know the difference between "buy" and "by" ???

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Posted Fri, 04/29/2016 - 15:31

they are probably foreign, or too much adrenaline use has made them stupid.

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Posted Sat, 01/14/2017 - 02:47

There have been several dyslexic Nobel Prize Laureates - arguably the most intelligent people on the planet - that have struggled with spelling, grammar and pronunciation, so descend from the dizzying heights of your self-righteousness, stop assuming these discussion mistakes are all from stupidity, and pick holes in aspects of this thread that matter.

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Posted Fri, 11/14/2014 - 13:43
Jason Reffitt

Skinny fat is the way to be!