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.

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!

About The Author
M&S writers is a collection of all the other writers that have published content on Muscle and Strength.

340 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/26/2010 - 04:35

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

No Profile Pic
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.

No Profile Pic
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.

No Profile Pic
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

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 14:59

Hi Bbuilder,

Bodyfat levels can impact this approach. I am small boned...about 6.3" at the wrist. At 20% bodyfat I can't touch my middle finger and thumb.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 05/05/2013 - 06:43

Hi sir,
Im 26 yrs old and h 173cm and w 73kg and look some one to give me some directions that how to get weight and a list of each day what to eat.


No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:20


No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/09/2011 - 22:03

that doesnt even make sence, what if someone had big hands? thats a poor example to show someone is big boned.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 05/31/2013 - 18:50

Abaddon - Not quakery, but genuine body chemistry. Anybody can starve, workout and change their bodies to extreme proportions. The big picture asks, why and where did that weight come from? Meaning, Ectos, Meso, and Endos are titles for very distinct genetics, how they process calories, grains, carbs, it's all very different. I know many Ectomorphs who have never worked out a day in their lives and remain skinny as a rail, while I know many overweight people who have spent their entire lives trying to diet and exercise, but are still overweight. Thus, body types are best isolated when eating normally and not exercising. When left to root genetics, Ectomorphs will always be skinny, mesomorphs will swing both ways in the middle, and endomorphs will always remain round, easy gainers, etc. It's just a title, yes, but its very real chemistry.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 07:50

hiii my body comes under ecto and meso.... i m a small guy wid a a weight of 54 kgs. although i m a athlete but stil i want to gain some weight. i m neither skinny nor i m bulky.wat should i do to gain weight.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 14:59

Hi Pankaj,

Gaining muscle comes down to pushing yourself in the weight room, and eating enough daily calories to gain weight. Beginners can gain up to 15 pounds of muscle during their first year of hard training, so I would make it a goal to add 2 pounds per month. You may need to eat 3200 to 3500 daily calories or more to achieve this goal. You also want to make sure to eat at least 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:32

i want to gain my muscles last 3 years i m doing geam

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/22/2010 - 20:04

i seem to be mainly a mesomorph, its kinda hard for me to lose or gain weight but thats cuz my eating habits aint to good. I just started lifting weights but before that i was already strong for my size(im 5'3")and only by doing wrestling and brazilian jiujitsu for a year i went from 16% body fat to 11% and i stayed at 122 lbs the whole time.My chest looks bulky as well and a friend thinks that I pop it out.Now im lifting weights but also doing some cardio cuz i wanna lose some of the last fat that ive got which has stored itself in the bottom of my abdomen( i use to be overweight when i was younger). Can anyone tell me how to lose that fat, i want to have a completely flat stomach.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/23/2010 - 11:46
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/12/2011 - 17:30

lot of abdominal excersices and cardio. ur body type is probably more endomorph than mesomorph if you have a tendency to gain fat.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/29/2010 - 05:46

I think im both an ectomorph and a mesomorph, but i would like to know for sure,, so I can follow the right path. is there anyway or anybody that can help me?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/29/2010 - 19:21

Hi Hmata,

I wouldn't be too concerned with your body type. In the end, if you train hard and eat good, you will make great progress and learn about your body in the process. M<any times, the only way to really study your body is by lifting and eating, and making adjustments as you move forward.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 01:57

what kind of training and diet do you recommend me to try first? i am 5'8'' and 175 lbs (but not solid muscle). i'am like a 17% body fat.... in the last message you finished with a M.. was there more you wanted to tell me and it got cut off?

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 07/31/2010 - 10:09

I would suggest a workout like this:

Just train hard, pushing for more reps on every set, and add weight when you can perform the recommended number of reps for each set.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/21/2012 - 11:39

do you gain fat easily? if so watch your carb intake, I am Endomorph/mesomorph body type, not short and stocky, but i do make incredible muscle gains and put on fat easily if i do not watch my intake a certain foods, carbs are a no no with me as my diet consists mostly of 95% protein, im 47 so my diet with training is everything if i want to maintain my current state of fitness. we are all different yet, not so in body types with similair make ups.. what i think most people fail to realize is this, it did not take one week to get out of shape and it wont take a week to get get back into shape. be mindful of these so one will stay on track.. do not be so hard on yourself give it time to materialize.. By the way i take one day a week to give myself simple pleasures in life meaning i cheat with sweets only for one hour on that chosen day and i have maintained my fitness. i use the 5x5 routine for 5 weeks, 1 week off, then for 2 weeks i use a intense military calestenic routine with no rest inbetween exercises to give my body a chance to recoup from the weights. By the way i do not do cardio as in running or similar or any machines and my heart is in great shape at 47.. Jim

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/29/2010 - 16:14

hi pal my name is kieran my body type is ectomoph im 21 years old my weight 153 pounds and started weights 3 weeks ago and would like some advice my weight program is chest biceps on monday,back on tuesday,wednesday day off,thursday shoulders triceps and traps,friday legs is this a good program for my body type? cheers for your help

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/29/2010 - 19:23

Hi Kieran,

It's hard to just a program by looking at a training split. I would need to know what exercises and sets you are performing, and what your bodybuilding diet looks like.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/29/2010 - 21:11

well i only eat good foods like lean meats like chicken breasts beef etc. porridge eggs whole bread cans of tuna fish etc,protein powder.i did put on about 4 pound in the last month from weights but i get confused with the reps because im a beginner. i keep it at 5 to 6 meals a day! for chest i do bench press 4 sets of 12 10 8 6 dumbbell press 2 sets of 15 and dumbbell flys 2 sets of 15. biceps standing curls 3 sets 10 8 6 and preacher curl the same with the machine, back wide grip pull down close grip pull down 3 sets 12 10 8 and use the rowing machine 4 sets 12 10 8 6 bent over row 2 sets of 15 shoulders standing military press with dumbbells 3 sets 12 10 8 side lateral raises 12 10 8 bent over dumbbell flys 12 10 8 and the brad ford press 3 sets of 10 traps dumbbell shrugs 2 sets of 15, barbell shrugs 2 sets 15, triceps push down 3 sets 10 8 6 tricep extention 10 8 6. legs, squats 4 sets 12 10 8 6 calf raises 2 sets 15 lunges 2 sets of 15 lol dont go to a gym u so cant do many of the leg exercises bought a multigym and have a bench aswell with the free weights

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 07/31/2010 - 08:42

Hi Kieran,

For diet it sounds like you're on the right track. You lifting program sounds good. Try to push yourself on every set, adding reps and weight when you can.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/21/2012 - 11:21

try 5x5 weight lifting routine.... you might find it better in what your trying to attain...

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 08/08/2010 - 05:58

I think im ECTO!! but I have a big frame.... shoulders. Is this still ecto skinny as and always find it hard to put on any sort of mass, eating 5 meals a day.. Age 19 - 143 pounds - 6.2

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 02/12/2011 - 14:58

I'm almost the same; I'm 19, 152 LBs, 6'2" as well. I'm not a hardcore lifter but once I started I gained 20 LBs over the most I had ever weighed before (over a few months, but I've lost a little since). I figure I'm something of a mix between ecto and meso, and while I don't know for sure about you I'd say that with your weight it sounds likely. I know a lot of 6'2" guys who weigh 120-130, so since you've got 20-30 LBs on them you don't sound like a pure ectomorph, but it depends on how much of your weight is muscle gain from lifting.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/13/2010 - 08:56

Hi, I am ecto too. About 66kg and 164 cm and 24 years of age. Would you consider me to be underweight? I have been shedding muscles lately, although the pace is rather gradual. My GP is unable to find a clinical explanation to it, so I am getting very worried as to what may be the cause.What would recommend I do to gain my lost muscles (looking dead skinny lately)

I must mention that I have been on roaccutane for four months now.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 08/13/2010 - 14:18

Hi Cho Cho,

Your weight looks normal for your height. What does your current diet look like? And how long have you been weight training?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 08/14/2010 - 09:14

Thanks for responding to my email and allaying the fears in this respect. Well I do not do any weight-lifting unfortunately, although it is something I have been giving a lot of thought. I am contemplating taking creatine but I have heard rather discouraging accounts for the latter. What would you recommend for someone with my predicament in terms of taking the appropriate protein shakes?

My diet is totally healthy: a lot of greens, lean meat (specifically Mutton and chicken). For breakfast I take either Oats/ Cereal with full cream milk. Lunch: a cheese and egg sandwich, with juice and apple/fear/orange and dinner varies but I do have large portions of meat, esp Mutton. My carbohydrates intake is equally large comprising mainly white/brown rice. And I do not drink nor smoke.

I also feel impelled to mention that I have thin stripes (almost like tiger) on my lower buttocks as well and some parts of my thighs (the ones on the thighs just developed recently). I get the impression this could be a result of weight loss or am I wrong to assume that? How long do you think it would take to gain significant amount of weight? I wish to pick-up at least 72kg but I dont k now of whether that is feasible. My BMI index tells me I am on the borderline between under/overweight. I am also on Roaccutane, the acne-curing medication.

thanks. regard

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 08/16/2010 - 10:00

Hi Chocho,

Whey protein is good first thing in the morning, and after lifting weights. Casein is great in between meals and right before bed. I suggest eating 3 whole foods meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and adding in shakes when and where they make the most sense. I would start with casein between major meals, and a simply whey drink right when you wake. This extra protein will help your battle to retain muscle mass, especially if you are training hard for progression of reps and weight.

The results you are experiencing could be stretch marks that have become more noticeable as you are losing weight, though it's hard to imagine that at your weight you would have them.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 08/18/2010 - 10:47

Hi guys, I just wandered in here for the first time. Great site!

And good on you, Damien, for writing this article but I'd disagree with one part of what you write. Body type has nothing to do with how much fat you have on board. It's an underlying feature that doesn't change no matter how fit and lean you become. So endomorphs (like me) aren't necessarily "soft" and "round", though we do put on weight most easily and if we don't exercise we do tend to put on fat.

Body type also doesn't have anything to do with height as I understand it. I'm pretty tall. What I am is "big-boned". And no, that's not a copout for "fat", it means I'm built broad and sort of massive, even when I'm at low body fat and peak fitness. Especially then.

Those pictures of body types are misleading because any body type will be doughy and soft if you sit around on the couch eating donuts, though it's true that ectomorphs tend not to look as fat as endos. Seems to me it would be best to illustrate the types with an apples-to-apples comparison of either all of the types with exercise, or all of the types without.

Here's a thought. Scientists say Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals a hundred-thousand years ago. So I'm thinking maybe endomorphs like me are really Neanderthals in disguise. I've been told I'm a Neanderthal before... :D

Thanks for the article, and I plan to look around here more!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/24/2010 - 20:15

Hi =] im 14 almost 15 and i weigh 80 kilograms i am a mesomorph but i want to become very very muscular but my parents dont let me do weight training so can somebody tell me and excercises that will make my dream come true ?? :) thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 08/25/2010 - 14:35

Hi Danny,

Wish I could help. Have to obey your parents!

The only way to gain muscle is to lift progressively heavier weights.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/28/2011 - 03:55

hi!!well you're exactly like me when i was your age(now i'm 18)I'm also a classic mesomorph and i also wanted to become very very muscular at your age but was unable to go to the gym.So i was only doing bodyweight exercises like:pushup,handstand pushup,chin up,dip and tone of different abs exercises(don't think that its too easy because these exercises are very challenging especially the dragonflag for the abs)...well if you are a mesomorph you are already slightly muscular(coz i was muscular at 15 with arm at 13inch with bulging bicep and big muscular legs at 80kg exactly while not doing any intense training)if you're a mesomorph then you will quickly get a good body not like the very very muscular you're saying but close to it and you will get strong...i started going to a gym 4months ago and i gain 3kg of muscle and loses about 6kg of fat and i can squat 150kg for 6 reps(pretty cool for a beginner)and most important i love doing exercise and never miss any work out days...becoming very very muscular is my goal but i know that it will take time 4year even if i have a fantastic ability to gain muscle...if it's your goal don't be discourage but never think it's easy...IT TAKES TIME!!!AND DON'T OVERTRAIN!!!EAT WELL!! and also you must read a lot on training, how to eat, what to eat, why??This is how you will get big...

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/10/2010 - 10:10

I have an ectomorph body ( not very skinny, but reasonably thin built ), as in i was damn skinny when i was born and it stayed that way for the first 10 years of my life. I was very athletic and fast. I did not eat much. Then I went through a phase in which i stopped playing, became lazy and ate a lot of sugars and spicy stuff. I became grosely obese. Then I picked up a sport to lose weight, and started enjoying the fitness workouts and the playing time. I realized that I had not lost my speed or athletecism much, which was surprising. So I lost quite some weight, and decided to play at competetive levels. Now I am targeting an elite level. However, I have some stubborn fat in my lower leg and my upper leg. How should I thin my legs and some bit of my abdomen?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/13/2010 - 11:53

Hi Jaz,

Diet is the key to losing fat. Here is an article that can help you structure a cutting diet. Let me know if you have any questions.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 13:16

Hi, apparently im an ecto/mesmorph acording to a test on a bodybuilding site i wanna gain muscle mass i just need a training routine that would work for my body please. Im 6foot1 age17 bodyfat 12% weight 170pounds

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/16/2010 - 18:41

Hi Josh,

What is your training experience? Have you lifted weights before?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 09/19/2010 - 09:53

hii..i guess i m ecto n meso type(more ecto)..i m 5'10.5 nd used to b 64 kg wen teenager..i m 23 years old now n weigh 79 kg wid medium bone waist is 34 n chest 39.5 n i dont think dats a good shape..bottom heavy i guess..i hav good biceps naturally but m not happy wid my chest..i hav started going to gym so plz tell me abt my body type n wat diet i should follow to b really mascular (no supplements) n good chest..

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/20/2010 - 15:24

Hi Sumit,

Most people are combinations of various body types, and not one specific body type. Here is some information on eating that will help:

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 10/05/2010 - 17:36

Does anyone know how to build up hands?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 12:09


I'm a freshman in college, I'm a classic hardgainer. I've been lifting for five years total. I weigh about 160 lbs and I am pretty happy with my results. The only problems I have with my body are with my forearms and calves. Any suggestions?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 15:20

Hi Ty,

Have you ever tried training them 2-3 times per week?

I suggest trying 2-3 supersets of wrist curls and static barbell holds (for max time), 2-3 times per week. for calves, try lower reps...2-3 sets of 5 to 8 reps, 2-3 times per week. Add weight on these exercises when possible.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 05/14/2011 - 15:44

can you help me? im 17 and only weigh 110lbs at 5ft7 and i realy feel underweight and all. and as an Ectomorph its hard for me to gain weight and stuff. what can i do?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/18/2010 - 01:29

I'm 5'7 150 lbs. I have an ectomorph body type. I was thinking about starting the P90X workout. Can anyone tell me if this is a good program for my body type? If it it what type of supplements should I take? If this isn't the right workout for me then what is?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 11/18/2010 - 08:29

Hi Josh,

For questions regarding P90X, I recommend the forum. I know very little about the program.

As far as supplements, check out this article:

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/06/2012 - 10:38

ive done the p90x it great but not for what youwant its better for people trying to loose a stone or two and get ripped with better cardio,im in the same boat as you and from experience it didnt work for me i got stronger and more defined but i started to look thinner even though i was getting ripped,im now about to start a three day workout stritly weights {compound exercises} then when i start to gain abit of size ill add in cardio 1-2 x@s a week to keep fat down and my heart healthy,im still trying to get it right at 30 good luck by the way im 5 11 and 155lbs target 165-170lb keep at it :)

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/19/2010 - 17:06

Im ecto, I dont have much muscle BUT they are hard as steel (really) I can lift up bunch of heavy things with little effort, well, working in mine pit did the job of getting strong, Im not saying that Im stronger then lot meso's but I am stronger then mesos that dont train. Quantity is not better than quality is. Im proud of my body because I like to eat a lot of food without care of body weight and i always have about 65-68kg :-) (Sorry because bad english)

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 11/27/2010 - 19:10

I decided to do a little research before starting to workout. From the looks of it I have an ectomorph body type (small wrists, calfs, and ankles.) but I also have that "toned" look without much working out and I have a more mesomorph chest and shoulders (wide shoulders and non-flat chest.) to sum it all up I pretty much look like a skinny mesomorph. Since the way the two body types workout my question is which type of training should I follow? Height: 5ft 5in weight: 130lbs age: 16 wrists: 6.5 in biceps: 13.5 in waist: 32in