People tend to be of various shapes and sizes but did you know that the human body can be categorised into three distinct types based on overall physical build?

Yes, this system of classification formulated by the renowned American physician and researcher William Herbert Sheldon, to categorize the human physique based on the external form is referred to as “somatotype”. According to this organisation, somatotypes are classed into three basic types depending upon body fat and muscle mass as “ectomorph”, “mesomorph” and “endomorph”.

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Ectomorph body type


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


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.


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.

In some instances, people have a combination of body types, based on fat distribution and muscle mass in different segments of their bodies, such as:

  • Ecto-mesomorph
  • Meso-endomorph
  • Endo-ectomorph

Physical Characteristics of Ectomorphs:

In addition to being tall, ectomorphs have a thin build, long limbs, small joints and thin bones. Many are flat-chested and don't carry much body mass in the trunk. Although they appear skinny, they can actually have higher body fat than people with a slightly heavier build. Ectomorphs have a difficult time putting on muscle mass because their metabolism has a tendency to run higher than other body types. In the fitness terms, they are often called “hard gainers” for this very reason.

Ideal Diet For Ectomorph Metabolism:

Ectomorphs have a fast metabolism, which can be both a boon as well as a bane. A high metabolism makes it easy to get lean, and it can seem as if they can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. However, with age, their metabolisms will slow down, primarily due to low muscle mass, which can result in an unhealthy gain in body fat.

The best diet for an ectomorph is one that is higher in carbohydrates and calories. Approximately 50 to 60 per cent of calories should come from carbs, 25 per cent from protein and 25 per cent from fat.

Recommended Food Intake For Ectomorphs:

  • Eat every two to four hours.
  • Add at least 500 calories in order to gain weight or muscle.
  • Choose warm foods over cold foods as they are better for digestion.
  • Best starchy carbohydrates include oats, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and potatoes.
  • Best fruit choices include bananas, mangoes, pineapple, papaya, avocado and peaches.
  • Best vegetable choices include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, beets and carrots, especially cooked in coconut oil or ghee.
  • Nutrient-dense snacks include nuts and seeds, as well as nut butters.

The key is to still eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients. Just because you have an ectomorph body type, doesn't mean you should use that as an excuse to eat everything, including junk food.

Exercise Guidelines For Ectomorphs:

Ectomorphs are at a disadvantage when it comes to building muscle and sculpting the body. The goal of toning, sculpting and creating curves on a small, thin frame can be achieved with a dedicated training and nutrition program. All ectomorphs, whether his or her goal is to be a bodybuilder or achieve a healthy, lean and strong body, can benefit from a solid, consistent weight-training program. Also Read: Want To Build Stamina? 5 Awesome Workouts That Can Make You Fit


Ectomorphs tend to excel in endurance-type activities, and many of them prefer cardio training to weightlifting. The key to stimulate muscle growth is to do a minimal amount of cardio required for general health. Three times a week for 30 minutes is recommended.

Weight Training

To build muscle mass, increase strength and sculpt the body, a simple weight-training routine using heavy weights is critical for the ectomorph. The focus should be on using heavier weights and completing three to five sets of approximately eight to 12 reps for each muscle group.

ectomorph workout

Perfect Workout Routine For Ectomorphs:

Most of the training should revolve around the big basic moves: squats, bench press, shoulder press, deadlift, chin-ups. Cut the basic isolation exercises involving only one muscle or region in the body, as they do not provide enough stimulus for muscle growth.

Compound exercises using several muscle groups simultaneously in the body, performed with moderate to heavy weights and repetitions in the range of 5-8, will activate multiple joints and the larger muscle groups, which causes the body to produce testosterone and other anabolic hormones, important for gaining quality muscle. Also Read: 5 Superb Ways To Build Lean Muscle Mass

Keep in mind to perform short but intense training up to three times a week with a focus on the basic cardio and aerobic exercises.

Bicep Curls

Bicep curls are one of the best workouts to attain strong, slim and toned upper arm muscles and are an ideal training activity for the ectomorph body type.

Stand straight, keeping the feet placed hip-width apart. Hold two 5-pound dumbbells in each hand and remain steady. Then, exhale completely and bend both arms at the elbow, bringing the hands close to the chest. Slowly lower the weights while inhaling deeply and come back to the initial pose. Repeat this routine 10 times, on alternate days, beginning with small weights and progressing on to heavier dumbbells.

Standing Calf Raises

Calf muscles in the lower legs are key for performing many basic activities such as walking, jogging, running and jumping. Standing calf raises are an easy low-impact exercise for the ectomorph body type that fortify the calf muscles and improve strength and flexibility of the legs.

Stand straight, keeping the back erect and shoulders and spine aligned. Make sure the feet are spread shoulder-width apart and the toes are pointing forward. Raise both heels gradually off the floor and hold them in an elevated position for 1 – 2 seconds. Then slowly bring them back to the ground, coming back to the starting pose. Perform this routine 15 – 20 times daily.


The ectomorph body type is indeed a blessing as they can consume a diet rich in carbs when compared to endomorphs and mesomorphs, who tend to gain weight more easily and also process sugars slowly. However, it is important to also balance the diet with ample proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, to ensure sturdy bones and powerful muscles as they age.

Regular exercise following the right kind of workouts ensures optimal body fat distribution and gain in muscle mass. It is always advised to consult with a doctor, nutritionist and fitness trainer, to gain more insight into the exact body type and the ideal diet and exercise tips to maintain overall wellbeing.