Fitness is one of the best ways that you can enhance your overall physical and mental health and well-being, and diet and exercise are the keys to optimal health. In order to get the most out of your diet and exercise routines, you first need to understand your body type.
Men come in all types of shapes and sizes, and every man knows their body type, right? When you stand in front of the mirror, the reflection looking back at you is tall, short, lean, muscular, or stocky.
While you may be familiar with your physique and know what you look like, did you know that there are actually specific names for male body types, and that each body type has characteristic traits? It’s true!
Being aware of the different male body types – and the strengths and weaknesses that go along with your particular body type – is important, as it will allow you to determine exactly what body type you are so that you can manage your health, fitness, and overall appearance more effectively.
Your body type is influenced by genetics, and when you work with the genetics that your family and God gave you, you can work with it instead of against it, and thus, you can really be the best that you can be.
So, without further ado, let’s jump in and take a look at the male body types so that you can get to know the real you, take ownership of your physique, put your best food forward, and live your best life.
Thee Three Male Body Types
Back in the 1940s, William Sheldon, an American psychologist, started classifying people according to three different body types. The body types he identified included: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph.
While Sheldon’s classifications were solely based on physical traits, the psychologist believed that individuals who shared the same body shape and size also shared similar psychological traits.
Fast forward to today and this notion is now considered antiquated; however, the body types that Sheldon classified do remain relevant, as they do impact fitness and diet.
In other words, as we already mentioned, the shape and size of your body can help you develop an effective diet and exercise plan so that you can not only look and feel your best, but so that you can also achieve optimal mental and physical health.
With that said, let’s take a look at these three main male body types that Sheldon classified.
Ectomorph: Tall & Skinny
Also referred to as “cerebrotonic” or “hardgainers” ectomorph’s are the leanest of the three primary male body types. Men who fit into this category tend to have thin arms and legs, their chests and shoulders are narrow, and they have very little, if any, body fat.
While men of all heights can fit into this category, ectomorphs are primarily tall men. Additionally, their faces are narrow and the appearance can be delicate in nature.
Ectomorph’s often have a difficult time gaining weight and muscle; no matter how much they eat, they seem to stay thin, as they have a fast metabolism, and as such, they burn calories at a rapid rate.
It’s because ectomorph’s have a difficult time gaining weight that they are often referred to as “hardgainers”; hence, in order to put on weight and increase muscle mass, men who fit into this body type category should eat a high calorie diet and should focus on working out their large muscle groups. Results won’t be immediate and can seem impossible at times; however, with patience, commitment, and dedication, ectomorphs can beef themselves up.
To summarize, the traits of an ectomorph include:
- Lean and lanky body and face
- Fast metabolism
- Hard time gaining weight
- Lean muscle mass
- Low body fat index
- Small, narrow shoulders
- Small chest
Mesomorph: Alpha Chads
Also known as “somatotonic”, men who fit into this category have muscular bodies, strong arms and legs, and little body fat. Usually, the waist is narrow and the shoulders are broad. According to the characterizations that Sheldon identified, mesomorphs and endomorphs share similar psychological characteristics; they tend to be daring, courageous, adventurous, assertive, and competitive.
Mesomorph is the most common male body type. They have an athletic body build, they’re big-boned and have a sturdy frame, their muscles are well-defined, and their body has a rectangular shape.
Usually, they’re of average height, they easily gain muscle and fat, they have a normal metabolism, and overall, they’re strong. While men who fit into this category can also lose weight rather easily, they should pay attention to their caloric intake – particularly as they age – as it may start being easier to put on pounds and harder to take them off.
In summary, the traits of a mesomorph include:
- Athletic build
- Muscles are well-defined
- Sturdy frame
- Big-boned and rectangular shape
- Average height
- Gains muscle and fat easily
- Normal metabolism
Endomorph: Skinny Fat
Finally, there’s the endomorph. This body type lies on the opposite end of the spectrum of the ectomorph. Also known as “viscerotonic”, men who have this body type tend to be buxom. Their shoulders are usually narrow, their arms are large, and their wrists are skinny. This body type is often referred to as being “skinny fat” in pop culture/online fitness circles.
The hips of the endomorph tend to be wide and there’s extra stores of fat on the thighs, creating kind of “pear” shape. Their metabolism is slower than normal, and as such, they can gain muscle easily, but it’s also very easy for them to gain weight, and they tend to have a hard time losing fat.
The muscles are undefined or soft, and men who are shorter than average primarily fall into this body type. With an appropriate bodybuilding workout and regular exercise, they can gain muscle quickly. In order to maintain a healthy weight, cardio is important for endomorphs; furthermore, eating a balanced diet and watching caloric intake is important in order to avoid excess weight.
According to Sheldon, psychologically, endomorphs are social, even-tempered, and have usually have easy-going personalities; they tend to go with the flow.
Exercise and Diet Plans for Different Body Types
As mentioned, understanding your body type is important, as it can help you determine the most effective workout and diet plan so that you can look and feel your best, as well as maintain optimal health.
Once you’ve determined which body type category you fall into, you’re probably wondering what type of diet and exercise plan you should adopt. Below is a basic overview and some tips that you can use to help guide you on the path of proper health.
Ectomorph Diet and Exercise Tips
Ectomorphs tend to be tall, lean, and have a delicate body frame. They have a hard time gaining weight and muscle, as they’re metabolism is fast; hence why they’re often referred to as “hardgainers”. If you fall into the ectomorph body type category, the following training and nutrition tips can help you stay on the right path for ideal physical and mental health:
- Exercise. To combat difficulties with gaining muscle and fat, focus on compound movements instead of isolated movements, as the former will allow you to use more of your muscle groups in a single exercise. Bench pressing is a great exercise for ectomorphs, as the movement works out the muscles in your shoulders, chest muscles, and triceps. Isolated movements, like bicep curls, have their purpose and shouldn’t be completely overlooked; however, they should be an accessory to your primary workout. In other words, isolated movements should complement compound movements.
- Diet. Because of their fast metabolism, ectomorphs can consume more carbs and calories than endomorphs and mesomorphs; however, that doesn’t mean that you can just eat whatever you want whenever you want, as your physique and health will be negatively impacted. Complex carbs are highly recommended, as they will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Plus, complex carbs will help push protein into your muscles to encourage growth.
Mesomorph Diet and Exercise Tips
Those who fall into this category have a middle-of-the-road body type. They are average in height, have well-defined muscles, and they can be lean and muscular at the same time. In other words, their builds are athletic and they can easily gain and lose weight and fat.
- Exercise. Since mesomorphs have an easier time building muscle and losing fat, they don’t have to do intense weight lifting in order to see results. Moderate weight lifting and exercise will yield results. It’s also a good idea to focus on aerobic exercises, so as to prevent weight gain, as aerobics helps to boost the heart rate, keep the blood pumping, and burns calories and fat.
- Diet. If you fall into this category, you should eat a well-balanced diet with equal parts fat and protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates. Complex carbs will help to give your body the energy it needs and will help you feeling fuller longer, thereby helping you avoid excess weight gain.
Endomorph Diet and Exercise Tips
Endomorphs have a stockier build. They have a wider frame than the other two categories, they have a slower rate of metabolism, and while they have more muscle, they also have more fat. Of the three body types, endomorphs have the best advantage when it comes to strength, but remaining lean can be difficult; however, the following tips can help to keep you in great shape and health.
- Exercise. Intense aerobic training, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS), is the best bet for endomorphs, as these exercises will help to “shock” the body into burning and losing fat stores. One great intense aerobic exercise that also works the back would be rowing, with resistance rowing machines delivering the best of both worlds. Hypertrophy (muscle building – heavy weight) with conditioning is highly recommended, as this will help to boost the metabolism – and keep it burning for several hours after the workout is over.
- Diet. Those who fall in this category do have to be more diligent with their diet plan, so as to avoid excess weight and fat gain. Endomorphs should eat less carbs and more protein. They should also avoid eating simple carbs as much as possible, like white bread, pasta, sugar, etc., and should focus more on complex carbs.
Frequently Ask Questions
Now that you have a basic understanding of the three main body types for men, as well as an outline of an effective diet and exercise plan for each body type category, there’s no doubt that you have some additional questions. Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions that men have about body types so that you will have a better chance to set yourself up for success.
Can you be a combination of body types?
As with anything in life, when it comes to male body types, there is no “one size fits all” description. In other words, yes, you can be more than one of the three main male body types, meaning that you can have the characteristics of two or even three categories. For instance, you can be tall, which is usually a trait that is associated with ectomorphs, and be more buxom, a characteristic that’s largely attributed to endomorphs.
What are the best foods for all body types?
The best foods for all body types are wholesome, organic, non-GMO, minimally processed foods. You should keep the simple carbs to an absolute minimum and focus more on complex carbs and proteins, as they’ll help you stay fuller longer and will prevent you from gaining unnecessary weight.
Should I really plan my diet and exercise around my body type?
You don’t have to, but if you want to maintain your appearance, feel your best, and ensure optimal health, then planning your diet and exercise plan around your body type is highly recommended. It’s also suggested that you stick with your workout and nutritional plan as much as possible. While you can “cheat” every once and a while and have a day off here and there, being diligent with what you eat and how you exercise is definitely in your best interest.