This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my affiliate disclaimer for more information.
Your natural body shape plays a huge part in how you look – whether you’re fit, unfit, overweight, underweight or darn near perfect! Why is this?
Because your natural shape will always be underneath!
Now GENERALLY people will refer to themselves as one of three body types – an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph. Lets take a look at each of these in turn, then talk about how this can impact your training.
So lets answer that one big question… What body shape am I?
Ectomorph – Hard Gainer, Thin, Skinny… etc
An ectomorph is a generally skinny individual – the kind of character who was always 9 stone at school. It seems remarkably common to be ecto if you are tall, however I am only 5’7″ and fulfilled a lot of the ecto traits as a young guy.
The key traits of an ectomorph include:
- Has said something along the lines of “I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight” several times (I joke… Or do I?!)
- Finds it hard to gain weight
- Small frame and bone structure – generally dainty
- Flat chest with little pec muscle density
- Narrow shoulders
- General thin appearance, possibly with visible abs due to low body fat
- What mass is there is generally lean
- Fast metabolism
Endomorph – Chunky, High Bodyfat, Overweight…
While an ectomorph is at one end of the spectrum, the endomorph sits at the other. An endo will find it easy to pile on weight – this may sound bad, but obviously with control it can be good to add some muscle mass.
The key traits of an endomorph include:
- Circular body shape
- May already have excess bodyfat – typically stored around the waist.
- Often get tired easily when training
- Big appetite (by nature or nurture)
- Have difficulty losing weight
- As a result of high bodyfat they have quite poor muscle definition
- Larger frame
- Waist typically larger – often larger than the chest, in fact
Mesomorph – Bulky, Lean, Pretty Good…
Now for the hallowed middle ground. Between the two extremes sits the mesomorph – someone who has traits present from both endo and ecto’s above. Typically this is viewed as the “best of both worlds” by naturally having muscle definition on a bigger frame.
The key traits of a mesomorph include:
- Wide shoulders with a comparatively thin waist – typical “upside down” triangle physique
- Lower end body fat (<20% at least)
- Generally quite bulky – has good baseline muscle mass to start with
- Seems to put on muscle easily if they have performed resistance training before.
What does all this mean?
Truth be told – not a lot in isolation. Almost everyone is a blend between the above body shapes and will sit somewhere between ectomorph and endomorph.
What I encourage people to do with this is try and identify and relate to a few of the bullet points above – for me it was typically low bodyfat and struggling to gain weight.
Since we can identify some of the properties we have from the lists above, we can then work to change our body to align with what we want from it.
How Can I Change My Body Shape?
I guess the opening header here gives away the fact that… YES you CAN in fact change your body shape! Anytime you think you can’t achieve something… Remember we started off as monkeys!
So why would you want to do it?
In 99% of cases it is to become MORE mesomorph. We want to look MORE athletic, skew any weight we do gain towards LEAN MUSCLE MASS and any weight we drop should be BODYFAT.
Now here’s the thing…
You will see I’ve written a lot about “generally” and “usually” – there is no hard and fast rules here. You can change up your body shape by changing YOUR LIFESTYLE.
I actually don’t think the different body types drive the lifestyle and person… I think the lifestyle drives the body type.
For instance I was originally an ectomorph mainly due to under eating – so to bust out of that trend and head towards a meso I simply started eating more… And more… And more! Until eventually I got used to the increased capacity for food and now I eat more without thinking.
The best thing is… I get to eat more 🙂
So how can YOU change your body style? Try these tips:
- Identify the traits that best describe you
- Identify those which you want (hint: head for the mesomorph list…)
- Work out the differences you NEED to REACH this goal
That last point is key. What I need you to do is work out what the driver behind the trait is – for example struggles to put weight on = struggles to eat enough to gain weight.
From this list we can knock up a pretty quick “action” pile to take forward and drive the changes.
I will stress – writing down your goal is an AWESOME way to achieve laser focus and drive the change in.
Which Workout Should I Choose for Ectomorph/Endomorph/Mesomorph?
As I alluded to just earlier – I don’t believe the body type drives the equation, I think your lifestyle drives the body type!
With that in mind I think the different workouts people suggest for body types are RUBBISH.
What you need to do is look at yourself and decide what you want from your training. If you’re new the focus should 100% be on strength and trying to increase your BIG COMPOUND lifts to move as much weight as you can.
Muscles give you strength – the more you lift the stronger you get.
Muscle mass burns more calories per lb than fat.
This means a good base of muscle will BURN THROUGH FAT AND REDUCE YOUR BODYFAT even when you are not in the gym!
My personal experience is that regular, full body workouts training with a strength focus add greatly to your physique and performance in the weight room.
I’m going to share with you a graph from a separate post I made:
Something I want to highlight here is that my eureka moment is when I started following StrongLifts style training. That is 3x a week full body as follows:
You do workout A, then 2 days later B, then A again, B again etc… Typically this is done 3x a week – for example Monday, Wednesday and Friday with 2 days rest before starting the next week.
As you can see from the moment I started that training my deadlift weight has taken off into the atmosphere!
Of course it’s not quite as simple as that…
Being honest, asking myself “what body shape am I” beforehand had very little impact on my training system… I suggest it similarly unimportant for you!
Yes StrongLifts did get me started on my journey – but as I developed I switched to Starting Strength, and later to the Texas Method.
These three workouts are all natural progression from one another – it makes sense to do them as you develop. Once 5 sets of 5 reps on squats becomes too much (and it will!) you drop the volume a little to 3×5 with SS, and so on dropping the aggression with the Texas Method again.
There is a lot to take in with each workout (rep schemes, adding weight, how to deal with plateaus, etc.) – if you’re serious about strength and improving your body type, I suggest grabbing a copy of these workout templates which will illustrate how to advance.
Why not grab the very ones I used right now – enter your email address below to get them instantly, and change your body shape starting today: