The 3 Body Types explained: Ectomorph, Mesomorph or
An American psychologist, William Sheldon (1898-1979) spent a lifetime observing the human body. From his
observations, he developed three major categories into which the human body fits, based upon physical body
These three body types are: Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph. These three major classifications are based upon
skeletal structure, musculature and how the body produces and stores fatty tissue.
All people fall into one category or a combination of them.
People who are Ectomorph have small, narrow frames, are slender and are classified by the bodybuilding world as
They are lightly muscled by nature and have trouble developing muscle tissue. Their metabolism is usually pumped
up and they do not store much fat in the usual places.
Many ectomorphs appear fragile and this can be quite deceptive as physical strength often does not
equate to muscle size.
Their limbs are long in proportion to their body height, giving them an appearance of being thinner than they
actually are. Generally their hands, fingers, feet, toes and necks are long and slender.
Ectomorphs have well defined, often sharp, facial features and their faces tend to be narrow or triangular
shaped. Their hair is generally fine, is often unruly and grows quickly.
Because of their thin skin, the lack of body fat and their body area versus muscle mass, ecotmorphs are often
more affected by temperatures than their more endowed brethren; they suffer from extreme heat or cold.
Some ectomorphs have been able to gain muscle size
and strength, but it is a struggle for them to make big gains without a lot of hard work and high-protein dieting. Success can be achieved though; think of Brad Pitt in
Those athletic looking men and women with wedge-shaped bodies (men) or hourglass figures (women) are most likely
Mesomorphs. These body types have larger bones with prominent muscles. Their facial features are defined and
muscular with noticeable cheek bones and heavy jaws.
Mesomorphs have thicker skin and their hair is heavy in texture. Their arms and legs are well-developed and even
their hands and fingers are muscular. Most of the major bodybuilding champions are mesomorphs. For example, Arnold
Schwarzenegger is a pure mesomorph.
Good posture, muscle mass and ease of muscle gaining are common traits of mesomorphs. They also gain fat much
more easily than an ectomorph.
Soft, round bodies, underdeveloped muscles and difficulty losing weight are traits of the extreme Endomorph.
They do gain muscle easily and their upper arms and thighs are more heavily muscled than their forearms or lower
legs. They are often high-waisted, but their limbs are short in comparison to their overall body height.
Endomorphs often have small hands and feet in relation to their overall size. Their heads are large and faces
broad. The late John Belushi (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) appears to have been a typical endomorph.
Good workout and diet programs will produce results for an endomorph, with the diet being critical to getting
rid of body fat. They are best served eating five or six small (3-400 calories) meals per day to keep their
metabolism in a "digesting mode."
Combined Body Types
Very few people can be categorized so easily. While most of us fall into one of the general categories, very few
people are purely in one type entirely. We often evidence traits of the other body types, and would be categorized
as ecto-mesomorphs or endo-mesomorphs.
People of all body types can be successful bodybuilders, though most of us lack the dedication and devotion (let
alone the money) to become a professional bodybuilder, we can all achieve a high degree of health, fitness and
musculature from a good exercise program and a proper diet.
Our fitness programs must, however, be tailored to our body types and how we grow muscles and store body
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