Body Type Workout: How Somatotypes Affect Your Results

Body Type Workout.
The Influence of Somatotypes on Your Results

Body Type Workout.
The Influence of Somatotypes on Your Results

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We all know that one person who eats whatever they want and never gains a pound. Their body looks the same as it did in high school.

And then there’s some of us who seem to gain weight a little too easily.

When it comes to our ability to gain fat or muscle, the truth is we aren’t on an even playing field.

Anyone starting an effective strength training program will gain some muscle tissue, but the amount of muscle we can gain is largely determined by our genetics. One of those genetic factors is our body type.

Jump to Topic:
What is a Body Type?
The Different Body Types
Exercising for Your Body Type

What is a Body Type?

A body type, or somatotype, is a classification for the different body compositions we genetically have. These body types refer to the amounts of fat and muscle cells we have in our bodies.

Our fat and muscle cell quantities are important because they rarely change much during adulthood. Past the age of 18, people likely do not lose fat cells and may gain more of them in extreme cases.

On the other hand, we can lose muscle cells with age if we’re not strength training, but gaining them is uncommon.

To put it simply, our muscle and fat cell totals help to determine our maximum potential for change. Within those limits, the changes we see are just increases or decreases in cell size.

It's important to note that these body types are generalizations of how our bodies are currently functioning. You can ebb and flow from one body type to another and even fall into more than one category.

The Different Body Types:

There are three basic body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.
Image from Precision Nutrition

Ectomorph

Ectomorphic bodies have naturally thin frames and long limbs. Hips and shoulders tend to be narrow and muscle size is small compared to bone length. Those who have the ectomorph body type have few fat and muscle cells.

The person we mentioned before, who never gains weight, he’s an ectomorph. He does gain muscle when sticking with strength training, but he will never look like a bodybuilder or anything close to it.

Image from Precision Nutrition

Mesomorph

Those with mesomorph bodies have few fat cells with many muscle cells. These body types are typically athletic with higher muscle mass and minimal fat.

For mesomorphic body types, strength training produces a greater gain in muscle for them than it does with ectomorphs. Mesomorphs also tend to have a little more fat than ectomorphs, but less than endomorphs. They are the people who generally can gain or lose 20 pounds with diet and strength training.

Image from Precision Nutrition

Endomorph

The endomorph has few muscle cells with many fat cells. These body types tend to be stockier, with larger hips, midsection and overall bone structures. The endomorph carries more fat throughout the body than other body types. This body type is often referred to as “apple shaped.”

For endomorphs, strength training produces some gain in muscle but they tend to gain fat fast and take a longer time to lose it.

The importance of knowing that somatotypes exist can be helpful in a number of ways. For example, knowing about somatotypes is further support for the idea that you should only compare you to yourself and not to others (who may have a different somatotype than you).

Exercising For Your Body Type

One helpful way of looking at your body type is to think of it as a body composition. Because compositions can be changed.

The way your body is composed can change with changes to your lifestyle, including diet and exercise.

Ectomorphs: It is wise to focus on techniques for building muscle mass and maximal strength, while reducing the amount of time spent on cardiovascular training. Twice a week slow-motion resistance training with heavy weights while achieving muscle success (temporary muscle failure) in under 90 seconds to maximize muscle and bone strength is ideal. If you are an ectomorph and you want to gain muscle mass, you should eat a high-calorie diet. You burn energy very quickly, so you will need plenty of calories.

Mesomorph: Mesomorphs have it easier than the rest of us. They metabolize food more efficiently, build muscle faster, and can take on any fitness goal without much initial work. However, diet and exercise should be tailored to specific goals. If you’re a mesomorph with a goal of weight loss, strength training and eating a high protein diet to maintain muscle while eating in a slight deficit will help you lose weight. If you’re looking to gain weight, then strength training while eating in a surplus will produce gains.

Endomorph: Because this body type has a naturally slow metabolism and can gain fat faster than other body types, it's important to prioritize high-intensity strength training with minimal rest between exercises (for metabolic benefits) and a high protein diet to maintain calorie-burning muscle mass. Endomorphs also want to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and find ways to include lots of physical activity in their daily life.

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help building these new healthy habits, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected]com to get started 

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You Can Change Your Body, No Matter the Type

Remember, body types are a generalization and not a box to live in. We have the power to change our bodies at any moment with diet, exercise and recreational activities. But the potential your somatotype provides is irrelevant without consistently training as hard as you can. You can only learn where your ceiling is by working towards it. Also, no matter what your genetics indicate for your physique, keep in mind that your actions (i.e. how you eat and exercise) are the biggest factors in improving your health and well-being.

So let’s recap…

Ectomorphs are generally quite lean with smaller frames. These body types have a harder time gaining fat and muscle. Heavy resistance training and high calorie diets are encouraged for ectomorphs who wish to gain body mass.

Mesomorphs have what many may consider an “ideal” body type. They have more muscle than fat and can lose and gain body mass with less effort than other body types. A balance of strength training and other physical activities tailored to their goals is ideal for the mesomorph.

Endomorphs generally carry more fat and have stockier frames. This body type has a harder time losing weight than others. It’s recommended to prioritize high intensity strength training, high protein diet and maintaining an active lifestyle for the endomorph.

Training at The Perfect Workout will help you achieve your ideal physique, and by increasing the amount of muscle tissue that you’re able to add, you will become healthier and feel better.

To work with a trainer to customize exercise for your body type (or begin strength training altogether!), start by booking a FREE introductory workout.

  • Bernard, TJ. (2003). Biography of William Sheldon, American psychologist. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed online at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Sheldon
  • Ryan-Stewart, H., Faulkner, J., & Jobson, S. (2018). The influence of somatotype on anaerobic performance. PloS one, 13(5), e0197761. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197761
  • Tóth, T., Michalíková, M., Bednarčíková, L., Živčák, J., & Kneppo, P. (2014). Somatotypes in sport. Acta Mechanica et Automatica, 8(1).

The Influence of Somatypes

The Influence of Somatypes

I know a guy who eats whatever he wants and never gains a pound. His body looks similar and weighs about the same as it did in high school. At no time in his life has he ever been referred to as overweight, and he probably never will be.

When he consistently strength trains, he gains about six to eight pounds of lean tissue. His muscle growth is noticeable but won’t blow you away. People have often told him that he should eat more and that he’s too skinny. He has less body fat and muscle than most, but some of that is due to factors not under his control.

When it comes to our ability to gain fat or muscle, the truth is we aren’t on an even playing field. Anyone starting an effective strength training program will gain some muscle tissue, but the amount of muscle we can gain is largely determined by our genetics. One of those genetic factors is our somatype.

A somatype is a classification for body types. These classifications are based on amounts of fat and muscle cells. Our fat and muscle cell quantities are important because they rarely change much during adulthood. Past the age of 18, people likely do not lose fat cells, and may gain more of them in extreme cases. On the other hand, we can lose muscle cells with age if we’re not strength training, but gaining them is uncommon.

To put it simply, our muscle and fat cell totals help to determine our maximum potential for change. Within those limits, the changes we see are just increases or decreases in cell size.

There are four basic somatypes:

  • Ectomorph – few fat and muscle cells
  • Mesomorph – few fat cells with many muscle cells
  • Endomorph – few muscle cells with many fat cells
  • Meso-Endomorph – many fat and muscle cells

The guy who I discussed in the opening example is an ectomorph. As mentioned, he does gain muscle when sticking with strength training, but he will never look like a bodybuilder or anything close to it.

For mesomorphs, strength training produces a greater gain in muscle for them than it does with ectomorphs. Mesomorphs also tend to have more fat than ectomorphs. They are the people who generally can gain or lose 20 pounds with diet and strength training.

Endomorphs won’t grow a lot of muscle with strength training, whereas meso-endomorphs do. Meso-endomorphs have the most muscle mass of anyone who fits into one somatype. Examples of meso-endomorphs are linemen in football and World’s Strongest Man competitors.

The importance of knowing that somatypes exist can be helpful in a number of ways. For example, knowing about somatypes is further support for the idea that you should only compare you to yourself and not to others (who may have a different somatype than you).

The potential your somatype provides is irrelevant without consistently training as hard as you can. You can only learn where your ceiling is by working towards it. Also, no matter what your genetics indicate for your physique, keep in mind that your actions (i.e. how you eat and exercise) are the biggest factors in improving your health and well-being.

Training at The Perfect Workout will help you achieve your ideal physique, and by increasing the amount of muscle tissue that you’re able to add, you will become healthier and feel better.