Monday, February 13, 2012

Body Types

Body Types

Variety is the spice of life, and the sizes and shapes that we come in are no exception! The amount of muscle, bone and fat we carry makes our bodies unique, but there are also similarities that we can observe, as well.  Did you know that your body type is passed down from your parents?  I know, I know, it's all their fault...

Which Body Type Are You?

Everyone can fit into one of three body type categories: Mesomorph, Endomorph or Ectomorph.

Mesomorphs are muscular and short. Their bone frame may be large and their bodies gain muscle easily--very annoying, if you ask me.  They can gain fat, but not as easily as Endomorphs.  Additionally, they tend to gain that fat evenly, all over their body, instead of in one vacinity (like the hips!).  Examples are singer Madonna and actor Hugh Jackman.

Endomorphs, are soft and curvy. Their bodies want to gain fat but resist gaining muscle, and their bone frames may be small, medium or large. Examples are Jennifer Hudson, and Michael Moore.

Ectomorphs are tall and skinny with delicate bones and light muscles. Their bodies resist gaining both muscle and fat, and their bone frames are usually small. Five percent of the population has this body type. Examples of ectomorphs are model Kate Moss, and actor (Once Upon A Time) Robert Carlyle.

Most people are a combination of two body types--Mesomorph and Ectomorph or Mesomorph and Endomorph. There are more mixed types than pure types. Think of the range of Body Types along a continuum:

                                 x (I am here)


Why does this matter?

Acceptance and a good shot of reality.  Knowing your body type will help you to have reasonable goals, with an understanding of what is realistic for you.  For example, one of my girlfriends is a solid mesomorph, with a small frame, and she can get her body into a size two.  But no matter how much some of us try, the width of the pelvis (bone and skeletal size), and the shape and distribution might never allow that.  Be accepting of who you are, and what is reasonable for you.  Of course, we can all make improvements!

Living With Your Body Type

Your body type does not change the rules for good nutrition, so if you're a solid Ectomorph, and never gain weight, that doesn't mean you should then eat a diet full of nonsense empty foods!  Maintain a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, skim milk, fish, lean meat, poultry, beans and nuts. Choose foods that are low in animal fat and added sugars and eat sensible portion sizes. Get aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, that conditions the heart and lungs, and weight lifting that helps to maintain or increase muscle mass.  Exercise is the true fountain of youth.

However, you can tailor your exercise routine to body type. Ectomorphs might do their aerobic exercise, and add weight training three times a week for building muscles, utilizing heavier weights.  Mesomorphs would perhaps opt for the same program weekly, but with lighter weights and more repetitions, depending on how much muscle they want to build.  And endomorphs can do longer aerobics to burn more calories, with weight training, but direct their weight training toward balancing any imbalances in their physique (i.e. pear shaped ladies, focus on upper body training and maintenance of lower body strength).


  • William H. Sheldon, The Varieties of Human Physique: An Introduction to Constitutional Psychology (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940).

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