Determining Your Body Type: A Guide to Somatotypes


Have you ever wondered about what body type you are? Women have been going on and on for ages about having hourglass figures or being a pear-type, and while those are certainly commonly identified body types, that’s not at all what we’re talking about. True, everybody is different and unique. After all, some of us are taller than others, some wider than others, some people have higher bone densities and so on, but did you know that every person on this planet will fall into one of 3 distinct body classifications? These body types or classifications are known to the scientific community (and the health and fitness community as well, of course) as somatotypes.

Why Does It Matter?

You might be trying to figure out why this should even matter to you. For most people, the concern is simply about losing weight or getting fit, regardless of body type. Adding another thing to try and figure out just isn’t on your agenda.

Well, folks, it’s time to put it on there because knowing what your body type or somatotype is can actually help you tailor your weight loss and fat loss programs to have dropping an optimal amount of weight monthly. Likewise, knowing your somatotype can also help you figure out what kind of exercises or training routines you should be doing to build muscle mass.

What are the Existing Body Types?

As we mentioned earlier, all humans can be classified as one of three different body types or somatotypes. The three types of bodies are: ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs. There are many reliable diagrams that exist to help you see the difference between the three classifications, but if you don’t have access to one, there are also easy ways to identify which body type you are simply by examining yourself in the mirror.

For example, people who are ectomorphs are generally those who are thin and small-boned. They also enjoy naturally lower amounts of body fat, but then also have to deal with less muscle mass. On the other hand, mesomorphs are best described as natural athletes. Their bodies exude an air of athleticism and lean towards more moderate levels of fat and a good amount of lean muscle mass.

Meanwhile, endomorphs naturally have higher amounts of body fat, don’t fret just yet, and generally have rounder and softer looking bodies. Some of you might be able to identify your body types just by reading this overview, but if you’re still not quite sure, then you’ll want to have a closer look at what qualities are most associated with the three body types.

Meet the Mesomorph

What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, George Clooney, Bruce Willis and Andre Agassi have in common? They’re all mesomorphs. Generally hailed as the best or luckiest body type of them all, mesomorphs are most commonly referred to as the world’s natural athletes. Not only is it easier for mesomorphs to gain muscle, it’s also advisable for them to focus on workout regiments are revolve around strength training. As a rule of thumb, cardio exercises should stay moderate for this body type.

To determine if you’re a mesomorph, check your body to see if you have any of the following traits:

  • Your shoulders and hips are roughly the same width
  • You have reasonably thick forearms
  • Your body tends to look more rugged or square
  • Weight gain and weight loss isn’t much of an issue for you
  • You have a chest circumference in the range of 37 – 44 inches

Meet the Ectomorph

If mesomorphs are typically referred to as the luckiest body type, then ectomorphs take the award for being the body type with the least to worry about weight wise because they’re don’t really have to worry about gaining weight. On the down side, however, it’s much harder for an ectomorph to put on muscle mass, thus earning themselves the nickname of “hard-gainers”.

Ectomorphs need to eat substantially more calories than any other body type to get their gains going and should focus entirely on strength training and keep their cardio to a minimum if they want to make their workouts the most effective. Kate Moss, Bruce Lee, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt are all standard examples of ectomorph type bodies.

Other determinate features of ectomorphs include:

  • Hips that are narrower than the shoulder width
  • Fitted jeans feel loose around the glutes
  • Smaller or more slender forearms
  • A long and narrow body
  • A chest circumference of less than 37 inches

Meet the Endomorph

Zac Efron, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Pratt and Beyonce Knowles are just some of the celebrities out there that fall into the endomorph classification. Perhaps the easiest way to describe an endomorph would be to say that it’s the complete opposite of the ectomorph body type.

Endomorphs tend to be larger in appearance and have the propensity to gain weight easily. Traditionally speaking, endomorphs are also the body types that have the hardest type shedding pounds. The bright side to this, however, is that it’s actually relatively easy for endomorphs to put on a decent amount of muscle mass.

It’s crucial for endomorphs to adopt a lifestyle that has as little fat as possible and creating a constant caloric deficit until they reach their goal weight. Cardio is key for endomorphs, high intensity interval training in particular, and adding to it a decent and challenging strength training program too.

Some additional key indicators that you have an endomorphic body are:

  • Having shoulders that are wider than your hips
  • Having a body that tends to look round or soft
  • Thicker forearms
  • Ease in gaining weight but difficulty in losing weight
  • A chest circumference that exceeds 44 inches

What Next?

Now that you know your body type, it’s time to figure out what workouts will work best for your body type. We’ve given you some guidelines to start with above, but as always, it’s best to really come up with a concrete plan to set yourself up for success as early as possible.