Ectomorph / Hardgainer Muscle-Building Genetics

How Much of an Ectomorph Are You?

Written by Shane Duquette on May 17, 2016

Have you ever wondered whether you’re an ectomorph or not? What your muscle-building potential might be? How much of a hardgainer you are? How your physique might look after gaining 10, 20 or even 40 pounds of muscle?

These three quizzes should help you figure all of that out, and you can do it right now from the comfort of your own home.

Before we get started we also have a quick announcement to make. We’ve had a lot of guys asking for video content, so we’ve decided to start making YouTube videos. We’ve just put up these three new videos, and if you want more, just let us know by liking, commenting and subscribing via YouTube. If you guys dig ’em, let us know as we’re happy to keep making more.

Hardgainer Genetics Quiz #1. Bone Breadth

In our Ectomorph Aesthetics article we talk about the most attractive shoulder to waist ratio. That has to do with how broad your shoulders are compared to how narrow your waist is. Genetics can help with that for sure, but that has more to do with leaning down your waist and muscling up your shoulders. This ratio is very different, as it concerns itself strictly with your bone structure.

I initially read about this a decade ago in the old Scrawny to Brawny book by Dr. John Berardi and Michael Mejia. They suggest that if your bi-acromial to bi-iliac breadth ratio is 1.46 or higher then you have an ideal frame for building muscle. Berardi is well known for doing good research, so I suspected there was more to this. I searched PubMed for studies looking into this bi-acromial to bi-iliac ratio and found a couple studies that use it as a way of predicting body mass.


One of them was a study out of Johns Hopkins University in 2000 (study). The researchers took elite athletes in various sports, measured their bi-acromial to bi-iliac ratio, weighed them, and established a way to predict body mass based on bone structure. Olympic weightlifters, the burliest of the bunch, had a ratio of 1.491. Decathletes, the narrowest of the bunch, had a ratio of 1.311.

A follow-up study in 2004 supports this theory as well, finding that Inupiats (aboriginals of Alaska) have a 1.38 biac/bi-iliac ratio and are slenderer than Finns, who have a 1.41 ratio (study).

Now the rub—this ratio is very hard to measure! I highly recommend watching the video above, where I show you how to measure it.

Bony to Beastly Bone Structure V-Taper Ratio

For the bi-acromial breadth, use measuring tape to measure the distance between the outermost parts of your shoulder bonesThis doesn’t include your upper arm bone or your shoulder muscles, but just where your shoulder joint begins. Also keep in mind that we’re measuring the distance between the joints, so hold the measuring tape out a little bit in front of your body so that it doesn’t curve around your chest.

Same deal with your hips. The outermost part of your upper hip bones, and no bending of the measuring tape.

Once you have these measurements, just divide the shoulder measurement by your hip measurement to get your ratio. You can use either inches or centimetres for this. We’re calculating a ratio here, so as long as you’re consistent it won’t matter.

Your Bone Breadth Ratio = Shoulder breadth / Hip breadth

  • If you have a ratio under 1.4 you have an elite endurance build
  • If you have a ratio of 1.4–1.45 you have an average build
  • If you have a ratio of 1.46–1.5 you have an elite strength build

For an example of someone with amazing natural muscle-building potential, we can look at the old school bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Even as a young teenager you can see that his genetics are pretty undeniable.

Muscle-Building Genetics, Bone Structure V-Taper, Steve Reeves

For realistic examples of what you can achieve, some good examples are Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Both are ectomorphs with similar muscle-building genetics in most ways, but Ryan Gosling has a slightly lower ratio than Brad Pitt. Chances are that you’re somewhere in the middle.

Ectomorph Actor / Celebrity Genetics Ryan Gosling & Brad Pitt

What should you do if you have an endurance build? This is another one of those things that makes us “hardgainers”—guys who need to be smart with our lifting and nutrition in order to wind up with a strong, optimally attractive physique. Some guys look plenty strong just by playing sports and whatnot, but we aren’t those guys.

Hardgainer Genetics Quiz #2. Bone Thickness

This test is a special one, since you could say that it’s the original hardgainer test. In the 1950’s, the famous bodybuilder Reg Park began noticing that “the small boned type” didn’t build muscle as easily as other body types. The term hardgainer was coined shortly thereafter, and since then the research of Dr. Casey Butts has proven that there’s indeed a relationship between bone thickness and muscle-building potential.

How do you figure out if you’re the small boned type? By measuring how thick your bones are in relation to your height. Unless you’re quite overweight, your wrist and ankle size are determined almost exclusively by your bone size, so these are the best places to test. Our wrist size directly relates to arm muscularity, whereas ankle size directly relates to leg muscularity. For the purposes of this test, we’ll use our wrists.

Your Bone Thickness Ratio = Wrist Circumference / Height

So take your wrist circumference and divide it by your height (in cm or inches). If the number you get is smaller than 0.1045, you have skinny wrists. Welcome to the hardgainer club.

Now, to figure out what an exceptionally thick bone structure is, let’s take a couple pre-steroid era bodybuilders and run their numbers. Thanks again to the research of Dr. Casey Butts, we have some good numbers to use. Ron Lacy (Mr. America 1957) had a moderate ratio of 0.1058, whereas thicker boned John Grimek had a ratio of 0.1138.

Taking this further, Butts found that most guys who can get world class biceps are over 6’ tall and/or have over 8” wrists (over 183 cm tall with over 20 cm wrists). This beast of a dude would have a ratio of 0.1111. Not quite as sturdy as Grimek, but still larger than some of the thinner Mr. America winners. With a ratio like this you can rest assured that your bone structure will be propelling you forward, not holding you back. If you’re reading this though, I doubt that describes you at all. It certainly doesn’t describe me!

Bony to Beastly Ectomorph / Hardgainer Genetics Skinny Wrist Size

So for the purposes of our chart we’ll use a ratio of under 0.1045 to denote a hardgainer and a ratio of over 0.1111 to represent guys who can become very muscular very easily.

  • If your ratio is over 0.1111 you’re an easygainer
  • If your ratio is 0.1045–0.1111 you have average muscle-building genetics
  • If your ratio is under 0.1045 you’re a hardgainer

However, we quickly realized that not a single b2B member even had a ratio over 0.1. We’re super hardgainers, you could say. For example, my wrist size is 6.5” and my height is 74” (6’2), making my ratio 0.088. (In metric this would be 16.5 cm divided by 188 cm, still giving a ratio of 0.088.) With wrists this small, I’d be a hardgainer even if I were 5’4 (163 cm).

What should you do if you have hardgainer bones? “Small bone type” guys, aka ectomorphs, are the more “delicate” type of guys, as Google so asshole-ishly points out to anyone who looks up the word ectomorph. It also makes us weigh less, even when heavily muscled. Sometimes this is an advantage, such as when running, doing chin-ups, or playing sports with weight divisions. Sometimes this is a disadvantage, such as when trying to fill out the sleeve of a t-shirt, win a bodybuilding competition or avoid broken bones.

It’s not a disadvantage when it comes to being considered attractive, manly dudes though.

Most Hollywood sex icons have hardgainer bone structures. This is true with guys like Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, who both have attractive faces and personalities. You could argue that this has little to do with their physiques though, and you’d probably be right. Their attractiveness may be in part due to their thinner facial structure though. Regardless, let’s not count those guys.

What’s more interesting is that it’s the thinner boned actors who are known for having extremely attractive bodies. Some good examples are Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Cam Gigandet, Paul Walker and Michael Fassbender.

Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Cam Gigandet, Paul Walker, Michael Fassbender Bodies & Ectomorph Genetics

This goes outside of Hollywood as well. Almost all male models have very thin bone structures. Many of the athletes who are considered sexy have thin bones too. Take a look at Mr. Ward and David Beckham.

Mr. Ward and David Beckham Ectomorph Hardgainer Genetics

So what should you do if you have thin bones? Lift very heavy weights, eat enough calcium and get plenty of sun to strengthen your bones, not to mention pack a ton of muscle on top of them. With that done, relax and enjoy the attractiveness benefits.

Hardgainer Genetics Quiz #3: Muscle Bellies

We can make muscles larger by lifting weights. We can even make them a little longer (improving flexibility). What we cannot do though is change the length of them in relation to our tendons. This impacts how our muscles look and also how strong they can become.

An easy place to test your muscle belly size is with your biceps. A smaller bellies means more difficulty building up the biceps, but also a visually pleasant peak, as it will contrast nicely to the tendon right next to it.

Bony to Beastly Muscle-Building Genetics Small Muscle Bellies

Flex your arm to 90 degrees, face your palm towards your biceps, and see how many fingers you can fit between your biceps muscle bellies and your forearm. (See the video for an example.)

  • If you can fit 3 or more fingers between your biceps and forearm, your muscle bellies are fairly small. You have ectomorphic “hardgainer” muscle bellies, at least as far as your biceps are concerned.
  • If you can fit 2 fingers, you’ve got fairly average, well-rounded muscle bellies
  • If you can fit 0–1 finger you have mesomorphic “easygainer” muscle bellies.

In the above video you can see me easily fitting 3 fingers between my bicep and forearm, slotting me firmly in the hardgainer category. In the bodybuilding, fitness modelling and YouTube fitness world this is very rare. However, when you look at guys a little further away from bodybuilding, you see tons of famous ectomorphs and hardgainers. Some top tier actors, like Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, are ectomorphs who have very small muscle bellies.

Brad Pitt & Ryan Gosling Hardgainer / Ectomorph Muscle Belly Genetics

What should you do if you have short bellies? Hit your arms a little extra, since they’ll grow a little more slowly. You aren’t the guy who can get away with doing just the compound lifts. You need the big compound biceps builders like chin-ups, but you also need an assortment of curls.

Also, remember that your biceps are just a small part of your upper arms. You can add tons of girth to your guns by training your other upper arm muscles, such as your brachialis, shoulders and triceps.

Realistic Examples & Wrap-Up

Okay so let’s say you’re a true ectomorph “hardgainer” in very sense, as the three of us are. This isn’t bad. Yes, it will be very hard to build a physique that will win you the admiration of guys who are into bodybuilding, but it won’t be that hard to build a physique that’s impressively fit, wickedly healthy and considered ideally attractive by women.

For an exaggerated example, check out the wrestler Brock Lesnar and the highest paid fashion model, Sean O’Pry. Lesnar has an elite mesomorphic physique that’s sure to impress most guys who are into bodybuilding, whereas O’Pry has an ectomorph physique that will woo the vast majority of women. If anything, women will think he’s too fit.

Ectomorph Muscle-Building Genetics Brock Lesnar Body vs Sean O'Pry

Neither body is better than the other, but each is better at different things. Given that we have more in common with the dude on the right, I would recommend aiming for something more like that. His face may not be something we can acquire, but his body probably is.

It’s not even that difficult to get a fit, healthy, attractive physique. Women aren’t looking for the next Steve Reeves or Arnold Schwarzenegger, just a guy with a masculine look who will make a rad dad and be able to protect his kids. With just three hourlong workouts per week, in a matter of months you could probably get the manly hunk physique of her dreams. Here are three more pop culture examples: Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal and Shia LaBeouf.

Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Shia LaBeouf (Realistic Ectomorph / Hardgainer Bodies)

Maybe your bone breadth, bone width and muscle belly size make it easier to look like Bradley Cooper than Jake Gyllenhaal, or vice versa, but chances are that some of the physiques mentioned in this article will be realistic for you, no matter how much of an ectomorph you are.

The catch is that you need to lift and eat for muscle growth. We often make the mistake of assuming that lifting weights is for guys who want to look like bodybuilders. Yes, if you want to look like a bodybuilder you’ll need to do bodybuilding, but even if you just want to build a little bit of muscle (or lose a little bit of fat) you should still be “bodybuilding,” since that’s the type of exercise designed to build muscle effectively.

Wolverine doesn’t look like a bodybuilder, but Hugh Jackman was deadlifting 405 pounds to get in shape for that role. That’s probably something that you’ll want to work towards also. And yes, deadlifting 300+ pounds is realistic for a guy with your genetics. But no, you don’t have to do deadlifts—you can lift weights at home and still build muscle perfectly well.

Hugh Jackman Deadlifting to Build Muscle

Most skinny guys will want to pursue types of exercise that line up with their natural strengths. They gravitate towards calisthenics, cardio, martial arts and general physical preparedness (CrossFit and P90X type stuff). They soon become frustrated that these styles of exercise aren’t bringing up their weaknesses—muscle size. But since they aren’t doing a type of exercise that is designed to build muscle very well, you’d need to have good muscle-building genetics to build muscle with that stuff.

Remember that Tony Horton used bodybuilding to build up his physique before becoming the P90X guy. Same thing with the calisthenics guys. Most of them build their muscle size and strength with weights before moving on to learning the calisthenics tricks.

This is even more true for guys like us. Pursuing “fitness” will usually make us naturally skinny guys look even skinnier, just like pursuing powerlifting will make most chubby guys look even chubbier.

If you want to bring up your weaknesses, you need to go outside of your comfort zone. Once you do that, I suspect that you’ll grow more quickly than you even thought possible. Soon you’ll be pretty thrilled with your genetics, given all the advantages we have outside of the “bigger is better” mentality of mainstream bodybuilding.

Bony to Beastly Ectomorph Transformation Skinny Hardgainer Genetics

If you want a program that will teach you absolutely everything you need to know about building muscle as quickly and efficiently a possible, you should sign up for the Bony to Beastly Muscle-Building Program For Skinny Guys. We’d really love to have you 🙂

PS, do you know anyone who might like or benefit from reading this article? We’d love it if you could give it a Facebook like and share it. Thanks!

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So, what'd you think? 52 responses below.


Need to read the whole thing but just doing the tests i can see im definitely a hardgainer. Second test i actually got a 0.09 so yeah really bad luck on that

Shane Duquette

It sounds really low, and I’m sure it is, but almost everyone in the Bony to Beastly community is under 0.1, with most guys being similar to us (0.085–0.095). We all still build muscle just fine once we get the hang of it 🙂


Hi! Can i make these measurements also with cm?

Shane Duquette

Absolutely! They’re all ratios, so as long as you’re consistent you can use either inches or centimetres. For example, for the bone thickness test I could use 16.5 cm / 188 cm or 6.5″ / 74″ to get a ratio of 0.088 in either case 🙂

I mention this in the videos but I forgot to mention it in the article. I’ll fix that now.


You nailed it bro. Hats off. Had read one of these in Scrawny to Brawny eBook in which they mentioned about 85% of 1 RM test also.
All info on one page, its amazing. Just wondering, when we ectos have more endurance fibres, then why we are supposed to lift heavy only always and that too generally 3 whole body sessions per week. Is it because of increased MPS or something else also¿¿¿

Shane Duquette

Thanks, man!

People can indeed have slightly different ratios of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fibres, so if we were doing a pure strength program we might suffer because of it, and guys with more fast twitch fibres might not do all that well if they did a program that heavily emphasized higher rep stuff. We do still have a variety of different fibres though, regardless of the ratio, so for the best size and strength gains, we want to train ALL of our fibres optimally.

When it comes to strength genetics though, I think we’ll put some more tests and research into a new article for that, talking about insertion points, leverages, limb lengths. In the meantime, check this older one out:

Shane Duquette

Oh! And we don’t recommend training heavy all the time. For the best gains in muscle size it really helps us naturally skinny guys to have some higher rep stuff—stuff up above 12 reps.

Atish Pratap

This article is great. I really am a hardgainer
My shoulder to hip ratio is 1.3, my wrist to height ratio is 0.069 and I can fit 4 fingers between my biceps and forearm. Is this too bad?

Shane Duquette

Not bad, no, it just means you’re a true ectomorph, much like most of us around here 🙂


Shane, you say that fitness models are ectomorphs. I have seen many fitness models who were elite mesomorphs. What is the difference between ectomorphs and mesomorphs to be sure if what I’m saying is correct?


Great stuff Shane. I love that you back all your stuff with evidence, research and just the facts! no B.S. with you guys! I respect that!

Shane Duquette

Glad you like it, Filipp! Thanks 🙂


Hey, Brother Mr. Shane! I ‘ ve been lurking enough! It’ s time that I communicate. So, I am really ok with my progress ( I DO have continually increasing stength, tone and some definition), yet I just seem to just crawl when adding mass. Yes, I don’t eat enough- that may be the real answer here, but the good workouts include some impressive pump (subjective perception here) which I augment with what I call “HOLD”. This is where I finish with a maintained posture with free weight in a static (Well, I DO move around), usually contracted position.It ‘s kind of like turning any exercise into a variation of a farmers walk. It is WORK! It does makes me look good!(especially with a very high head posture) But, 1) the pump goes no more than an hour, and 2) can’ t seem to add mass. 3) and what the heck am I doing with my “held” farmers walks? Any thoughts? Thanks! You ARE the best! – Den

Shane Duquette

Heya Den, welcome to the site! And congrats on the progress you’ve made 🙂

Ahahaha yeah, the eating enough part is definitely the hardest. We’ve got some strategies for that though. Have you read The Skinny on “Just Eat More”? That might help.

I think what you’re doing is good, and there are certainly some postural benefits to that style of training. It’s called isometric training. That pause you’re adding to your lifts we call “ISO holds” in the strength and conditioning community. I’d do that more with postural accessory lifts though, not so much the steak and potatoes ones that you’re relying on to build muscle mass. With the big compound lifts like bench presses, rows, squats, chin-ups, deadlifts, I’d focus more on lifting heavy weights explosively and then lowering them under control. That’s been proven to produce by far the most muscle growth, and very reliably.

The pump is just your muscle swelling up with blood. I wouldn’t think about that all too much. It’s not an important factor when it comes to muscle growth. I would focus more on how your strength is improving from workout to workout, how your weight is increasing from weigh-in to weigh-in.

Sounds like you’re already doing well, so keep it up 🙂

Jason Thorpe

Shane, great article which I enjoyed reading. I passed all three ectomorph tests with ease, but I already knew I was one.

I think I also suffer from low T and wonder if there is any connection between ectomorphs and low testosterone levels as well. Have you heard of any study that’s proven or disproven this? Do you have any advice from someone with low T (and trying to gain muscle)?

Shane Duquette

Hey Jason, thanks for the kind words!

This is something we talk about in the Bony to Beastly program and community, but I’m realizing now that we’ve never really talked about it on the blog, and we should! In the meantime, let me see if I can give you a real good answer here.

While I am certainly no specialist, we’re lucky enough to have a doctor in the community who does specialize in male hormones (urologist). You can see his transformation in the sidebar—DoctorB. He posted a lot of tips, busted a lot of myths, and even wrote a few cool guides in the member community. Amazing guy. Here’s a small excerpt from one of his guides, slightly shortened for brevity:

“Normal levels of testosterone have been established. Most medical associations agree that anything below 230 ng/dL is deficient, and above 350 ng/dL is normal. However, testosterone circulates in three forms in the body: bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), albumin, or in free form. Total testosterone measurements done in a standard lab test measure all of these together. Interestingly, only a small portion of it is actually available to the body: bioavailable testosterone. In medicine, we actually only care about bioavailable testosterone. No established normals have been set for bioavailable testosterone. This is why some people can have borderline low testosterone and feel just fine, have no issues packing on muscle, having plenty of lean mass, and good sex drives.”

However, he mentions that symptoms of low testosterone should definitely be checked out, with the most common symptom being a low sex drive. If that’s the case, an appointment with your local urologist may be in order.

What about muscle though? Guys will sometimes inject testosterone (steroids) to improve their ability to build muscle. They do this by bringing their testosterone levels to supraphysiologic levels, or, for example, to 10x the healthy level. To quote DoctorB again:

“The benefits of testosterone supplementation to supraphysiologic levels can allow a guy to go way past his genetic potential. Usually, people will hit a wall where it becomes extremely difficult to gain muscle. While continued growth is possible, it’s slow and usually becomes increasingly more difficult to continue upwards, as the body resists change from its equilibrium or where your genetics allow it to be. This is generally accomplished by the body regulating how much testosterone it will release (among other things). By using testosterone, one can blow way past one’s genetic potential, but this can result in significant side effects.”

This is why most successful bodybuilders—even the ones with great genetics—will reach a point where they need to turn to steroids in order to keep progressing. However, this has very little to do with the impact of low vs high natural levels of testosterone, since the difference is relatively small there. For example:

Low: 230 ng/dL
Healthy: 350+ ng/dL
Steroids: 4,000 ng/dL

A lot of us guys who struggle to build muscle mistakenly think that it’s because of low testosterone—I certainly had that thought myself—but you can see that the difference between low and healthy is too small to create a meaningful difference. Instead, the genetic factors that would make it harder to build muscle are the ones in this very article here.

However, that doesn’t mean that testosterone isn’t important, and there are definitely things we can do to naturally improve it: getting lots of good sleep, eating tons of calories, lifting heavy weights, being active, avoiding vitamin/mineral deficiencies (e.g. vitamin D), and much more. We go over all of these things in the Bony to Beastly program, as lot of these things that make us hormonally more masculine also make us way more muscular (and healthier). A good bulking program will factor all of those things in.

Anyway, if you suspect that you have unhealthfully low levels of testosterone, I would recommend bringing that up with a urologist so that you can get yourself healthy again. However, if you worry that you are on the lower side of healthy, don’t worry too much about that—it won’t really impact your ability to build muscle in a significant way. In addition to this, as you go about building muscle your testosterone levels will likely rise, especially if you do it in a smart and healthy way 🙂


This is a cool article but I think that it’s unlikely that all of these characteristics will apply to most people. I have very small wrists (under 6.5″) & no v-shape structure but my muscle bellies are long & the tendons are short in basically every body part. I have also disproportionately short limbs and long torso. What would you say is the most important defining characteristic for someone having bad genetics/”ectomorph” genetics? From experience I can build muscle without much difficulty but my body does not have very good shape due to the lack of v-taper, stumpy overpowering legs, etc. even when I diet down very low

Shane Duquette

Hey Andy, glad you liked it!

You’re very right. It’s rare that guys are super ectomorphic in every way. I think it’s rare to even be an ectomorph at all, actually. Apparently only 3% of the American population, for example, is trying to gain weight.

What’s the defining characteristic of being an ectomorph? Going by the somatotype definition of, “a person with a lean and delicate body build,” it would be either having thin bones or a narrow structure. So perhaps tests 1 and 2.

The muscle belly thing, while not related to being an ectomorph, per se, can make it harder to gain muscle. (Or in your case, easier!) However, when it comes to building muscle, we often use ectomorph more colloquially to mean guys who are naturally skinny—the guys who struggle to gain weight. So I would say that all of these tests count fairly equally.

You might be a guy who would benefit from more of an upper body focus so that your upper body and legs balance out. I think we often focus on our weak points too, while seeing the strong points of others. Sounds like you have a lot of genetics advantages also!


Hi Shane,

Just a quick message to say i really approve that you guys start making videos. I hope it will bring you more success, cause i appreciate your smart work.


Shane Duquette

Thank you, Thomas! 🙂

Gregory Mateo

Hello Shane. I have been reading your articles for a while and I find them very interesting, so I’d like to ask you a question. My wrist size is 6 inches and I am 5 foot 9, but I weight 154 pounds with some muscle and my body fat percentage is probbale less than 15%.. What is the ideal physique that I could aim for?

Shane Duquette

You could probably get results similar to the actors pictured at the bottom of the article without needing a lifestyle centred around being in the gym and eating. It won’t take 10 years to get there either. I think those would represent healthy, realistic goals for you in the medium term 🙂


Superb article, one of the best you’ve produced yet; interesting and in-depth.

Shane Duquette

Really glad you liked it, Hassan! Thank you 🙂

Bryan Cream

Is it possible to be a hard gainer and be “skinny fat”?


yeah they have an article about that on this page 🙂

Shane Duquette

Hardgainer is a term used to describe someone who has trouble building muscle, not gaining weight in general. So it’s possible to be someone who gains fat easily but doesn’t build muscle easily, making you more of an endomorph hardgainer.

That’s a combination of a couple tricky genetic traits, but there’s still a lot you can do. Again, as with pure ectomorphs, it’s a sign that you should be lifting weights to improve your nutrient partitioning, insulin sensitivity and increase your muscle mass. In addition to that though, you may also benefit from burning some calories by being more active (e.g. more walking) or doing some cardio. Not a crazy amount, but just enough to give you some dietary flexibility. A couple 20 minute cardio workouts per week in addition to 2–3 hourlong weightlifting workouts would do the trick at first, and then you can increase the length of your cardio sessions as you get fitter and fitter.

Shane Duquette

Here’s the article JK was referring to 🙂


I was trying to figure out if i’m an ectomorph , but the results didn’t really clear that up for me. I had a ratio of 1.6 on the first test;sounds high but I had someone else measure me as well with the same results. as for the second test I got 1.0 exactly and they 3rd test i could fit almost 2 fingers, but not quit. so i’m not sure what to think! I do have the short torso and long limbs thing though. any thoughts?

Shane Duquette

Hey Ryan,

Unless you’re known as being a borderline mutant for how broad your shoulders are, that’s a measurement error. It could be that you’re not measuring where your shoulder joint begins, but rather factoring in some muscle. Or letting the measuring tape curve around your body a bit. The guys with the best genetics in the world there have around 1.5, so with 1.6 you’d be very famous for your shoulders.

With that said, sounds like you aced the test, dude! You might still be an ectomorph, or a thin guy, but I think once you start eating and lifting for size, damn, you’ll explode!


I’ve always been a skinny guy but my friends and family have noticed that I have a very significant v taper, and the first test confirmed this as I got a ratio of 1.5; I did not believe it at first but after several measurements, it turned out to be true.

However, I do have narrow or ectomorphic bones and average muscle bellies.
How well do you think I’d do in terms of attaining a big/strong physique.?

Shane Duquette

Not a bad place to be! I think you’ll have an easier time building up a physique more like Brad Pitt’s than Ryan Gosling’s, what with the broader shoulders, narrow waist, narrower bones and average muscle bellies. The bone structure v-taper should make gaining size a little easier too 🙂


Hi Shane, what do u think of Dexter’s physique (serial killer)? Does it impress you, something regular people can easily attain? He also looks like an ectomorph, that’s why I am asking.

Shane Duquette

Hmm. It’s possible he’s an ectomorph, but he looks more mesomorphic to me. His bone structure and frame looks thicker and broader than you see with a lot of ectomorph actors, even after they build muscle. His muscularity and body fat percentage is very realistic though. He doesn’t look like he’s relying on world class genetics or steroids or anything.


Saw this new article in my email the other day. Man, I really need to get back into the community. I would have kept doing this program but school and work kept getting in the way.

As for the article in question. I haven’t tried the first test as I’m not sure if I’m assessing where the joint is properly but i’m .0950 for the second test and I can fit two fingers, almost 3, for the third test.

Thanks for the great article as always shane, you rock man and despite having never met you before, you’ve been one of the greatest influence in my life about healthy living

Shane Duquette

Hey Sutton, not bad on the tests! 🙂

Thank you so much for the kinds words. We would love to have you back in the community, man, so I hope you decide to sign back up! 😀


What about women?does the same measuring-calculus works? what about the results?

Shane Duquette

The same principles would somewhat hold true, especially when it comes to bone thickness and muscle belly / tendon length. That’s a good point though. We should make a women’s version on our Bony to Bombshell site 🙂


I have a bone breadth ratio of 1.33. Can i achieve a physique like sergi constance with ratio like this? I don’t care if it take longer period of time.


Hey Shane – great resource and super informative. I am so confused right now as I have always thought I was meso-endo – tall, and long limbed, but but prone to weight gain (>20% body fat- yada yada). After reading through your articles and stuff, I came to the strange realisation that I am maybe not this at all, and once I had done these three tests my suspicions are confirmed. I have a bone breadth ratio of 1.3, the wrist size measurement of 0.9 and a 3-finger muscle belly… uh-oh…. and all of a sudden I see I cannot possibly be endo – I have always been seriously FAT on top of skinny. or am I doing it wrong – how can I have gotten so fat with a skinny body type?
I am so confused….

Shane Duquette

Hey Mike,

I think you are indeed part endomorph. Both ectomorphs and mesomorphs are characterized by a low body fat percentage, they just differ in their muscle (and bone structures).

Similarly, both ectomorphs and endomorphs are often characterized by having lower amounts of muscle mass, they just differ in their body fat percentages (and bone structures).

Sounds to me like your longer limbs and thinner bones is your ectomorph side, and your propensity for fat gain is your endomorph side. (The bone breadth ratio of 1.3 fits with both ectomorphs and endomorphs, as does your 3-finger muscle belly gap.)

This isn’t super bad news or anything, you’re just a guy who might want to focus his efforts more on lifting than other types of exercise. (Some cardio on the side wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)


Thanks for your reply Shane- jeez, the best of both eh? hard-gainer AND fat storer – didn’t know this was even possible! Jeez . Super bad news indeed LOL. Oh well, knock up the cross-fit to five times a week then 🙂 take care man

Shane Duquette

CrossFit is more optimized for general fitness (vo2 max and whatnot) than for strength/muscle, but yes, with the right nutrition that could give you some results!


Cool. I FINALLY got a measuring tape.
But I find the first test hard to carry out. Maybe I should ask someone to measure me… I come up with results from 1.35 to 1.53 depending on how I measure my shoulders (38-40 cm) and hips (26-28 cm). I am still very skinny, so my bones are very visible, should be able to measure, but I’m not clear what points to measure between.
Anyway, after copious measurements, I think I come up kinda average on the Shoulder/hip ratio because I have extremely narrow hips.

My muscle bellies aren’t too short, though, 2.5 fingers. So that’s not too bad.
My wrist/hight is 0.088-0,086. So thin bones is probably a major factor for me. It’s a bit of a relief to know that I’m not even as extremely skinny as it is possible. Appetite is still a problem, but at least I know I don’t have too much of a setback in genetics.

Shane Duquette

Sounds like you’ve got a narrow mesomorph sort of physique. You’d probably build muscle well and look pretty striking afterwards. Not bad results at all! 🙂


he hi shane I have a question that your program work for people who cannot 1 proper push up well.
should I be able to do 20-30 puch ups first or start your program. Does your program contain push ups.
Also I think I have low testosterone and low bone density due to excessive masturbation is there a correlation ship between excessive masturbation and ectomorps because my father have very high bone density is very muscular.
Thanks in advance for reply

Shane Duquette

Hey Rommel,

If you can’t do a push-up yet, that’s totally fine. You can begin with raised push-ups and work your way down to the floor. Then when that becomes easy, you can put weight plates on your back 🙂

No need to master the push-up before joining. Gaining size and strength is what the program is all about, so you can build up the muscles you need for the push-up—chest, triceps, shoulders, and abs—while simultaneously building up the size and strength of all your other muscles!

Masturbation shouldn’t really affect your ability to build muscle, but most things done in excess can have negative consequences.

Building some muscle should help with your testosterone and bone density as well.


But still I think if I would be able to do 20 push up I will feel more confident to join program and I think my weak link is shoulder muscles can you do any help. Also I am 17 so if I join can you tailors program in a way my neck become thick and I get powerful jaw.

Shane Duquette

Yeah, I can see how that could help you feel more confident. You really, really do not need to be able to do even a single push-up to join the program, though. In fact, sometimes it can be easier to teach a beginner how to do them perfectly than it is to teach someone who has learned how to do them imperfectly.

Yep! We have lots of exercises that will thicken up your neck. A lot of the strongman stuff we do is great for that. However, even just gaining weight will help.

Most people start with shoulders that cave forward. Their back is weak. Sometimes it can be that they do too much heavy chest work (or push-ups), since that will tighten the chest muscles and pull the shoulders further forward, but more often than not it’s because they do no heavy work. So to fix up your shoulders, a big part of that is strengthening your back and the backs of your shoulders. Your rear delts and your lower and mid traps. Stronger rhomboids can help too.


Some say ectos have high tolerance, so for them working the same muscle every day (what would be overtraining for other people) is better than the traditional method.

Is that true?

Shane Duquette

What’s the traditional method? Doing full body workouts three times per week, so every muscle group every second day? That would be much better, yeah.

You get programs like that Bulgarian squat thingy that train a lift every day, but that’s more for practising the movement so that you can become more efficient with it—better coordination. For optimal size and strength, you’ll see better results with rest days in between. That’s when the muscles are built, after all 🙂

Shane Duquette

(There’s some truth to us being able to train more often, though. For example, if an ectomorph starts off deadlifting 135 pounds, for example, he’ll be able to deadlift as heavy as he can much more frequently than the guy who can deadlift 700 pounds because it won’t be as taxing on his central nervous system.)

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