The Science of the Male Body Types: Endomorph, Mesomorph, & Ectomorph

The three male body types are the endomorph, the mesomorph, and the ectomorph. Endomorphs are stockier and chubbier, mesomorphs are broader and more muscular, and ectomorphs are thinner and leaner.

Or that’s what people say, anyway. Is it true that men can be split into those three body types? Men do have varying heights and bone structures. That’s an uncontroversial fact. But do these traits combine together to form distinct body types?

And do the different body types benefit from different diets and workouts? For example, is there such a thing as an ectomorph workout or an ectomorph diet? Or do all body types benefit from the same types of exercise and diets?

The History & Controversy of Male Body Types

How to Tell If You're an Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph Body Type (Somatotypes)

In the 1940’s a psychologist named William Herbert Sheldon began his body type research by sorting men into three body type categories that he called somatotypes:

  • Endomorph: Men with a sturdy, rounder bone structure: wider hips, stocky limbs, and a barrel-shaped ribcage.
  • Mesomorph: Men with a broader, more triangular bone structure: narrower hips and broader shoulders.
  • Ectomorph: Men with a slighter, more rectangular bone structure: longer limbs, thinner bones, and a flatter ribcage.

So far, these body types probably don’t sound too radical. You’ve surely noticed that different people are, well, different. People have different muscle shapes, insertions, bone lengths, bone shapes, types of hips, they came in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and can be different in a million different ways. That’s not in dispute.

However, Sheldon went behind that. He organized men into these three body types so that he could then make assumptions about their personality types. For example, he thought that:

  • An athletic mesomorph body type made men more adventurous
  • A skinny ectomorph body type made men more intellectual
  • A stocky endomorphic body type made men more affectionate

Not surprisingly, Sheldon was then accused of just rattling off common stereotypes. A 1989 study by Ryckman et al found that we have a natural inclination to assume that fat people spend too much time eating and too little time moving, that fit people are more confident and capable, and that skinny people must be intellectuals who get lost in their heads and forget to eat.

Or perhaps Sheldon was just noticing the differing fitness levels are associated with different interests. It’s not that farfetched to think that people who get lost in deep intellectual activities may sometimes forget to eat, giving them a thin ectomorph body type. That’s not why most ectomorphs are skinny, but I can see how someone might think that.

Regardless of his reasoning, though, the psychology side of his somatotypes didn’t pan out. His theory was refuted. Nowadays, somatotypes are just used to describe someone’s physical characteristics—especially those that are genetic.

And for that, they three body types are surprisingly good.

Certain clusters of characteristics do go together.

For example, ectomorphs will often be told to “just eat more” if they want to bulk up, but they struggle with it. Endomorphs, on the other hand, tend to be overweight. They’ll often be told to “just eat less” if they want to lose weight, but they find it incredibly difficult. If you tried to put those same body types on the same diet, they’d both hate you for totally different reasons.

The next question is why? Why do these characteristics so often cluster together?

What Makes the 3 Male Body Types Distinct?

Imagine a man with a stockier torso. That roomier torso allows for a bigger stomach. That bigger stomach mean that they can eat more food before becoming full. This describes the thicker endomorph body type, and it explains why endomorphs tend to be overweight. The characteristics cluster together.

Now imagine a man with a thinner torso. That thinner torso still needs to house all the same vital organs, which leaves less room for his stomach, making it harder to eat big meals. Their thinner torso also radiates more body heat, giving him a higher metabolism. This makes him naturally leaner, meaning that he gets less insulation from body fat, which raises his metabolism even higher. This guy’s thinner build is going to mean that he has a harder time eating enough to gain weight. This cluster of characteristics describes the stereotypical ectomorph body type.

The clusters of body-type characteristics go deeper, too.

For example, as someone grows taller, you would expect our mass to scale with the cube of our height, but Adolphe Quetelet, a renowned statistician, defined our body mass index (BMI) as our weight divided by the square of our height. This reflected his observation that taller guys are often more slim than average, whereas shorter guys are often stockier. We’ve since discovered that neither the cube nor the square of our height predicts how our mass changes as we grow taller. It’s probably something in the middle (study).

This means that shorter guys tend to be stockier, and with proportionally larger heads. This describes the short and stocky endomorph body type.  Taller guys, on the other hand, tend to get their extra height from their lanky arms and legs, and their long torsos. This describes the long and lanky ectomorph body type.

You can see how proportions can differ here, comparing 5’6 endomorph Ed Coan with the 6’6 ectomorph Michael Jordan:

Comparing the Proportions of Tall Ectomorph Michael Jordan with Short Endomorph Ed Coan

As you can imagine, both of these guys have very different strengths and weaknesses due to their opposite body types. Ed Coan’s stocky body type helped him become one of the best powerlifters in the history of powerlifting. Michael Jordan’s lankier body type helped him become one of the best basketball players of all time.

The Heath-Carter version of Sheldon’s somatotypes, which just uses someone’s physical characteristics, is now the most respected way of classifying body shape. Moreover, it’s been 70 years since Sheldon coined the terms endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph, and they’re still widely regarded as one of the key things every guy needs to know before attempting to build muscle or lose fat.

The better we understand our differences and similarities, the easier it will be for us to become strong, fit and healthy.

Going through these categories, keep in mind that most people are a combination of a couple different body types, if not all three. 7,0,0 refers to a pure endomorph. 0,7,0 refers to a pure mesomorph. 0,0,7 refers to a pure ectomorph.

Exercise and Diet for the Endomorph Body Type

How to Tell If You're an Endomorph Body Type (Somatotype)

Endomorphs are stocky, heavy guys with wider hips, shorter limbs, thicker bones and rounder body shapes. Their shorter limbs often put them on the shorter side, but not always. It also seems like being proportionally heavier causes the body to develop thicker bones in order to support the extra weight, especially in the lower body (study). This is a possible explanation for why endomorphs have stockier, more bottom-heavy physiques.

What’s the best workout for an endomorph?

Cardio is popular for a reason. It’s an effective way to burn calories, and calories are the mortal enemy of endomorphs. But being proportionally heavier can make many cardio activities rougher on endomorphs. If an endomorph goes out for a jog, there’s a lot of weight landing on their joints with every footfall. Moreover, when measuring their fitness levels (VO2 max), the endomorph’s heavier body weight lowers their scores, perhaps unfairly (study).

However, being sturdily built allows endomorphs to excel at strength sports, like powerlifting. Their crocodile-like proportions make for great lifting leverages and reduce the range of motion of most lifts, such as the bench press and squat. Their thicker, denser bones are also able to safely support heavy loads.

Body Type Question: Ectomorph and Endomorph Lifting Proportions

An endomorph’s muscles respond well to lifting too. According to the research of Dr. Casey Butts, guys with thicker bones are able to build muscle far more easily than those with narrower bones, and ultimately become far more muscular.

You could argue that having naturally thicker, denser bones and larger muscles removes the need for lifting weights. After all, some of the main benefits of weightlifting have to do with improving bone density and muscle strength—something that endomorphs don’t tend to struggle with.

However, lifting helps with the endomorph’s calorie problem as well. Even a pound of fat burns around 2 calories per day, so with every pound lost, their metabolism slows, and their diet must become more strict. This can lead to yo-yoing in and out of leanness.

This is where weightlifting comes in. A pound of muscle burns approximately 6 calories per day, giving a muscular endomorph the opportunity to keep his metabolism high by building a pound of muscle for every pound of fat lost.

Moreover, endomorphs are often able to build muscle even while losing weight because of their great muscle-building genetics and higher body fat percentage. If they can do that, there’s another benefit they can take advantage of. It takes over 2,000 calories to build a pound of muscle, speeding up fat loss or giving their diet some wiggle room.

Lifting is also good for the brain, and is associated with a host of other benefits. Same with cardio.

A combined lifting and cardio approach to exercise often works well (study, study).

What’s the best diet for an endomorph?

Endomorphs tend to have lower insulin sensitivity and slower metabolisms, meaning they don’t handle high-carb or high-calorie diets very well.*

The endomorph’s lower insulin sensitivity might be due to their naturally higher fat mass, meaning that becoming leaner could help a great deal. Muscle development will help as well. Still, there may be a genetic component that can’t be changed via lifestyle.

A possible reason for their slower metabolisms is how efficient this body type can be. It takes less energy to move a shorter limb than a longer one, even if the shorter limb is proportionally heavier—both a blessing and a curse courtesy of physics.

It seems like endomorphs have proportionally larger stomachs as well, since their stockiness comes from shorter limbs, not narrower torsos. If a 5’7 guy has the stomach size of the average 5’10 guy, this can create challenges.

To make things easier, endomorphs may want to primarily eat foods that are filling, rich in micronutrients and low in calories. Minimally processed foods that are higher in protein, fibre and water are good for that. Chicken breast is an example of a food that’s filling because it’s rich in protein and water. Broccoli is an example of a food that’s filling because it’s rich in fibre and water. Sugar is an example of a food that isn’t filling because all the fibre and water is processed out. But a fruit, with it’s sugar bundled up in plant cells alongside fibre and water, is just perfect (study).

And here lies the secret to every pop-culture diet. Cupcakes, french fries, and chips are very high in calories for how filling they are, so they’re shunned. Apples, carrots, and white fish, on the other hand, all contain a lot of micronutrients and hardly any calories at all—far better.

This allows endomorphs to feel fuller on fewer calories while still getting all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that they need.

Another approach is reducing the amount of meals per day (aka intermittent fasting). If an endomorph normally eats 500 calories for breakfast, skipping breakfast for a week would lead to about a pound of fat loss. (A pound of fat contains around 3,500 calories.)

*Some experts, like renowned sports nutritionist Dr. John Berardi, recommend keeping carb intake as low as 25% of total calories. Most research shows that keeping protein intake higher is a more important factor, but experimenting with a lower carb approach is helpful for a lot of guys.

Exercise and Diet for the Mesomorph Body Type

Mesomorphs are athletically built men with broad shoulders, narrow hips, and triangular body shapes, perhaps from having more testosterone shaping them as they go through puberty. They’re known for being naturally leaner and more muscular than the other body types, again possibly due to having naturally higher testosterone levels shaping them.

The mesomorph is also defined by being neither as stocky as an endomorph nor as slender as an ectomorph. This gives them some of the strengths and weaknesses of both body types. There may even be something magical about being a man of middling height and proportions. For example, a 2015 study by Li Xiaoxin found that men of average height (5’9–5’11) had better coordination than guys who were shorter or taller (study).


What’s the best workout for mesomorphs?

Mesomorphs are known for having thick enough bones to support quite a lot of muscle growth, but another advantage comes from having a good balance between muscle bellies and tendons—which are both important. This makes them well suited for a variety of types of exercise. They particularly excel at Olympic weightlifting, where having a huge shoulder-to-waist ratio is a very strong predictor of success (study).

What’s the best diet for mesomorphs?

Mesomorphs respond best to a fairly balanced diet with around 40% of calories coming from carbs, 30% from protein, 30% from fat. No need for precision there, though.

If they want to get leaner, they’ll want to eat more like an endomorph, but may need to be more wary of losing muscle mass. If they want to get stronger, they’ll want to eat more like an ectomorph, but may need to be more wary of gaining fat.

Exercise and Diet for the Ectomorph Body Type

How to Tell If You're an Ectomorph Body Type (Somatotype)

Ectomorphs are taller, lighter men with proportionally thinner bone structures and rectangular body shapes. Most skinny guys are ectomorphs, but not all ectomorphs are skinny. Being an ectomorph has more to do with our bone structures and proportions than our muscularity. This is where things get interesting.

It seems that as people grow taller, our limbs grow in length a little more quickly than they grow in circumference (study). This could at least partially explain why taller ectomorphs have thinner, longer bones. For example, I’m 6’2 but have the wrist size of a 5’4 man. A less extreme ectomorph might be 6′ and have the wrist size of a 5’8 man. Or a short ectomorph might be 5’6 but have the wrist size of a 5’2 man. This makes us “hardgainers,” as having narrower bones limits how muscular we can become. (Although even the strong ectomorph pictured above shouldn’t have too much trouble naturally building another 20 pounds of muscle without hitting his genetic ceiling.)

Body Type Question: Wrist Thickness in Ectomorphs and Endomorphs

What’s the best workout for ectomorphs?

Ectomorphs excel at cardio. Not because of our height—most marathon runner are actually pretty short—but because our frames are proportionally lighter. It takes little energy for a light person to travel long distances.

Our cardiovascular health is often fairly good as well. Our metabolisms are usually quite high, helping us resist fat gains and ward off heart disease, and we’re often more active than the other body types, even when we aren’t trying to be, because of something called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). More colloquially, you could say that we’re often fidgety or restless, causing us to burn a startling amount of calories without ever realizing.

However, while our hearts are strong, our bones and muscles are not.

While we can quite literally run a wildebeest into the ground, we may have quite a lot of trouble picking it up afterwards.

Fortunately, this can be remedied with some time under the bar, some time under the sun, and some time under the sheets. Lifting will make our muscles far bigger and our bones far denser.

We do need a bit of a different approach, though. Lifting is not a form of exercise designed for us, even though we’re the ones who benefit from it the most. Our narrower, hardgainer bone structures don’t start us off with as much muscle mass as the other body types, and our postures often crumble if we don’t take the time to strengthen the muscles that hold us in a proper position.

Some lifts will be harder because of our proportions. Having long limbs makes it harder to squat and bench competitively, and while the larger range of motion stimulates greater muscle growth, it can make it harder for a beginner to do the lifts safely—especially if he hasn’t strengthened his postural muscles yet. This makes progression more important. It also makes loaded carries important, which are one of the best things for improving an ectomorph’s posture and strength.

But we also have other lifts, like the deadlift (especially the sumo variant), that favour our longer reach and relative lightness. There are even lifting techniques, like the hook grip, that don’t work for guys with stubbier fingers.

Here’s our article about which workouts are best for the ectomorph body type

Here’s our article about how to lift weights safely with ectomorph proportions

What’s the best diet for ectomorphs?

Ectomorphs have higher metabolisms and better insulin sensitivity than the other body types, allowing us to eat more calories and carbs than the other body types. We can benefit from getting as much as 50–60% of our daily calories from carbs.

Having a higher metabolism doesn’t just mean that we can eat more food, it also means that even while eating more food, we’re more likely to remain lean (study). Being able to eat more calories also means that we can often eat foods that are proportionally lower in micronutrients while still getting enough to be optimally healthy.

For example, consider an endomorph who burns 2,000 calories per day and needs 10 grams of vitamin X for optimal health. He needs 1 gram of vitamin X in every 200 calories that he eats. Then consider an ectomorph who burns 3,000 calories per day and needs 10 grams of vitamin X for optimal health. He only needs 1 gram of vitamin X in every 300 calories that he eats.

Because of our smaller appetites, rampaging metabolisms, higher carb tolerance, and higher calorie tolerance, we don’t need to focus as much on restricting junk food as the other body types. It helps to think about eating more good stuff, not less bad stuff. Otherwise, it’s going to be too hard eat enough to grow bigger, stronger muscles and denser, sturdier bones.

The ectomorph’s problem is that eating enough food to be strong and healthy can be incredibly hard, especially if we try to eat like an endomorph. After all, it seems like our stomachs don’t scale up proportionally along with our height.

The same goes for meal scheduling. While a lot of endomorphs have success with skipping breakfast, we often benefit from taking the opposite approach. Instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner, ectomorphs may want to eat more like a hobbit—breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, second lunch, etc. These in-betweener meals don’t need to be fancy or schedule-breaking, though. A handful of trail mix, a protein shake, or a pint of milk is perfectly fine.

On that note, while the other body types might benefit from foods that are low in calories, we do not. We thrive on higher-calorie foods like: dried fruit, nuts, bananas, rice, cheese, dark chocolate, muesli, and trail mix.

We do well with liquid calories too, which don’t create as much fullness as solid food, and are more quickly digested. Smoothies, milk and even juice are great when trying to bulk up leanly.

Here’s our article about why it’s so hard to gain weight as an ectomorph

Here’s our article about the Ectomorph Bulking Diet and how to eat more calories

Bony to Beastly Plug: If you want a full workout routine and bulking diet for ectomorphs, check out our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program.

Common Questions About the Male Body Types

Does being skinny-fat mean that I’m part endomorph?

Probably not. While it’s easier for some than others, any body type can gain fat. Endomorphs, with their shorter, thicker bones, wouldn’t be calling themselves skinny-fat, just fat. If you’re describing yourself as skinny-fat, it doesn’t sound like you have a naturally thicker, endomorph body. Sounds more like you’re an out-of-shape ectomorph. (We’ve got an article for you here.)

Body Type Question: Skinny-Fat Ectomorph or Chubby Endomorph?

Does being short make me an endomorph? Or being tall make me an ectomorph?

No, not always. In the Bony to Beastly community, for example, we noticed that a lot of our members seemed fairly tall. One of our members started up a poll, and it turns out that the average height of a b2B member is around 6′ tall. Still, though, that’s just an average. We have ectomorphs who are 5’2 all the way up to 6’10.

For another example, most elite marathon runners are very short ectomorphs, averaging 5’7 or so. It’s just that their bone thickness might be similar to men who are shorter still. They’re taller than their bone size would have you think, you could say.

Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (The Mountain on Game of Thrones) is an incredibly strong 6’9 endomorph. Here he is next to Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martel on Game of Thrones), who is of fairly average ectomorph height—5’11.

Example of Tall Endomorph alongside an Ectomorph

You can see how Björnsson, even though he’s incredibly tall, still has proportionally thicker bones, longer muscle bellies, a thicker neck, and even a proportionally bigger head. He’s like a giant Ed Coan.

As an ectomorph, is there anything I can do to change the thickness of my bones? For example, can I make my wrists thicker?

There are no muscle bellies around your wrists, just tendons. They have no muscular growth potential. Looking at your wrists is a great way to tell what body type you are because they cannot be changed with exercise—at least not in any significant way. The more interesting question is whether you can make your bones thicker by progressively preparing them to lift heavier and heavier things. Unfortunately, assuming you’re past puberty, the main way your bones will respond to weightlifting is by growing denser, not thicker. They’ll probably grow a little thicker as you lift heavier and heavier weights over the course of several years, but by the time you get that strong, you’ll be so muscular that you won’t be worried about your wrist thickness anyway. It will come too late.

Are ectomorphs and hardgainers the same thing?

Usually yes. The word hardgainer is used to describe someone who struggles to build muscle for whatever reason. This describes most ectomorphs, as most of us will struggle to eat enough to gain weight. Calling ourselves hardgainers is a little misleading, though. While we might not be able to get the extremely muscular appearance of a fully developed endomorph, ectomorphs are the body type that can build muscle the most quickly. It’s not uncommon for an ectomorph to gain 30+ pounds in just their first year of lifting—something that the other body types wouldn’t be able to do (or at least not leanly).

Bony to Beastly Ectomorph Transformation

More questions? Ask them below.

The 3 Male Body Types: Summary

Endomorphs, Mesomorphs and Ectomorphs can all become strong, healthy and attractive

Whichever body you happen to have been born with, all of them can be perfectly strong, healthy, and attractive. The path there is just a little different for everyone. While trying to transform themselves, endomorphs will have to fight to become fitter while trying to curb their appetite. Ectomorphs will need to focus on getting stronger while scheming up ways to eat more, which means bulking. Mesomorphs tend to have more freedom with their diet and workouts, but they still need to exercise and eat well, just like the other body types.


About Shane Duquette

W. Shane Duquette, BDes, is a science communicator with a degree in design and visual communication from York University and Sheridan College. He co-founded Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell, where he specializes in helping ectomorphs, hardgainers, and skinny-fat people build muscle leanly and healthfully.

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  1. Orrin on November 15, 2016 at 11:46 am

    I am an ecto/mesomorph, due to myself being fairly thin but with very low amount of fat compared to muscle. I am having a difficult time trying to increase my forearm muscle (so my lower arm doesn’t look like a twig). Is there any way to improve your forearm muscle size/lenth?

    • Shane Duquette on November 15, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Hey Orrin, being an ectomorph/mesomorph is a pretty rad combo of body types for bulking up.

      There’s no way to change the ratio of your forearm muscle bellies to your forearm tendons, so the length of your forearm muscles will always look about the same. There are a lot of ways to change the size of your forearms, though. My favourite way is to work your way up to a heavy deadlift and heavy farmer carry, but your forearms will get trained with nearly every pull movement—chin-ups, rows, etc. Then adding in some reverse curls will add a bit of extra bulk. For most of us, that will do just fine for giving us proportionally muscular forearms that work well for what we need them for. But if that’s not enough, you could get yourself some “Fat Gripz” and practice farmer carries and rows with those. If even that is not enough, you could do forearm curls and extensions, but I don’t think you’ll need to go that far.

    • Jared Polowick on November 15, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      You can’t really make it longer. Your muscle bellies are the length that they are. You can make your forearm muscles thicker though, by adding more direct volume, as any muscle. So you’d want to add in exercises that directly work them. But since they are smaller muscles by nature, it’ll be hard to grow them compared to other bigger muscles in your body, so you may not want to sink too much time and effort into it.

      • Shane Duquette on November 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        Hah, nice timing!

  2. Kurt on November 16, 2016 at 9:03 am

    So is the guarantee 20 lbs in 3 months or 5 months? I’m very interested since there’s a guarantee, but if you can’t cancel past 60 days (I think I saw that) I’m wondering how I’ll have time to know if it’s working

    • Shane Duquette on November 16, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Hey Kurt, glad to hear you’re interested!

      We teach you how to do both. If you’re skinny, a beginner and naturally fairly lean—an untrained ectomorph–you can gain around 2 pounds per week leanly for your first 5–10 weeks, and then 1 pound every week after that. You’ll hit 20+ pounds in 3 months. That’s where our guarantee came from: helping skinny guys gain 20+ pounds in 3 months.

      But if you’re more advanced, more naturally skinny-fat, and/or have more muscle already, you won’t be able to get those crazy newbie gains. Well, not quite, anyway. In that case, we recommend gaining a max of around 1 pound per week. 1 pound per week for 20 weeks = 20 pounds in 5 months. We guarantee that as well.

      As for how to know if it’s working, you’ll be gaining 1–2 pounds on the scale every week like clockwork. If you hit a snag and one week you don’t gain anything, we’ll coach you into fixing it for the next week. So after 60 days you’ll be 2/3 of the way there if you’re going for 20 pounds in 90 days. You’ll also see everyone else in the community doing great at all stages 🙂

      Does that help / answer your question?

  3. Luke on November 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Great articles guys, really looking forward to reading 2 articles a month.

    This is pretty unrelated but I was wondering what you guys think about scales that measure body fat percentage?
    I have a set of scales that use electrical impulses that are used to estimate body fat and I was wondering if I should pay attention to the increase in body fat shown on the scales, e.g they say my bf% has increased from 5 to 10% when putting on 15lb and my waist measurement has only increased by half an inch.
    Could this % change be caused by other things e.g glycogen storage?

    Thanks my beastly dudes.

    • Shane Duquette on November 16, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Yeah, lots of factors can play into it. You can minimize some of them by following the instructions to a T, but hardly anyone does that.

      Sounds to me like you gained pretty leanly and the scale is just being a bit of a downer. The same thing happens to me, no matter how leanly I bulk. Then I was reading the instructions on the app that came with my scale and they were saying that for guys with lower body fat percentages and/or muscle mass, you had to use the “athlete” setting so that it knew to account for more of the weight gain/loss being muscle?

      I think you can track your fat gains more accurately visually than with a BIA scale. Your waist is similar in size, and even with a totally lean gain, your waist size will increase a little bit as your ab and lower back muscles grow. How do your abs look?

      • Luke on November 17, 2016 at 7:43 am

        I agree man, my abs look roughly the same I think, probably some fat gain but thats to be expected, so I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.
        Thanks Shane

  4. Seth on November 17, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Here’s a weird perspective. When I joined b2b I thought I was an ectomorph because I always thought I had a tiny appetite, didn’t eat many meals growing up, and never did sports. But then after I started working out, and saw my body proportions, I realized I was an endomorph, at just 5’3″. So I’m not really sure if my small appetite just fits my small size, and it was just the plates that were too big for me all along. Or maybe some endomorphs just don’t have big appetites… I feel like I don’t have to go overboard on calories to gain weight.

    • Shane Duquette on November 17, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Hmm. That’s rare to have your body type do a total flip like that. Maybe part ectomorph, part endomorph?

      • seth on November 17, 2016 at 9:01 pm

        I’m not sure I was ever an ectomorph, I just was never active or ate a lot. Being very short kept me from feeling like I could compete at sports, so I gravitated towards sedentary activities. And I guess there are so many other psychological factors that make someone turn into an athlete or not.
        Too bad I didn’t start weight training back then! It seems like from what you say in this article I would have had a big advantage.
        Since I have very short limbs, I don’t think I could ever be called an ectomorph.

  5. Sanoj on November 19, 2016 at 6:47 pm


    My left arm has always lagged behind my right arm and the picture with the tendons made me think that perhaps my left arm has a long tendon whereas my right arm a short one.
    Is this possible?

    • Shane Duquette on November 22, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Hey Sanoj, check out this article about how to test how ectomorphic you are. There’s a guide there about how to test the length of your muscle bellies and tendons. You’d just perform the test on both arms and then compare 🙂

      (If you do find a discrepancy, don’t be too alarmed. That kind of asymmetry isn’t all too uncommon.)

  6. Craig on November 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Shane Duquette,my name is Craig.I’ve always wanted bulk up,and I’ve always tired to work out at home but I always fall off doing it.I’m an Ectomorph Mesomorph too,and I want to bulk up by the summer time.I have 2 15 pound handheld weights at home,a pull up bar/push up that I can attach to the door and that’s it.Is there any way I can bulk up ? And as this article seems to kind of bring out,I kind of hate having to eat a ton of stuff to pack on calories.S o is there any help you could give ? And I love this webstite,I’m going to check out more stuff to help.

    • Jared Polowick on November 21, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      Hey Craig,

      You’ll likely need heavier weights to continue to push your body to grow. We normally recommend our guys to have 2 heavy adjustable dumbbells and a bench. You can get great results with that minimal of equipment. We can help with the step-by-step with our program that you can check out here. Eating more than your daily needs is always going to be tough, but there are a lot of ways to make it easier such as liquid calories, and dried fruits. We cover lots of options to make it easier in our program 🙂

      • Craig on November 21, 2016 at 11:20 pm

        Ok, thanks a lot for the reply.

  7. Carly on November 21, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Is this information generally the same for ladies?

    • Jared Polowick on November 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Hey Carly,

      I’ll let Shane answer that soon. But we’ll likely write a similar article on our sister site, Bony to Bombshell, which you might enjoy. If you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get an update whenever we post a new article.

    • Shane Duquette on November 22, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      The body types are sort of the same for women. A thicker-boned, more pear-shaped woman with narrow shoulders and wider hips would be an endomorph. A woman with an athletic v-taper, where she has broad shoulders and narrower hips, would be a mesomorph. A woman who’s longer and narrower overall would be an ectomorph. But what about the woman with the hourglass shape? She has both the broad shoulders of a mesomorph and the wide hips of an endomorph.

      So I think you could make a good case for using pear (endomorph), narrow (banana/ectomorph), athletic (mesomorph/inverted triangle) and hourglass.

      For more, we’ve got an article that goes into the female body types here.

  8. Johnk on January 3, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Guys I love the site and this is all really interesting. I have a question which I think is going to seem daft, but, it’s a major hang up of mine. I’m 6ft 2, out of shape ectomorph and my wrists and particularly hands are so boney and fragile it kills me. I’m super conscious of it. Wrist is 6.5 inches, my hands are the main issue, so skinny, I think I read the hand circumference of mayweather and it’s a similar size. It just looks awkward as hell with my height. So, whilst I know you can’t ‘grow’ your hands, fingers or wrist bones did you guys see any beefier / thicker hands / wrists from intense training?

    • Shane Duquette on January 4, 2017 at 10:41 am

      I feel you.

      I have long fingers with knobby knuckles. My dad gave me his old ring, and while it was a real struggle to get it over my knuckle, once it was on the other side, it was so loose that it would spin around. But now that I’ve gained some weight, there’s enough meat under my knuckles that the ring doesn’t spin around anymore. So based on my own experience, yes, your hands will change quite a lot.

      I’m not sure whether this has more to do with the training or more to do with simply gaining quite a lot of lean weight, causing everything to beef up.

      Your wrists will stay about the same size, but when paired with stronger forearms and hands, they won’t look as bony anymore.

  9. Nathan Garrett on April 9, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I understand your stance on IF for skinny guys, it’s really unnecessary and won’t do much for an ectomorph bulking. But nonetheless, I have a question concerning IF for hardgainers. So say I do the classic IF scheme, with an 8 hour feeding window, from noon -8pm. Fasting otherwise.

    I totally understand the concept behind 1g pro per lb of bodyweight, eating sufficient calories, and progressing in the gym. So say all of these factors are on point. And in my case, they are. But as a hardgainer, here’s where the dilemma lies…

    There are some who make a big deal of one’s body going into catabolic phases, specifically muscle breakdown throughout the night, unless fed properly. Especially for ectomorphs, it’s frequently recommended to eat a slow digesting meal before bed, and upon rising the next morning, to shuttle in some calories and fast protein to combat muscle breakdown ASAP.

    In my opinion, this is a false claim perpetuated by the supplement industry OR it’s a true claim that a hardgainer should implement. But which?

    Assuming total calories, sufficient protein (3x daily in feeding window), and gym progression are all on point, is letting my body go without food/energy for 16 HOURS every single day really a good idea for an ectomorph that wants to build MAXIMAL muscle each week? Or would this negatively impact muscle growth? I can see how it’d make sense for a meso/endo or someone trying to lose some fat, but what about a lean ecto trying to gain muscle?

    Sidenote: Another reason I ask is because not eating breakfast actually helps me feel hyperfocused getting work done in the morning, AND I don’t mind training fasted at all, actually prefer it sometimes.

    The main point is if it’s detrimental in a bulking ectomorph’s case, if it would impede maximum muscle synthesis? Is there any truth to the body needing protein/calories quickly in the morning to halt catabolism?

    • Shane Duquette on April 9, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hey Nathan, that’s a great question.

      It’s an exaggerated claim that you need to stress about your muscles breaking down like that. Our muscles are more resilient than we think. But remember that you aren’t just trying to stay the same, you’re trying to grow. So we do, in fact, need to focus on pumping up the muscle protein synthesis while minimizing the breakdown. That’s what’s going to give us the growth that we want.

      One important part of that is eating protein fairly regularly. Eating 20+ grams of protein 4–5 times per day with a few hours between each meal is ideal. So to make the most of that, yes, you’ll want to have a meal after waking up and a meal before going to bed. You can wait an hour or 2 after waking up, or leave an hour or 2 after your last meal before going to bed… but generally you want to start eating early and have your last meal fairly late.

      You can use supplements to help, but you really don’t have to. You can have some eggs for breakfast, some greek yoghurt with some berries before bed. If you wanted to do intermittent fasting (IF), that’s where supplements come in. Guys who want to bulk optimally while intermittent fasting will usually having some BCAAs instead of breakfast to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. In that case, the main downside to intermittent fasting would be that it’s not great for appetite management, which is a huge issue for a lot of us naturally skinny guys. It might not be an issue for you, though.

      To get 3 meals in during your feeding window, you’d be having one meal at hour 0, another at hour 4, another at hour 8? That’s not bad. Not ideal, since you’re missing some opportunities for extra growth there, but definitely not bad.

      Strength training fasted works quite well, but mass-gain workouts tend to be higher in volume, higher in reps, and often work out better when we have more carbs/calories in our system. That’s not a hard and fast rule, though.

      What I’ve been playing with, and recommending to a few members, is to do a modified “ectomorph fast.” You’d wake up and have a small breakfast. The only rule is that it must contain 20+ grams of protein, but some complex carbs seem to help also, at least in my case. So that could be as simple as a Quest bar (my go-to in a pinch), or a protein shake, or some greek yoghurt with berries, some cottage cheese with a little jam, or a fruit/protein smoothie. I’ll have a big latte and some fruit sometimes (which isn’t quite 20 grams of protein, but I’m not bulking right now). In my own experience, that gives me better focus than IF and it doesn’t mess up my overall intake for the day.

      Interestingly, when Jared was doing research into optimizing energy levels throughout the day, this trick that we had naturally stumbled upon in the community seemed to have some wisdom behind it: a light breakfast with protein and complex carbs seemed to be ideal for energy levels.

      • Nathan Garrett on April 10, 2017 at 12:28 am

        Shane, this makes sense. I’m going to take your recommendations and construct a new diet schedule. This actually sounds rad! I’m excited to implement it!

        By the way, what’s your recipe for a good latte? I could see myself being all about that latte life during these “ectomorph fasts” haha. Just add a carb side and another small protein source to get that 20+.

        Thanks Shane!

        • Shane Duquette on April 12, 2017 at 11:36 am

          Excellent. Let me know what you think once you try it!

          My lattes are pretty classic. I happen to live on top of a local coffee place, so I just run downstairs and get the largest size latte that they have. Whole milk + 2 shots espresso. I make my own sometimes, but it’s hard to make enough milk for a truly large latte with my little espresso machine. I’ll usually use my own machine for a mid-day espresso or Americano, not for a breakfast latte.

  10. […] Keep in mind that these are just generalizations. Someone like Shane is still quite ectomorphic (long limbs, tiny stomach, thin bones, etc.) but can also end up with long clavicles. If you’re curious about different body types, we have an article here on the differences between somatotypes. […]

  11. lanky on October 11, 2017 at 3:27 am

    I used to be skinny…then skinny fat in my late teens….and now I’m chubby.. (and 28) can you explain this…..
    I know a ton of skinny guys who became skinny-fat and then chubby and fat..

    • Shane Duquette on October 20, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      When you’re a teenager your body is using surplus calories to grow taller. If you keep eating in a surplus once you’ve finished growing taller… you’ll grow wider.

      The teenage life often involves lots of walking, running, standing, playing, etc. Calories are burned off. Adult life tends to involve a lot more driving and sitting. Calories are stored.

      Teenagers often eat meals prepared by their parents. Young adults often move away, forcing them to prepare their own food. That food isn’t always the same.

      And the longer you live an unhealthy lifestyle, the greater a toll it takes on your body. The negative changes accumulate over time.

      Lots of reasons. Those are just a few common ones.

      The good news is that fat can be lost, and muscle can be gained. I think you and your acquaintances could do a great job of building lean, powerful bodies 🙂

  12. Josh on January 1, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I’m all over this chart. I used to be fat, so my lower body is thick and I have 34″ hips, but I also have 44″ girl shoulders and 9″ forearms. And my chest is 40″. I’m 5’7″ and 170lbs right now, haven’t touched weights in years, always felt shitty about my body.

    • Shane Duquette on January 2, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      What I’ve found personally, and what we hear a lot in the community, is that most proportion problems can be solved by improving your body composition. As you add muscle and remove fat, you begin being shaped more by your muscle mass—which you have quite a bit of control over—instead of your bone structure and body fat storage patterns, which you have almost no control over. So I wouldn’t give up on lifting weights (or nutrition)!

  13. Chase Molenaar on September 7, 2018 at 12:13 am

    So that settles it! I’m a mesomorph, despite thinking I was an ectomorph for years (I was a skinny soccer player with no upper body). I’m 5’7″ with wrists at about 6.75-7 inches (which is fairly average at my size), 2 fingers for arm muscle belly insertions, 157 pounds with 13.5% body fat, with a slim 29 inch waist and 44 inch shoulders, putting me at about a 1.5 ratio (in circumferences), but I’m only 7 months into training, so that will change. Overall, I’m pretty happy with my genetics. I once despaired at being short, but I’ve realized it’s a boon for bodybuilding. And I’m glad I’m not a short endomorph either, like my 5’9 (not really short) brother, though he has wide shoulders to go with those wide hips, so win some lose some. I heard somewhere that the shorter you are the more naturally coordinated you are, and as a mesomorph (good shape and not under-muscled or chubby), maybe I’m in the best genetic condition for this. This is is really motivating. I follow Jeff Nippard because he’s a great example for my (possible?) genetic potential as a short mesomorph. All this to say, I don’t intend anything bad to ectomorphs. I have a 6’1 ectomorph friend who struggles to put muscle on his frame, and requires a hefty 3500 calories daily whereas I’m only needing 2200. However, he gets to stay at a cut 5% bodyfat ALL THE TIME which I could never dream of achieving. It finally makes sense why all Abercrombie models are all like 6’2 shredded ectomorphs because that’s an ectomorph’s specialty, and their secret weapon no doubt. You guys are basically doing cardio 24/7, just on a biological level. I just don’t have time for that.

    By the way, in some other article of yours you said Brock Lesnar was a mesomorph, and I don’t think that at all. He strikes me as a classic endomorph. The wide hips give it away (which usually gives away any endomorph). I like all your stuff and already have directly my ectomorph friend here. He’s very attentive nutritionally speaking (as am I) and loves the science.

    I found this article funny because my siblings are nothing like me. My brother is a 5’9 endomorph at 200 pounds who can’t lose weight and my 5’4 soccer player sister is an ectomorph with a very rectangular body and, despite being the fastest and most athletic in our family (runner’s build I suppose) has trouble gaining muscle and has always weighed very little (15% body fat for a woman!!). I’ll redirect her to your bony to bombshell website, which is really cool. Have a wonderful day.

  14. RapidFail on October 13, 2018 at 1:41 am

    I think I’d best best described as an ectomorph, who through good diet and weight training is slowly transitioning towards being a mesomorph.

    I’m 6’1″ and before deciding to get in shape I was 170lb with 19% body fat according to the scale at my gym. I had a small belly and love handles and was definitely in the category of skinny-fat. I’m a bit broader than Shane, though – looking at the bone breadth test, I’m 17.5 inches at the shoulders and 13.5 inches at the hips (one of my fitter mates once kindly told me I have ‘child bearing hips’!). I also have long legs, long arms and a proportionally short torso.

    Now after improving my diet and starting weight training, my weight went below 155lb, so I’ve been on a bulk these past few weeks. I’m a little over 160lb at the moment and significantly more muscular than I used to be, I’ve completely lost sight of my abs, so I’m going to try to cut a bit lower before bulking next time.

  15. […] to the trio at Bony to Beastly, short guys are built to throw weights around: lift them above your head, push them away from you, […]

  16. BOB on January 1, 2019 at 4:59 am

    You are overrating endomorphs and underrating ectomorphs and mesomrphs, endomorphs are crap fatasses and no noe likes them, they are weak, ectomorphs and mesomorphs are way stronger and more athletic.

  17. […] lean waist, then your bone structure won’t matter very much. Women don’t care about our body type, they care about whether we’re in shape or […]

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