Male Body Types: Somatotypes Explained with Pictures

atlas of man male body types
Atlas of Man Statue

What’s Your Body Type?

One of the keys to building the muscular body that you have always dreamed about is understanding your body type. Generally speaking, there are three body types that you will want to become familiar with in order to create a diet and workout routine that matches what you were born with.

Specifically, I am talking about Somatotypes (pronounced SO-MA-TOE-TYPE). Keep in mind what follows are male body types.

Somatotypes Explained

The concept of somatotypes (body types) was developed by William H. Sheldon in the 1940s. Sheldon was an American Psychologist who suggested a connection between the male body type and his psychological temperament.

While there has always been a great deal of disagreement about a so called “link” between a person’s build and their personality, Sheldon did offer a fairly good blue-print that is useful to weight-lifters, body builders and dudes like you who go to the gym.

In 1954, Sheldon’s book was published, Atlas of Men, where he offered his three male body types to the world. These three body types are ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.

I am going to walk you through each of somatotype (male body type) and give you detailed information regarding each physique. I will also include diet information that speaks in generalities but will offer some basic insight into what may work best for that somatotype.

Male Body Types – Important!

One of the main things people do not know (or forget) when talking about ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs is that Sheldon offered these on a scale, meaning that it is not expected an individual fit perfectly within a given body type.

In other words, it is possible, if not highly probable, that your body type is mostly ectomorph, endomorph or mesomorph but not an exact match.

I want you to think about these body types as a kind of spectrum that you will fall into and not a box that you wedge yourself into with a label.

Celebrity Examples

I am also going to include different pictures of popular celebrities for illustrative purposes. My sense is that having an example will best help you “see” which body type you most align with. Keep in mind the celebs listed here are in optimal shape for their body type!

Examine each of the three body types below and decide which one best represents your situation. Take note of the customized diet and exercise tips under each body type and employ these suggestions in your sharp routine.

Let’s take a look now at ectomorph, mesomorph endomorph explained!

Kobe Bryant – Ectomorph

ECTOMORPH (Thin and Tall)

A thin and tall appearance is typical of this particular body type. Ectomorphs are usually low on body fat and low on muscle mass. Generally speaking, ectomorphs have muscles that are long and thin in appearance, particularly in the leg and arm areas of the body. Kobe Bryant is a good example of an ectomorph body type.

New muscle growth can be difficult for this body type as ectomorphs have a difficult time packing on muscle. When you think of ectomorphs, conjure up mental images of marathon runners and basketball players.

Ectomorph Diet

Ectomorphs will discover that both muscle and weight gain are more easily achieved by not fearing calories and carbs during mealtime. By “meals”, I am talking about eating five to seven smallish meals per day, preferably with the higher carb meals happening earlier in the day. Examples include breakfast and lunch.

It is thought that ectomorphs should increase their fat intake by 20-30 percent, provided it comes from healthy fat sources (aka unsaturated fat). Examples include fish, nuts and beans (lentils). Use of oils in food should be limited but if you have to use some type of oil, stick to vegetable,

The intake of protein is key to this body type. Ectomorphs should try to ensure that two of the meals ingested daily have at least 15 grams of protein. Avoid drinking sugary protein shakes to get your reach your protein goal if you are an ectomorph. Instead, opt for eating acting actual foods that are high in protein count (i.e. chicken and fish).

This way, you are getting natural sources of protein while revving up your metabolism

Ectomorph Diet Tips

Tuna and Chicken are excellent small meal choices and do a fairly good job of making sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients. I have seen more than a few ectomorphs benefit from including a low-fat red meat (Yes I said that) into a weekly diet. While this is not required, it can help to create a bit of change for the ectomorph diet and prevent a case of the “same old – same old” from settling in.

Ectomorph Workout

Ectomorphs are natural fat burners. The best way ectomorphs can realize new muscle gain is by doing low reps while using heavy weights. Cardio can be part of the ectomorph workout plan provided it is limited to 3-5x a week at a moderate pace of no more than 15 minutes.

cam gigendet tie

MESOMORPH (Medium Height/Weight)

A hard, muscular body that looks “built” typically characterizes the mesomorph. Generally speaking, mesomorphs have little trouble losing or gaining weight and possess an almost magical ability to rapidly pack on muscle.

Understandably, the other two body types tend to be envious of mesomorphs because they can characteristically eat whatever they want still somehow have naturally “hot” bodies. Cam Gigandet is a good example of a mesomorph.

Mesomorph muscles generally appear medium in length and are complimented by a well-built upper body. But not everything is comes up roses for mesomorphs. This body type is often challenged with packing on new muscle and seems to plateau fairly.

This problem can usual be traced to dietary challenges or irregular, inconsistent visits to the gym. When you think of mesomorphs, think of gymnasts and boxers. In other words, built, cut and rock hard.

Mesomorph Diet

Ideally, mesomorphs should try to eat four to six meals per day that are high in protein. This means 7 out of 7 days of the week. Additionally, consistent gym visits are key to working through growth plateaus.

Mesomorph Diet Tips

As mentioned earlier, consistency in diet is the key to maintaining and growing the mesomorph body. Essentially, this means fueling your mesomorph bod with the right nutrients and not skipping out on meals. As a goal, try take in at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of mesomorph body weight with each and every meal. And check this out – there is no need for long workout sessions at the gym.

Remember, mesomorphs tend to gain muscle easy. If the workouts are too long or too intense, they can become counterproductive.

If truth be told, the mesomorph body is the most desired, simply because results don’t take as long to realize as other body types. My best advice is to stick to a diet that is low in fat and high in protein.

If you can get that protein from natural sources, such as chicken, fish and lean meats, even better. With a little effort and a little time, you can maintain or build an impressive physique – the type that everyone wishes they could have.

Mesomorph Workout

Mesomorphs should engage in resistance training at least three to five times per week (but no more). Cardio exercises, like a bike or treadmill are fine for mesomorphs provided 2 days are taken off. Restrict cardio exercises to no more than 30 minutes per session and only 10 minutes of each session should be “intense”. Obviously, if you are just starting back at the gym, these numbers can be adjusted until you reach your goal.

Mesomorph Exercises

Free weights are this body type’s best friend in the gym. Consider compound exercise approaches, such as the bench press (chest), “Reverse Hammer Curls” (triceps and brachial muscles) and standing squats (legs and butt) in your quest for a hot physique.

If for some reason you find you are not packing on new muscle, try reducing the number of reputations you are doing and increase the weight to a slightly higher amount (i.e., if you are using a 35-pound dumbbell for bicep curls, increase it to 40 pounds). The key here is to use the progressive overload principle for mesomorphs.

Finally, mesomorphs need to learn that over training a given body part will prohibit growth. Avoid super long sets and opt for an approach that is less strenuous. Examples include a four set exercise routine of progressive overloading, with the weight pyramiding upwards. An example might be a rep of twelve, eight, six and six.

ENDOMORPH (Stocky/Short)

This body type has it tough. Endomorphs, characteristically have a short, round look and are often typed by others as being “stocky”. Endomorphs tend to have wider hips and for many, extra undesirable “baby fat” (face, butt, and legs).

The good news is that endomorphs will generally find new muscle gain to be easy! The not so great news is that weight loss can sometimes be a challenge. Many professional weightlifters fall into the endomorph category. Zac Efron is considered an endomorph.

Endomorph Diet

For endomorphs, increasing the metabolic rate is critical to the twin goals of losing body fat and packing on muscle. This means reducing fat and calorie intake and spacing out four to six small meals throughout the day. The small meals ideally should be consumed every 4 hours. Like the other body types, endomorphs want to eat foods that are low in fat and high in protein.

Healthy examples include water packed tuna, low-sugar protein bars and grilled (not fried) chicken. Also, including high fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables are helpful with moving food through the digestive system. Use of dairy products should be restrict to non-fat milks and non-fat cheeses.

Endomorphs should do all possible to avoid late nigh snacking. The last “major” meal of the day should be eaten no less than four hours before bedtime. This approach will enable endomorphs to metabolize the foods in a healthy way so that food does not “sit” in the stomach or “stick” to your midsection because of undesirable bloating.

Hydration is important for endomorphs to help move food through the body and to increase metabolism. Try to drink at least ten, eight-ounce “glasses” of H20 per day.

Endomorphs will find it helpful to choose one day during the week as a “cheat” day. Cheat days are a 25 cent term used to describe a day where you can eat “off the grid” and scarf down “bad” food, like burgers and fried chicken. The benefit of the cheat day is bifurcated: you have something to look forward to each week and you won’t feel like you are sacrificing meals that you love.

FYI – if you extend your cheat day to more than one during a given week, you are not creating real change and thus, cheating yourself out of maintaining or building a rock-hard body!

Endomorph Workout

Endomorphs generally are heavier. The physical goal should therefore be weight loss. The best way to accomplish this is to start by adding regular cardio activities into each of your gym visits. Do this five to six times a week if possible. Don’t rush it – start off slow (like 10 minutes) and build your way to up 30-45 minutes over the course of time.

Some great choices for endomorphs include stair-masters, bicycle machines and elliptical devices. Jumping rope also can be tremendously helpful with weight loss and getting that “cut” look.

Endomorphs should avoid buying into the old gym myth of having to “break into a sweat” in order to lose weight; not true. Instead, consistent, low-impact aerobic type exercises are preferred. For example, walking at a steady pace on an inclined treadmill can do wonders for this body type. Again, the keyword is constancy.

Weightlifting is the second important consideration for endomorphs to build or maintain. Try to visit the gym at least three times per week and place two days off in between strength training sessions. Workout your major muscle groups as suggested for ectomorphs. You may want to consider adding an isolation exercise, such as the “peck-deck” to help build tone.

Ideally, endomorphs should opt for low weights and high reps. Remember, the goal is twofold; weight loss and new muscle growth. Doing something different from time to time is OK but you want to burn of that fat and blow out your muscles.

Body Types – Final Thoughts

The ability to sculpt your physique into something you can be proud of takes a great deal of time and patience. One of the keys to reaching your goals is understanding the body type you were born with. Knowing if you are an endomorph, mesomorph or ectomorph should be considered as part of your body building plan.

So there you have it – the three body types (somatotypes). Use what you have read here and factor it into your gym routine. Build that rock hard body and make sure you keep your body type in mind when you build your workouts! We are all rooting for you!

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast