Our bodies respond to food and exercise based on our somatotype i.e. our natural body type. There are three main male body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph – and most of us are a mix of these.
Each somatotype will lose fat and gain muscle at different rates. And each body type will require a different approach to training and diet to achieve the best results.
Understanding your natural body type is the key to unlocking your potential and achieving your ideal physique.
How Do I Know My Body Type Male?
Ectomorph Body Type Male
If you have an ectomorph body type, you’ll likely be naturally slim with long limbs. You might find it hard to gain muscle mass and you may have a fast metabolism.
Mesomorph Body Type Male
If you have a mesomorph body type, you’ll be naturally muscular with a well-proportioned frame. You’re what most people refer to as “athletic body type”. You have an efficient metabolism which means you can build muscle and lose fat relatively easily.
Endomorph Body Type Male
If you have an endomorph body type, you’ll have a larger frame with more body fat. You might find it harder to lose fat and may have a slower metabolism. Your slow metabolism may be due to chronic stress, lack of sleep, or an unhealthy diet.
Training Goals For Different Body Types Men
Most men going to the gym are looking to achieve a somewhat “mesomorphic” body type with more muscle mass and less body fat. However, there may be some exceptions.
Some endomorphs may train to get even bigger and compete in powerlifting or other strength sports. Some ectomorphs may want to maintain a lean physique for running or other endurance sports.
Ectomorph Training Goals
If you’re an ectomorph, your goal should be to add muscle mass and strength while keeping body fat to a minimum. This can be achieved by following a weightlifting program and eating a calorie- and protein-rich diet.
You’ll want to maximize muscle gain using lower-intensity, higher-volume training methods like volume training. This type of training helps to increase the time your muscles are under tension, which is key for muscle growth (9).
This type of training is anaerobic, which is good because it won’t cause you to burn too many calories as a fast-paced aerobic exercise would.
Ectomorphs should shift their focus from cardio to resistance training to build muscle. Too much of it will only make you leaner without adding any muscle mass.
Mesomorph Training Goals
If you’re a mesomorph, your goal should be to maintain your muscle mass and strength while reducing body fat. This can be achieved by following a weightlifting program and eating a calorie-controlled diet.
If you’re a formerly endomorphic or ectomorphic individual who has achieved a mesomorphic body type through diet and exercise, your goal should be to maintain your current physique.
This can be done through advanced forms of weight training such as compound lifts, supersets, and forced reps.
Endomorph Training Goals
If you’re an endomorph, your goal should be to lose body fat while preserving muscle mass. This can be achieved by following a weight-loss program and eating a calorie-controlled diet.
The main focus of your training will be to improve metabolic conditioning i.e. the ability of your body to use fat for energy (7). This can be done by doing a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting.
Steady-state cardio (such as walking, jogging, or cycling at a moderate pace) will help you lose body fat while weight lifting will help you preserve muscle mass (8). Your weight lifting program will have short rest periods (circuit-style training) to help improve your metabolic conditioning.
You may also want to increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) which is the energy you burn through everyday activities such as walking, fidgeting, and cleaning the house.
Diet Tips For Different Body Types Men
Diet is half the battle when it comes to getting the body you want. No matter what your body type is, you need to eat a healthy diet to lose fat, build muscle or maintain your weight.
Here are some diet tips for each body type (1):
Ectomorph Diet Tips
Ectomorphs benefit from a mass gain-focused diet. This means eating more calories than you burn and getting enough protein to build muscle. Because this body type tends to burn through energy faster than others, it’s important to eat frequent meals throughout the day.
Aim for 5-6 small meals spread evenly throughout the day. Each meal should contain protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Protein should make up a majority of your diet, as it’s essential for muscle growth (3).
Mass gain shakes can also be helpful for ectomorphs who struggle to eat enough calories. These shakes contain a mix of protein, carbs, and fats to help you reach your daily calorie goals.
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Mesomorph Diet Tips
A mesomorphic diet depends on whether changes in body composition are required. If you want to lose fat, you will need to eat fewer calories than you burn.
If you want to gain muscle, you will need to eat more calories than you burn. To maintain your weight, you will need to eat the same number of calories that you burn.
Protein should make up a large part of your diet regardless of your goals. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair (3). Carb intake will depend on your goals. If you want to lose fat, aim for complex carbs such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
If you want to gain muscle, simple carbs such as fruit, honey and oats can be consumed before and after workouts to help with energy levels and recovery. Healthy fats are also important for satiety and should be included in all meals (4).
Endomorph Diet Tips
An endomorphic diet should focus on fat loss. A low-calorie, high-protein diet will help to reduce body fat while preserving muscle mass. Complex carbs and healthy fats should also be included in every meal to help keep you full and satisfied.
Some endomorphs may tolerate low-carb “ketogenic” diets better than others. This diet helps to train your body to use fat for energy instead of carbs (6). However, this diet may not be compatible with the intense training required to build muscle.
Carb cycling can be a helpful way to control carb intake while still getting the energy you need for workouts. This involves alternating between high-carb and low-carb days, depending on your activity levels.
It’s also important to avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as these can quickly lead to weight gain. Instead, focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, lean protein, fruits, healthy fats, and complex carbs.
Your Body Type Matters, But Not The Way You Think
There’s more than one factor that determines your success in the gym. Yes, your body type does play a role in how easy it is for you to build muscle or lose fat. But it’s not the be-all and end-all of your results.
Your lifestyle choices and surrounding environment are just as important, if not more so. Here’s what it means:
If you can’t commit to a regular workout routine, it won’t matter what body type you are. You’re not going to reach your goals.
If you eat processed junk food all day, it doesn’t matter what body type you are. You’re not going to reach your goals.
The list goes on. So when it comes to your fitness goals, focus on the things you can control (11):
- Your diet
- Your exercise routine
- Your lifestyle choices
By making healthy choices in these areas, you’ll be on the path to success, no matter what your body type is.
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The Bottom Line
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. The best way to achieve your goals is to find an exercise and diet plan that works for you and stick with it. Additionally, remember that your body type is just one piece of the puzzle. Focus on the things you can control, and you’ll be successful, no matter what.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Body Type Guide: How to Eat for Your Specific Body Type (2020, issaonline.com)
- Body Types: How to Train & Diet for Your Somatotype (n.d., blog.nasm.org)
- Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019, mdpi.com)
- Fats and Satiety – Fat Detection (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- High-Quality Carbohydrates and Physical Performance (2018, hjournals.lww.com)
- Ketogenic Diet (2021, cbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Metabolic Conditioning: Moving Beyond Cardio (n.d., blog.nasm.org)
- Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance‐trained men – Mangine – 2015 – Physiological Reports – Wiley Online Library (2015, physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Train for Your Body Type (2019, issaonline.com)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)