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 shooting star yellowsense 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 Gigandet – Mesomorph

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.

Zac Efron – Endomorph

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 gay muscle and love logoand 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 102 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a counselor and educator. He writes about people, places and things as a pathway to knowledge. Moore coaches, teaches and helps workplaces to do the people part better. Click on: BIO to learn more. Be sure to follow Guy Counseling on Facebook
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  • Aj Isquierdo

    Lol all three of these examples are ectomorphs, and you could not have been more wrong with your Example of an endomorph.

    • Actually you need to re-check your facts. Since when did Zach Efron, who is only 5’7 become an ectomorph? And Cam Gigandet, who is also around the same height and size become an ectomorph? No AJ, it is you who could not be more wrong I am afraid. Get your facts straight.

      • Aj Isquierdo

        John your information is totally false, I have no idea what you have your doctorate in, but I would suggest you only write articles in subjects where you are knowledgable. For some reason you seem adamant on adding the height component to specific somatotypes which is completely false. Specific height doesn’t have anything to do with a given somatotype, it’s determined by skeletal frame, body composition, the body’s tendency to store fat, and muscle attachment at certain areas on the body. Zach Efron is an ectomorph dominant somatotype with certain mesomorph characteristics. Nothing about his frame is endomorph, Chris Pratt is an example of an endomorph dominant with mesomorph characteristics. His body type naturally stores more body fat than someone like zach Efron who I’ve never even heard of having weight gain problems, (endomorphs get fat if they don’t don’t workout ectomorphs get skinny of they don’t) football linemen are endomorph dominant, people they have a hard time lossing weight are usually pear shaped. Examples of true mesomorphs are Dwayne Johnson, John cena, mark walhberg, Chris Hemsworth, Kellan Lutz. Even a simple Google Check would correct all your examples of somatotypes. Get your facts straight my man, good day.

        • Just wrong AJ – sorry. Somatotypes are based on body size, which includes height. Skeletal frame is a function of height (or did you not know this?). Here is a link to educate yourself more:

          And Sheldon’s work also took into account personality types that accompanied the specific somatotype.

          The somatotypes themselves have been controversial, as mentioned in the post, because there has never been a uniform agreement on them. They specifically were created for men – exclusively, by Sheldon in the 1940’s.

          By the way, Sheldon was a psychologist with a PhD in Psychology. And you should know not to “check Google” for information but instead, consult the peer reviewed scholarly journals.

          I have posted a link below to the clinical paper, published in a peer reviewed journal on the matter. Note that HEIGHT is part of the research for calculating somatotypes.

          I think you need to rethink your heavy handed assertions.


          • Aj Isquierdo

            Lol this argument was started over your examples. You want to site things ok he gives an interview about his specific body type….. Go ahead.

          • AJ,

            The “argument” was started over your initial post and your remarks. An interview about Zac Efron has zero to do with the science of what Somatotypes are. You are just repeating the misinformation you started with. Why not be open to something new?

          • AJ I have seen this before. Nothing new. Choose to think whatever you like about body types. Just because someone publishes material does not make it accurate. If you choose to think what I have here is not correct, you have shared your thoughts in the comments.

          • By the way this is just wrong. Ectomorphs have LONG limbs. Zac Efron most certainly does not!

          • Aj Isquierdo

            Literally just a Google check away good try though

          • Joan

            Hello but the post you are citing from bodygainsfitness is asking about his body type. And you are saying Zac Efron is a ectomorph? That’s just not correct AJ or whatever your name is. Ectomorph men are tall and skinny. Any high school student knows this. Men’s Fitness says the same thing.

          • Thanks, Joan!

            Some people think quoting celebrity gossip blogs and discussion groups that are trying to determine what somebody is does not make it accurate.

            This is why Sheldon’s body types are so controversial. They should be thought of as general guideposts and not exact science. Even Sheldon himself later admitted in life that it was impossible to peg someone perfectly according to his body types.

          • Joan

            That’s OK I teach high school physiology to my sophmore students. Height is a part of body composition and somatotypes. Here is a picture and a link in case anyone wants to read more. Notice the differences in height. Ectomorphs are never tall and skinny.

          • Are you suggesting there are no short skinny people, or no tall fat people?

          • No – I never suggested that

          • Tom Starcub773

            Mwhaaaa AJ!! You are adding a blog post thread from 2012 from some discussion thread. You are a freaking retard dude if you think Efron is an ectomorph! He’s short so he’s an endomorph. He’s even mentioned in a medical presentation as an endomorph you stupid a-hole!

        • Bill Brithmore

          To AJ,

          There is no such thing as a “dominant” endomorph. You are just making shit up Chris Pratt is a mesomorph if I’ve ever seen one and is close to being a ectomorph. Your body frame is absolutely connected to your height and to think otherwise just shows how stupid and ignorant you are.

          Football linemen are typically MESOMORPHS not endomorphs. There are very few endomorphs in the NFL actually, except for Emmanuel Sanders with the Broncos (he’s a wide receiver) or the QB for Russel Wilson who is the QB for Seattle.

          By the way, why don’t you look at Wikipedia instead of stupid ass gossip sites for science info? It says straight out: “Endomorphic: characterized as round, usually SHORT ..”


          “Ectomorphic: characterized as linear, thin, usually TALL.”

    • You’re right.

      They’re all ectos.

      Height doesn’t matter, what matters is bone structure.

  • Zac Effron uses steroids,
    and this is clouding your judgement.

    • Do you have evidence to to support what you are saying here that goes beyond speculation? If so, might be helpful to share.

  • BTW Cam Gigandet is skinny. Some pictures give the impression that he’s larger, but that’s just angles, lighting and photoshop.

    His muscles are small, his joints are small.
    But he’s an ecto with an impressive body in my opinion.

    • I would not use skinny to describe Cam Gigandet. “Cut” and “defined” perhaps for that movie (never Back Down) but certainly not skinny. The workout he did for that movie we specialized to give him the look that you see.

      He is not an ecto. Here is a current photo of him.