What Is My Body Type: Our Complete Guide

Photo of a woman's back

Humans are like snowflakes; none of us are exactly alike. One obvious difference between each of us is our body type. Not only do our unique figures make us visibly distinct, they also affect our lifestyles. To live a happy and healthy life, it's crucial to understand your body and what it needs to thrive. Although we can't decide which body type we're born with, we can learn how it operates, how to fuel it and how to use it to our advantage. You're probably wondering, “What is my body type?” Lucky for you, we're here to solve the mystery.  

In the following article, we'll provide a detailed overview of the three general body type classifications.

​The Three Somatotypes


​To answer, “What is my body type,” you'll need a short history lesson. In the 1940s, a psychologist named William Herbert Sheldon established the concept that all humans belong to one of three distinct body type categories called “somatotypes”. The three categories are:

  • The ectomorph
  • The mesomorph
  • The endomorph

Modern science supports these classifications as viable predictors of our bodies' reactions to physical training and diet. Comprising many distinctive characteristics, we each fall into one of these categories based on our genetic makeup. Beginning with the ectomorph, we will explain the unique aspects of each somatotype.

The Ectomorph


The stereotypical ectomorph is the person who can't seem to gain weight, no matter how much they eat. They are thin, have long and lean limbs, minimal fat, and thin muscles. They're not genetically inclined to build muscle or store fat.

When you ask yourself, “What is my body type,” does this seem to describe you? Depending on your personal preference, the ectomorph body type could sound great or terrible. However, there are many advantages associated with this somatotype, along with methods of enhancing your body mass.

Advantages for Ectomorphs

Ectomorphs have the benefit of a high strength-to-bodyweight ratio because of their minimal fat storage. This allows them to perform exceptionally well in high-endurance sports such as running and cycling. Their long, lean figures are conducive to excellent flexibility, so they also tend to excel in sports like dance and gymnastics.

Another unique advantage of this body type is a superior ability to regulate body temperature and breathing. In terms of long-duration activities, ectomorphs have a powerful edge over mesomorphs and endomorphs.

Achieving Your Optimal Physique

If the answer was “ectomorph” when you asked yourself, “What is my body type,” you can embrace it, or make a few changes. Although genetics are responsible for your natural physical figure, you're not stuck with it.

If you want to bulk up and gain muscle, here are a few tips:

  • Focus less on cardiovascular exercise
  • Increase your strength training
  • Consume more (healthy) calories

While a true ectomorph will never be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, nothing is holding you back from becoming bigger and stronger.

The Mesomorph


The second somatotype is known as a mesomorph. Mesomorphs are often considered the fortunate ones because of their naturally muscular build. They have minimal fat, medium sized bones, a narrow waist, solid torso, and wide shoulders. Picture a stereotypical bodybuilder; that's a mesomorph in their purest form.

Do you think the answer to, “What is my body type,” could be a mesomorph? If so, congratulations! You are the most naturally athletic and muscular of all the somatotypes.

Advantages for Mesomorphs

Mesomorphs are naturally muscular, and they can build muscle more easily than the other two body types. Although they appear bulkier than ectomorphs, their substantial amount of muscle results in minimal fat storage.

This somatotype is ideal for athletes. Depending on the requirements of their sport, they're able to gain or lose weight quickly and with little effort. They excel at both cardiovascular and resistance training activities because of the combination of low body fat and sizeable muscle mass. They have exceptional strength and agility, which is perfect for sports such as football, wrestling, and lifting.

Achieving Your Optimal Physique

If mesomorph is your answer to, “What is my body type,” you're in luck. Although you'll always have an athletic physique, you have the power to alter your appearance according to preference.

If you want to emphasize your muscular build, focus on strength training as much as possible. If you favor a leaner figure with less extreme muscle definition, decrease your level of strength training and increase your cardiovascular exercise.

One important factor to keep in mind is your diet. While mesomorphs maintain low body fat because of their surplus of muscle, it doesn't mean they can't gain unwanted weight. Unlike the ectomorphs who need to eat as much as possible to maintain a healthy weight, mesomorphs need to pay attention to their diets. If you're a mesomorph, make sure you're consuming enough calories and protein to fuel your workouts, but don't overdo it. Especially as you age, it's important to sustain a healthy diet to avoid those extra pounds.

The Endomorph


The third and final somatotype is endomorph. This body type is classified by a curvy shape, wide waistline, and a large bone structure. If this sounds like you, the endomorph could be your answer to, “What is my body type?” Unfortunately, these individuals are genetically predisposed to storing excess fat rather than building muscle. They typically gain weight easily and struggle to lose it.

Many people with this body type think it's a curse. They blame slow metabolism for their unwanted fat and give up on finding a solution. That thought process only perpetuates the problem and results in poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity.

Luckily for the endomorphs, they have the power to enhance their bodies and use them to their advantage. Like the other somatotypes, this body type comes with many benefits.

Advantages for Endomorphs

Endomorphs may struggle with weight loss more than others, but being overweight is far from a requirement for this classification. This body type is categorized by its shape and weight distribution, not obesity. At a healthy weight, the curvy figure of a female endomorph is often very desirable.

Although they store fat more easily than building muscle, endomorphs naturally possess greater muscle mass than ectomorphs. With frequent and proper strength training, they can develop substantial muscle tone and definition. Not only will consistent exercise improve the appearance of their body, but it will also enhance their athletic ability.

Provided they maintain healthy diets and fitness routines, endomorphs can be exceptional athletes in various sports. They often make great lifters, rugby players, and football linemen because of their strength and large bone structure. Also, most have a large lung capacity, allowing them to excel in certain aerobic activities such as rowing. As you can see, there's no reason to feel discouraged if endomorph was your answer to, “What is my body type?”

Achieving Your Optimal Physique

To reap the benefits of an endomorphic body type, the process is simple; always make healthy choices. It sounds obvious, but endomorphs must focus on consistency to reach their greatest physical potential. A few days full of greasy food and lying on the couch can be enough to erase weeks of progress.

However, below are some diet and exercise tips that will guarantee positive results:

  • Limit and measure food portions
  • Increase protein intake
  • Increase intake of healthy fats
  • Minimize carbohydrate consumption
  • Commit to consistent exercise routine
  • Focus on strength training and cardio

As long as you stay disciplined, following the above recommendations will improve how your body processes food. This shift occurs because our bodies are built to adapt to change. Making a drastic alteration to your eating and exercise habits forces it to respond accordingly. Instead of converting calories to fat, your body will turn them into muscle. Essentially, you'll be transforming yourself into a muscle building machine.

What Is My Body Type?


Shirtless man near a yellow wall

image source: Pexels

After reviewing all three body types, which one do you most closely relate to? Does a single category describe you to a tee, or do components of multiple somatotypes apply to you?

Hardly anyone falls strictly within the confines of one body classification. The vast majority of people display characteristics of two or all three categories. In the eight decades following the introduction of this concept, various extensions to the three basic body types have emerged.

For instance, one study of approximately 800 people concluded that 95 percent of participants fell into five categories rather than three. Essentially, these were hybrid somatotypes, each containing a combination of features from the original three classifications.

​Conclusion


Man lifting weights

image source: Pexels

​“What is my body type” is a more complicated question than it sounds. Identifying which body type most closely resembles your own can be extremely useful. By understanding your genetics, you can customize your health and fitness practices to enhance your individual strengths and accomplish your goals. Although genes design your body, they cannot control what you do with it. Now that you've discovered the unique benefits and most effective training methods for each body type, your physical capabilities are limitless.

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