Your body type doesn’t matter. At least not in the way you might think. No matter what your body type is, you can still reach your goals. Natural chubsters can have flat abs, skinny hardgainers can get jacked, and you can absolutely crush it in fitness.
A body type won’t keep you from the body of their dreams. It can’t.
When it comes to getting results, your body type doesn’t really matter. But when it comes to getting the best results, knowing your body type can make a big difference.
In the fitness world, everything can work. The trick is finding what works best for you—as an individual. That’s where the magic happens. Understanding your body type will help you fine-tune both training and nutrition to focus on what works best for you and maximize your progress.
It’s time for you to make the magic happen.
Genetics: The Scapegoat
It seems like everybody loves to hate on genetics. They’re the reason why we can’t reach our goals. They’re why so-and-so looks like a cover model. And they’re a common reason why people get so frustrated with fitness.
We want what we can’t have. If we’re naturally bigger, we want to get smaller. If we’re naturally smaller, we want to get bigger. But it’s hard. Because genetics.
Bad news—you can’t do anything about it.
Good news—genetics don’t really matter. We give them way too much credit (and blame).
Winning the genetic lottery doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to have a six pack. And having “bad” genetics doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals.
As far as fitness is concerned, my genetics are awful. I’m a natural chubster that used to gain weight just looking at a piece of chocolate cake. I wasn’t athletically gifted. My family history is one full of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. And thanks to flat feet, doctors told me that I’d never even be able to lift weights.
The funny part—people don’t believe me. They take a look at me and assume I’m genetically gifted. It’s simply not true.
Here’s the thing, though:
Bad genetics didn’t keep me from shedding fat. They didn’t keep me from building muscle. Or getting stronger. And they won’t stop you either.
The key is understanding your genetics and body so that you can maximize your results. When you work with your body type instead of against it, everything changes. Here’s how.
Use Your Body Type to Your Advantage
There are three major somatotypes, which is just nerd speak for body types. Each type has specific tendencies with how their bodies respond to training and nutrition. Understand these tendencies and you’ll be able to harness the power of strategically playing to your body’s strengths.
As you work with—not against—your body type, two things happen:
1. You get better results.
2. Those results come more easily.
Body Type #1: The Ectomorph
Ectomorphs are naturally skinny. If you’re ectomorphic, you’ve probably had friends get jealous of your “fast metabolism.” You’ve probably heard words like thin, lanky, petite, scrawny, and small used to describe you. And you’ve probably had the same waist size since high school.
For ectomorphs, losing weight is easy—even effortless. But gaining weight? That feels impossible. Here’s what to do:
Training Tips for Ectomorphs:
– Focus strength training on gaining lean mass. You won’t gain weight if you don’t stimulate growth. An added bonus—strength training that focuses on lean mass hits two birds with one stone. You won’t only stimulate growth. You’ll also generate a bigger appetite to fuel that growth.
– Focus on quick conditioning sessions more than long cardio workouts. You don’t need to crank up the caloric burn with endless cardio. Compared to cardio, conditioning will keep you lean while helping you build muscle.
– Make rest and recovery a priority. Without proper R&R, you’ll struggle to maintain lean mass. Let alone gaining it. Mobility work, rest days, and sleep matter just as much as working out.
Nutrition Tips for Ectomorphs:
– Eat more food. The last thing you want is a body that breaks down lean mass for energy. But that’s exactly what happens when you’re in a catabolic state. The simplest fix is food. Eating enough food will help keep that catabolic state (read: muscle breakdown) at bay.
– Eat carbs. All of the carbs. Your body is naturally great at processing carbohydrates. You can “get away with” eating more things like pasta, bread, and rice. More importantly, carbs will help fuel muscle development. And workouts. And brain function. And life.
– Don’t worry too much about “eating clean.” Honestly, junk food can fuel gains just as much as a bunch of sweet potatoes and boiled chicken. We both know a burger and fries is delicious. And here’s the thing—you need more calories. It’s easier to get those from calorically dense foods. (Just make sure you still eat your veggies.)
Body Type #2: The Endomorph (Fun Fact, I’m Dis One)
Endomorphs are naturally bigger. If you’re endomorphic, you’ve probably been that friend that gets jealous of the ectomorph’s “fast metabolism.” (Must be nice, right?). You’ve probably heard words like chubby, husky, thick, and big-boned used to describe you. And you’ve probably watched your waistline grow since high school.
For us endomorphs, gaining weight is easy—both good weight (muscle) and bad. But losing fat? That’s the struggle. Here’s what to do:
Training Tips for Endomorphs:
– Focus strength training on high-intensity work. Lifting weights is great for building muscle, but it’s also effective for fat loss. Maximize your results with intense workouts. Timed sets work great.
– Focus on a mix of cardio and conditioning. Both will help burn fat. I recommend doing more of whichever you enjoy most. Like jogging? Cool. Give it more focus. Like sprinting instead? That’s cool too. Do more conditioning than cardio. But to maximize fat loss, be sure to do a mix of both.
– Rest as much as you have to, but only as much as you need. Limiting rest periods will cause a greater conditioning effect to your workouts. As a result, you’ll burn more fat. Not just during the workout, but even up to 36 hours afterward. The more intense your workout is (read: the less rest you take), the longer your afterburn effect will last.
Nutrition Tips for Endomorphs:
– Eat more veggies. Vegetables will help fill you up and give you a ton of nutrients. Both of these leave you functioning optimally and feeling satisfied. Best part? They’re super low in calories, which means they’re great for losing fat. I recommend a wide variety of colorful vegetables.
– Dietary fat is your friend. Unlike ectomorphs, us endomorphs aren’t so great processing carbs. But we tend to respond really well to high-fat diets. That means you get to enjoy things like steak, butter, avocado, and nut butter while you lose fat. It’s delicious.
– Don’t worry about 6–7 small meals a day. For real. Having several small meals doesn’t get better results than having a couple big meals. What does get better results? Adherence. Do whatever works best for you. Some people thrive in meal prep and eating every 2–3 hours. Other people, myself included, don’t. Both can work. But the one you like more will work best. I’ve found endomorphs often enjoy bigger, more satisfying meals over the frequent feeder model.
Body Type #3: The Mesomorph
Mesomorphs are athletic looking. If you’re a mesomorph, you probably don’t understand why everyone’s talking about their metabolism. Yours works like a charm. You’ve probably heard words like fit, god-like, ripped, lean, and gifted used to describe you. And you’ve probably had seemingly effortless abs since high school.
For mesomorphs, fitness comes naturally. But it can be difficult to maintain. Healthy habits are few and far between because you don’t need them. Until life happens, you get older, and keeping your physique gets harder.
Training Tips for Mesomorphs:
– Focus on long-term progress. Sure, you’re in great shape now. But understand that it won’t always come so easily. Eventually, life and time will catch up to you, you’ll get busy, your metabolism will slow down, and it won’t be so effortless. Focus on progressing over the long haul and you’ll be better prepared for life and time when they hit.
– First, master the basics. They’ll get you great results. I mean shoot, you’d even look good from a Netflix and Chill workout program. With ice cream. But the basics of strength training, cardio, conditioning, and mobility will serve as the foundational knowledge you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life. That’s huge.
– Then, get more advanced. Long-term success will come from the basics. But short-term goals like getting ready for beach season might take more specialized effort. Maybe you want to lose those last few pounds of fat or pack extra inches onto your upper body. Either way, advanced training strategies can help you crush the short-term. All while the basics keep you on track in the long-term.
Nutrition Tips for Mesomorphs:
– Eat according to personal preference. The best eating plan in the world is worthless if you can’t follow it. Fine-tune your nutrition to your personal preferences so that you can follow the plan. Like fatty foods? Eat more of those and less bread. Bigger fan of carbs? That’s fine. Eat less fat and more carbs. Following a decent plan perfectly will get you better results than decently following a perfect plan.
– Set and stick to macronutrient goals. For one, tracking macros will teach you about food. Learning what foods are high in protein, carbs, or fat is important. It’ll also help you understand food portions and proper nutrition. Both are great, long-term benefits. But the best part? Macros will help you get dialed in on your goals and see immediately better results.
– Don’t worry about finding a secret or shortcut. They don’t exist. There are no magic bullets or secrets guaranteed to get everybody results. Don’t go looking for one. Instead, find one simple thing you can do to take your nutrition habits to the next level. (Something like eating enough vegetables or drinking enough water.) Master that. Then move on to the next one.
It’s important to remember that people won’t always fit perfectly into the three main body types. In fact, it’s more common that someone lands between two types. (Endo-meso or ecto-meso, for example). When that’s the case, blend together strategies for both body types.
This isn’t an exact science. But it is a helpful one.
When you better understand your body type, you can leverage that knowledge to find what works best for you and maximize results. Work with your body type, not against it. Shed more fat. Sculpt more muscle. And start seeing the results you deserve.