By Carlee Frank

The words ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph probably sound completely foreign, and maybe even alien; but they’re actually popular terms in the fitness world. These terms stand for three somatotypes (also known as body types) introduced by American psychologist William Sheldon in the 1940s. Originally, Sheldon stated that individuals of a certain body type all exhibit the same personality traits. He hoped this would allow assessment and greater categorization of the American people based on appearances –but his theory was largely disproven.

Although the psychological portion of his theory did not survive the scientific rejection, researchers and trainers found validity in the physical body types.  Eventually, personalized diet and exercise plans were created for all three.

Some say somatotyping is fake science, but this method does recognize that not everyone’s body responds equally to one-size-fits-all fitness plans. For example, some individuals can consume high quantities of calories and not put on fat. On the contrary, if those same individuals do not consume enough calories, they quickly lose muscle mass and add fat. Others, on the other hand, may build muscles easily and lose muscles slowly.

Scientific theory suggests that weight and BMI are influenced 50 percent or higher by genetics. Therefore, we are certainly predisposed to certain body types and weight distribution. Again, the three body types that we may be predisposed to are endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph. Endomorphs have “lots of body fat, lots of muscle and gain weight easily”; ectomorphs are “long and lean, with little body fat, and little muscle. They have a hard time gaining weight”; and mesomorphs are “athletic, solid, and strong. They both gain and lose weight without too much effort” (

However, many people are a combination of the body types. For example, an endomorphic-mesomorph may struggle with weight gain, but can lose that weight easily with proper diet and exercise. Mesomorphic-ectomorphs may be lanky and thin, but able to build muscle fairly easily.

Each body type can be further distinguished by assessing the size of your frame. Ectomorphs generally have small frames, mesomorphs have an average sized frame and endomorphs have larger frames. The size of your frame can, surprisingly, be measured by your wrist size. For more information, check out:

So, now that you know your body type, let’s figure out your personalized diet and exercise plan. According to Livestrong, ectomorphs should eat twice as many calories from carbohydrates than protein. For example, 55 percent carbs, 25 percent protein and 20 percent fat. This may look like, “6 ounces of grilled salmon, 2 cups of steamed mixed vegetables drizzled with a teaspoon of olive oil, 1 cup of brown rice and 1/2 cup of fresh fruit.” Endomorphs should consume more fat than carbohydrates. For example, 40 percent fat, 35 percent protein and 25 percent carbs. This diet may contain roasted chicken, leafy greens with vinaigrette and pasta. Mesomorphs should eat equal amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat. For example, 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. A mesomorph could eat a tofu and vegetable stir-fry with cooked barley, fresh fruit and a side of almonds.

As for exercise, ectomorphs –who find it difficult to gain weight and muscle mass –should focus on weight-training and resistance training rather than cardio. Cardio burns both muscle and fat, so complete low impact activities like swimming and walking to practice endurance.

Endomorphs gain weight easily and lose it with difficulty, so focus on cardio and supplement it with resistance training Commit one day a week to rest, three days to resistance training and three to cardio.

Finally, mesomorphs should complete a balanced workout focusing equally on cardio, weight-training and resistance training. For example, three days of resistance and weight-training, two days of cardio and two days of rest.

Hopefully you were able to discover your body type and are inspired to try out your very own personalized diet and exercise plan!