How To Choose A Fitness Program Based On Your Body Type

With countless different types of fitness programs around the world, how do you know which one suits your body type?

By Giulini Wever4 min read
Shutterstock/4 PM production

Understanding the different physiological body types can give you insight into what fitness program works best for you. The 3 basic human structural types are Ectomorph, Endomorph, and Mesomorph, according to the body classification by William Sheldon that dates back to the 1940s. Despite what it might feel like at times, you're not destined to this specific body type category. Your lifestyle, genetics, history, and training style all contribute to the typification of your body and can definitely be changed over time. 

Workouts Are Not One Size Fits All

Before starting a workout program, knowing which of the three basic body types you're closest to will help you better customize your fitness plan to meet your needs and set realistic, attainable goals that pave the way to your success. Let’s simplify it for you.

Ectomorph — The Naturally Thin

  • Narrow hips and clavicles

  • Small joints (wrist/ankles)

  • Thin build

  • Small belly 

  • Long limbs

An ectomorph tends to be thin and struggles to gain weight as either body fat or muscle mass. Celebrities such as Kate Moss, Kendal Jenner, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Natalie Portman are examples of ectomorphs. They can eat tons of food and stay looking the same, even when gaining muscular weight is their biggest goal. 

An ectomorph tends to be thin and struggles to gain weight as either body fat or muscle mass.

Ectomorphs tend to have a lean build, long limbs, and a small belly. Even if an ectomorph manages to put on weight, they may still look thin, particularly in the calves and forearms. They can also be remarkably strong and can be as fit and healthy as someone who looks larger and more muscular. 

Workout Recommendations for an Ectomorph

Best recommended workouts for ectomorphs who want to increase bone density, muscle mass, and strength includes anaerobic endurance exercises, such as moderate to heavy weight-lifting, Calisthenics, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), plyometrics, and kick-boxing power moves, combined with aerobic exercises, such as resistance and functional training, for full-body sculpting. Make sure to combine with a slower workout pace with longer rest periods between sets and to add proper recovery stretches for the entire body.

If you want to gain muscle mass, you can even consume about 1,000 calories more a day of the good stuff.

If weight gain is the goal, don't weight train daily or perform HIIT interval and circuit training for too long, because you'll end up burning more calories. 

For ectomorphs who want to keep thin and trim for running ultramarathons, make sure to include cross-training for a well-balanced fitness program. For example, you can include dynamic functional exercises combined with Pilates and yoga to aid the body with low-impact flexibility, lengthening, and core strength movements.

Nutritionally, eat a diet high in whole foods, a combo of healthy carbs, fiber, healthy fats, and protein. If you want to gain weight or/and muscle mass, you can even consume about 1,000 calories more a day of the good stuff.

Mesomorph — The Naturally Fit

  • Athletic appearance

  • Thick rib cage

  • Wide/thicker joints

  • Narrow waist

  • Shorter limbs

mesomorph tends to have a natural tendency to be fit and relatively muscular. That doesn’t mean you can get away with not working out and eating unhealthy forever. The good news is that it's easy for this body type to “bounce back” from being out of shape more easily than the other two body types. You can gain muscle and burn fat with comparative ease. Celebrities like Jessica Biel, Serena Williams, Jennifer Garner, and Halle Berry are examples of mesomorphs.

A  mesomorph can “bounce back” from being out of shape more easily than the other body types.

Workout Recommendations for a Mesomorph

Best recommended workouts for mesomorphs who want to maintain their physique include light to moderate weight-lifting, endurance strength training, cardio barre, and resistance bands training, as well as engaging in other aerobic activities regularly. In addition to functional and resistance training, both pilates and yoga aid with increased lean gains, postural alignment, flexibility, and overall core strengthening.

For mesomorphs who want to add more muscle mass, combine a circuit training of both adequate anaerobic exercises, such as Calisthenics, and aerobic exercises, such as resistance training, that will help achieve that desired goal.

If you want to bulk up as a mesomorph, load up on healthy carbs.

Nutritionally, eat a diet high in real foods, combining the proper amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients. If you want to bulk up as a mesomorph, load up on healthy carbs.

Endomorph — The Naturally Curvy

  • Wide clavicles

  • Narrow waist

  • Thinner joints

  • Long and round bellies

  • Thick rib cage

  • Wide hips

  • Shorter limbs

The endomorph tends to easily gain weight, and it’s harder to lose it. Their build is a little wider than an ectomorph or a mesomorph. They store fat easily, even though they may have more muscle than either of the other body types, but they often struggle to gain it without significant amounts of accompanying body fat. 

Endomorphs can be as strong, healthy, and capable as the other two groups.

Having an endomorph body doesn’t mean that you can't be healthy. You can be as strong, healthy, and capable as the other two groups, and may actually have some strong advantages due to your additional muscle mass. But if and when you decide to slim and lean out, it'll take hard work and consistency. Celebrities who are an example of endomorphs are Beyonce, Oprah, Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Hudson.

Workout Recommendations for an Endomorph

Endomorphs should predominantly focus on fat loss, lean gains, and cardiorespiratory efficiency until reaching a desirable body goal. Aerobic and anaerobic cross-training will help endomorph bodies increase their metabolic efficiency and boost the body’s daily energy requirement. 

Aerobic fat burning exercises, such as the CreationFit method consisting of dynamic and functional movements, boxing, swimming, running, dancing, and biking, combined with anaerobic exercises, such as calisthenics, plyometrics, and other short bursts of low to moderate interval training, are recommended for weight-loss and lean gains. Resistance training to strengthen muscles and stabilize joints to support functional movements in their everyday life are a plus. Pilates and yoga are also encouraged for postural alignment, increased flexibility, core strength, slimming, and lean gains. 

Some may be able to tolerate a very low-carb “ketogenic” diet.

For endomorphs who want to get even bigger to compete in strongman events, it’s encouraged to join a fitness program that includes heavy-weight lifting to build muscle mass and strength. 

Nutritionally, endomorphs’ diet and training solutions should focus on muscle protein synthesis and overall muscle gain while losing fat. Eat a low-calorie diet in whole-foods high in protein, healthy fats, fiber, good carbs for weight loss, and muscle gains. Load up on healthy carbs if you want to add extra muscle mass. Some may be able to tolerate a very low-carb “ketogenic” diet that helps the body burn fat fuel throughout the day. Carbs are an important source of fuel for the higher intensities exercises needed for cardiorespiratory improvement.  


Sometimes, you might be a little bit of both. As with most training programs, the right program for in-betweeners might be a blend, so it’s important to know your body type. The curse of the in-betweeners is to see themselves a little less clearly, favoring the body type they want to be, and following the wrong program. In-betweeners should “know thyself” and train accordingly.  

Closing Thoughts

You know what’s magical? As human beings we can transform our bodies at any time. We can’t change our bone size neither can we change our joint size. However, by understanding what body type you are, you can choose a fitness program that can best suit your body type to help you achieve your desired goals.