3 Main Male Body Types & How to Tell Them Apart

3 Main Male Body Types & How to Tell Them Apart

Man flexing to show his male body type
Summary:

There are several different body shapes out there, but there are three main body types men have. Learn their characteristics and how to determine yours.

We’re all built uniquely — some of us are leaner, taller, or have broader shoulders. And it’s because we’re unique that there’s no such thing as an ‘average’ or ‘typical’ body. 

Sure, there are different somatotypes, or more commonly known as body types. But, according to psychologist William Sheldon who analyzed thousands of photographs to determine the similarities in the human physique, there are three general compositions that people are predetermined to fall into, even men:

Let’s explore deeper into the male body types, their core characteristics, and tips to help you determine which category you fall in.

What Are the Different Male Body Types?

When you think of a male’s physique, what typically comes to mind? A body builder’s, like Arnold Schwarzenegger? One that’s lean, like Zac Efron? Or maybe one that’s on the heftier side, like Seth Rogan?

These examples represent Sheldon’s three main body types of men: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. But how can you tell your body type? Here’s a more detailed look at each category.

Male body types graphic

Ectomorph

Characteristics: Those with an ectomorphic body are lean with thin legs and arms as well as narrow chest and shoulders, and little-to-no body fat. They also tend to have narrow faces and appear very delicate. 

Shape: Rectangle.

Diet and metabolism: Ectomorphs have a hard time gaining weight — no matter how much they eat, they remain skinny. 

But just because they have this body type, it doesn’t mean they should indulge in junk food. Their metabolism will slow down as they age, which can then lead to an unhealthy gain in body fat. 

So the key is to eat a healthy, balanced diet filled with power foods, which include:

  • Carbohydrates including oats, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.
  • Fruits that include bananas, mangoes, pineapple, papaya, avocado, and peaches.
  • Vegetables that include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, beets, and carrots.
  • Nutrient-filled snacks including nuts and seeds, as well as nut butters. 

Fitness: Due to their lean mass, ectomorphs will find it difficult to build muscle and sculpt their bodies. So many often opt for endurance-type activities, like running or cycling. However, they can highly benefit from a solid, consistent weight-training program.

Famous male ectomorphs: Chris Rock, Clint Eastwood, and Toby McGuire.

Mesomorph

Characteristics: Mesomorphs lie in between ectomorphs and endomorphs. They tend to have a naturally athletic body shape — muscular bodies with strong arms, strong legs, and very little body fat. They normally have a narrow waist and a large head that matches their broad shoulders.

Shape: Inverted triangle.

Diet and metabolism: It’s all about balance with mesomorphs and as a general rule, their plate should consist of 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbs and fat, and 1/3 fruits and vegetables. So when it comes to diets and maintaining a healthy metabolism, mesomorphs should keep food groups in mind:

  • Protein, especially that of high-quality, such as Greek yogurt, white meats, and eggs. And it seems that mesomorphs respond better to high-protein diets.
  • Whole grains, including rice, quinoa, and similar whole grains.
  • Healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and oils.

Fitness: Mesomorphs have a great advantage — they can build muscle and burn fat pretty easily. However, that shouldn’t be a reason to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. A full-body workout with cardio and weight training can help a mesomorph maintain a healthy and fit body.

Famous male ectomorphs: Chris Hemsworth, LL Cool J, and Mark Wahlberg. 

Endomorph

Characteristics: An endomorph male is the polar opposite of an ectomorph. They have a more stocky body type — round, typically short, curvaceous shape with short necks, small shoulders, and thick waists, calves, and ankles.

Shape: Oval.

Diet and metabolism: Endomorphs tend to have a higher body-fat percentage, putting them at greater risk for health problems. They’re more sensitive to carbs, so they’re better off consuming:

  • Lean meats and fish.
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil.

Fitness: An endomorph may find building muscle comes easily. However, because their body’s prone to excess fat and slower metabolism, it makes it more difficult to stay lean. So a well-rounded fitness program is beneficial to those with an endomorph body type. To help boost metabolism, both weight and cardio training is recommended. 

Famous male endomorphs: Danny DeVito, John Goodman, and Santa Claus.

Which Body Type Are You?

You can identify which category you fall in with a body type quiz. But an alternative way is to look at your physical traits:

EctomorphMesomorphEndomorph
Slender frameRectangular body shapeSmooth, round shape, “stocky” build
Small bone structureNaturally lean and medium buildUsually short in height or stature
Narrow shoulders and hipsWide broad shouldersWide shoulders and hips
Can gain muscle easilyCan gain both fat and muscle easily
Muscled arms and legs
trainers checking information

Keep in mind that Sheldon’s classification of body types was based solely on physical features. Moreover, he believed that people with the same physique also had some psychological traits in common. 

While today this notion is considered outdated, Sheldon’s method of body typing was eventually turned into a mathematical model called the Heath-Carter Anthropometric Somatotype. This takes into account bone length, height-to-weight ratios, fat percentage, photographic analysis, and other measurements.

It’s more accurate than its predecessors, especially when it comes to the body types that may teeter between two somatotypes (we are all unique, after all). These include meso-endomorphs and ecto-mesomorphs.

  • Meso-endomorphs tend to have a pear-shaped body. They have a mid-thickness around the waists and ankles, small to medium size shoulders and chests, and wider hips. Biologically, females tend to have this body physique more than their male counterparts. But think Jack Black.
  • On the other hand, ecto-mesomorphs often have bodies with broad shoulders, a ‘V’ shape of the torso, and narrow waists, ankles, and wrists. They tend to be athletic, so they can easily fluctuate between being super lean or very muscular. Think Dwayne Wade, Hugh Jackman, and LeBron James.

So though the Heath-Carter Anthropometric Somatotype model can get a bit complicated, especially if you just don’t enjoy math, this model can still serve as a foundation to scientifically identify body types.

Can You Change Your Body Shape?

It’s important to understand that our shape is determined by our overall bone structure, genetics, and overall build. But one factor, as a 2020 study shows, that has an effect on our body shape and size is aging. Although it’s more commonly seen in female bodies, it can affect males as well.

We might get a little bit of a ‘dad bod’ due to hormonal changes, our metabolism slowing down, and the decrease in physical activity. Kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio or Russell Crowe.

Fit man working out with battle ropes

The wonderful thing about our bodies is that it’s adaptable to change. If you choose to transform your body, there are natural methods to help you emphasize certain features or your overall shape.

For instance, high-intensity training — the kind you can get from Mindvalley’s 10X Quest — can help burn calories, lose weight, and build muscle. Or if you’re more of an introverted exerciser, you can adopt a kettlebell workout routine with The Way of the Kettlebell Quest that you can do right in your own home.

You can also lean into the aging process by implementing longevity tips from The Longevity Blueprint Quest to perform optimally and live longer. What’s more, there’s also the option to explore intuitive eating. The WILDFIT Quest helps you address your relationship with what you eat and take control of your food freedom.

Whatever your choice may be — whether to gain or lose weight — do it for you, not for the societal expectations of what a healthy male body should look like. It’s like nutrition expert Eric Edmeades says, “Success in life is measured, most easily, by the number of days that a person is truly happy.”

And when you live in a body you’re happy with and feel great in, you can ultimately be yourself and embrace the authentic you that you were always meant to be.


Awaken Your Unstoppable

The Best of Mindvalley for the Best You

Discover transformational wisdom and ideas not yet covered in mainstream learning. And at Mindvalley, you'll connect with the world's best teachers and community — all on one revolutionary online learning platform.Become a member now

Written by
Mindvalley Editors