Somatotype theory states that people are born with an inherited body type. This theory was introduced in 1942 and is used by nutritionists, exercise physiologists and doctors to design effective, individualised fitness plans. Based on skeletal frame and body composition, the gist is that everyone falls into 3 categories of body types: ectomorph, mesomorph & endomorphs. Take the Body Type Quiz to learn more about your body type and receive a personalised lifestyle plan.
What is my body type?
Generally thin and lean, ectomorphs tend to have slender waists, narrow hips and shoulders, small joints, and long legs and arms. They tend to be slim, without much body fat or noticeable muscle mass. Because they have fast metabolisms, they burn calories quickly, so ectomorphs may find themselves hungry frequently throughout the day; yet, regardless of what, how often, or how much they eat, they don’t gain weight or muscle easily.
Naturally muscular, mesomorphs typically have moderate-size frames, with wider shoulders and a narrow waist, strong arms and legs, and modest amounts of body fat. They are genetically predisposed to build muscle, so mesomorphs often require a slightly higher calorie intake (since muscle requires more calories to maintain it) and more protein than the other types do (again, for muscle maintenance). Generally, mesomorphs are able to lose or gain weight easily.
Because they have a medium-to-large bone structure and more body fat than the other types, women who are endomorphs are often described as curvaceous or full-figured, while endomorphic men might be considered stocky, doughy, or round. Endomorphs usually have narrow shoulders and wider hips, and carry any excess weight in the lower abdomen, hips, and thighs. It’s often challenging for them to lose weight but with the right diet and training approach, it can be done.
However in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Indian form of wellbeing which is over 2000 years old, body types are called dosha. And there are three main doshas – Vata, Pitta & Kapha. If you understand the dosha characteristics, then:
Vata = Ectomorphs
Pitta = Mesomorphs
Kapha = Endomorphs
But the Ayurvedic system is more comprehensive than modern western somatotyping. It makes room for mixed dosha’s like Vata-Pitta or Ectomorph Mesomorph types. And many people are mixed types. The Ayurvedic system also takes emotions, psychological default modes & behavioural responses into account with its body type system. Learn more about the Ayurvedic Doshas or Take our Body Type Quiz to discover your dosha or body type.
Mixed Body Types
Hybrid somatotypes are common, especially in the pro-athletic world. The ecto-mesomorph physique is prized for being aesthetically appealing. In both men and women alike, ecto-mesomorphs have the “fitness model” look with muscular V-shaped torsos – that is wide upper back, developed chest and shoulders, narrow waist. Ecto-mesomorphs are lean and agile, with strong arms and legs. They are not bulky.
Ecto-mesomorphs are called Kapha Vata in the Ayurvedic System.
The meso-endomorph hybrid is the most common body type, according to research. Many bodybuilders and contact sports athletes (like football players) have this body type. Characterized by muscular arms and legs plus a boxy chest and mid-section, this body types powerful but not chiselled. This may be because people with this body type tend to retain water and a layer of fat on top of their muscles.
People with this kind of build who want to get a leaner physique should be prepared to take a more refined approach include resistance training, cardio workouts, yoga stretching and Kapha Pitta diet, so they can lose fat and maintain energy.
Meso-endomorphs are called Kapha Pitta in the Ayurvedic System.
This is usually a behaviourally acquired body type. It occurs when someone who is really an ectomorph holds more body fat, from poor eating habits or sedentary lifestyle.
With long limbs and a smaller bone structure, ecto-endomorphs often have soft midsections, droopy chests, and flabby upper arms and legs. To improve fitness, the most efficient plan for this type involves resistance training and high-intensity cardio. This promotes muscle growth and stimulates metabolism.
Ecto-endomorphs have a tendency to develop insulin resistance. Their bodies become less efficient at burning carbohydrates. They need to follow a Pitta Vata diet with a slightly higher protein intake, a medium fat intake, and lower carb levels — until the excess body fat comes off and metabolic function is optimized.
Ecto-endomorphs are called Pitta Vata in the Ayurvedic System.