Bodies come in different shapes and sizes. If you have a higher percentage of muscle than body fat, you may have what is known as a mesomorph body type.
People with mesomorphic bodies may not have much trouble gaining or losing weight. They may bulk up and maintain muscle mass easily.
Why does body type matter? It’s an aspect of your unique body. Knowing your body type may help you meet your diet and fitness goals.
Researcher and psychologist William Sheldon introduced body types, called somatotypes, in the 1940s. Although Sheldon theorized that body type influenced personality and social status, this article focuses on just the physical attributes of body types. Your type is determined by both your skeletal frame and body composition.
According to Sheldon, people with a mesomorph body type tend to have a medium frame. They may develop muscles easily and have more muscle than fat on their bodies.
Mesomorphs are typically strong and solid, not overweight or underweight. Their bodies may be described as rectangular in shape with an upright posture.
Other characteristics include:
- square-shaped head
- muscular chest and shoulders
- large heart
- muscular arms and legs
- even weight distribution
Mesomorphs may have no trouble eating what they want to eat, as they may lose weight easily. On the flip side, they may gain weight just as readily. Those who are trying to stay trim may consider this characteristic a disadvantage.
The mesomorph body type falls between two other main somatotypes, as described by Sheldon.
An ectomorph is characterized by a small frame size and little body fat. People who have this body type may be long and lean with little muscle mass. They may have difficulty gaining weight and muscle no matter what they eat or do in the gym.
Characterized by higher body fat and less muscle, endomorphs may appear round and soft. They may also put on pounds more easily.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that individuals with this body type are overweight. Rather, they’re more likely to gain weight than those who have other body types.
Combination body types
People may have more than one body type. For example, ecto-endomorphs are pear-shaped. They have thinner upper bodies and more fat storage on the lower half.
Endo-ectomorphs, on the other hand, are apple-shaped, with more fat storage in the upper body with thinner hips, thighs, and legs.
Because body types have to do with your skeletal frame size and your natural propensity to be more muscular or store more fat, you can’t change your body type by eating a certain diet.
You can, however, tweak your eating habits to make the most of your body type and to support a healthy weight.
Again, mesomorphs may gain and lose weight easily. Since they have a higher muscle mass, they may need more calories than other body types, but it’s a delicate balance.
Mesomorphs may do better on higher-protein diets with less emphasis on carbohydrates. Consider dividing your plate into thirds and focusing on the following food groups:
- Protein (on one third of the plate) fuels muscles and can help with muscle repair. Good choices include eggs, white meats, fish, beans, lentils, and high-protein dairy, like Greek yogurt.
- Fruits and vegetables (on one third of the plate) are part of a healthy diet for all body types. Choose whole fruits and vegetables with skins instead of processed varieties that contain added sugar or salt. Whole produce contains fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that help support a healthy immune system and muscle repair.
- Whole grains and fats (on one third of the plate), such as quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal, help fill the stomach and round out meals. Fats are just as important, but it’s choosing the right ones that matters. Good choices include coconut or olive oils, avocado, and nuts and seeds.
To determine your caloric needs, make an appointment with a nutritionist or try using a detailed online calculator that takes into account body fat percentage and somatotype.
Remember: More muscle means more calories needed to fuel those muscles. And if you’re working out regularly, you’ll need to time your eating in such a way that you optimize your energy and recovery. Eating small snacks before and after activity can help.
Women tend to have more body fat overall than men, but body type and body size are two different things. Both men and women can have the mesomorph somatotype. How gender factors in isn’t exactly clear.
In one study, researchers discovered children tend to be of similar somatotypes to their mothers, though more research is needed.
In the end, your body type is determined by a number of factors. Genetics play a major role, but gender and ethnicity may also have an influence on your body type.
There is no cut-and-paste workout for each body type. However, people with a mesomorphic body may appear more muscular than those with other body types.
There is no cut-and-paste workout for each body type. However, mesomorphs have a natural edge with muscle mass. They may do well with weight training to build muscle, up to five days a week.
Choose three or four weight-training exercises on your own or with the help of a trainer at your gym. Do three sets of each exercise using moderate to heavy weights with 8 and 12 repetitions in each set. Rest 30 to 90 seconds between each set.
Not looking to bulk up? You can maintain muscle by doing more repetitions of the exercises with lighter weights.
Cardiovascular exercise may help mesomorphs who are looking to lean out. Consider adding between 30 to 45 minutes of cardio, three to five times throughout your weekly routine.
Along with steady exercises, like running, swimming, or cycling, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for the most fat-blasting power. HIIT involves bursts of intense training followed by lighter intervals, repeating throughout the workout session.
Mesomorphs who already have less body fat may decrease their cardio sessions to as few as two a week, depending on their goals.
Knowing your somatotype may help you make the most of your unique body. People who have mesomorphic bodies may need more calories and protein to keep themselves running efficiently. And certain exercises can help mesomorphs either bulk up or lean out.
Make an appointment with your doctor or a fitness professional to create a diet and exercise plan that works best for you, your body, and your goals.