It can be on fitness, sports or just plain daily life.

Everything I hear and know about ectomorphs is:

  • They struggle to gain weight (be it fat or muscle) and they tend to lose the gains easily.
  • They have small bones, putting them on the "weak side" of the spectrum and at a higher risk of ostheoporosis.
  • They tend to have low fat levels, so it's harder for their body to regulate its temperature.

So it seems that people with that body type (including me) "lost the game" in the gene pool and are screwed for life. Can anybody shine a light on me and tell me if there's any good thing of being like this?! :(

  • 2
    Struggling to gain fat can be an advantage no? Many diseases are linked to obesity.
    – Kenshin
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 0:47
  • 1
    You can have little fat on your body, and very high cholesterol levels. Clogged coronary arteries will kill you a lot quicker than a "pooch."
    – BryceH
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 0:14
  • Being an endomorph, I assure you it's a lot more frustratig being a fat guy... Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 6:54
  • I'm an young ecto myself, which is awesome, but compared to the others like Ryan Gosling;he looks like a meso and a ecto. Against a person like a meso do I have the advantage in speed or him in strenght. Also, can ectomorphs have faster reflexes and reaction times? Ps this site is really helpful
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 17:20
  • The ecto/endo/meso classifications have been pretty well debunked for a while now.
    – JohnP
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 17:41

6 Answers 6


Ectomorphs automatically win when it comes to long distance running and rock climbing, as well as any other sport where being light is an advantage. Being unable to gain weight easily means strength gains are almost entirely without a matching weight gain. That's great if you want to keep your own weight low while getting stronger. Also, a lot of designers only make clothes for ectomorphs, if you're fashion conscious that's an advantage too.

  • +1: there are absolutley badass sports that smaller athletes excel at. Distance running, cycling (especially up steep hills), rock climbing. You don't have to be built like a powerlifter to do ALL sports (although some level of strength training is usually beneficial).
    – DavidR
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 17:36
  • The feels when you gain strength so slowly because you can't gain weight though.
    – hamza_tm
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 13:32

Because the english wikipedia is pested by bad references (mostly third class fitness sites that oversimplify the whole thing) I will cite from the German Wikipedia (with translation by me).

Diese Idee ist heute medizinisch widerlegt. Das Konzept taucht heute fast ausschließlich im Fitness-Bereich auf, um ein dem Körpertyp angepasstes Trainingsprogramm zu erstellen. Die Begriffe und umsomehr die dahinterstehende Theorie sind aus heutiger Sicht mehr als fragwürdig; wissenschaftlich relevant sind sie nicht.

This idea is medically refuted nowadays. The concept only comes up with fitness relation to create a training program customized to the body type. The term and even more the theory behind it are more than questionable from a present-day perspective; they are not scientifically relevant.

In der Humanbiologie allerdings werden die Körperbautypen zur Beschreibung des individuellen morphologisch-anatomischen Aufbaus eines Menschen genutzt. Die Bestimmung des Typs erfolgt dabei über die Messung der Breite der großen Gelenke (z.B. Knie) und Einsetzung in eine Formel.

In human biology, however, these body types are used to describe the individual morpologic-anatomic structure of an individual. The typing is done by measuring the size of the big joints (eg knee) and inserting them into a formula.

So, as Moses commented, these types are still in use.

Die Einschätzung nach Körperbautyp wird insbesondere in der Sportmedizin angewandt, um ein angepasstes Trainingsprogramm zu erstellen.

These classifications by body type are used especially in sports medicine to create a personal training plan.

But however:

Die heute gebräuchlichste Form der Somatotypbestimmung geht auf Heart und Carter A Modified Somatype Method von 1967 zurück [...]

The method used today dates back to Heart and Carters A Modified Somatype Method from 1967 [...] [link included by me]

Although I had to completely rewrite my answer, my main point is still valid. But I have to modify it a bit:
What most of the fitness sites tell you is still crap. They give you a checklist and you have to check for certain features, and then they put you inside one class and make you believe that you have all of those features that are tied with it, this a bad oversimplification in my eyes.

Which features are measured today?

Körperhöhe, Körpergewicht, Hautdickenmessung an vier Punkten, zwei Umfangsmessungen an Extremitäten und zwei Knochenbreitenbestimmungen.

Height, weight, skin thickness at four points, two circumference measurements on limbs, two bone width measurements.

And the most significant part is that there are not only the three extreme types but far more:

Die meisten Menschen [weisen] Merkmale aller drei Typen auf. Man unterscheidet in der Sheldonschen Typologie etwa achtzig Untergruppen. Die Fettanspeicherung, der Muskelaufbau und der Skelettbau sind dabei eng korreliert.

Most people show signs of all three types. Sheldons typologie know around eighty subgroups. Fat-storing, muscle development and skeletal structure correlate closely.

So what can you learn from this?
You are probably not an extreme type, but even if you are a complete ectomorph by the definition of sports medicine, you wont gather muscle mass as fast as other people but you will excel in endurance activity.

  • You'll need to make it more substantial than that. :) Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 19:03
  • @DaveLiepmann I guess you were talking about this question here in your comment in the other question, right? I already edited the NYtimes stuff in. Maybe I'll find another paper on somatotypes, too.
    – Baarn
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 19:11
  • 1
    I was...I guess I got a little mixed up. :) This is better than the first version. +1 Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 21:43
  • 1
    -1. You are confusing physiology and psychology. The general principle of body types (endo-, ecto-, and mesomorph) is universally accepted. The "theory" and "quackery" come from the late Dr. Sheldon's attempt to correlate somatotypes with human temperament and intelligence. It is the attempt to bridge somatotypes with psychology that is considered quackery, not somatotypes themselves.
    – Moses
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 19:36
  • 2
    @Moses you were right, I have completely revamped the answer.
    – Baarn
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 20:32

Chris made a very good comment on your question. I have the same body structure like yours is. I found some advantages of being an ectomorph.

  1. You can eat whatever you want; till it's just a matter of increasing fat on your body due to your eating habbits.
  2. You will never have to struggle to lose weiht.
  3. You have fewer chances of getting affected by those problems that mostly arise due to obesity. (As It's said).

Also you can gain weight if you are consuming proper nutritions. Gaining weight is not mission impossible.

Hope that makes sense.

Accept yourself as you are.


I am pretty much a classic ectomorph myself, and so are all the men on my dad's side of the family. Both my uncle and my dad rode long distance cycle tours when they were younger. My uncle just completed a tour of 108 km in seering heat and stiff winds at the age of 60 in a time of 3:40. Considering the winners, much younger, better trained and with better equipment did the same race in 2:50, that's not bad. I have always found that while not brilliant at short distances, once I got into my stride, I could run for an hour and recover without problems.

The big thing however is the gym. It has been very hard for me to gain muscle (though I have), BUT I feel like without gaining much or any weight, I have seriously increased my reps, weights, etc in all exercises in the gym. At 77.5 kg and 1.73 m, I can deadlift 150, and probably hit 160 if I tried. For example.

So yes, I think ecto's definitely have an advantage in endurance sports, but also gaining strength pound for pound.


I'm an ectomorph. I'm 6'2 and, maybe 140lbs. The only exercise I do are push ups, chin ups, sit ups, and triceps dips. I can easily lift my own body weight. I can carry over 200 lbs on my back. But, no matter how strong I get, I'm still skinny as hell.

I love the ripped sinewy look. I have cool veins. I can walk forever, and, I can climb a rope with just my arms and can fly over any terrain.

Evolutionarily, we are the scouts, runners, hunters. We might not have the warrior build of mesomorphs, but there's obviously benifits to our body type or evolution would have snuffed us out.


You'll stay lean forever. Think about it, ripped 24/7 all day everyday. Yeah sure if you are a meso you can get strong and muscular very quickly but they're only ripped for 5 months in a year (cut/bulk).

We stay ripped year round, we can bulk forever and we'll never get fat. And if you wanna get under 10% body fat you can start cutting. For an ecto it takes 2 weeks to finish a cut. Be happy with yourself!

  • 1
    Bro - welcome to the site. I encourage you to take the tour and read the recommendations on how questions and answers should be formed, as this is different than a discussion site.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 20:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.