Ectomorphs are slim-boned, long-limbed, lithe and have very little body fat and little muscle. This body type, also known as Vata in Ayurvedic medicine (used in India since ~3000 BC), is most often seen in endurance athletes, models, and basketball players.
Ectomorphs are naturally thin, have little mass (fat and muscle) relative to their height and are relatively linear. People with an ectomorph body type find it difficult to gain weight or add muscle.
- Naturally slim to skinny
- Small joints/ boned
- Lanky – long arms and legs
- Linear physique – “ruler body shape”
- Long, narrow hands and feet
- Lightly muscled – small, long and slender muscles
- Small chest and buttocks
- Narrow shoulders
- Low body fat (without exercising or following low calorie diets)
- Can eat anything they like and gain little to no weight
- Fast metabolism
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Difficulty in gaining muscle mass
- Maintains narrow weight/ BMI range
- Poor natural strength
Examples of famous female ectomorphs include Taylor Swift, Gisele Bündchen, Thandie Newton, Eva Mendes, Uma Thurman, Cameron Diaz, and Audrey Hepburn. Famous male ectomorphs include Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper.
Which Sports are Ectomorphs Good at?
Do the sports and activities you enjoy most. However, it’s worth noting that ectomorphs are naturally better at some sports than others. Ectomorphs have light bones, small joints and slender muscles. Therefore, ectomorphs often excel in sports requiring endurance and light weight, including long-distance running, triathlon, jogging and cross-country skiing.
Long limbs compensate for slower sprints and changes in direction. They also provide a decided advantage when it comes to sports requiring a long powerful stroke or jump, such as rowing, swimming, jumping, and basketball, as well as in sports calling for hitting and throwing. Long limbs allow ectomorphs to generate great speed due to a long range of motion in sports involving hitting or throwing a ball. Think of racquet sports, volleyball or baseball.1 People with an ectomorphic body type also tend to boast very high flexibility (naturals at Yoga!).
Ectomorphs tend to have poor ligamentous support and a less robust build (compared to mesomorphs or endomorphs), which makes ectomorphs more susceptible to injury. Therefore, ectomorphs may not do as well in fast-paced aerobic-type exercise, such as sprinting and contact sports.
Long-distance swimming may not be a strength for ectomorphs due to lack of body fat, which is required for buoyancy, but they make for great speed swimmers. Ectomorphs also tend to have a high centre of gravity, making them less balanced and stable.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be a great 100m runner or long-distance swimmer, just that you’re unlikely to make the Olympic team. Nonetheless, while body types are helpful, they’re not destiny. Remember Usain Bolt. The unlikeliest of sprinters. Impossibly tall and lanky, towering over the other mesomorphic sprinters. Still the world’s fastest man, his records haven’t been broken. So be you Usain Bolt or Eddie the Eagle – do what you love.
Ectomorphs with a higher body fat percentage often want to lose fat and gain muscle (may be skinny fat), while ectomorphs with low fat and muscle want to gain weight – both fat and muscle (ectomorphs).
Ectomorphs tend to lack muscle mass and have a smaller frame, and so may need to keep their weight lower than endomorphs or mesomorphs (see the ideal weight calculator). While ectomorphs appear to be skinny, this does not necessarily mean they have a healthy body fat percentage.
With age, even the super fast metabolism of ectomorphs slows down and as a result, they often gain weight, since they are not used to exercising or watching their calorie intake. However, this is an opportunity for male ectomorphs to gain muscle and female ectomorphs who want more curves to get them. Brad Pitt for example, has become much less ectomorphic over the last few years, as has Cameron Diaz.
Ectomorphs can develop a high fat to muscle ratio due to their relative lack of muscle mass. Therefore, regardless of whether you want to gain or lose body fat, part of your plan should be to add muscle mass.
Little muscle mass and long limbs means ectomorphs are not as strong as mesomorphs and endomorphs. Ectomorphs also tend to have underdeveloped and relatively weak abdominal muscles. This causes the belly to balloon outwards after meals, due to a lack of strong abs. Adding muscle will increase strength, muscle tone, shape, and posture.
A large part of an ectomorph workout plan should include strength training. Ectomorphs have to work hard to build muscle. And the more ectomorphic you are the more difficult it is to change you body.
Ectomorph Workout & Nutrition Plan
Ectomorphs may be underweight, with some also carrying too much body fat and not enough lean mass (muscle). Ectomorphs can benefit, as much as the other two body types, from body fat (composition) measurements.
When it comes to diet for ectomorphs, include nutrient and calorie dense foods for snacks and meals, such as nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, and vegetables. Also, some ectomorphs may want to try a weight gain diet.
If you are struggling to gain weight, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions. People suffering with hyperthyroidism for example, experience weight loss, are unable to gain weight and tend to be hyperactive and fidgety.