Exercises You Should Be Doing For Your Body Type

Fitness is complicated, right? There is a sea of information available on the internet, and everyone seems to have their own opinions about what "works" — and what doesn't. The thing is, everyone's body is different, and everyone is entitled to their own goals.

Generally speaking, though, there are three body types, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). However, people often fall somewhere in between the categories. With this in mind, fitness professionals view body types on a spectrum. While there is no magic elixir or movement to create perfect fitness, there are plenty of options to visually alter your figure and help propel you into your healthful future.

When trainers talk about working out for specific body types, they approach it through the lens of balance. For example, someone who has wide shoulders might want to emphasize working out their lower body to build more muscle and create more of an hourglass shape. On the flip side, someone with more junk in the trunk might want to tone their upper body. As we outline the style of workouts that can best exemplify your unique shape and help you stay healthy, remember that aesthetics are merely a piece of the puzzle (via NASM). Our outward characteristics do not truly allow us to assess health information. After all, some of the more "desirable" bodies are some of the unhealthiest. Now, with that caveat out of the way, let's begin.

Do genetics play a role in your body type?

We've all heard the adage if you want to know what a girl will look like in 30 years, look at her mom. This is an easy fallacy to believe. This equation seems to forget that a significant portion of your shape comes from the other half of your genes as well.

Genes play a significant role in your body shape as it fits into one (or a combination) of the three categorical shapes. However, you can override your genetics when it comes to body composition. According to Verywell Fit, body composition is defined as "the proportion of fat and non-fat mass in your body." As you work out and lower your body fat percentage, your body composition will change. Even with a changed body composition, though, the original building blocks of your body will remain the same. This is where specified building comes in (via Active). We understand that everyone has different goals, and when approached from the standpoint of physique, you can definitely work with what your mama gave you.

The main body types

In general, body types can be broken down into three types: endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs. Endomorphs are predisposed to rounder, curvier shapes. According to NASM, endomorphs tend to have larger stomachs because the digestive viscera is bigger. Mesomorphs are defined by their larger muscle, bone, and connective tissue economies. They tend to have more muscular, rectangular bodies. Finally, ectomorphs tend to be narrower and more linear. Ectomorphs are often slim and petite. Interestingly, ectomorphs' bodies have a "large skin surface" when compared to their actual body mass (via Britannica). So interesting!

It's important to keep in mind that body types are viewed on a spectrum, not as a one-size-fits-all approach. ANd because of this, it is not uncommon for someone to have a combination of two body types or fall into a gray area on this spectrum, explained NASM. Some people are genetically predisposed to have long, slender legs paired with an endomorphic upper body. No matter where you fall on the body type spectrum, remember to thank your body for all of its hard work. Mindset is key. Practicing compassion for our bodies as we begin to understand our shapes and how to work out for them will yield far greater results.

Understanding your ectomorph body type

Ectomorphs dominated the media 1990s and early 2000s. From Kate Moss to Paris Hilton, runways, magazines, movies, and TV shows exemplified and worshipped the thinnest of the thin frames. Experts caution ectomorphs and those who covet this shape against believing that "skinny" means healthy. Though the ectomorph body type has been coveted by the media for years, one cannot necessarily assess body composition visually (via ABC News). A willowy figure does not automatically equate to a healthy body. People predisposed to this shape can generally eat how they please without any physical repercussions while they are young. Wiry ectomorphs may find it hard to build muscle and maintain a healthy body weight, according to Ace Fitness.

If you are an ectomorph in shape and want to start (or continue) your fitness journey, exercise scientists have a lot of options for you (per Ace Fitness). From specifically timed snacks and meals to nutrition recommendations to toning physical movements, you'll be working out for your body type in no time!

Understanding your mesomorph body type

Mesomorphs typically have larger amounts of muscle and are often more rectangular in shape. Janet Jackson and Britney Spears are two great examples of famous mesomorphs in (via Today). Mesomorphs defining characteristics are their high volumes of muscle and substantial bone mass. Often, mesomorphs have an easy time gaining muscle or fat mass, Healthline explained.

Conversely, this body type can usually drop weight fairly quickly under the right conditions. They are solid, strong-looking people who are usually blessed with high-functioning hearts. Their large, functional hearts combined with their propensity towards muscle growth allows mesomorphs to excel in athletics. Of course, this is a generalization, not a rule (per Healthline).

Because of these unique characteristics, mesomorphs make great physique competitors. They can manipulate their aesthetic shapes fairly easily with well-rounded fitness routines. As with all body types, nutrition plays a huge role in achieving your fitness goals; however, it is especially true for mesomorphs, according to Healthline.

Understanding your endomorph body type

All hail the queen — Queen Bey, that is. We will never pass up an opportunity to exemplify our queen. Interestingly enough, she falls into the endomorph category when it comes to body types. In fact, Beyoncé and the late Marilyn Monroe are examples of the female endomorphic body type, explained MindBodyGreen. Endomorphs typically have curves. Some of their shapes can be attributed to their bone structures, all of which vary. Endomorphs usually carry their weight in their abdomens, hips, and legs, which leads to a voluptuous look, according to Medical News Today.

If left unmanaged, endomorphs have a greater propensity towards excessive weight gain. Unfortunately, this body type is less inclined to shed weight once it has been gained. However, with the proper training and diet, endomorphs can excel in athletics. Though it may take extra work to maintain, endomorphs have the option to become figure competitors, models, and generally happy people with confidence in their shapes (via NASM). We know they can achieve the latter regardless. 


Depending on where you stand, you may view running as a high-impact activity that is not good for you. We are here leading the crusade and spreading the word: Running is good for you! Running is especially good for people with endomorphic body types, according to Runners World. While everyone can enjoy the endless health benefits of running, endomorphs benefit the most (via Everyday Health).

Endomorphs do tend to need a kick in the pants to get their metabolisms fired up. Regular steady-state cardio is an excellent way to ignite this. Steady-state cardio in this case can be described as a moderate jog. Your level of perceived exertion should stay around 4 to 5 out of 10 and you should be able to carry on a conversation with only minor difficulty (Verywell Fit). However, Medical News Today cautions endomorphic runners from relying solely on running. Endomorphs have the capacity to build strong muscles, which can help lead to an overall fit physique. Too much running may impede strength gains (per NASM).

Since endomorphs have the propensity to gain weight, many will be pleased to know that running is an excellent form of weight management. The cardio benefits of consistent jogging are also something to look forward to.


As with most exercises, weightlifting can benefit all body types in some way. But endomorphs and ectomorphs are the two body types that can yield the largest gains from weightlifting (Everyday Health). 

Let's look at endomorphs first. Endomorphs tend to carry weight and often have trouble regulating their body weight. Building muscle mass is a surefire way to increase your metabolism, or the amount of energy you burn by simply existing (via Self). Each pound of muscle burns about 7 to 10 calories per day at rest, while each pound of fat burns only 2 or 3, according to Livestrong. By weightlifting to increase muscle mass, endomorphs can ramp up the number of calories burned while resting. This can aid in weight management.

Ectomorphs benefit from weightlifting for a totally different reason. Ectomorphs are usually slighter of frame and have more difficulty building and maintaining muscle mass. They also often experience chronic back pain and osteoporosis. Practicing compound lifts, like weighted squats, is a great way to build a stronger physical support system and ward off these issues (via Everyday Health). 

HIIT training

High-intensity interval training, aka HIIT, has become increasingly popular as of late. HIIT workouts involve changing the intensity of the workout as you move through them. This often looks like very intentionally designed circuit training (via Verywell Fit). HIIT rose to fame because of the efficiency and fun of the workouts.

HIIT is one of the best training styles that can be utilized by people with the endomorph body type. The combination of strength movements with an elevated heart rate can yield a ton of #gains. By constantly changing the intensity of each movement, you are providing excellent cardiovascular benefits. Lifting weights and performing bodyweight exercises throughout your workout also help to build muscle mass. You are essentially tapping into both your aerobic and anaerobic systems while working out in this way. Both of these elements can aid in weight management and long-term physical health (per Verywell Fit).

Mesomorphs can also yield great results from HIIT workouts. As they are the natural athletes among us, mesomorphs benefit from well-rounded fitness regimens. HIIT workouts often fall into that category. Experts recommend a variety of HIIT moves for the already-muscular mesomorphs, according to Healthline.


CrossFit is similar to HIIT workouts in that most routines involve a variety of movement patterns. CrossFit workouts are constantly varied to in a well-rounded approach to fitness (via Healthline). 

As we continue to see, each body type can benefit from different exercises in different ways. But it's time to give the mesomorphs some one-on-one attention here. Mesomorphs make prime CrossFitters because of their natural ability to build bulk. Because mesomorphs can gain and lose weight and muscle fairly easily, they my see the results from CrossFit faster than people with different body types.

If you have a mesomorphic body type and you are curious about your fitness potential, give CrossFit a go! Functional fitness can help you build muscular strength, increase your aerobic capacity, and help you burn calories. Plus, participating in CrossFit can help with your flexibility, agility, and weight management (via Healthline). And hey, if you're a mesomorph who doesn't like CrossFit, that's okay too. Your natural strength and capabilities will allow you to succeed in most of your athletic endeavors (via Everyday Health).

Cycling indoors and out

It is pretty easy to poke fun at your friends who are obsessed with SoulCycle. After all, they take riding a stationary bike so seriously. But the joke is on those of us who make fun of cycling because its health benefits are pretty exceptional.

Endomorphs can vastly benefit the most from cycling, both indoor and outdoor. Cycling can be performed as steady-state cardio or as intervals and both styles, or a combination, are beneficial. Cycling is yet another activity that can help endomorphs with weight management while providing great cardiovascular benefits. Furthermore, cycling is low-impact and can be scaled to suit your unique level of fitness (via Healthline). Cycling can also help increase your leg strength (i.e., build muscle) and improve your overall balance and coordination, according to Healthline.

Ectomorphs should practice aerobic activities such as cycling and running with caution. We often gravitate towards what we are good at. This means that ectomorphs usually take on long-distance aerobic activities, while endomorphs tend to avoid them. If you want to truly honor your body type and get into the best shape of your life, many trainers recommend getting yourself out of your comfort zone. By tackling a new challenge or workout that engages your muscles differently, you are sure to make gains that are optimal for your unique body type (via Everyday Health).


Swimming is one of the healthiest sports you can perform. This aquatic activity benefits each body type in different ways, according to Healthline. With their muscular upper bodies, mesomorphs usually excel at swimming (via Medical News Today). And since mesomorphs benefit from a combination of strength and cardio activities, swimming is a great sport to help mesomorphs reach their fitness goals, per Healthline. When performed as steady-state cardio exercises, mesomorphs can yield huge fitness results from swimming (via Everyday Health). 

Ectomorphs may benefit the most from swimming. Since ectomorphs are usually less muscular, they greatly benefit from muscle-building activities. Swimming is an excellent way for ectomorphs to build muscle because of the resistance of the water (via Stack). It is also a great way for them to reap the cardiovascular benefits of other aerobic exercises without overdoing it, which can lead to injuries. Since swimming is a low-impact activity, it can be a good choice for people who are struggling with prior injuries or other health conditions.

And of course, endomorphs can make massive strides when it comes to health and fitness if they choose to partake in swimming. Swimming is a low-impact aerobics activity that can easily be scaled for beginners (via Healthline). The aerobic benefits can help endomorphs manage their weight. The resistance of the water as they move through it can help build musculature, which can lead to an increase in metabolism function, according. to Everyday Health.

How flexibility varies by body type

Flexibility is one of the three components of fitness. From a technical standpoint, if you have a rockin' cardiovascular work capacity and Hulk-like strength, you are still unfit if your flexibility mirrors that of the Tin Man. Some body types are predisposed to find flexibility (via Dummies). Other body types can practice yoga every day and still struggle to touch their toes. Of course, skeletal anatomy impedes flexibility in some cases. Muscle mass can affect how mobile someone's joints are, according to Yoga Multimedia.

Ectomorphs are usually the most flexible. This is why we often see ectomorphs as ballerinas and yoga instructors. A few simple stretches can increase an ectomorph's flexibility in extreme ways. Mesomorphs, who excel athletically and are solid, are usually significantly less flexible than their ectomorphic counterparts. Since mesomorphs can build muscle so quickly, it is incredibly important for them to incorporate mobility work in their training. The more muscle mass, or bulk, that somebody has, the less flexible they are (Yoga Multimedia).

Endomorphs often fall into the middle ground when it comes to flexibility. Endomorphs do not build muscle as quickly as mesomorphs, so they tend to maintain their natural flexibility. On the opposite end of the spectrum, endomorphs carry more weight than ectomorphs, which can get in the way of flexibility. Many of us live within a gray area when it comes to body types, so it is valuable to find your own healthful balance regarding flexibility, according to yoga expert Kathleen Trotter.


Yoga is just the best, man. Yoga is one of the most enduring and widespread forms of physical movement out there. There are so many styles and types to choose from and each one benefits the human body in vastly different capacities (via WebMD). And according to the yoga experts at Yoga Multimedia, ectomorphs greatly benefit from yoga practices where strength is the main focus. Holding heat-inducing postures for a long amount of time helps to build muscle mass, which can protect joints and bone mass (via Mayo Clinic). 

Yoga Multimedia further recommends yin-style yoga for mesomorphs. Yin yoga is characterized by its gentle, relaxing approach to flexibility. The different postures help to loosen the connective tissues surrounding the joints, explained Yoga Journal. Since mesomorphs tend to have larger bone structures and shorter joints, yin yoga can aid in flexibility and injury prevention.

Endomorphs may not have what you think of as the quintessential "yoga body," but really all bodies can be yoga bodies. Besides, endomorphs actually tend to gravitate towards yoga because of their natural abilities (via Yoga Multimedia). People with endomorphic frames benefit most from heat-building yoga practices where movement is abundant. Endomorphs usually build the strength to hold strength postures quickly. Additionally, yoga can help endomorphs with weight management in a mindful, low-impact way.

How to determine the best exercises for your body

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. As much as we would love to tell you the exact moves to perform to build your dream physique, fitness is far more nuanced than that. The best exercises for your body are the ones that can help you grow towards well-rounded health. Ectomorphs find health through building muscle. Mesomorphs thrive when they find a balanced way to approach their strength, cardio, and flexibility. Endomorphs need a keen eye for nutrition and the motivation to get moving to best find long-lasting fitness (via NASM).

No body type is inherently "good" or "bad." Likewise, no exercise is fundamentally good or bad. You should always work on challenging yourself and staying aware of when your body tries to take the path of least resistance (per NASM). By balancing your workouts, finding activities you enjoy, and fueling your body properly, you will build overall wellness. And truly, what is sweeter than health, confidence, and happiness?