What Is A Body Type & Can I Change It?

Body types describe the way your body is built. 

But can you change your body type, or do you have to work with what you have? You can not change your body type, but you can change your body composition.

As a certified personal trainer, I’m here to guide you the topic of body types and my hope is that you will also appreciate the human body – especially yours.

Here’s what’s coming up: 

Body Types
What Determines Body Type?
Can You Change Your Body Type?
Exercising For Your Body Type
Dieting For Your Body Type
Body Image and Mental Health
Bottom Line

Body Types

My body type has longer arms and legs. In fact, my lanky arms inspired me to get buff.

But I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to gain muscle. I thought I could lift heavy weight and look like Arnold in no time.

That’s why I started training like crazy in my early 20’s. I’d often spend hours at the gym, sometimes even go twice a day. I saw results when I focused more on learning about my body.

Body types are also called somatotypes. A psychologist named William Sheldon, coined the term in the 1940s.

He had some funky ideas about body type being related to personality traits. Those ideas have since been debunked. Find out more here.

He classified body types three ways: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph.

  • Ectomorphs have a lean build and lesser muscle and fat than the other two body types. They have a hard time gaining weight and muscle.
  • Endomorphs have a sturdier build with more muscle and fat. They don’t necessarily have to be overweight, but do have a harder time losing weight.
  • Mesomorphs fall in the middle and have an athletic build. They can lose fat and gain muscle more efficiently than the other two body types.

Keep in mind that these are generalizations. We often fluctuate between body types because of different factors talked about later.

It’s not only the 3 body types that you should consider. There’s also a range of other shapes that bodies can take on: 

  • Oval: This person carries weight in the torso (chest, back, and stomach). The legs have a narrow build. Also called an apple shape. 
  • Rectangle: This person carries weight in the midsection. There are equal proportions through the shoulders, waist, and hips.
  • Triangle: This person carries weight in the lower body (hips, thighs, and buttocks). The shoulders have a narrow build. Also called a pear shape. 
  • Inverted triangle: This person carries weight in the upper body (arms, back, and stomach). The shoulders are wide but the hips are narrow.  
  • Hourglass: This person carries weight in the chest and hips, thighs, and buttocks. The width in the upper and lower body is equal. 

What Determines Body Type?

There are several factors that determine body type.

Your genetics determine body type

Ever wonder why people say you look like your parents? It’s because qualities and traits pass on to you from your parents through DNA.

Your sex determines
body type

I am referencing biological sex, which is assigned at a person’s birth.

Both male and female bodies create hormones. Hormones are used as messengers to send chemical signals in our blood. Both bodies use sex hormones for growth and development.

Your age determines
body type

As we age, our bodily functions change. Our bones and muscles get weaker and organ systems change.

In fact, after age 30 the body tends to gain weight faster and loses lean muscle sooner. Find out more about what aging does to our bodies.

Your lifestyle choices determine body type

Daily activities and habits do catch up to you. Sitting down for work and activities, for years on end, can weaken your leg muscles.

Not to mention the millions who suffer from hip or back pain. Lifestyle choices that improve your health and quality of life can take a load of stress off! As the saying goes, “health is wealth.”

Medicine can alter your physique. You may be an individual on medications for disease, allergy, mental health, or another reason. This can affect your mood and side effects are not pleasant.

However, this doesn’t disqualify you from the fitness journey. You too can still experience the joy of moving a little. It can be as simple as dancing to your favorite tunes.

Drugs and alcohol can alter your physique.

Substances can be for having a good time, or as my generation says, “getting lit.” They could be used responsibly and in moderation, or become an addiction.

Drugs and alcohol may not have an immediate impact on your physique. But they can toy with your mental health and perception of reality.

Just be mindful ya’ll. As adults we make choices and have to live with the consequences.

Can You Change
Your Body Type? 

Body type is a fundamental part of your physical being that can not be changed. I’m an ectomorph for life baby! But don’t get discouraged, here’s some good news.

The kinds of food you eat in your diet and the amount of exercise you regularly do can change your body. You CAN change your shape. You can become the strongest, healthiest version of yourself.

Some people love the way they look, or don’t care about looks at all. Diet and exercise aren’t just for looks. They’re for your bodies health and wellness. I mean, humans are built to be upright.

I’m encouraging you to get active. Mix up your routine and try something new. You never know! You could adopt a new lifestyle choice and be happier.

Then there’s those people who desire a physical transformation. In that’s you, find a source of courage everyday to keep going. Because it’s gonna be a while.

I had every excuse not to go, just like you might. I’m so glad I went. That consistency eventually made training less of a burden.

It became a lifestyle and I started to enjoy it. Know that real results take time, so you’ll get there!

  • Exercise strengthens your muscles, and helps to improve your mood. Exercise helps to change your body’s metabolism, the process of converting food and drink into energy.
  • That’s why it’s also important to manage what you put into your body. You can choose healthier foods, control your portions, and cut back on processed foods.
  • These decisions can positively affect how much weight you lose over time. For some, gaining muscles will help them gain weight in a healthy way.

Exercise and diet are like a combination one-two punch that will soon make you a knockout.  

Exercising For Your
Body Type 

Exercise can tone your body through losing weight and building muscle. Learning about your body type may be beneficial, so you can start to tailor your workout plans.

This will make exercise efficient because you’ll target the areas you want to improve! 

  • Ectomorphs can focus on building strength with more hypertrophy training. This means developing muscles with moderate weights and repetitions. If ectomorphs want to gain mass faster, they can reduce cardio. 
  • Endomorphs in contrast, can focus on increasing cardio, because that will aid in fat loss. They can do strength training, but more change will occur through cardio and diet. 
  • Mesomorphs can control their body types based on the type of training they do. 

Remember, any body shape can change with exercise. Think of it like sculpting, but in reverse!

You can not target fat loss in specific areas. Doing 1,000 sit-ups won’t get you shredded with a six pack.

You can workout specific muscle groups to build lean muscle tissue in that area. Don’t forget to add stretching into your workout for a well rounded routine.

There’s many resources out there to figure out your body type. Take the step to learn more about yourself, and then pick a type of weight training suitable for your level.

Keep a vision of how you want to look down the road and know that with discipline you can get it. 

Dieting For Your
Body Type 

Dieting can be stressful. It can feel like a chore because you start looking at all the things you can’t eat.

The things you should eat seems pale in comparison to all the salty, sweet, crunchy, and gooey things you’re used to snacking on. It’s hard to quit cold turkey.

So take it in strides, one day at a time.

Put the cookie down and munch on banana, or make a smoothie with vegan protein powder. It’s about having the mental strength and control to make a right choice in the moment.

It helps to know the purpose of food. Food acts as fuel that your body uses to make energy.

  • Calories are the amount of energy that a food contains. Excess calories get stored as fat in something called adipose tissue.
  • What diet and exercise do, is make the body tap into its energy reserves (fat). This is where the term “burning fat” comes from.
  • Losing weight starts by decreasing the amount of calories you’re eating and eating healthy foods like avocado oil.

Determining your body type can help you make realistic goals when it comes to dieting. You can become more conscious about what you’re taking in as fuel.

For example, ectomorphs can eat a more high-protein diet to build muscle. Endomorphs can focus on low-calorie meals to lose weight. I’m not a dietician or nutritionist, so I am not here giving meal plans.  

What I’m saying is that you can become informed about your body type to change your health for the better. Eating a balanced diet can improve your health.

That doesn’t mean that you become a perfect eater overnight! But you can definitely make some right choices every day. 

Those right choices will add up and you’ll see progress. 

Body Image and
Mental Health 

Everyone has feelings about their body image. Positive feelings and self-gratitude can be fantastic, but negative feelings can leave you stressed, anxious, or depressed.

  • This body dissatisfaction can be a major concern for mental health issues. 
  • Pressure from family, friends, social media, and even ourselves can take a heavy toll on self esteem.
  • This can lead to an unhealthy perception of oneself. Issues like body dysmorphia can alter your thoughts.

Sometimes unhealthy eating behaviors or disorders can occur, like eating too much, or too little. These can keep you from being your authentic self. 

Dealing with negative feelings is hard! Understand that many people have low self-esteem and body insecurities. You don’t have to go at it alone. Search for support in a community where you belong.

Remember, you don’t have to be stuck in your current situation. Taking charge of your life can start with a decision to make the right choices TODAY. 

There is a new wave on social media of body positivity and self acceptance of body type. It’s good to be comfortable in your own skin. But there is a lot of bad advice out there.

Promotion of poor lifestyle choices will hurt society rather than make it better in the long run.

So what can you do then to fight the negative feelings you may have about your body? Here’s some tips: 

  • Identify what triggers your negative feelings and seek guidance. 
  • Stop putting yourself down. 
  • Be around positive people. 
  • Listen to positive music or messages.
  • Limit the time you spend on social media. 
  • Be critical of images on social media. Lots of fakes around. 
  • Appreciate your body. Be thankful to be alive. 
  • Wear clothes and hairstyles that inspire you to be confident. 
  • Up lift someone else and it will return to you. 

Bottom Line 

You can enjoy healthy living! 

It’s going to take a strong effort to change your body type and to manage your mental health, diet, and exercise. It’s definitely a process, but the results are worth it. 


Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!