If you are reading this then chances are you already consider yourself to be an endomorph. For quick reference, an endomorph is a somatotype which is a general characterization for a person’s physique.
There are three general somatotypes (ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph) and the majority of people will be able to relate to a specific type based on their own individual characteristics. Though it’s also true that to some degree you will have a combination of all factors due to how unique each and every one of us are.
Mesomorphs are typically considered to have the best genetics when it comes to physique development, they can easily build muscle while still minimizing the amount of body fat they put on.
Ectomorphs (what I’d consider myself to be) often have long limbs, small joints and a narrow frame, they have a perceived faster metabolism so don’t put on fat as much but also have low levels of muscle mass and struggle to build muscle.
Endomorphs are typically described as having rounder body types, a larger and more dense bone structure, wide hips/blocky structure and have a low tolerance to carbs. They can build muscle much easier than the other two body types but this comes with a tendency to store much more body fat.
Endomorph advantages? It’s easy to look at the disadvantages of your body type but endomorphs have plenty of advantages, a higher fast twitch muscle fibre makeup and a dense bone structure means they can build strength and muscle mass quickly and easily. It’s also quicker to lose body fat than to build muscle so you can improve your physique in a shorter space of time.
It’s common for people to look at their own specific characteristics and only see or focus on the negative aspects when in reality the positives can far outweigh them if you change your mentality and really look to improve your physique.
Endomorphs are quite possibly the worst for this and that is because the tendency to easily gain body fat alongside a low tolerance for carbs can be highly demotivating when trying to improve your body composition.
In this article I’m going to instead focus on the advantages that endomorphs have when it comes to building a physique and show you that with some minor mindset and habit changes that you can quickly start to improve your physique.
Below are three advantages of being an endomorph that I feel are not only overlooked, but in most cases not even considered at all when it comes to developing your physique.
Endomorphs Can Lose Body Fat at a Quicker Rate
Now this is a point that you are highly unlikely to agree with me on, a lot of endomorphs have an incredibly hard time trying to lose body fat. I understand that frustration and even produced an article to target stubborn belly fat and love handles.
What you need to consider however (and this is where the mindset shift comes in), is that and endomorph can change their physique much more drastically and in a shorter period of time than the other two body types can.
The reason for this is because the higher your body fat percentage and the more total fat mass you have (typical of an endomorph) the faster the rate in which you can lose it. Compare that to an ectomorph trying to build muscle and the timescales are completely different.
A steady rate of fat loss for someone with a higher body fat percentage of >18% is 1lb-2lb of fat loss per week. The more body fat you have the quicker you can burn additional fat off through a calorie deficit and increased energy expenditure.
There are also limits, the closer you get to the 10%-12% body fat range the slower the rate of fat loss. On average though you can lose 2lbs per week at a steady rate for quite a few weeks before this starts to then average out at 1lb per week.
Now compare this to the rate of muscle growth, as an absolute beginner to the gym and with average genetics (99% of the population, I’m ignoring the 1% of gifted genetics out there) you can hope to build 1lb of muscle every two weeks at an optimal rate.
Therefore the ectomorph doing everything right for a month of training can gain 2lbs of muscle whereas the endomorph burning body fat can lose 8lbs as a minimum, there is a further potential to lose more over this period.
With that in mind who do you think can transform their physique quicker? The ectomorph doesn’t have the ability to up their rate of muscle growth because it is a slower process but the endomorph can quite literally change their entire physique in 4-12 weeks.
If this isn’t an advantage when it comes to building a physique then I don’t know what is. Maybe over the space of 3-5 years an ectomorph will have the advantage once they have built up a solid base of muscle mass and still don’t put on fat easily but for most people, endomorphs have the advantage here.
Endomorphs Are Stronger
Next up is the fact that not only are endomorphs naturally stronger as a body type but they have potential to then get substantially stronger through resistance training and weightlifting.
Many people are only concerned with body composition which is why I’m always covering so many different aspects of it but they tend to neglect the benefits that more strength brings to your physique.
The worst advice I see is when people recommend you should lift light weight for more reps to burn fat and “tone” up the muscles. I don’t know how that phrase or training method made it into the mainstream but if you are not seeing changes in your physique and following that method then it’s no surprise.
Strength is a precursor to muscle growth, I don’t mean powerlifting style doing 1 rep maxes but getting stronger in your main lifts over time will result in muscle growth.
Maintaining strength is the key to maintaining muscle when cutting and progressive overload is a major contributor to building muscle when bulking alongside training frequency as demonstrated by this study.
Bigger muscles don’t necessarily make you stronger and being strong doesn’t necessarily mean that you have big muscles. Of course there will be exceptions depending on each individual goal and genetic makeup but in general, getting stronger will lead to more muscle growth.
My point is that endomorphs are not only naturally stronger due to a higher body weight, more muscle mass and a higher proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres but all these factors mean they have the ability to get even stronger and at a faster rate overtime.
The stronger you can get the more muscle you can build which leads me on to my next point.
Endomorphs Can Build Muscle Quickly
Endomorphs have the greatest potential to build muscle quickly. Not this is slightly misleading because most would assume that mesomorphs build muscle the quickest and easiest which make them the ideal body type.
That is true but most mesomorphs are limited by their structure. It’s hard to find a 6 foot tall mesomorph that can hold a large amount of muscle mass and this is where endomorphs have the advantage.
Most endomorphs have a very large frame with dense bones, this probably doesn’t sound appealing from an aesthetic viewpoint (unless you want to be the biggest guy in the gym of course) but what it does mean is that you will have more potential to hold lean muscle mass.
Speaking from experience, I have a narrow frame and bone structure and have literally spent 14 years of my life working out. What I know to be true is that my body does not like to hold muscle mass. Therefore to improve my physique I try to add muscle to the right places.
If I don’t do that then I’d have to consume a very large quantity of calories each day just to maintain a lot of muscle mass. I typically fluctuate in weight between 80kg-85kg (175lbs-185lbs) which is not very heavy but I also carry more muscle than body fat.
An endomorph however with a larger structure can comfortably weigh 100kg/225lbs of solid muscle mass. This is because you have a better framework from which to build muscle mass which means you can do so quicker and to a greater degree.
The larger a building you want to build the larger the base/framework needs to be to support it.
There’s also the point to note that endomorphs have a greater proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres which are ideal for explosive movements, strength and muscle growth.
You might get frustrated when the scale doesn’t move when trying to lose body fat but you might also have not had the experience of going into the gym and just lifting heavier and heavier weights each week with relative ease.
The final point I’ll say is that the more muscle mass you have the more energy (calories) you burn just to support the increased muscle mass and function as normal. Therefore the more muscle you have the more demand your muscle will have for calories.
This reverses the typical for most endomorphs being the more fat you have the more likely surplus calories will be stored as excess fat. Therefore the more muscle you can build the better you can partition nutrients and try to minimize fat gain in the long run.
** Note, it’s not that simple, you’d still need to control your calorie intake but my point is that your maintenance calorie requirements will increase giving you a bit more flexibility with your diet.
How to Take Advantage of Your Endomorph Advantage
^^ Poetic? Probably not but there is no use trying to demonstrate the advantages you have when it comes to building a physique as an endomorph if I don’t give you the tools to then go out and make the most of it.
There are a few simple strategies that you can use to try and make the most of your endomorph advantages whilst limiting some of the more obvious disadvantages.
Lift Weights for Strength and Size
After reading my rant earlier about lifting lighter weight for more reps then hopefully you are prepared to start putting your capacity for strength and muscle size to the test.
You don’t need to do anything drastic and become a powerlifter focusing on your squat and deadlift 1 rep max (though that can help) but rather look to mix up your rep range utilising the 1-3, 3-6 and 8-12 reps range and focus on getting stronger in each.
On a side note I never see anyone prescribe that you should do 7 reps, for the 1,000’s of articles I’ve read it never gets mentioned strangely enough.
This combination of rep ranges will allow you to utilize your fast twitch fibres getting stronger in the compound lifts but then also allowing you to focus on the hypertrophy induced training range of 8-12 reps as well.
I’d go as far saying you don’t even need to train in the very low rep ranges if absolute strength is not your goal so pick a few key movements (deadlift, squat and presses) to work the 3-6 rep range and then focus on the 8-12 rep range for everything else.
This will allow you to focus on strength and also tap into your muscle growth capabilities for size.
Utilize Carbs on Training Days but Limit Them on Non Training Days
This is a big one, carbs for endomorphs are not your friend for the majority of the time. Poor insulin sensitivity and carb tolerance means that your body tends to store carbs as body fat whereas the genetically gifted mesomorph will utilize them for muscle glycogen.
This is the big disadvantage that you will unfortunately have to work around. I know I’m focusing on the advantages here but let’s not get carried away and ignore the obvious disadvantages that many ectomorphs face.
Fortunately you can manipulate your intake to force your body to better utilize carbs. A lower body fat percentage will help with carb utilization so get down to 12% body fat would be my first plan of attack when building a physique but in the short term you should cycle carb intake around training days.
On heavy, weight training days your muscles will have a greater requirement for muscle glycogen and will therefore utilize carbs better on training days (especially in the 1-2 hour period around your workout). Therefore you can consume the majority of your carbs on training days.
On cardio based days (you should be included 2-3 days of HIIT or LISS cardio on your non training days) you can consume a moderate amount of carbs. Cardio still requires your muscle to work, particularly through HIIT training, and therefore your muscle glycogen levels still get depleted.
On these days you can consume a moderate amount of carbs, 100g-150g is what I would consider to be a moderate amount but this will of course vary for individuals.
Then on rest days your carb intake should be low at <50g. I feel a lot of people should still be consuming carbs on non training days to fill glycogen stores and prevent any drastic insulin spikes or crashes but this is for optimal muscle growth and performance.
As an ectomorph you focus should be on not gaining excess fat in order to improve body composition. Therefore on non training related days your carb intake should be minimal because this is when your energy requirements are the lowest so you should mimic this.
Oftentimes people reverse this and consume more on rest days due to boredom or indulging in a cheat day etc… This is highly counterproductive for an endomorph!
If you want a good hack to combat this then I’d suggest you have your cheat day (or more likely cheat meal) on leg days when your calorie requirements will be the highest of any other day. A big leg session places a high demand on your body and therefore you are better primed to utilize the higher calorie intake.
I’m not advising you to have cheat days but I know how most people operate and if you need this to stay on track then the leg day tip is the way you should go.
Hopefully you’ve gleaned some good takeaways from this article, it is already long enough to not warrant me going into further detail and laying out in depth training plans because you can find plenty of them online.
What I wanted to do is change your mindset from looking at the negatives of being an endomorph and instead focus on the advantages because as I’ve demonstrated, they certainly exist.
This small mindset shift is crucial for improving your body composition, most people will try to bring up weaknesses but when it comes to body composition (for the average gym goer) it’s going to be more beneficial for you to enhance your strengths.