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The Best Diets and Workouts for Your Body Type

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The Best Diets and Workouts for Your Body Type

Are you an ectomorph? Mesomorph? Endomorph? Does body type even matter? Read on to find out.

 

If you’re a skinny guy or gal struggling to gain weight…

Or a “fluffy” one struggling to “shift” fat…

Or somewhere in between…

This is going to be the most important fitness article you read.

Seriously.

And I want to start it with some good news:

Your genetics can’t stop you from getting the body you really desire.

Yes, some people’s bodies respond better to training than others’, but I don’t care how much of a “hardgainer” you think you are or how “stubborn” your body fat seems to be

Now, if you were to tell me your goal is to be an elite, competitive weightlifter or bodybuilder or physique competitor…that would be another story.

In those cases, genetics are hugely important.

Yes, steroids are involved and yes, training experience and methodologies matter…but the biggest and strongest guys and gals in the world were abnormally big and strong their entire lives.

For example, let’s look at Ronnie Coleman in his prime:

Ronnie Coleman

Absolutely ridiculous.

Equally flabbergasting, though, was him in high school:

Ronnie Coleman high school

Ronnie Coleman high school 2

Yeah…that’s basically a college linebacker that ran around murdering kids half his size.

And here’s a shot of him at just 25, which, according to him, is around when he started using steroids:

Ronnie Coleman young

Ronnie Coleman young 2

As you can see, Ronnie’s body was just programmed to be freakishly big and strong.

If you or I were to go back in time and live exactly as he did–start training at the same age, do the same workout routines, follow the same diets, take the same drugs, everything–we would never even come close to his “final form.”

Hell, I’m not sure we would even reach his 25-year-old physique.

My point is this: at the top, where everyone works smart and hard, genetics determine who’s truly great and who’s not.

That doesn’t mean that us mere mortals are screwed, though.

Your genetics will influence how quickly you can reach your goals but aren’t going to keep you small, weak, and fat.

And in this article, you’re going to learn the three major body types, how to determine which you (primarily) are, and how to approach dieting and training for maximal results.

Let’s get to it.

How to Determine Your Body Type: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph

body types ectomorph mesomorph endomorph

We may all be created equal in a higher, spiritual sense, but not a physical one.

Some people have narrow shoulders and hips, small joints, “stringy” muscles, and long limbs.

Others have wide shoulders, narrow waists, and rounder looking muscles.

Others still have a large, blocky look, with wide hips, thick joints, and shorter limbs.

Some people stay skinny and lean no matter what they eat…some gain muscle and strength fairly easily without gaining much fat…and others gain both muscle and fat quickly and struggle to get really lean.

Well, these basic traits describe the three basic body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

Some people’s bodies have all the hallmarks of one type and little else but more common is a predominant type with “shades” of others.

For example, I’m predominantly a mesomorph with some ectomorphic “shading.”

So, let’s take a look an in-depth look at each body type and see what we can learn.

The Ectomorph Body Type

ectomorph body type

The ectomorph is distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • Narrow hips and shoulders
  • Very small/thin wrists and ankles
  • Low amounts of body fat and muscle (skinny and lean)
  • Thin, “stringy” looking muscles
  • Long limbs
  • Struggles to gain weight (both muscle and fat)
  • Loses weight easily (ditto)

The ectomorph is the classic “hardgainer.”

He or she has been skinny and lean his or her entire life and (seems to) have a very hard time gaining muscle, strength, or fat.

Many people think the ectomorph is #blessed365 because he can eat “whatever he wants” without getting fat thanks a fast metabolism.

While that may sound fantastic, there are several things to consider…

Many ectomorphs don’t eat as many calories as you (and they) might think.

I’ve worked with hundreds of dominant ectomorphs and I can tell you this: Many tend to eat just one large meal per day with some snacks thrown in.

That one large meal might contain a couple thousand calories but total daily intake is usually within a normal to slightly-higher-than-normal range.

That said, I’ve also come across a fair number of ectomorphs that do maintain weight on a lot of food. You can read more about this here.

Many ectomorphs struggle to eat enough to gain weight and muscle.

I’ve worked with at least 50+ skinny guys that had to work up to eating 4,000+ calories per day just to gain 0.5 to 1 pound per week.

If that sounds orgasmic to you…give it a try for a week and see if it still turns you on.

Unless you have the appetite of a Tyrannosaurus rex, you’ll basically feel like you’re force feeding yourself every day.

You’ll never be hungry. Your stomach will always feel bloated and full of food. “Cheating” loses all its luster.

Now imagine you had to do that seven days per week, week in, week out. Yeah, it sucks.

The Best Type of Diet for Ectomorphs

ectomorphs diet

If your body falls squarely in the ectomorph category, you’re probably struggling to gain muscle and weight.

First, you should know that there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with your body. You just have some genetic programming that makes building muscle and strength harder than it should be.

Eat enough food and train properly, though, and you’ll make progress like everyone else.

Now, as you know, you’re going to have to eat a lot of food. Likely more than you want or are used to.

The reason for this is your body’s ability to build muscle is strongly affected by how much food you eat.

Eating enough protein is important but isn’t enough.

If you want to build muscle as quickly as possible, you need to eat enough calories as well. Undereat and your body won’t be able to build much muscle.

The reason for this has to do with energy balance, which is the relationship between how much energy you eat and burn every day.

If you feed your body less energy than it burns, you’ve created a “negative energy balance” or “calorie deficit.” This is necessary for losing fat.

A calorie deficit has downsides, however.

That is, your body just can’t add to muscle tissue efficiently when in a calorie deficit.

This double-whammy of reduced testosterone and increased cortisol levels further blunt your body’s ability to build muscle.

  • It decreases workout performance.

I don’t need to cite research here because anyone that has restricted calories for fat loss quickly learns this.

People brand new to weightlifting can gain strength while in a calorie deficit but otherwise the best you can hope for is maintenance.

This, of course, isn’t conducive to muscle growth.

These are the three reasons why maximizing muscle growth absolutely requires that you ensure you’re not in a calorie deficit.

And the most reliable way to do that is to slightly overshoot your body’s energy needs and place it in a “calorie surplus.”

This is why it’s often say you have to “eat big to get big.”

That said, you don’t necessarily have to choke down 4,000+ calories per day like the guys I talked about earlier. Chances are you’ll be able to achieve your goals eating quite a bit less.

In fact, it’s in our best interests to work your calories up gradually and use your natural leanness to our advantage.

You see, as body fat levels rise…

Insulin is a hormone that shuttles nutrients into cells.

As the body becomes resistant to its signals, however, its ability to burn fat decreases, the likelihood of further weight gain increases, testosterone levels drop and estrogen levels rise, and protein synthesis rates are suppressed.

The downsides here are clear: testosterone is a primary hormonal driver of muscle growthand high levels of estrogen promotes fat storage.

As you can see, excessive fat storage while bulking is a triple-whammy of fail: it hinders muscle growth, accelerates fat storage, and makes undoing the weight gain even harder.

And this is why “dirty bulking“–eating everything your convenience store palate desires–is just counter-productive.

Here’s how you do it right:

Maintain a moderate calorie surplus of 5 to 10% when bulking.

You want to maintain a mild surplus because it minimizes fat storage, which in turn increases the amount of time you can remain in a surplus, buliding muscle, before having to cut.

This should allow you to gain 0.5 to 1 pound per week, which is your goal if you’re a man. Women should shoot for about half that.

So, let’s work out your numbers.

Use the following calculator to determine your total daily energy expenditure:

LBM
BMR
TDEE

And multiply it by 1.05 for a 5% surplus and 1.1 for a 10% surplus.

If you’re like to learn more about how to turn this into a proper meal plan, click here.

Slowly increase calories if you’re not gaining weight.

I mentioned earlier that you want to gain 0.5 to 1 pound per week (0.25 to 0.5 for women) when bulking.

What should you do when you’re gaining less or no weight whatsoever?

Well, assuming you’re following an effective workout program and you’re doing enough to adequately recover from your training, the solution is simple: eat more.

I’ve yet to piece together a holistic scientific explanation for why this is, but my experience working with thousands of people has verified it hundreds of times over.

If you’re gaining strength but not weight (and thus muscle), you’re not eating enough. It’s that simple.

By increasing your calorie intake you’ll eventually bring it into the range that is your body’s “sweet spot” for muscle growth.

Now, I don’t recommend you increase intake willy-nilly. Here’s how you do it right.

1. Keep your protein at 1 gram per pound of body weight.

There’s no need to eat more than this.

2. Increase your daily calorie intake by 100 to 150 calories by increasing carbohydrate intake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is, add 25 to 35 grams of carbs to your daily intake.

3. If, after 7 to 10 days, your weight is still the same, repeat #2.

Increase daily carb intake repeatedly until you’re gaining weight at the desired rate.

It’s really that simple.

If, in doing this, you find that you’re one of those guys or gals that has to eat a downright Herculean amount of food to gain weight, I recommend that you cap your carbs at about 3 grams per pound.

If you need to increase calorie intake further, start increasing fat intake instead.

Don’t screw it up with massive cheat meals or days.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make while bulking is egregious overeating.

When you’re in a calorie surplus every day and you add a couple “cheat days” on top of it…you can see dramatic spikes in body fat levels.

Don’t do this.

Learn how to “cheat” intelligently instead.

If you’re a guy and you’re over 15% body fat, reduce this to about 10% before bulking. If you’re a girl and over 25% body fat, diet down to ~20% before bulking.

This strategy is ideal for several reasons:

  • it preserves insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance,
  • it allows you to maintain a calorie surplus for many months before having to reduce body fat levels,
  • and it saves you from long, grueling cuts.

Once you reach 15 to 17% (men) or 25 to 27% (women) body fat, stop bulking and start reducing body fat levels.

Regardless of how ectomorph dominant your body is, if you follow the advice in this article, you will gain weight.

Some of it is going to be fat. That’s fine. But you don’t want to get too fat for the reasons given earlier.

That’s why I recommend that, once you reach the body fat ranges given above, you reduce your calorie intake to get back to ~10% (men)/~20% (women) before continuing your bulk.

Do this right and you’ll lose all the fat and little-to-no muscle, putting you in a perfect position to continue bulking.

Juggle your bulks and cuts like this until you’ve gained the size you want.

The “fitness model” look most guys want requires gaining 30 to 40 pounds of muscle and maintaining ~10% body fat or less. If you’re new to weightlifting, you can do this in 3 to 4 years.

Girls need to gain about half that amount of muscle and maintain ~20% body fat or less. Again, this generally takes about 3 to 4 years.

You get there by bulking and cutting as laid out in this article. Keep this in mind as well:

You want your bulks to be as long as possible and cuts as short as possible.

The logic here is simple:

The longer you can bulk before having to cut, the more muscle you can build. And the shorter your cuts, the sooner you can get back to bulking and building muscle.

Personally I like to see bulks go for 4 to 6 months or longer and cuts for 8 to 12 weeks.

This is again why I recommend a slight calorie surplus and no bingeing and why I’m not a fan of “slow cutting.”

Now, so far we’ve only talked about calories. What about macronutrients?

body type diet

First, don’t even think about going low-carb.

When your focus is building muscle and strength, carbs are your friend. In fact, they’re going to comprise the majority of your calories.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

This is plenty for muscle-building purposes.

  • 0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight.

This gives your body everything it needs for general health.

  • The rest of your calories from carbs.

This leaves a large number of calories for carbs, which is going to help you build muscle faster.

And when the goal is fat loss, place yourself in a 20 to 25% calorie deficit and use the follow macronutrient guidelines:

  • 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Slightly more protein to help with muscle retention.

  • 0.2 grams of fat per pound of body fat.

Slightly less fat because it allows for more carbs without impairing health.

  • The rest of your calories from carbs.

High-carb dieting in a calorie deficit helps maintain strength and muscle (and doesn’t impair fat loss).

 

The Best Workout for Ectomorphs

ectomorph workout routine

No matter how good your diet is, you’re not going to see results unless you’re also training correctly.

Here’s what ectomorphs need to know:

Emphasize heavy compound weightlifting in your workouts.

This is the foundation of muscle building for natural weightlifters and heavy weightlifting is especially important for ectomorphs.

In my experience, naturally skinny guys and gals tend to respond very poorly to the high-rep, “pump” style of training.

Push yourself hard in your training but don’t overtrain.

High-frequency workout programs are really popular these days but you have to be careful with this approach.

Your muscles and nervous system can only take so much of a beating every week before your body falls behind in its ability to repair the damage caused by training.

Training frequency alone doesn’t determine much in the way of gains. That is, just because you train a muscle group once, twice, or thrice per week doesn’t guarantee you’ll make progress.

Total weekly volume (number of reps performed) and intensity (load in terms of percentage of 1RM) are more important than frequency.

Get these right and you’ll be in the money.

Training frequency is best viewed as a tool to hit optimal amounts of weekly volume and intensity. And there are many ways to skin, or split, that cat.

You can learn more about determining the right volume, intensity, and frequency here.

What About Cardio?

ectomorph workout and diet

The general advice to ectomorphs trying to gain weight and size is to do as little cardio as possible, with none being ideal.

I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

Yes, everyone, regardless of body type, should limit cardio while focusing on gaining size, but doing small amounts can be beneficial.

And when cutting, low-to-moderate amounts of cardio help get the job done faster without sacrificing muscle.

You can learn more about how much cardio you should do here.

The Best Supplements for Ectomorphs

ectomorph bodybuilding

The vast majority of “muscle-building” supplements are crap.

The only supplement someone trying to gain muscle should definitely take is creatine. Here’s why.

And as far as fat loss goes, most “fat burner” supplements are junk…but some do work. Learn more here.

Last but not least, a good multivitamin and fish oil are worthwhile if your budget permits.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

The Mesomorph Body Type

mesomorph body type

The mesomorph is distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • Wide shoulders
  • Narrow waist
  • Thin joints
  • Thicker, rounder muscles
  • Normal or slightly above normal amount of lean mass
  • Gains muscle and loses fat easily
  • Doesn’t lose muscle as easily as the ectomorph

If you’re a dominant mesomorph, go give your parents a big hug and kiss because, well, you win.

There’s a reason why a large percentage elite bodybuilders, weightlifters, and athletes are mesomorph dominant:

When it comes to physicality, mesomorphs get to have their cake and eat it too.

They build muscle and strength easily but aren’t predisposed to fat gain…they have a high aerobic capacity…and their naturally attractive V shape–wide shoulders and narrow waists–only becomes more pronounced as they build their physiques.

That said, nothing comes easily. If you’re largely a mesomorph, you get a running start but you still have to finish the race.

The Best Diet for Mesomorphs

mesomorph diet

True to form, the mesomorph gets to enjoy the most flexible and all-around enjoyable type of diet.

Simply put, the mesomorphic type gets the flexibility of the ectomorph…but generally doesn’t have to eat as much to gain muscle and weight…and sees better results on less food.

A mesomorph may be able to eat 1,000 fewer calories per day than an ectomorph but gain muscle and strength faster.

Furthermore, when cutting, your average mesomorph will also eat less than your average ectomorph, but will be less likely to lose muscle and strength.

So, to summarize for the mesomorph:

  • If above 15% (men)/25% (women) body fat, cut fat first.
  • Utilize a small calorie surplus to build muscle and a moderately aggressive deficit to lose fat.
  • Increase calories gradually to continue gaining weight and strength.
  • Bulking periods should be much longer than cutting periods.
  • End bulks around 15% (men)/25% (women) body fat, cut back to 10%/20%, and repeat.
  • High-protein, high-carb, and moderate/low-fat dieting is best.

Nothing else to it, really.

The Best Workout for Mesomorphs

mesomorph workout

When we’re talking natural weightlifting, the basics don’t change regardless of body type:

Check out this article to learn how to build an effective workout routine.

What About Cardio?

Like the ectomorph, cardio should be added or subtracted according to goals.

The Best Supplements for Mesomorphs

Nothing changes here.

Creatine is recommended, effective fat loss supplements can be included when cutting, and a well-formulated multivitamin and high-quality fish oil help promote overall health and performance.

The Endomorph Body Type

endomorph body type

The endomorph is distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • Wide shoulders, rib cage, and waist (“blocky” look)
  • Thick joints
  • Shorter limbs
  • Higher than normal amount of lean mass and (usually) body fat
  • Gains muscle, strength, and fat easily
  • Doesn’t lose muscle easily
  • Can struggle to lose fat, and especially stubborn fat

Endomorphs are naturally big and strong and generally respond best to resistance training and have the highest potentials for strength and size.

They have no trouble gaining muscle and getting strong but often struggle with body fat levels. They also don’t have the structure for the classic “aesthetic” mesomorphic look.

That said, endomorphs can make great athletes and look fantastic. They just need to work with and not against their genetics.

The Best Diet for Endomorphs

endomorphs diet

Like the ectomorph and mesomorph, the endomorph’s diet should begin with the same fundamentals of energy balance.

Gaining weight and muscle requires a calorie surplus and losing fat requires a deficit.

Similarly, when bulking, a slight calorie surplus is best and when cutting, an aggressively moderate deficit is ideal.

Where things can differ, though, is in the macronutrient breakdown. And specifically, in carbohydrate intake.

You see, nothing changes in terms of protein and fat needs but “carbohydrate sensitivity” seems to vary more among endomorphs than ecto- and mesomorphs.

What this boils down to something we’ve already discusses: insulin sensitivity.

  • After eating a high-carb meal, signs of good insulin sensitivity are muscles that feel “full” (almost like a pump you get in the gym), mental alertness, stable energy levels, and fullness.
  • Signs of poor sensitivity are bloat, gassiness, mental fogginess and inability to focus, sleepiness, and hunger soon after eating.

A simple rule of thumb is if you’re responding well to the carbs–both the amount and types–you’re eating, carry on.

If you’re not, however, you’ll likely benefit from a change in either the amount or type of carbs you’re eating or both.

  • In terms of type, you’ll likely do better with lower-glycemic carbs.
  • In terms of amount, you can first reduce the amount of carbs you’re eating in each meal by eating more frequently. Try to keep it at/below 50 grams of carbs per meal.

If that doesn’t alleviate the symptoms, you can reduce your total daily carbohydrate intake. Cut your daily intake by 50 grams for 7 to 10 days and reassess. (And increase fat intake to hit caloric needs.)

That’s all there is to know.

The Best Workout for Endomorphs

Endomorphs workouts

This is where the endomorph shines.

He/she gains muscle and strength faster than average and, based on my experience working with quite a few endomorphs, can often benefit from weekly training volumes that would cause ecto- and mesomorphic types problems.

For example, the people I’ve come to know that can successfully run some of the more brutal upper/lower split programs like PHAT are usually high-endomorph types.

The bottom line is if you’re an endomorph, you’re going to respond well to weightlifting.

And, like ectomorphs and mesomorphs, you’re going to respond best to a workout program that emphasizes heavy, compound lifting and relegates high-rep, low-weight training to “accessory” work.

What About Cardio?

There’s nothing special to be said here, really.

Cardio should be included in your routine as needed.

The Best Supplements for Endomorphs

Nothing changes here, either.

Creatine is good. An effective fat burner can help you get leaner faster. And a multivitamin and fish oil are recommended.

The Bottom Line on Body Types

body shapes

As you can see, most of the advice out there for different body types is really just meant to sell PDFs, pills, and powders.

There are considerable differences between the physical traits and inclinations of ectomorphic, mesomorphic, and endomorphic body types…but not in how they should eat and train to get the results they want.

Remember…your body type is a predisposition, not a predestination.

Regardless of your type, eat right, train hard, supplement optionally and intelligently, and you can build a strong, muscular, and lean body that you can be proud of.

I hope this article helps.

 

What’s your take on body types? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Alejandro

    Hey Mike,

    Awesome article! I was hoping you would write an article about this subject. I’ve done some research myself, so a lot seems familiar to me.

    I’m an endomorph and I’m overweight for quite some time. I’m doing your Year 1 Challenge for 4 months now and it works beyond expectations. I started weighing 91 kg (200 lbs) at 1.75m (5’9”). There were periods before when I was able to lose some weight, but I also lost a ton of muscle and glycogen. Thanks to your method I was able to lose 13 kilograms (28-29 lbs) without losing strength or muscle. I’m getting stronger every week.

    I’m also doing intermittent fasting since a couple of months. It seemed like ‘suicide’ for an endomorph like me, but I keep dropping 1-1,5 lbs of fat a week.

    I’ll send you some ‘transformation’ pictures in 2016! Thanks for everything man 🙂

    • Thanks Alejandro! I’m glad you liked the article.

      And WOW! GREAT job my man! Really glad to hear that.

      Nothing wrong with IF if you enjoy it.

      Keep up the good work and yeah let’s get you up on the site when you’re ready! Let me know!

      • Alejandro

        Thanks a lot, Mike. It means a lot to hear it from you! But it should be me thanking you! Your method taught me discipline. I’m way more confident and persistent than before. So I’ll definitely let you know about my progress in the future!

        I also have a question about your article. You mentioned endomorphs ”don’t have the structure for the classic ”aesthetic” mesomorphic look.”
        I read that somewhere a time ago. We all know that mesomorphic look of course. But I’m quite unknown with the look of a lean muscular endomorph. I only find pictures of muscular endomorphs with 15+% BF. I’m trying to get to 8% eventually and I have no idea how that would be. What can you tell me about that or do you know a fitness model with an endomorphic bodytype?

        • Absolutely my man.

          Check out the leaner strongmen. Classic endos.

          Bottom line is you’re going to look great. Don’t sweat that too much just focus on building the best body you can. 🙂

  • “0.3 grams of fat per pound of body fat.”

    or

    0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight?

    • Doh! Gotta love my dedicated proof readers. 🙂

      Fixed. Body weight. Technically 0.3 g/lb FFM is enough but I want to keep it simple here.

  • Christopher

    Is it possible to be a 6’7 endomorph?

  • Probably the most easy to understand post i’ve read about body types. Good one to refer people to whenever I have to explain what the difference of ectomorphs and endomorphs are.

    Good stuff Mike

  • TD

    Could you be a combination of two body types? I used to think I was strictly an ectomorph but based on your descriptions of each body type, I believe I might be a combination of both an ecto and mesomorph. Great advice on bulking and cutting too. 🙂

    • Yeah you can definitely be a combination of two body types.

      Glad you liked the advice. Thanks for the support!

  • Tyler

    Hi, I’m bulking at 10% surplus and find the fat gains are quite noticeable despite only for two weeks should I reduce my surplus to 5% or 7.5%?

    • Hmm. How much are you gaining per week?

      Also, if you were dieting to lose weight before bulking, did you reverse diet to bulking cals?

      LMK.

      • Tyler

        Im gaining 0.4 kg per week. Yep i Reverse dieted and was a maintenance cals for two weeks. Oh one thing is im now currently eating at 2050 cals daily(Sedentary), is that too much? Im 69kg and prob around 12%(can see my lower abs).

        Thanks!!!

  • Dimes

    A lil off topic but I’ve always wondered how do guys at my gym still get good results lifting in higher the 10-12 rep range when you preach the 4-6 heavy range?

    Are they getting slower gains or not reaching full potential?

    • High-rep can still WORK but over time it becomes less and less practical and effective if it’s the emphasis.

  • Joe

    I’m an ectomorph. 165lbs at 6’1″ and 21%bf. I’d have to get down to about 145lbs to get to 10%bf. That’s like concentration camp skinny. Hate how skinny I currently am and really don’t want to look any skinnier. What should I do??

  • Serge

    Mike, you saying when cutting endomorphs should be in “aggressively moderate deficit”. How much is that? 20%, 30%?

  • Azouri

    Hey mike awesome article! I was wondering would 0.3 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight while bulking affect your testostorone it seems like a low number for grams of fat? Is it ok if I increased it to 0.4 or 0.45 grams per bodyweight pound or is it better to stick with your recommendations for better results?

    • Thanks!

      0.3 g/lb of body weight is PLENTY. Honestly 0.3 g/lb of fat-free mass is enough.

      Eating more will have a very small effect on hormones, if any. The carbs will be better.

      • Azouri

        Thanks for tip I’ll defs stick with those macros then!

  • Miguel Rodrigues

    Hi mike do you think is safer to go to 1,4 protein per pound as lyle advocates or do you find 1,2 is enough when dieting to sub 10 with 45 sessions weekly ?i now it seems a minor detail but i really want to preserve LBM however if its not necessary I rather enjoy the 30 g of extra carbs.thanks mike

    • 1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight is more than enough.

      Enjoy the carbs. 🙂

  • Sam Sharp

    Hi Mike, I spend 6 hours a week in the gym lifting weights but on top of that i’m also on my feet quite a lot. Would this affect my TDEE? Also I’ve been ‘cutting’ for a few months but not properly-my bfp has barely gone down and is around 15% (I only discovered your website recently). I know you suggest cutting down to 10% before bulking but i’d rather do a clean bulk until around march and then cut properly. Is this ok or would it be detrimental?
    Cheers

    • If you’re on your feet a lot, it will effect your TDEE. Your best bet is to set up a meal plan and then adjust based off results.

      I know it can be tempting to bulk, but I still recommend cutting first. It’s better for health purposes, and will prevent you from having to do a long, annoying cut.

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      Thoughts?

      • Sam Sharp

        Thanks Mike,
        Yeah, i’m going to cut down to 10-12% as you suggested-I actually think my body fat is closer to 13% so it shouldn’t take too long.
        Cheers!

  • Alex

    Hey Mike,
    Just leaving you a quick message… I always read your articles, even after reading BLS and BBLS. Big fan, and have made amazing progress after finally applying the right way to work out and eat, thanks to you! But, just wanted to let you know to check the calculator for TDEE that you have there in the article. I don’t think it’s calculating it correctly. TDEE numbers that are coming up are too close to the BMR. Unfortunately might be causing people to get confused due to the calculation. Please double-check, unless I am wrong and have been doing this wrong all along Lol with great results though Lol

    • Alex

      The main thing is that the numbers are not changing when you input the amount of exercise done per week

      • Hmm they’re changing for me. Are you looking at TDEE as you change activity level?

        • Alex

          The activity multiplier seems to be working now for me. I guess it was an issue with internet at the time. Thanks again and keep up the great work as always!

    • Thanks Alex. I really appreciate it.

      This uses a lower activity multiplier than the standard KM multipliers because they’re too high for most people.

  • Angelo

    Hi Mike ! First I want to thanks you for your blog . It’s the best. I’ve done the best gains of my life since I know this site. But I’m a bit confused . Can you guess my bodytype and my BF ? And tell me if I should bulk or cut ? Thank you
    PS : I’m 18 179 cm 66kg with a waist (at the navel) at 75cm.

    • Thanks man! Glad to hear you’re doing well and making progress.

      I would guess around 13/14%. You’re in the “gray area” where you could bulk for a bit for cut a bit to 10% range and then bulk for longer, haha.

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      LMK what you think.

      • Angelo

        Thanks for your advice. I think I will cut to be in the 10% range so then I can bulk for longer haha.

        How long do you think it will take to go from 13-14% to 10% ? 1 or 2 month ?

        Keep it up. You are doing a fantastic job at helping people.

        • YW! Good idea.

          It depends on your results. You should be losing 1-2 pounds a week while cutting. With those results you should be able to get there in 1-2 months.

          Thanks! Will do brother. 🙂

  • karen

    Hi Mike, this is a great and detailed article that’s getting bookmarked for ref! Thankyou. A tenuous link but, what is your view on Metabolic Typing? I know this is something that Paul Chek and his practitioners swear by, but then I read it’s all a load of BS with zero evidence base……what to believe?! I’d be interested to know your viewpoint on this topic. Cheers : )

    • Thanks!

      You know I haven’t looked into this. I will add to my list.

  • Erik Sandoval

    Lol, Ronnie’s “final form.” You must have been a DBZ fan 😛

  • Samuel Christian

    Hey Mike, I don’t seem to fit into any of these categories. Like an ectomorph, I have narrow shoulders, thin joints and bones, and low muscle mass, but like an endomorph, I have wide hips and fat hugging my belly, thighs, hips, and ass. I’m a 19 year old guy and I’ve been doing a lot of HIIT cardio to try to cut down the dreaded body fat but it’s not budging. Any advice?

    • Rouge Surreah

      Mike I feel the same way. Like I have aspects of all 3… what does that mean? Tiny joints and long limbs, small waist, but then have super stubborn fat, and have a hard time putting on muscle (but fat is easier).

      • Totally normal and common. We all have a mixture of traits to some degree.

    • Everyone has a mixture of traits so that’s not uncommon. A buddy of mien has the same type of physique. We can work with it. 🙂

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

  • Tony

    Odd question from an “ectomorph”:

    For a long time, I’ve been skinny-fat. I’ve been on MFL for half a year now, constantly cutting, trying to get down to 10% bodyfat. I lost 40lbs, and right now I’m at around 15% BF and it’s getting very difficult. I’m 5’10, 135lbs, pants size is 28” and even those are baggy on me. Clothes don’t fit my frame any more and it’s frustrating. In tight fitting clothing, I actually look like a triangle now, which is nice. But I also look like you could blow on me and I’d fall over, due to my tiny waist.

    For someone with this type of build, does it make sense to keep cutting until i’m 10%? Or should I start bulking early? I’m mainly maintaining my strength in the gym right now and I’m not sure if it’s healthy to lose more weight.

  • David M. Auge

    Ahhh….I guess i’m between and endo and a meso… 😛

  • Brian Collins

    Mike,

    At about 12% body fat, 160 lbs, I’m trying to find correct calories for bulking. I started out at the TDEE+10% and didn’t gain anything for a week so I’m now at around 200 cal above that. Weight seems to be coming but very slowly. On top of that, I feel hungry all the time. Is this pretty typical when bulking with what should only be a slight surplus?

    I’m going to keep experimenting to find the right weight gain calories but I’m worried that I’m going to end up being one of the guys that has to have a really high (4000 cal) daily intake in order to gain appreciable muscle.

    Thanks.

    • Good on upping the cals. You can keeping upping them each week until you’re gaining .5-1 pound a week.

      If you have a big appetite, you can be hungry even with bulk cals, haha.

      We’ll have to see! Let’s see at what calories you start gaining in the right range.

      Talk soon!

  • TD

    Hi. I have a question about fish oil. Everyone seems to suggest that supplementing with fish oil is a good idea. I’ve tried fish oil capsules before, and my face broke out badly. I’m somewhat hesitant to try another supplement because of this (my skin is normally really clear). Can you suggest a fish oil supplement that won’t cause me to breakout or maybe a liquid fish oil supplement? Thank you. 🙂

    • Interesting. I like Nordic Naturals personally. High-quality products. Worse-case scenario would be adding some fatty fish to your diet.

      • TD

        I’ll give that brand a try, appreciate the recommendation.

  • The Swiss Miss

    Hi Mike, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to body type. I’m a bit of all of them! I’m 6ft tall with long, fairly skinny limbs. Yet my hips and shoulders are pretty broad. I gain muscle pretty easily, but I also gain fat just by looking at food. I’m the product of a mesomorph father and an endomorph mom (who is obese). I’ve managed to put on a respectable amount of muscle over the last 18 months following your program. But my body point blank will not shift down from 25% body fat!! If I increas my calories anywhere above 2000, I start gaining fat. I would have to bring it to 100 calories BELOW my BMR, before even I see a decent amount of fat start to budge. However, this would then crash my metabolism and it all goes to hell from there! It’s so frustrating to be able to FEEL all those muscles under that layer of podge that doesn’t appear to want to budge! I currently weigh 171 lbs, 6 ft tall with 25% bf. I prep my meals every week and I’m currently trying to cut aggressively at 1700 cals per day. My average day is about 110 – 150 gm protein / 150 – 180 gm carb and about 60 gm fat. In the last 2 weeks of this… I’ve barely lost 1 lbs. Oh yeah, I work out roughly 3 hours per week. What gives?? (I’m 46)

  • serina whitaker

    If I’m an endomorph, do I still need a protein supplement?

    • If you can hit your daily protein goals without protein powder, there’s no need. If you have trouble eating the amount of protein you need daily, I recommend using a protein powder.

  • Vincent

    Hi Mike, always love your articles and workouts
    Since I remember Ive always had a very pronounced gut, thin wrists and ankles and in my early years I was quite slim, very skinny in fact. I mean, I see “skinny fat” pictures its not me. What I mean is skinny with a big gut. Its like an ecto with the belly of an endo, and Im not alone. I feel completely forgotten in the gaps of this terminology and not a single article on the web about people like me, not even yours.

    Fat clips say Im 15% when my stomach size says im 25%… its ridiculous.

    For the life of me this portion of my body is always more evident, with or without exercise, with or without and nutrition, with or without caloric deficit…etc. I know there is no localised burn and that its the first area to store and the last to shed. I read your books, most of your articles Ive done your program and others. Will this are always be more pronounced?

    Must I look like a a freaking skull just to see my abs without contracting them, or is it really hopeless? I must remember you that this skinny fat pictures are not what i mean. It s not a matter of being flacid, its a matter of being bigger than everything else.

    Thanks

    Ps: love your workout routines, just wish you would post more of them.

    • Thanks Vincent!

      Interesting. Can you post a picture?

      And check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/bloated-stomach/

      Might be relevant.

      It could also be a large amount of visceral fat.

      Nah it’s not hopeless. We’ll figure it out.

      • Vincent

        Another great article, thanks!

        I do think its visceral fat as I aways did. Is not ocasional and it doesn’t come and go.
        I always has it except when a time when I was a teen and my face looked very thin. I had fotos of ten year old me skinny as hell with a gut.

        Obviously Im not in my best shape. I have less time now almost in my forties and had to be absent from training for a month or so. I work nights and was getting a bit exhausted so Im doing only 3 to 4 days a week max now.

        I know I didn’t help either: I spend a lot of hour in front of the computer, Im a nervous, I eat fast, I have a sweet tooth, and enjoy weekend alcohol. I´ve read a lot and Yes I know the effects of the combination of those and why it came to the point I was before starting reading and working out 2 years ago.

        But my point is:
        Even when I was doing 6 days a week, eating right, drinking nothing but water, it never came even close to go far from this proportions…ever…Its just frustrating and you eventually loose some motivation.

        Thanks!

        • Ah okay I think this is just a bad case of visceral fat.

          Visceral fat is a bitch to lose. Just takes time…and sometimes a lot more time than people expect.

          That said are you sure there are no medical conditions involved?

          • Vincent

            yeah, tell me about it!
            I stop making progress quite sometime ago, and now with every break I take from exercise seems I gain some more and It wont go away because my body is used to exercise.

            About medical conditions… well…I dont think so, given that is been there for so long…
            whats interesting is that father and my grandfather shared the same physical proportions, and my father had quite worse nutrition than me.

          • Vincent

            Thanks Mike!
            Great article. For me that calculator is a god send!

            Although most of the information I already knew from previous research, including your blog, the part about the hormone profile is really interesting and I never really gave it much thought. But before I do I have to keep my calorie count checked first.

            All the best

          • YW! Glad you like it. 🙂

            That’s right. It all comes down to energy balance.

  • Greg Putman

    Hey Mike,interesting article,enjoyed it. I see that my body type is probably and endomorph.My problems is that i have a lot of upper body fat and fat around my face and waist,but my arms and legs are skinny,especially my calves and forearms.I havent lifted much in a while.and blood tests show my testosterone is low,i am taking T shots now every week.Im 49 yrs old but really want to get in shape.I want to lose the fat and put on muscle but im unsure about the right way to do it.My diet has been terrible also but will change that.What set/reps ranges and what weight,light or heavy should I use.Some body type test say im an endomesomorph.I would really appreciate your help!Thanks,Greg,

  • Vytautas Špokas

    Hi Mike, nice article. I can really relate to the endomorph type as I really struggle to lose bodyfat but when it comes to gaining weight and increasing muscle its no problem for me. I just got back into lifting and I’m making some big gains in the weightlifting room every week as well as I’m gaining weight ( 6 pounds in 2months). I cannot measure my bodyfat percentage but I can assume I’m somewhere around 15-17%. My question is this: Should I keep the calorie surplus and get the best of my newbie gains or should I cut down my body weight to 10% something? If I should cut, then for how long? You mentioned 8 to 12 for ectomorphs, but does the same go for endomorphs aswel?
    Im 22 years old, 183lbs at 5’11. Thanks a lot in response.

    • Thanks!

      Cool you’re training again and making good gains.

      To get a good idea of your BF%, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      If you are in the 15-17% BF range, I recommend you cut to 10-12% BF. Here’s why:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      How long you should cut for depends on your starting BF% and at what rate you lose, but you should cut for as long as it takes to reach 10-12% BF.

      Happy to help!

      • Rodrigo

        Mike, when you reach 10% BF (with -20% deficit of TDEE), how do you proceed until reach 6%BF? You should use the same deficit (-20%) until reach 6%BF or you should be more conservative, and use something like a 10% deficit?

        Thanks a lot!

        • Same deficit, and dropping it more if you can’t pack in any more HIIT.

          • Rodrigo

            Cool! I question this because I read some article in this site that until 10% BF you should lose 1-2lb/week, but after reach this point, it could be better to lose 0,5lb/week.
            So, if you reach 10%BF and use the same deficit (20%), wouldn’t you lose more than 0,5lb/week or lose some muscle?

          • That is correct. Weight loss starts to stall, and the given the same deficit, it gets harder and harder to lose fat. However, you would not start losing unhealthy weight.

  • tracy

    I think I fall into the endomorph category. I dont have a problem on my body except my abs. I eat right and exercise 6 days a week doing cardio and lifting weights but I cant seem to lose this damn stomach fat other than that I am lean every where else. I am so damn frustrated, I am a female.

  • Yash Gadhiya

    Hey Mike, love from India!
    I am a newbie to proper weight lifting, Age 20. Just got the BLS book and gonna follow the same. According to your article I am an endomorph. Currently at 21% body fat (Skinny-fat) gearing up for a cut/recomp. Planning to follow the 4 day split mentioned in your book. Since I am also preparing for my CA exams (CPA) which are due in 12 weeks, I am pretty much at home studying, making the environment much easier for me to follow training and diet to a T (with protien being 1.2g per body weight). And yes, being an endomorph, I am a little sensitive to carbs so will be choosing wisely its sources. With that said, to get maximum results as possible in 12 weeks my questions are:
    1. Any tweaks you would suggest to the training like training upper/lower twice instead of the one you recommend in your book or going the PHAT route?
    2. How much body fat % will I lose approx in 12 weeks with a 20% cut of TDEE? Or should I go 15%?
    3. How much pounds of muscle approx will I gain in the cut (Since I am newbie)?
    4. For the first week of training for calculating calories,(I am doing no activity for now) should I put in Less than 1 hours, or 4 to 6 hours in the Activity Multiplier considering the split and cardio Ill be following?

    PS: I know genetics will determine 2 and 3 to some extent, but with your experience with endomorphs and newbies, need a near approximate figure. I am big visualisation guy thats why! lol

    • Hey hey!

      That’s great you’re planning to do the 4-day split.

      1. No need
      2. A good target is 1lbs/week cutting at a 20% deficit.
      3. Hard to say there.
      4. For the first week of actual training, use the appropriate activity multiplier: 4-6 hours. You can even try 1.3x

      Good luck on the exams!

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    I’m an ectomorph and a real hard gainer. At only 71kg, I’m taking in over 3000 calories a day just to have a chance of making gains of 1lb per week.

    I have read on your site that you recommend reps in the 60-70 range, once every 7 days, but you also mention it’s possible to be recovered within 5 days. I am wondering, for someone like me, would I get better results if I were hitting that upper 70 reps range and working the same groups every 5 days instead of every 7?

  • NathAdrian

    I dont seem to fit in any of these. I have a Very non-adaptive metabolism. I lose and gain fat extremely easily and consistently. Increase and decreases in NEAT from over/underfeeding, is literally nonexistent. I have a big appetite but have to restrict calories otherwise I will get to like 20%+ bodyfat( I do not have a fast metabolism). I have a naturally wide waist and pile fat there really fast. Pretty narrow frame(shoulders) and long limbs(very small wrist). Have lower lean mass than average(I think i still fit in this category despite lifting for almost half a year). Lose muscle easily on a cut. Losing fat isnt hard because as my metabolism stated in the beginning but have extreme stubborn fat. My chest and stomach barely has a difference in look dropping from 20% to 15% body fat. And for six months of lifting i would say my progress is definitely not extraordinary. Sure i can see some more mass now but nothing to sneeze about for the time duration with newbie gains( I am about the same body fat when i started my gym journey). I will continue to build mass and such but TBH my genetics freaking sucks.

    • I hear you man. Everyone’s genetics are different and there are certainly people with faster metabolisms and people that respond better to training. That being said, anyone, no matter bad their genetics are, can build a great physique with proper training and dieting.

      From what you’ve told me, it sounds like your first step should be an RD:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      From there, you should set up a meal plan for a proper cut. You can do that here for free:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      Or, if you prefer, you can have one custom made for you here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/services/custom-meal-plans/

      You then need to follow a good routine. Take a look at this:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/muscle-building-workout/

      And to make sure you don’t lost muscle while cutting, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-body-fat/

      Hope this all helps! LMK.

      • NathAdrian

        Hey thanks for the reply.I wont really read all those because quite frankly i read every article you’ve written lol. But i think RD might be a good idea. Maybe my metabolism is faster than i think. (Im 16 male teen btw technically speaking my metabolism should be higher than an average adult). One more question doe i dont use the calorie calculator and eat a set amount of calories a day. I basically just use the TDEE results it gives me when i enter sedentary and then add whatever cardio/weightlifting session I do( Ive been doing it a long time i know basically how much each session burn per hour). I like doing this because technically if you miss a session or add a session it will affect the week’s energy balance. Using a static number for calories everyday seems to be too drastic of a change too. Some days i have hard/long swim practice(can burn up to anywhere from 700-1000 calories). I may be in a 1000 surplus/deficit on that particular day and then x amount of calories surplus/deficit the following days. I rather be in a consistent 200-300 surplus or 500-700 calorie cut each day. Is this fine?

        • You can adjust your cals according to how intense the day’s activity will be as long as your weekly average hits your target cals.

    • Hammereditor

      Same here except I think I’m slightly better at gaining muscle mass. However, it’s hard to tell since I only started strength training 3 weeks ago.

      It looks like I’m 40% ectomorph, 40% endomorph, and 20% mesomorph. My dad is 50% ecto/50% meso, and my mom is 90% endo/10% meso.

  • Amin Abaee

    I have a tendency to store fat on my butt, otherwise l’m an ectomorph. So an ecto with a big butt lol. Any idea how l can prevent fat gains on the glutes when bulking? I think I should go really low fat and high carbs but not sure. I did a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables + 1 egg for the whole day for a few days and all the butt fat came off with no training (80/10/10 macros )

    • Haha! Not much you can do about it man. As long as you’re in a surplus, there’s going to be the inevitable fat gain. We can’t pick and choose where it goes.

  • Amin Abaee

    I have another question, for those of us who lose muscle quickly on a cut, isn’t that an indicator that our bodies are better adapted to burning protein(from muscle) for fuel than the average? If so, maybe we should go above 1 gr/lb protein to utilize this advantage, or is the pathway for metabolising muscle vs ingested protein for fuel drastically different?

    • Whoa there. As long as you’re eating sufficient protein (1.2g/lbs bodyweight) and calories and lifting heavy, you shouldn’t see muscle loss.

  • Adrian

    Hi Mike,
    I’m an ectomorph with about 20% body fat. I want to cut down to around 10-15% before starting to bulk. I’ve already determined my strength training plan and plan to do a little bit of HIIT. As for my diet, I’m still not clear how to exactly determine my calories (and macros) for a 20% calories deficit. Is there a different method for determining total calories and macros for fat loss for ectomorphs. I know ectomorphs require more carbs. Thanks for any feedback!

    • No problem! Check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      You might need to increase the calories, so adjust based on results.

      • Adrian

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for the update. I read this article but I don’t see any info about ectomorphs. I’m assuming therefore ectomorphs use the same macro/calorie calculators as other body types then…

  • Ryan Brain

    Hey Mike, me again! Could you give me some advice? Pretty sure I’m an endomorph – short, stocky, low BMR, 36 y/o and if I eat over about 150g carbs I get really bloated, and very gassy. Because of these I tend to stay below 150g but I’m worried eating more fat instead is impeding my muscle growth. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Hey Ryan! No problem. Might also help to find out what the trouble food is that’s causing the bloat–it might not be carbs as a whole. No problem increasing fat, though.

      • Ryan Brain

        Hi Roger, thanks for the reply, and I’m happy I shouldn’t worry about the fat! Hard to identify if there’s somethng specific as when I do go over that 150g limit it’s usually a mix of bread, sugar, oats, potato, etc – the only consistent thing is the bloat I wake up with the next day!

  • Ryan Brain

    Hi Mike,

    If I do 6 reps in one set and I move up the weight for the next set, but can only manage 3 reps, do I keep trying or drop the weight? Thanks!

    • Hey man!

      Sorry for the late reply. Just happened to see this now.

      I’d drop back to the previous weight and work up to two sets of six reps and see then if I can make the increase stick. If not, work up to THREE sets of six and then you should have no issues.

      • Ryan Brain

        Thanks, Mike. I’m seeing much better results my completing 3 sets of 6 reps before increasing in weight!

  • Edward Silva

    Great article Mike! I started reading your stuff almost 2 years ago now my wife is getting all into this knowledge. God bless man.

    • Thanks! That’s really great your wife is getting into it as well 🙂

  • Matthew Boux

    Thanks mike! I think I am an endomorph. In fact I think I’m a mix of ecto and endo, but more endo.

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