What are the Characteristics of an Ectomorph Body?

A. Pasbjerg

A person who is naturally thin is considered to have an ectomorph body. These types of people are genetically predisposed to have this type of body and are typically skinny their entire lives. They do not have to follow any specific diet or exercise regimen to maintain a thin physique.

Ectomorphs cat eat whatever they want and not gain any weight.
Ectomorphs cat eat whatever they want and not gain any weight.

An ectomorph body is the result of an extremely fast metabolism. Ectomorphs can generally eat whatever they want, whenever they feel like it, and not gain any weight. This does not necessarily mean they are healthier than those with other body types, as they may eat junk food and get minimal exercise since they will not see the obvious negative result of gaining weight. Since their bodies burn calories so quickly, people with this body type who wish to gain weight have to increase their caloric intake significantly. They may need to eat frequent, high-calorie meals and possibly include dietary supplements as well.

Ectomorphs may be extremely sensitive to cold.
Ectomorphs may be extremely sensitive to cold.

Those with an ectomorph body usually have difficulty building muscle mass. Their muscles tend to be small and light. Though they do not have to exercise to maintain a low body weight, they often have to work extremely hard to develop strong muscles. This puts them at a disadvantage if they are interested in competing in sports where strength is key. Those ectomorphs interested in building their muscles should focus on strength training with weights, as well as increasing the protein in their diets.

Ectomorphs usually have a hard time building muscle mass.
Ectomorphs usually have a hard time building muscle mass.

Due to their lean physique, ectomorphs can appear rather delicate. They often have light bones and small joints. Their frames are typically narrow, with slim shoulders, chests, and hips. Combined with their limited musculature, this makes for a body that can be somewhat fragile. Ectomorphs may be at greater risk for injuries than those with other body types because of this.

Ectomorphic people can often appear to be taller than they truly are due to their physique. Many times their limbs are very long in relation to the rest of their bodies. When coupled with a very narrow, straight overall shape, an illusion of extra height is created.

Another characteristic of the ectomorph body is sensitivity to extreme temperatures. Their lack of muscle mass and minimal body fat may make them more susceptible to high heat or intense cold. The ectomorph body may have difficulty regulating its temperature in these situations.

Nutritionists and physical trainers usually factor in a man's body type when designing a diet and exercise regimen for him.
Nutritionists and physical trainers usually factor in a man's body type when designing a diet and exercise regimen for him.

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Discussion Comments


@umbra21 - People use that term "skinny-fat" to describe people who might look skinny but don't have any muscle and probably aren't all that healthy.

Honestly, I'm really tired of all of it. I don't see why all this fuss has to be made of what people choose to do with their lives. There are a lot of choices that people make these days which have studies attached that show them to be healthy or unhealthy (or both!). I don't judge people for sitting down all day at their job even though that has been shown to reduce lifespan. I don't judge people who run ultra-marathons all the time even though that has been shown to reduce lifespan as well.

I don't want to spend all my time evaluating my decisions to make sure I'm extending my life to the furthest possible moment.

If an ectomorph likes body building they should do it, if they like the result, they should do it, if they don't want to do it, then more power to them. It doesn't affect me, so there is no reason I should be judging them on their choices.


@indigomoth - No one should have to suffer any kind of prejudice against their body type, but I don't think that people with an ectomorphic body really could be said to face discrimination in our society.

People who look over a certain weight will have more difficulty getting a job, they are perceived to be lazier and stupider than average and they rarely get to see themselves portrayed in a positive light in any kind of media.

People say that it's a health thing, but that doesn't really hold up under scrutiny, as your friends can probably attest. The shape of their body doesn't correlate to their health. They will probably be skinny whether they exercise daily and eat well, or sit on the couch all day eating potato chips. It's the same with people who are seen as fat.


The ectomorph body shape seems to be both held up as an ideal and criticized for reaching that ideal at the same time. I know my friends who have this body type are often teased or even insulted by others who tell them to "eat a burger" or worse. And these friends aren't exactly starving themselves. They just have that body type naturally.

It seems like discrimination can happen for anyone out of the ordinary, but we only ever hear about the discrimination against fat people.

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