The Endomorph Body Type: How To Train + Eat Right For Endomorphs

Wider hips and a soft frame might mean you're a classic endomorph

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An endomorph is one of the three body types, or somatotypes introduced by William Sheldon1 Bernard, T. J. (2018). William Sheldon | American psychologist. In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Sheldon in the 1940’s, used to describe the physical build of a person. Your body type is determined by your skeletal frame as well as your physical build in terms of body fat and muscle mass.

For example, the ectomorph physique is described to be tall, lanky, thin, and fine-boned, the mesomorph body type is more muscular and has a lower body fat percentage, and the endomorphic physique is much rounder and stockier.

In this article, we will discuss the endomorph body type and how to be a fit endomorph with proper diet and exercise.

We will cover: 

Let’s get started!

A person in workout clothes smiling.

What Is an Endomorph?

The endomorph body shape is described as someone who tends to be shorter, stockier, somewhat round, and “soft.”

The endomorph skeletal frame usually has a stockier bone structure and a shorter stature or height. Someone who is an endomorph might be described as being “big-boned.“

Endomorphs usually have wider hips and a larger midsection. They usually carry more total body fat.

Endomorph males typically have more abdominal fat, whereas endomorph body type females might have a bigger butt, thighs, and belly.

Someone with an endomorph body type tends to gain fat fairly easily but will struggle to lose fat. This is largely due to the fact that the metabolic rate tends to be fairly low, putting endomorphs at risk for conditions such as obesity, hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

A trainer helping someone stretch.

It is particularly important for endomorphs to be physically active throughout the day and to avoid a caloric surplus and sedentary lifestyle as much as possible in order to prevent weight gain.

Endomorphs tend to have a high BMI (body mass index), which is a metric that describes your body weight relative to your height, even if they work hard at being physically active and eat a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet.

One important point to make is that although there are three distinct somatotypes or categories of body types, many people do not fall squarely into one of the three types.

Rather, in many ways, the three somatotypes can be seen as existing on a spectrum, with endomorphs on one end, ectomorphs on the far end, and mesomorphs falling in the middle. Plenty of people fall somewhere in between two of the somatotype body categories.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)2 Payne, A. (2020). Body Types: How to Train & Diet for Your Body Type. Blog.nasm.org. https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/body-types-how-to-train-diet-for-your-body-type, it is also possible to have characteristics of both ends of the spectrum in that you might be an ecto-endomorph or endo-ectomorph.

For example, ecto-endomorphs are described as being pear-shaped, with a thinner upper body and more fat storage on the lower body.

Endo-ectomorphs display the opposite physique. They are described as apple-shaped, with thinner hips, thighs, and legs but more fat storage in the chest, arms, and belly.

You may also be interested in the metabolic confusion diet, which has variety at its core.

A person eating a piece of broccoli.

What Is the Best Endomorph Diet?

There isn’t necessarily a best diet for endomorphs, but since endomorphs are thought to have a slower metabolism and be prone to insulin sensitivity, usually, the dietary recommendations for endomorphs center around any number of low-carb diets.  

According to ACE Fitness3 The Truth about Eating and Training with an Endomorph Body Type. (2023, October 20). Www.acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/5078/the-truth-about-eating-and-training-with-an-endomorph-body-type/#:~:text=A%20Paleo%2Dlike%20diet%20is, the best diet for endomorphs is a Paleo-like diet plan, focusing on healthy fats and proteins and minimizing all processed foods. The macronutrient ratio should be fairly balanced, with about 35 percent of your calories coming from protein, 35 percent from healthy fats, and 30 percent from carbohydrates.

The carbohydrate-based foods should be primarily vegetables and legumes, with minimal whole grains. The best grains for endomorphs are quinoa and amaranth.  Nuts, fatty fish, lean proteins, eggs, cheese, olive oil, and fruit are also encouraged. 

Limit refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, fried foods, excessive salt, alcohol, soda, juice, and sweets. 

A variety of healthy food such as meat, chicken, fruits, vegetables, oils and seeds.

The Best Endomorph Workout Plan

Much like the diet, the best workouts for endomorphs typically revolve around fat loss. 

However, it’s also important to stress the importance of focusing on cardiorespiratory fitness in general. Because endomorphs tend to gain weight easily and are particularly prone to central or abdominal obesity, endomorphs are usually at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.

As such, it’s especially important to make sure that the heart and cardiovascular system are as healthy as possible in order to offset the increased tendency to display other cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Although resistance training is still a necessary component in the endomorph workout plan, the primary focus should be on cardio workouts and fat-burning workouts.

It is often not enough for endomorphs to just strive to meet the guidelines for physical activity for adults set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 2). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. and the British Heart Foundation5 Understanding physical activity. (2022). Bhf.org.uk. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/being-active/understanding-physical-activity#, which are to accumulate either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week.

Endomorphs who want to lose body fat and improve their overall body composition generally need to engage in aerobic exercise 5 to 6 days per week, aiming for 30 to 60 minutes depending on your fitness level, the type of exercise that you are doing, and the intensity of your workouts.

Even though you might be naturally an endomorph, it is possible to lean out and gain muscle and even be successful at sports typically considered to be best for lean and lanky individuals, such as marathon running or distance cycling.

A person on a treadmill at the gym.

In terms of strength training workouts for endomorphs, the goal should be on building functional strength and muscle growth to help support safe and effective movement with a larger body size. 

Strength training exercises should be geared towards stabilizing the joints, particularly the knees and hips, and building functional core strength. This will help increase injury resilience when taking on a high-volume exercise training plan that supports fat loss.

For example, endomorphs tend to carry excess weight and struggle with weight loss, which can cause hip or knee pain, particularly during high-impact exercises like running, jump roping, stair climbing, and dynamic plyometrics such as box jumps, burpees, and jump squats.

Rather than needing to eliminate these metabolic, cardiovascularly-intensive, calorie-torching forms of exercise altogether, building functional strength and stability in the joints and surrounding muscles will help ensure that these effective forms of exercise can be safely performed without tons of limitations or restrictions.

Strength training workouts for endomorphs should also focus on metabolic conditioning, or met con, to torch calories and increase metabolic rate and fat burning once the workout is over.

Examples of some of the best strength training exercises for endomorphs include kettlebell swings, step-ups, burpees, power cleans, and deadlifts.

Related: Ideal Body Weight Range Calculator

A person running on a treadmill at the gym.

For improving functional core strength and joint stability, focus on core exercises such as planks, medicine ball chops, and landmines. Perform unilateral exercises like walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats, single-leg barbell hip thrusts, and step-ups.

Another key consideration in the health and fitness plan for endomorphs is to be as physically active as possible throughout the day, even outside of the gym or designated exercise sessions. Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is essential for keeping excess weight off.

When you consider the factors that go into total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), it is possible to easily manipulate not just the calories you burn through exercise (termed EAT: exercise activity thermogenesis) but also the calories you burn through everyday physical activity (termed NEAT: non-exercise activity thermogenesis).

For example, one great lifestyle hack for an endomorph is to get a treadmill desk, standing desk, or cycle ergometer to pedal as you sit at a desk in order to burn more calories throughout the day if you do have what would otherwise be a very sedentary desk job.

If this isn’t possible, and you still have to sit or be sedentary for the majority of your day, try to intersperse bursts of physical activity outside of your designated workout sessions.

A person walking on a treadmill.

For example, add a brisk 10 to 20-minute walk after every meal, perform 25 jumping jacks every time you use the bathroom, or take all of your phone calls at the office as you pace around.

Mindful commitment to maintaining a non-sedentary lifestyle will have a huge impact on your metabolic rate and fat loss.

In terms of the best cardio workouts for endomorphs, choosing exercises that can be performed safely at your current body weight and composition is the best approach.

You might need to start with low-impact exercises such as cycling, rowing, stair climbing, or elliptical machines before jumping into high-impact activities like running or jumping rope. 

This is particularly important for endomorphs who have joint pain or obesity. Once you have built up some cardiovascular fitness and strengthened your muscles, you can graduate to higher-impact activities.

You should perform a mix of steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.

An endomorph body type person doing yoga in a field.

With HIIT workouts, make sure that your hard intervals are truly “hard.” You should be getting your heart rate up to a minimum of 85% of your age-predicted maximum heart rate, if not 90% or higher.

Studies6 Maillard, F., Pereira, B., & Boisseau, N. (2017). Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine48(2), 269–288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0807-y have found that HIIT workouts, when performed properly at this high intensity, are not only much more time efficient than steady-state cardio workouts, affording the same aerobic and metabolic benefits in about 40% less time, but also are superior for fat burning and boosting your metabolism after the workout is over.

You can choose any form of exercise for these interval workouts.

It’s important to remember that somatotyping is not an exact science, and there are critiques in the health and nutrition industry about placing too much emphasis on the importance of your body type in determining your ideal diet and exercise plan. 

Therefore, keep in mind that everyone has different body types. Your own body type might fall somewhere in between one of the three main categories of body types, and your own metabolism and biochemistry might respond somewhat differently than a “typical“ endomorph.

Are you still unsure of your specific body type, whether it be ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph, or somewhere in between?

To try and nail down your specific body type and learn how to feed and train it properly, check out our guide: Do You Know Your Body Type? How To Train Effectively For Your Somatotype for more information.

A trainer working out with a client at the gym.


  • 1
    Bernard, T. J. (2018). William Sheldon | American psychologist. In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Sheldon
  • 2
    Payne, A. (2020). Body Types: How to Train & Diet for Your Body Type. Blog.nasm.org. https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/body-types-how-to-train-diet-for-your-body-type
  • 3
    The Truth about Eating and Training with an Endomorph Body Type. (2023, October 20). Www.acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/5078/the-truth-about-eating-and-training-with-an-endomorph-body-type/#:~:text=A%20Paleo%2Dlike%20diet%20is
  • 4
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 2). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • 5
    Understanding physical activity. (2022). Bhf.org.uk. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/being-active/understanding-physical-activity#
  • 6
    Maillard, F., Pereira, B., & Boisseau, N. (2017). Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine48(2), 269–288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0807-y
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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