The Ectomorph: Tall And Thin

An ectomorph is someone with a tall, thin body type. Not a lot of fat or muscle, but lots of height.

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Ecto's are one of William Sheldon's three somatotypes. The other two are endomorph and mesomorph.

Textbook Characteristics Of Ecto's

An ectomorph is tall and thin.
  • Skinny and small boned.[1]
  • Have long, thin muscles and limbs.
  • Low levels of body fat.

More (Supposed) Info About Ectomorphs

Putting on muscle mass is difficult for ecto's. Even with lots of weight training, it will be difficult to get that solid, muscular look.

But, ecto's have a very fast metabolism. You can eat just about anything you want and not put on the pounds.

Of course, almost no-one is purely one somatotype. You may be predominantly an ecto, but you probably have other endo and mesomorph aspects to your body as well.


There are elements of environmental conditioning to your body type. If you associate with many obese people you're more likely to be obese, and (by that same token) if you hang out with fit people, you are more likely to be fit.

This isn't causation, merely an environmental correlation. It's a bit of nature and nurture that makes your body type.

Though genetics does have a hand in making you tall.

Sheldon came up with this as one of his major classifications in the 1940s and early 1950s. By training he was a psychologist, not a doctor, and his classifications were based on what he observed among college freshman.

He did not look at people's genetics and his priority was assigning people personalities based not their body type. Weird pseudoscience.

I don't believe that his classifications are valid. Or rather, they are no more valid than saying, "I'm pretty tall and skinny, but I have some muscle," rather than saying, "I'm somewhere between an ecto and a mesomorph."

There's more info on somatotypes if you're curious about these classifications. They've stuck around for a long time, but they really are useless for describing your permanent-set-in-stone-scientifically-genetically-determined body type.

Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!

• Click here to learn more about Different Body Types!


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1. Kubik, Brooks D. 2010. Strength, Muscle, and Power. Louisville, KY: Brooks D. Kubik Enterprises, Inc. Pp. 95.

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