Somatotypes, Part Three: Mesomorphs

What does it mean to be a mesomorph?

Often times, mesomorphic body types are referred to as the preferred body type because mesomorphs easily put on muscle and appear athletic in stature.  Mesomorphs have broader shoulders and slimmer waists which helps give them a fit appearance.   Tweet This! However, each body type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Individuals with mesomorphic body types have the ability to lose weight quickly when they adhere to a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates accompanied by the right style of exercise. Interestingly, mesomorphs also have the ability to gain weight quickly when eating a diet high in calories from the wrong sources such as high-sugar foods. Most mesomorphs have the following traits:

  • Naturally strong, lean and muscular
  • Medium size joints/bones
  • Wider at the shoulders than the hips
  • Female mesomorphs: hour glass or pear shaped figure
  • Male mesomorphs: V or rectangular shape

Mesomorphs have an efficient metabolism and are usually very athletic. If you have ever had a friend who can go to the gym over a three week span and miraculously see their body transform, they are probably a mesomorph. Mesomorphic body types respond quickly to exercise and losing fat oftentimes is almost effortless. We all know weight loss does not occur in the gym, it happens in the kitchen, but for this somatotype it takes a little less work.

So, what does a mesomorph need to eat in order to maintain their body weight?

Those with a mesomorphic body type should have a balanced diet. That means eating foods high in protein, consuming the proper amounts of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Macronutrient Composition.

Mesomorphs should try to consume a diet that is approximately:

  • Carbohydrates: 40 percent
  • Protein: 30 percent
  • Fats: 30 percent

Mesomorphs should consume carbohydrates from vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Carbohydrates such as these provide fiber, which contributes to satiety but also offer a host of phytonutrients or antioxidants that help repair the damage caused by oxidative stress that naturally occurs in the body. Choices for fruits and vegetables should come from a variety of sources and vary in color. Healthy fats like seeds, nuts, nut butters, olive oil and avocado are a great way to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of good fats high in omega fatty acids.

Carbohydrates for mesomorphs:

  • Complex Carbs (brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal)
  • Fruit (berries, peaches, apples and papaya)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, beets, carrots and kale)

In general, it is suggested that mesomorphs eat 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight, but for a mesomorph that is interested in adding more muscle mass, the amount of protein will be slightly more, 0.8-1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight.

Protein:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Lean meats
  • Fatty fish

Foods that contain healthy fats:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters

Although mesomorphs may have it easy in regards to putting on muscle, they can put on fat easily as well. As mesomorphs begin to age, their metabolism slows. Due to this, they may notice gradual weight gain. Here are a few simple ways to help maintain a healthy weight:

  • Although mesomorphs have very efficient metabolism, try not to indulge in foods that are high in calories because inevitably you will gain weight.  Remember, mesomorphs are easy gainers (fat and muscle).
  • When you work out, train in a balanced way that incorporates aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. If you want to gain muscle, spend more time on muscle strengthening. But ,if your goal is to lose fat mass, you will need to increase your aerobic exercise.
  • Use a variety of workout regimens ranging in the number of repetitions, tempos and methods.
  • Drink water to keep your body hydrated. As you work out, you lose fluids. It is important to replenish what was lost.
  • Remain physically active and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

WHAT IS A MESOMORPH? Meso- (middle; intermediate)  -morph (shape; form)

Now that we have reviewed the two extremes of the “somatotype spectrum,” let’s take a look specifically at mesomorphs, who are thought of as a “balance” between the other two somatotypes (ectomorphs and endomorphs), possessing the best elements of both ecto- and endomorphs.

Genetically favored to build muscle like endomorphs and lose fat similar to ectomorphs, mesomorphs are the most coveted body types. Some features of a classic mesomorph include:

  • Medium-sized frame or bone structure
  • Naturally defined muscular
  • Symmetrical build
  • Narrow waist and wide shoulders
  • Strong legs and arms
  • Low amount of body fat
  • Stores fat evenly
  • Lose and gain weight easily

Sprinters, running backs and gymnasts are examples of the classic mesomorph body type. If you believe you can rely on your genetics, not so fast. Although mesomorphs generally lose fat easily, they can also gain body fat easily and become overweight if they are sedentary. Overconsumption of calories can still lead to increase in body fat as well.

Best Practices for Exercise.

Mesomorphs tend to have an advantage over other somatotypes when it comes to achieving their fitness goals, whether it is building muscle mass or burning body fat. These individuals develop muscle at a much greater rate than ectomorphs but can burn fat a greater rate than endomorphs. This somatotype responds well to both aerobic and resistance training.

Aerobic Exercises.

Mesomorph have a high aerobic capacity and excel in high endurance workouts. Cardiovascular exercise for mesomorphs ultimately depends on your current physique and training goals. Generally, mesomorphs should engage in cardio at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes, approximately three times per week for overall maintenance of health.

  • Mesomorphs with less body fat and/or those who seek to gain muscle mass can focus more on resistance training and perform cardio a few times per week; 20-30 minutes of cardio after your workout will ensure you stay lean.
  • Mesomorphs with more body fat and/or those who seek to lose body fat can focus more on cardio. Perform steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), each two to three times per week. This combination of training will help maximize your body’s natural fat-burning capabilities.

Resistance Training.

Mesomorphs thrive in strength training thanks to their naturally thick and dense muscle composition. This advantage helps these individuals manage physical stress at a high frequency and high intensity. Due to this advantage, it is imperative to implement 30 seconds up to two-minute rest periods between sets. This lessens the chance of incurring injury (mesomorphs are more prone to injury due to over training compared with other somatotypes) and helps increase performance. If you are training with heavy weight or performing many sets, increase your rest periods.

  • Mesomorphs need variety in their workouts and benefit from switching between moderate and heavy weight as well as lower and higher repetitions sessions.
  • Include both compound and isolation exercises during resistance training. Isolation exercises involve single-joint movements and concentrate on a single muscle group (in conjunction with stabilization muscles), as opposed to compound exercises which place an emphasis on multiple muscle group. These exercises are especially beneficial for mesomorphs who are looking increase muscle mass and volume, want to correct a muscle imbalance or need to rest other muscle groups. Incorporate some of the following isolation exercises after your compound lifts:
    • Biceps: Hammer curls, barbell curls, preacher curls
    • Triceps: Tricep push-downs, overhead tricep extensions, tricep bench dips
    • Chest: DB fly, incline DB press, cable chest press
    • Shoulder: DB lateral raises, one-arm front cable raise
    • Legs: Leg extensions, lying leg curls, calf raises
    • Back: DB row, cable straight-arm pull down

Check out the entire three-part blog series about somatotypes:

Somatotypes, Part One: Ectomorphs

Somatotypes, Part Two: Endomorphs