The 3 Male Body Shapes

Athletic Male Lifting Dumbbells in Gym
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It has always been assumed that, compared with women, men have a much easier time of it when it comes to their bodies. Critics point out that the stereotype of, "men look and women are looked at," is reinforced in popular culture.

More recently, research has indicated a change in the way men, and women, are starting to view the male physique. One psychological investigation in the UK found that the average man feels a bit intimidated by the images surrounding him. Researchers found that the proliferation of advertising for products like underwear and aftershave featuring male models makes the average man feel inferior and uncomfortable about his body in the same way that women have felt about the representation of the female body in advertising for decades.

The study found that the emphasis on the muscular body had originated in the gay community and transferred into the mainstream. Women were now being invited to look on men purely for their physical attributes as part of an equally "lookist" or superficial consumer culture. More gay men said they felt the pressure to conform to the images. Others said they believed women did not place as much importance on physical attraction as men.

Three Types of Male Body Shape

Your body shape basically falls into one of these three categories:

  • Ectomorph is characterized by a tall and slim/thin build. Men with this body shape generally find it hard to gain weight because of fast metabolisms and to gain weight they have to take in higher amounts of calories.
  • Endomorph is a more rounded build with a generous waist size. Men with this body shape generally gain weight easily, and without exercise the weight is more fat than muscle. 
  • Mesomorph is a muscular and athletic build. Men with this body shape gain weight more easily than ectomorphs.

Body Shape and Personality

There was a time when personality was thought to be associated with body shape. Ectomorphs were considered to be quiet and even morose individuals, endomorphs were thought of as jolly, and mesomorphs were viewed as a bit on the crude and vulgar side. Such characteristics figure strongly in the books by Charles Dickens. Not surprisingly, this simplistic association of body shape with personality type has long been viewed with skepticism at best.

Can Body Shape Be Changed?

Dissatisfaction with body shape is one of the main reasons men vary their lifestyle. Usually, this involves diet changes and an increase in exercise, but more recently cosmetic surgery has become a path to a new physical appearance. Pectoral implants, calf implants, liposuction, and jaw enhancements are becoming more commonplace.

For those more interested in lifestyle change, the activities you choose will have some effect on your morphology (morph = shape).

Developing a Slim Body Shape

Aerobic exercises that involve all the muscle groups such as running, yoga and swimming are useful in slimming and developing a lean build. Employing a steady rate of exercise and avoiding rapid bursts of activity are thought to be important.

Developing a Muscular Body Shape

Isolating each muscle group in turn and operating on a principle of short explosive bursts of activity is a basic principle. High weight exercises with repeated cycles within a given muscle group are necessary, as well as resting after normally no more than seven repetitions.

Developing a rounded, endomorphic body shape is easy: Do neither of the above, eat too much and exercise as little as possible! Obviously, this is not a recommended health choice.

Body Shape and Aging

As a man gets older, his metabolism slows down. Fat likes to gather around the belly of men, and while it deposits easily the fat can be incredibly hard to change. The "middle age spread" can be tackled with a sensible mix of exercise and healthy eating. Over a period of time, most men will see fairly dramatic improvements—particularly if they also concentrate on posture.

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Article Sources

  • Lee C, Owens G. The Psychology of Men's Health. 2002. Open University Press, Philadelphia.