How Our Body Types Affect Our Workout Journey

How Our Body Types Affect Our Workout Journey


By Connie Phillips
Woman in workout clothes looking in the mirror at her body
Photo Courtesy of Tim Samuels on Pexels

Raise your hand if you've seen a workout that swears it will reduce one part of your body, but you are confident won't. It's not because it’s not a good workout, it's because your body naturally has bigger proportions and it seems unlikely to target one specific area. Of course, it doesn't help that no matter which “butt busting” or “slim waistline” workout you try, nothing ever seems to change.

It Runs in the Family

If you're lucky, you may be able to look at the other people in your family and see similar physical traits that you possess. Although, if you do not have the privilege of looking at Aunt Phyllis to see that you inherited the family thunder thighs, it can make you feel like something is wrong with you or that you aren’t trying hard enough.

What if I told you that human beings have approximately 3 different body types? Somatotype, the theory of a person's physique, is broken down by inherited body composition and skeletal frame called ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph.

All About Somatotypes

Ectomorph refers to people of tall, willowy builds, found in fantasy novels. For anyone growing up in the 90s, ectomorphs were the epitome of beauty. But for any ectomorph, they know that achieving any type of curve or muscle build is an achievement. They usually have trouble putting on any type of weight or muscle mass.

Endomorphs are the people blessed with an easy weight and muscle gain. They look like they can go smash down any lifting goal or village before they get out of bed. But, they often struggle with removing weight which can lead to many health problems.

woman in workout attire lifting a barbell with plates
LTD Siren lifting gear featured in image above

Finally, mesomorphs are those who seem athletic and are equipped with a high metabolism. Mesomorphs are the kids in high school who seemed to think their muscles into existence, (even if they do nothing but sit at home and watch Netflix for 6 months). They still walk into work with a six-pack. We all secretly envied them and still do a little.

Now that's information on how each body holds weight, but not on how each body is shaped. What about body sizes?

Classifying Body Sizes

For decades, people have been trying to find a system to classify body sizes. Most have failed or only helped a few groups. If you've ever opened up a fashion magazine, you’ll know that women’s body shapes are often compared to fruit or objects. The term "pear-shaped," for example, is meant to describe women with large hips and smaller chests. Yet the athletic and fashion industry often shows us that only athletic hourglass-shaped bodies are ‌healthy. But are they when only 8% of the population has an hourglass shape? In a study ‌by North Carolina State University's College of Textile, researchers took the measurements of over 6,000 women to determine average body shapes. The guide they created displayed 8 body types: rectangle, the spoon, the triangle, the inverted triangle, the hourglass, the bottom hourglass, and the top hourglass.

The main takeaways of the study showed:

  • 46% had a rectangle shape, meaning “the bust and the hips are ‌the same size, and the waist is less than nine inches smaller than the hips or the bust”
  • 20% were a pear shape, AKA the hip measurement is at least two inches larger than the bust
  • 14% had inverted triangles, meaning their busts were three or more inches larger than their hips
  • And 8% had an hourglass shape, meaning their bust and hip measurements were approximately the same with a waist measurement of at least a 9-inch difference

A 9-inch difference?? Now I am a small hourglass/pear-shaped lady who is probably an endomorph. But my waist is far from a 9-inch difference to my hips. Where do they get the 9 inches? Did someone remove a kidney or a few ribs?

Beautiful the Way You Are

More often than not, fitness and fashion industries all use hourglass figures to promote their brands and suggest to women that those hourglass figures are the final fitness goal. Yet your biology says that it is impossible.

three female athletes in a gym laughing together
Photo Courtesy of RMK Visions

If you are an endomorph apple-shaped female who loves high-intensity workouts and has a healthy diet, it doesn't mean you aren't fit because you don't look like a mesomorph hourglass.

You are not a failure because your biology will not allow you to look like a small ectomorph inverted triangle lady. Or a pear-shaped mesomorph. That’s not what you’re built for.

It's a shame that the fitness and fashion industry hasn't done a lot to recognize this. Instead, women are told that they aren’t working hard enough when for most of the population, it is an impossible goal to get to in a healthy, long-term, sustainable manner.

So ladies, never feel down on yourself for how your body looks. You are gorgeous the way you are. Science says so.


If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at


Which somatotype do you fit into?


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Lift with Us

Want a chance to win a Lifting Belt? We do a monthly giveaway with our subscriber list!

Circle of Life Contour Knee Sleeves

Regular Price
Sale Price
Regular Price
Unit Price
Translation missing: en.general.accessibility.unit_price_separator 
Shop this product


Lifting the Dream is not associated with CrossFit or any other organization mentioned in this article in any way. The opinions expressed in our blog are solely ours and do not reflect the views of CrossFit or any other organization.

Some of the links on our website may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. However, we only recommend products and services that we truly believe in and have personally used. Our opinions and recommendations are always honest and unbiased.