Sports to suit your body type

As you grow older, your body develops into a shape that’s mainly dependant on your genetic makeup. This lets you know what kind of body you will have, and how well it will work.

To know which sports you’re likely to excel at, it’s best to know which body shape and type are the best fit for certain activities.

From a scientific point of view, there are three main components of how your body is built. These are: body type, body size (height and weight) and body composition (body fat percentage).

To maximise the advantages of your body type, you need to identify your body type. Then, you can focus on the optimal exercises your body needs, and which sports would be perfect for your body type.

Sporting genes

Physiologists have defined three main body shapes: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph.


An endomorph has a pear-shaped body with some fat on the body, upper arms and thighs and are well adapted to building strength. Most endomorphs have a higher percentage of body fat than the other types, thanks to a slower and endurance-orientated metabolism. They have to watch what they eat though and work a little harder to maintain an ideal body weight and a toned body.

They excel at:

  • Rugby (in the front line where bulk is useful or as a short and quick scrum half).
  • Weightlifting and super-heavyweight boxing.
  • Long-distance swimming.
  • Cross-country.
  • Rowing
  • Shot putt, discus and hammer throwing.
  • Wrestling

They also need to take care of their joints because of the extra pressure from the excess weight and muscle. Instead of jogging, rather cycle, row or swim to stay fit.


This body shape is the classic V shape that has narrow hips and a wedge-shaped body. Mesomorphs are known as “genetically gifted”. This type responds well to cardio and resistance training and with the minimal body fat it carries; it could excel at most sports. Mesomorphs gain or lose weight easily which allows them to easily adapt to the needs of the specific sport. Male mesomorphs have the classical V-shaped body with broad shoulders, muscular arms and legs, a narrow waist and minimal body fat. The female mesomorph has an hourglass figure and is slim and trim.

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They excel at sports focussed on endurance, speed, resistance, flexibility, strength and cardio:

  • Figure skating.
  • Artistic gymnastics.
  • Bodybuilding
  • Soccer
  • Rugby
  • Hockey
  • Cricket
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Swimming
  • Athletics, especially sprinting and triathlons.


Ectomorphs are usually medium to tall and slender with a thin physique. They have a very fast metabolism and are slow to gain weight and muscle. Because they have a delicate frame, strength and power-focused sports may leave them susceptible to injuries.

This type excels in endurance-type sports like:

  • Marathons and triathlons.
  • Gymnastics and ballet
  • Tennis and squash.

Although ectomorphs struggle to gain weight, they need to follow a healthy diet because low levels of body fat can be damaging to their health. Female ectomorphs are especially at risk and could develop iron deficiencies and menstruation problems.

It’s possible that you could have the qualities of more than one body type. You may be an endomorph with some mesomorph characteristics or vice versa, or you may be a mesomorph with some ectomorph characteristics or vice versa. It’s best to know which sports suit your body type to give you the maximum physical benefits.