The Ultimate Endomorph Workout Plan with PDF

If you’re among the people who tend toward a rounder look, fights weight around the waist and hips and struggles with achieving an athletic V shape, you might just be an endomorph and this Endomorph Workout Plan is designed specifically for you!

Endomorphs are one of 3 body types–or somatotypes–described first by William Sheldon during the ‘40s after World War II. Sheldon attempted to categorize common body types, and although his work’s come under criticism for lack of evidence, these body types do resonate. People tend to either look athletic, or lanky, or round.

If you are an endomorph, read on or jump to the workout plan now!

Alternatively, you can download the free PDF version of the program using the link below:

The Endomorph Workout Plan In a Nutshell

Program styleResistance training + cardio
Workout duration1-2 hours
Scheduling3 or 6 days a week
GoalBuild muscle and burn fat
LevelBeginners to advanced
Target GenderMale and Female

What is an Endomorph?

Endomorphs are inclined toward roundness. They’re the stereotypical sumo wrestlers, the NFL linemen, and the would-be plus-size models.

Endomorph couple exercising

For emphasis…

None of this means Endomorphs are fat.

Sheldon’s work describes them as tending toward body fat gain. This isn’t proven clinically. It’s more observational.

Much of what we observe between the body types has to do with the skeletal structure.

Some folks have narrow clavicles and larger pelvic bones in comparison, which works against them in creating that aesthetic “V”. Any extra bulk around the middle creates a rounded appearance.

A weakness of the somatotype classifications are the alignments between body type and personality characteristics.

Endomorphs were thought to be easy-going and jovial with a love of food. It’s true that if a person loves food and lacks aggression, they may well have larger mid-sections, but it’s a chicken-and-egg argument.

Are You an Endomorph?

3 metabolic type

The graphic should give you a pretty good idea of your basic, default somatotype or body type. (It’s important to remember that any of the three body types will look like an endomorph if overweight.)

The somatotypes provide a general framework for understanding basic physiques, and you can imagine that many people won’t fit neatly into one or the other. There are combinations.

Endomorph, ectomorph (hardgainer), and mesomorph provide general categories that can be useful in understanding your own physique.

Belly and hip fat will make any somatotype look endomorphic.

Much of body type relies on lifestyle, and that’s what we’re here to discuss: an effective training regimen combined with sustainable dietary suggestions.

If you put on fat more easily than those around you, and you tend toward a roundness or thickness in the middle, then this workout routine for endomorphs will be worth your while.

Whether somatotypes are real or not, if you’ve always tended toward rounded, pear-shape, then this workout routine for endomorphs may be worth your while.

Related: The Ultimate Mesomorph Workout Plan with PDF

What To Expect from this Workout Plan

Expect to spend time working on upper body, and more specifically, the upper part of your upper body. Shoulders in particular. We’re going for that V-shape, the drop in width from shoulders to hips. The greater the ratio the better.

You can also expect a healthy variety of exercise: resistance training with both intense isolation work and also supersets that work functional muscle groups and Low Intensity Steady State cardio sprinkled in.

Don’t expect a lot of ab work.

Weird, huh?

Not really.

Abs are muscles and will grow with work. If you train them a lot, they’ll get bigger. Tighter, yes, but bigger. Bigger mid-sections isn’t what we’re after here.

We’re going for smaller.

If you do the exercises correctly, especially the ones that require that you brace your core, your abs will get all the work they need.

Expect to be paying close attention to what you eat and drink. You won’t be crunching your way to a smaller waist.

Workout Plan Structure

Endomorphs need lots of focus on developing a V shape, requiring special attention to shoulders, back, and legs.

The routine follows a Push-Pull-Legs A-B format.

A-B formats employ different exercises for Push, Pull, and Leg days, separating those exercises into an “A” group and a “B” group.  One isn’t necessarily more intense, heavier, or lighter than the other.

What A-B allows are those additional exercises that work well that can’t be done all in the same workout. This helps prevent overtraining while getting the nuanced benefits of similar exercises.

A good example might be doing Smith Machine presses on Push Day A, where Dumbbell Bench Press is done on Push Day B. You could do both on the same day, but splitting them into A and B allows for higher intensity on each.

The A and B days logically separate beneficial exercises. For example, Push Day A includes compound pushing movements with Push Day B featuring single-joint flyers. Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio is performed on Leg Day A, and LISS with high intensity sprints is done on Leg Day B.

Note: Move cardio to either the push or pull days instead of leg day at your discretion. Do cardio two times a week; whether you do it on leg day or one of the others is up to you.

You will need a fully-equipped gym with machines and cables to do this routine. It’s not an at-home or outdoor program, nor one that can be done adequately in a free-weight only environment.

This is the format:

Push-Pull-Legs + Low Intensity Cardio Format

Push APress dominant: Chest, Anterior shoulders, Triceps, LISS
Pull ABack, Lat focus: (Lats, Trapezius, Posterior shoulders, Erectors),
and Biceps, LISS
Legs AQuads, Hams, Lower legs, Glutes (add Abs)
Push BFly dominant: Chest, Anterior shoulders, Triceps, LISS
Pull BBack, Trap and Posterior Shoulder focus:
Back (Lats, Trapezius, Posterior shoulders, Erectors), and Biceps, LISS
Legs BQuads, Hams, Lower legs, Glutes (add Abs)

Scheduling your A and B Days

PPL A-B works great for a 6-day per week schedule but can be easily adapted to a 3-day per week split where the A and B workouts are spread out over two weeks.

Here’s how you might schedule a 3-Day PPL program with an A-B split over a 2 week block:

1SundayPush A
TuesdayPull A
ThursdayLegs A
2SundayPush B
TuesdayPull B
ThursdayLegs B

Or, you can easily turn this into a one week 6-Day PPL program with an A-B split:

SundayPush A
MondayPull A
TuesdayLegs A
WednesdayPush B
ThursdayPull B
FridayLegs B

In the downloadable Endomorph Workout Plan PDF, the muscles associated with each exercise is specified. They are also mentioned in descending order assuming proper form is observed. When one muscle only is listed, it indicates an isolation exercise.

You’ll see parenthetical notes on a few exercises that bias one portion of a muscle, like the DB Pullover, which biases the sterno-costal division of the pec major. The sterno-costal division is often called the “lower pec”, and the upper portion is the clavicular division, for what it’s worth.

A special note about Pullovers. Not many people do them any more and many (maybe you) don’t even know what they are.

They were a staple during the golden era of bodybuilding in the 70s and early 80s, when Arnold and the boys were winning their titles. Pullovers were Arnold’s favorite.

Pullovers fell from favor for some reason unknown to me, because if they’re done right, they will slay the pecs and add bulk and definition to the lower edge of the pecs. Pullovers are also excellent as a posture improvement exercise, and who doesn’t want or need either of those things.

The more I consider it, the more I think that the average bro was unable to make his pecs do the work and relied on the back muscles to move the weight. Or, they used it as a back exercise and ignored the pec benefits of this under-rated move.

All bro-arguments aside, the pullover is an exercise you should give an honest go if you’re considered an endomorph. And, they’re making a comeback, so be the cool kid and do them with vigor and fury, and watch your pecs grow.

The Endomorph Workout Plan

The workout plan below applies the 1-week PPL A/B format. Refer to the downloadable PDF for the more comprehensive version with both the 1-week and 2-week schedules included!

Day 1: Push Day A

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Chest Press15-2010-128-108-10
High Incline Chest Press15-2010-128-108-10
Close Grip Chest Press15-2010-128-108-10
Cable Crossover or Decline Cable Press
(Bilateral or Single Side, kneeling)
Front Raises15-2010-128-108-10
Cable Triceps Extensions
(Attachment of Choice)

Day 2: Pull Day A

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Dumbbell Hammer Curls or Palms-up Curls15-2010-128-108-10
Lat Pulldowns15-2010-128-108-10
Seated Row10-1210-128-108-10
Chest Supported Prone Reverse DB Flyes15-2010-128-108-10

Day 3: Leg Day A

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Heel Elevated Squats15-2010-128-108-10
Leg Extensions15-2010-128-108-10
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs)
Single-Leg B-Stance RDLs
Hip Extensions15-2010-128-108-10
Seated Leg Curls15-2010-1510-128-10
LISS, High Intensity Interval**
(Exercise Bike)
15 min
1 min
15 min
1 min
Calf Raises15-2015-2015-2015-20

Day 4: Push Day B

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
DB Pullovers15-2010-128-108-10
Low-High Cable Flyes
(Single or Two-arm)
High-Low Cable Flyes
Lateral Raises15-2010-128-108-10
Cable Triceps Extensions15-2010-128-108-10

Day 5: Pull Day B

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Biceps Curls15-2010-128-108-10
Machine Pull-downs
Pull-ups with bodyweight
Motorcycle Rows10-1210-1210-1210-12
Barbell Plate Raises
Dumbbell “I” Raises
Kelso Shrugs15-2010-1210-1210-12
Reverse Flyes15-2010-128-108-10

Day 6: Leg Day B

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Goblet Squats15-2010-128-108-10
Leg Extensions15-2010-128-108-10
Hip Abductions15-2010-128-108-10
Seated Leg Curls15-2010-1510-128-10
Calf Raises15-2015-2015-2015-20
Tibialis Anterior Raises202020
(Treadmill or Exercise Bike)
45 min

Day 7: REST

Your Cardio

I went for years without doing any cardio other than walking (which I found anecdotally to be helpful in staying lean. I was never leaner than when I walked a mile or more every day).

People who tend to pack on body fat more readily, like you endomorphs, do well to keep their activity levels as high as possible, and longer sessions make a lot of sense, so therefore Low Intensity Steady State (LISS). Longer, lower intensity activity accesses free body fat stores.

I’ve found the rule of thumb of walking 10,000 steps a day helpful. The 10,000 needs to be in a single stretch or two and not an aggregate of a thousand here and a thousand there for it to work as intended.

It’s the length of the session that matters.

Exercise biking is also good, as are long hikes. Walking in nature has a secondary benefit of stress relief.

Don’t mistake “low intensity” with leisurely. You’ll need to move at an RPE of 4 or 5. Your heart rate should be elevated and breathing heavier but you shouldn’t be so winded that you can’t recite a few letters of the alphabet.

Program Guidelines

Application is half of a routine. Exercises alone mean little if not put in the context of the entire workout and lifestyle.

Observe all the resistance training basic rules of thumb for the endomorph program as for any other resistance training routine. Some things just work all the time. Progressive overload, judicious attention to Reps In Reserve (RIR), rep cadence, rest and recovery.

1. Always Observe Progressive Overload

Man doing push pull legs workout routine progressive overload

As with all resistance training routines, progressive overload always applies. Always.

Progressive overload is very simple and something we understand in all of life’s pursuits. When you engage in an activity and want to improve, you push yourself. Once you can do the task with ease, you add a degree of difficulty.

No different in the weight room. Master a weight for the said number of reps and sets and then add weight or reps.

Simple…and effective.

Here’s an example: For a set of 8 to 12, once you can do the 12th rep with good form and maybe even a 13th or 14th rep, raise the weight so that rep #8 is the most you can do with good form. Continue using that weight until you can again do it well for 12 reps.

Then repeat the process.

Record your sets, reps, and weights in a composition notebook. Yep, paper is better. Leave your phone or tablet in your locker; this is a gym, not a coffee shop.

Progressive overload is one of the unarguable tenets of resistance training, regardless whether you’re training for shape, size, or strength. It always works.

Aim for perfect form on every rep. The saying goes, “It’s not counting your reps, it’s making your reps count”.

To discipline myself, I will not count less-than-excellent reps toward a set, meaning that if my form is off, a set of 8 could actually end up being a set of 12. For me, it’s a worthwhile thing to do to make sure I’m paying giving each rep the attention it deserves.

2. Apply Reps in Reserve (RIR)

Best application for this program is 1 or 2 RIR for the first set or two, then no reps in reserve for the last sets of an exercise.

Set your weights so that the last rep of every set really is the last one you can do with good form.

For the last set or 2 of each exercise, the last couple of reps should be crazy hard with good form. The weight will be moving very slowly but you’ll be working hard to get it to move at all.

Raise the weight if you can do the last rep of any set with complete ease.

3. Focus on Rep Cadence

Use a methodical, rhythmic, pumping motion. That does not mean easy-going or relaxed. We want steady, concentrated work; no ballistics, kipping, jerking, bouncing, swinging…none of that stuff. The target muscles should be lifting the weight.

A good rule of thumb for rep speed is one second up and two seconds down.

I tell everybody this, and it was advice I got from star coach Scott Abel several years ago…

For a memorable visual of champion rep cadence, watch the 1976 documentary, “Pumping Iron”. You’ll see Arnold, Franco, and the boys using the cadence described.

4. Be Strict About Nutrition

If you’re considered an endomorph, you’ll want to keep an eye on your nutrition.

I’ve listed a few “do”s and “don’t”s that I follow myself to lose fat. All these can be summarized into two statements from Michael Pollan:

“If it came from a plant [or ate a plant], eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” (bracketed words mine).

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

These statements aren’t suggesting going vegetarian or vegan.

Here are simple tips you can start using now:

  • No sugary drinks, snack foods, or candy.
  • No chips, cookies, even granola bars and protein bars.
  • No meal replacement foods or shakes. Sugar-free protein powder shakes are OK.
  • No alcohol.
  • Limit fast food. This is tough if you travel for work.
  • Avoid foods made from flour: pizza, tortillas, bread, including sandwiches.
  • Do not treat food as a reward.
  • Have at least 4 full servings of colorful fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables daily (brown is not considered a color).
  • Eat a balanced diet, with an emphasis on protein (at least 1g protein/kg body weight) and fibrous vegetables.
  • Condiments are not a food group. Easy on the mayo, ketchup (which is full of sugar), and salad dressings.
  • Baked, broiled, steamed, smoked. Avoid fried.

You can’t outwork a bad diet. Get it straight in the kitchen.

5. Get Necessary Rest

Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep nightly. This is when you recover and your hard work will have a chance to pay off.

Practice good sleep hygiene to help get to sleep and stay asleep. Cool, very dark room, no electronics at least 1 hour before bed, stop drinking liquids 2 hours before bed.

Rest between sets

Man resting between sets

Although the latest clinical evidence points to longer rest periods between sets, we want to keep the metabolic expense a bit higher in this routine than we might for a strictly bodybuilding or strength program. For strength, size and power, 3 minutes being best if you’re going all-out.

The study that several of the leading strength and hypertrophy coaches point to now is Brad Schoenfeld’s 2018 paper, which suggests rest periods differ by goal.

For this routine…

For your Chest, Back, and Shoulder exercises:

  • Rest 3 minutes between sets. Our objective is to maximize size gains in this area, so follow the recent guidelines mentioned above for best hypertrophy gains.

For your Leg and arm work:

  • Rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets.

6. Monitor Your Progress

Use your progressive overload to gauge how your strength improves, and keep an eye on the mirror and how your clothes fit.

We’re looking for shirts (and also blouses for the ladies) to begin to get a little tighter through the shoulders.

Avoid the scale as a routine. Stepping on it every so often isn’t a problem. Because body weight can vary at different times during the day or as a result of water retention for hormonal reasons–or if you had a meal with a lot of complex carbs the day before–the scale can misrepresent what’s really going on.

Download our Endomorph Workout Plan PDF below:

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Perry Mykleby, ACE CPT

Perry started lifting weights in 1974. He is an ACE-certified personal trainer and holds the ACE Orthopedic Exercise certification.

He holds a journalism degree from the University of North Texas, where he competed in powerlifting. His final competition was the Texas State Open in December of 1982, but has continued to study and practice muscle strength and hypertrophy. He is a four-decade veteran of the medical device industry.

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