The Ultimate Mesomorph Workout Plan with PDF

Do you have a naturally athletic build? Does the gym come easy? You might just be a mesomorph.

Mesomorphs are one of 3 body types–or somatotypes–described first by William Sheldon around the time of WWII.

If you are a mesomorph, we have a workout plan specifically for you.

Mesomorphs definitely have an easier go in the gym than their ectomorph and endomorph brethren when it comes to putting on muscle and getting jacked quicker. If you’re one of those lucky people, try this plan.

Jump to the workout plan now!

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

The Mesomorph Workout Plan In a Nutshell

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

What is a Mesomorph?

Mesomorphs are those people we love to hate, with natural “V” shaped upper bodies and narrow waists. They have a headstart on results in the gym.

Their limbs are proportionate, unlike some of us who look like we were assembled with spare parts.

They can put on fat fairly easily as muscle and can lean out just as fast due to their efficient metabolisms.

Add all these together, and you’ve got a body type that responds to exercise and adapts well. These are the lucky ones.

None of this means mesomorphs don’t need to work. If you’re one of these fortunate people (from a physique point of view), train smart to take full advantage of your body type.

Are You a Mesomorph?

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.

If you put on muscle more easily than those around you, and your muscles take shape better than your peers, you’re probably a mesomorph and this routine might be a good one for you to follow for a training cycle or two.

What To Expect from this Workout Plan

If you’re legit a mesomorph, you can expect to put on muscle, and if you eat right, you can expect to start seeing a more athletic physique emerge.

Unlike the hardgainer ectomorph, or the rounder endomorph, your work in the gym will show faster and look better.

So, you can expect to make visible gains faster and better than those around you, provided you put in the work, eat, and sleep right.

It’s important to observe the basics: 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly; eat nutritious unprocessed foods with balance between protein, carbohydrates, and fats; train hard using good form.

Muscle will come more easily to you than your ectomorph and endomorph brethren, and just as with muscle, the body fat will come easily also, although more evenly distributed than endomorphs who pack it on around the midsection.

Not everyone fits neatly into one of these categories. You could have traits of two, or maybe all three body types. But if you tend to look more athletic by nature, think of yourself as primarily mesomorphic.

Related: The Ultimate Endomorph Workout Plan with PDF

Workout Plan Structure

Mesomorphs can make appreciable gains when following a simple 3-day per week plan. Push-Pull-Legs is a ready-made 3-day routine, so PPL makes sense for them.

Add one day of low intensity cardio, and you have your plan.

I selected exercises that are known muscle-builders. Due to the medium frames and proportional limbs of mesomorphs, traditional weightlifting exercises will work well. This is the format:

Push-Pull-Legs + Cardio Format

PushChest, Anterior shoulders, Triceps
PullBack (Lats, Trapezius, Posterior shoulders, Erectors), Biceps
LegsQuads, Hams, Lower legs, Glutes (add Abs)
LISS CardioGeneral Metabolism

Here’s how a weekly schedule with rest days would look like:

PushChest, Anterior shoulders, Triceps
PullBack (Lats, Trapezius, Posterior shoulders, Erectors), Biceps
LegsQuads, Hams, Lower legs, Glutes (add Abs)
LISS CardioGeneral Metabolism

The Mesomorph Workout Plan

Day 1: Push Day

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Chest press
(Flat, machine, or dumbbell)
Incline press
(Machine or dumbbell)
(Pec deck, cable machine or dumbbell)
DB pullovers15-2010-128-108-10
Side laterals
(Machine or dumbbell)
Triceps push downs
EZCurl barbell extensions

Day 2: REST

Day 3: Pull Day

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
(Barbell, trap bar, or dumbbell)
Pull downs (machine)15-2010-128-108-10
Seated cable rows
(cable or selectable machine)
Kelso shrugs15-2010-128-108-10
Supported dumbbell rows
Rear delt fly machine
(Bumbbell, machine, or barbell)

Day 4: REST

Day 5: Leg Day (+Abs)

ExerciseSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4
Hack Squat
(Heel-elevated Smith or Dumbbell,
Barbell front, Barbell back)
(Pendulum machine,
Sissy (body weight,
weighted vest, holding weight))
Walking lunges
(Dumbbell, barbell, sandbag,
weighted vest, bodyweight)
Leg extensions15-2010-1210-128-10
Leg curls
(Seated or lying)
Stiff leg deadlift
Incline hyperextensions
Calf raises
(Leg machine, calf machine,
holding dumbbell)

Day 6: REST

Day 7: Cardio (SEE BELOW)

Your Cardio

I’ve changed my own opinion about cardio. I went for years without doing any other than walking: I’ve always been a walker, up to 10,000 steps a day.

I think my walking has contributed to my staying lean my entire adult life, sometimes leaner than others.

But then, I’m not a mesomorph. I’m an ectomorph, a hardgainer. I have to titrate my resistance training and rest, and be super-wise about my eating. Any little bit of body fat shows up quickly on me.

True mesomorphs whose training objectives are a muscular physique, you may want to limit your cardio.

Aerobics got popular in the late 70s. The champion bodybuilders of the time started doing aerobics as a means to lean out and cut for competition, and later, aerobics got blamed for some less-than-impressive legs. Their legs started looking like runners’ legs and not bodybuilders’ legs. Quads lacked sweep and took on a stringier appearance.

I’m not sure if the running and biking they did had anything to do with it, but it is a data point.

So you mesomorphs, do cardio, because it’s beneficial for your overall health and metabolism, just don’t go crazy with it. There’s no need to do HIIT or other high intensity forms of it.

The most reputable bodybuilding coaches I know are programming LISS these days. Low Intensity Steady State. Translated long steady walks, or bike work, either road or stationary.

A good rule of thumb for walking is the 10,000 steps a day I mentioned. You’ll want several thousand of those to be at a stretch; in other words, not a thousand here, a thousand there.

Program Guidelines

Observe all the resistance training basic rules of thumb for the mesomorph 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.

Progressive overload is very simple. Select a weight you can perform for the specified number of repetitions. Perform the set until the last couple of reps are easy. Then, raise the weight so that you’re back down to the lower end of the rep range.

Example: For a set of 8 to 12, once you can do the 12th rep with good form and maybe the 13th, 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.


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.

A reliable general heuristic for rep speed is one second up and two seconds down. The idea is that the eccentric contraction (as the muscle lengthens) should be longer and concentrated than the concentric lifting phase.

Avoid momentum. This routine does not include ballistic plyometric type movements.

For a memorable visual of champion rep cadence, watch the 1976 documentary, “Pumping Iron”. You’ll see Arnold, Franco, and the boys lifting weights the way they were meant to be lifted.

4. 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

Rest a minute or 2 between warm-up sets but more for your harder sets. Your “working” sets will require 2 to 3 minutes rest between. The latest clinical evidence points to 3 minutes being best if you’re going all-out.

While you’re resting, visualize your next set….in your head, not on your phone. Leave the phone in your bag or locker and concentrate on making some muscle. You won’t find muscle in iOS or Android formats.

5. Monitor Your Progress

Adding muscle will come easier to you if you’re a true mesomorph. So will gaining fat. Keep an eye on the mirror as you progress through the routine.

I don’t recommend using the scale. Body weight can fluctuate during a week. Rapid gain and loss is most likely water weight. Interesting fact, each glycogen molecule carries ~3 water molecules along for the ride.

If you have a big meal, chances are you’ll see some water retention the next day, especially if complex carbs were part of it.

Download our Mesomorph 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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