The 3 Different Body Types: Which One Are You and Why You Should Care


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Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Have you noticed how you always put weight on your belly first? Or that your top is two sizes smaller than your bottom? Or that some people have a booty and others have a flat butt? Have you wondered why? One of the things I like to do here on Paleo/NonPaleo is to offer strategies and information to help you resist the pull of the non-paleo world that surrounds us all – the parts of it that can drive us paleos to distraction. One of those is comparison.


I’m going to let you in on a secret. A big secret. One that makes people’s jaw drop when the light-bulb goes on – suddenly someone’s at home catching flies.

No angel wings

It can be life-changing this information. It can be empowering. It can promote self-acceptance. Do you know what it is? It’s this: You’re probably never going to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Ever. (If you’re a man, you probably knew that.)

I’m sorry

Not with all the low-carbing or protein or even healthy fats in the world. Or the weight-lifting schedule of an Olympian. Let me tell you why. We all have a certain body shape. One that is hardwired into our DNA. No amount of dieting or random exercise will change it. And the body shape we have will determine how we lay down fat on our bodies.


Those who tend to saddlebags (that would be me) have long torsos and proportionately shorter legs. Those who have long legs proportionate to their bodies tend to have flat butts and put on belly fat. Models, however, like Heidi and Giselle, often fall in the middle. They are proportionate in the torso and the legs. But many of us aren’t. It doesn’t matter what we do, we never will be.

Acceptance or death

And we might as well understand and accept our basic shape before we exercise and diet ourselves to death trying to become something it is not possible to become. I’ve followed a home exercise program for years called T-Tapp. It is incredibly effective and not at all time consuming. I do 15 minutes a day. The information about body types came from the creator of that program, Teresa Tapp, and more information can be found on the T-Tapp Total Workout DVD. Which one are you? Read the descriptions below and check yourself (and the people around you :-)) out. While this information is targeted at women mostly, it applies to men too.

Long Torso/Short Leg (LT/SL)

  • Distance from “last” rib to top of hip bone (iliac crest) is 4” or greater
  • Length from knee to ankle is less than the length from knee to hip
  • Battle saddle bags (even when thin)
  • Generally maintains a “flat” lower tummy.
  • Tendency toward “bubble” butt (that seems to hang low)

Short Torso/Long Leg (ST/LG)

  • Distance from “last” rib to top of hip bone (iliac crest) is 2” or less
  • Length from knee to ankle is greater than (or can be equal to) the length of knee to hip
  • Does not tend to have saddle bags, but can tend to gain on inner thigh.
  • Has difficulty maintaining a “flat” lower tummy
  • Generally has a “flat” butt


  • Distance from “last” rib to top of hip bone (iliac crest) is 2 – 2 1/2” to 4”
  • Length of knee to ankle is equal to the length of knee to hip (Knee to ankle could also be slightly less that knee to hip)
  • Tends to put on saddle bags AND inner thighs
  • Can obtain a flat lower tummy, but not as easy as LT/SL and even when the lower tummy is flat, tends to have a small roll of fat right below the belly button.
  • Tendency towards a “full,” “round” to “bubble” butt.
  • Combo’s are known as those with a “butt and gut.” Combos tend to “bubble up” in the butt, and in the gut when putting on weight. Combos will combine the ill effects of both the LT/SL and ST/LG when putting on weight, meaning combos can put on saddle bags, inner thighs, bubble butt and gut. Combos can also have what is known as a “third butt”, meaning where the back of your thigh meets the bun, there is often a “small bun” (not literally, but in appearance) before the main one (it’s kind of hard to describe).
  • A combo body type can be a “perfect” combo (guidelines above) or can be a combo leading toward LT, or a combo leading towards ST. If the distance between your rib to hip bone is closer to 4” and the length of your knee to ankle is less than the length of your knee to hip, you could be a combo with LT tendencies. If the distance between your rib to hip bone is closer to 2”, and your knee to ankle length is greater than your knee to hip length, you could be a combo with ST tendencies.

How / Where do you measure?

  • Rib to Hip –– measure from the very last rib (on the side of you body) to the very top of your hip bone.
  • Knee to Ankle –– pretty much as it states; from your “ankle” bone, up the side of your leg to knee.
  • Knee to Hip –– this ones a little tricky to find your top measuring point. Do this: Stand up, and do a side leg lift. Now from the point on your side where your leg lifts from the side of your body (hip), that is you top measuring point. So, on the side of your body starting from knee up to this point is your KTH measurement.

I think so and so do most of the people I mention it to. But apart from being merely interesting, why is this information useful? Maybe even a breath of fresh air? Because it give us greater self-acceptance, intelligence and maybe even a more satisfying silhouette.

Peace and power

Knowing this stuff allows us to let go of that we can’t change and focus on the things that we like about ourselves. When I learned this information, I let go of trying to attain a long, leggy, profile with slim thighs. It was powerful to give that up. I’m always going to have short calves and I stopped fretting over them. I suddenly got why some people had slim legs no matter what. And I understood why I had relatively heavy bottom half and knees that deserved their own weigh-in. 🙂 Perhaps I’m a bit slow, but it also helped me appreciate that I had nice shoulders and a flatter stomach and I came to understand how I could accentuate my better bits. I focused on those parts that I liked and stopped focusing on changing those that I couldn’t. Cool.

Smarter shopping, flattering clothing

Becoming aware our basic body type enables us to dress for our shape and not get sucked in quite so much to the advertising that suggest that if we buy this or that dress we’ll look like the model wearing it. I now understand enough to buy stretchy, long tanks that don’t ride up the ribs of my long torso and I knew to stop vainly trying on different brands of pants and stick with the one that was cut to fit my shape (Liz Claiborne – oh joy, a waistband that fit.) I know that dresses that stop just above my knees are not the most flattering and I need to wear heels if I want to look my best.

Intelligent exercise

I’ve done T-Tapp for years because it has strengthened my body in a way that doesn’t take much time, gets me to sleep and sculpted my body like nothing else I’ve ever done. It’s extremely comprehensive, inexpensive when compared to a gym and it  shocks me that it isn’t better known. A huge bang for my buck. T-Tapp promotes itself as an exercise program that develops long, lean muscle fibers with strength and flexibility for greater muscle density instead of muscle bulk. Inch loss occurs because muscles develop like girdles so they uplift and cinch in target areas of concern. And certainly I have experienced that. When I was young and slim, despite exercising, I’d always be thin and scrawny up top while still packing junk on my buns and thighs. My bottom half was always two sizes bigger than my top half. Losing weight just made things worse. It was so great when I lost twenty pounds after doing T-Tapp consistently (I was low-carbing – this was pre-paleo but with hindsight it was paleo without the fat) to uncover a more proportional profile.


By doing 15 minutes of T-Tapp 5 or 6 days a week, working on my lower body and building some muscle up top, I was able to even myself out. In this first picture taken in 2008, I am a size 8 up top and size 12 bottom. In the following picture taken a year later, I am 20 pounds lighter and a size 6 top and bottom: much more in proportion. I lost one inch from my chest, three inches from my hips, two from each thigh.

Pennies drop

You may never get to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel but knowing your body type can be an eye-opener. You can practice self-acceptance, shop wisely and get smarter about exercise. And while it is true that to some extent your body shape is determined by your genetics and perhaps further ‘enhanced’ by a non-paleo 21st century lifestyle, it is good to know you can smooth off some of your bumpier parts for a leaner, more proportional silhouette with less effort than you think. Check out the T-Tapp website for more comparison photos between body types and success stories or enter Teresa’s monthly contest.

Do you recognize your body shape from the list above? What problems have you found and how have you resolved them? Tell us in the comments!

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Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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