The Three Somatotypes – Is It Real, And If So, Which One Are You?

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Out of curiosity, have you heard of the term somatotypes before? If you haven’t, this is the idea that every single person has a certain body frame, and that also determines a person’s natural size. It has been used in some religion as described as chakras, as well as in the scientific realm to discuss racial differences.

The basic concept is this – each person naturally falls into one of three somatotypes, namely endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. Not only does this determine the natural build, it also has implications for body size in general. Let’s go through each of the following so that we can understand what it is about. We will also describe exercise strategies for each:

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  1. Endomorph

The endomorph is a body type that is physically the “biggest”. Endomorphs have wide bone structures, and their bodies tend to be soft and flabby. They have limited muscle development, although there has to be some to support their body weight.

Endomorphs tend to be rounder in shape. They tend to have an overly developed digestive system, which allows them to put on weight easily. Endomorphs generally have trouble losing weight, but they can put on muscle fairly easily.

Scientifically, people from colder climates such as eskimoes tend to be endomorphs, which makes sense because they need to have a low body mass to surface area ratio in order to retain body heat. However, this might not always be the case. Samoans, for example, tend to be big sized too.

Fitness-wise, endomorphs should try to lose fat. Apart from lowering calorie intake, they can also increase their metabolism with strength training, which also builds muscle. Perfect exercises for endomorphs would be strength training with moderate weights and minimal rest between sets.

Unsurprisingly, endomorphs are more suited towards sports that require a great deal of strength with little requirement for speed or stamina. These include javelin throwers, weight lifters (although this depends) and short putters.

  1. Mesomorphs

If you are someone who cares about health and fitness, you would definitely hope that you’re a mesomorph. Basically, a mesomorphic form tends to be athletic, with a hard, muscular body and an overly mature appearance. Male mesomorphs tend to have a rectangularly-shaped physique, while females will be more hourglass-type.

Apart from that, mesomorphs also tend to have a firm, straight, upright posture and thick skin. Mesomorphs can gain or lose weight very easily, but they definitely put in muscle very efficiently. This sounds like a caveman, doesn’t it?

While a mesomorph has an advantage over everyone else when it comes to health and fitness, s/he shouldn’t be complacent. After all, a mesomorph slouch can also gain fat easily! Mesomorphs should perform strength training with moderate to heavy weights with some rest between sets. As usual, a healthy diet is recommended.

In the sporting arena, sports which require a mixture of strength and speed tend to have athletes of mesomorphic body structure. These include team sports such as soccer, Australian Football, and basketball.  Other sports such as swimming are also included.

  1. Ectomorphs

To put it simply, ectomorphs would be the polar opposite to endomorphs. This is the smallest body type out of the three. Skinny people would fall into this category. Apart from looking fragile and delicate, ectomorphs also tend to look young and tall.

Ectomorphs tend to have trouble gaining weight, and this includes both fat and muscle. They also tend to have a fast metabolism, which means that they can eat a lot of food very often and still maintain their lean physiques.

If you think about it scientifically, people who come from hot climates and deserts tend to be ectomorphs. This makes sense because it is the most efficient way to disperse heat from the body. Environmental conditions also require ectomorphs to be fast and run, whether as a predator or a prey.

In terms of fitness, ectomorphs should concentrate on gaining weight, but only in the form of lean muscle. This will be an uphill task, but can be achieved in tandem with a healthy diet, albeit with an increased calorie intake. A slower workout pace with heavier weights is preferred. Ectomorphs should also limit cardio exercises.

Unsurprisingly, ectomorphs excel at sporting activities which do not require strength but does require stamina. The most obvious example would be marathon running. They also have an advantage in other sports like fencing and badminton.

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Now that we have described these three types, the most obvious question is whether they are real or not. Although I have described how it can be true scientifically, critics still point out that it is often used as an excuse in modern day western society, where this scale does not apply.

To be honest, they have a point there. I mean, if you are fat, wouldn’t it be easier to blame it on poor genetics, a slow metabolism and an endomorphic build? It is indeed a cop out and shows a lack of responsibility. In my opinion, the three body types exist in western society, but only “loosely”.

That means that even if you genuinely identify as an endomorph, it does not mean that you should ever use it as an excuse. With time and effort, even the most endomorphic person can be fit and healthy. Of course s/he will not be as svelte as an ectomorph, but the fit physique will be obvious.

Get out there and exercise – one and all!

Mark

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