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Fitness Friday

What’s Your Body Type?

By Matthew Magnante

Each week we are asked questions that involve sports, conditioning and what is required for the best of all athletes.

Our Fitness Friday feature written by Christine Blanchette has become ever so popular and we felt it necessary to expand on this and in doing so we have reached out to Fitness Volt for input.

The following is an article from June 2-21 giving you more info on your overall body type to help you reach your fitness goals.

Enjoy the article by Matthew Magnante who is the senior writer for Fitness Volt

Many become frustrated due to a lack of results but it may just be that they don’t understand what their body type requires to make serious progress. 

We’ve provided some helpful information in this article. 

Origin of Somatotypes

Back in the 1940s, American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon categorized the human physique by the three common body types we know as ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

He used the term somatotype to describe the three body types and also classified them according to his Constitutional Theory, that associated somatotypes with having unique personalities and temperaments. You might say there was a little stereotyping going on.

For example, the ectomorph was associated with intelligence, being introverted, having low testosterone, and anxiousness. Mesomorphs were seen as extroverted, tough, and competitive, and endomorphs perceived as friendly, laid back, but lazy and selfish.

While temperament and body type don’t necessarily correlate, William Herbert Sheldon was definitely onto something when he categorized body types based on commonly seen physical traits unique to each one (ecto, meso, and endomorph).

Although, the fact that he used nude postural photos of Ivy League undergraduates to determine the somatotypes was not without controversy. But over time, we’ve been able to iron things out.

It’s also important to mention that many of the physical traits associated with body types were not accurate. For example, endomorphs and mesomorphs were associated with shorter stature. But in reality, this doesn’t match up.

Advantages of Each Body Type

Each body type has its advantages. Not to mention, you can be a combination of different body types but this depends on several factors such as genetics, nutrition, training, etc, that all play a role in realizing your type.

For example, you may be thin or skinny but with consistent training, you may make better progress than someone who may be more of a pure ectomorphic body type.

Hence you’d probably be a combination of ectomorph and mesomorph body type. But there really are many different variables to consider when determining a body type. 

The body type quiz is a useful tool that has the functionality to tell you if you are a combination of body types based on your answers. It’ll split your results into percentages. So, for example, you could be 70% ectomorph and 30% mesomorph. 

Learn how to get lean for your body type.

Advantages of endomorph body type

While endomorphs struggle to lose weight and keep it off, a big advantage of this body type over the others is the ability to put on and carry more muscle mass.

You’d think the mesomorph would win this category and while oftentimes the case, a larger frame tends to naturally be able to support more muscle tissue.

A good example of this is the best of the best strength athletes such as powerlifters and Strongmen who clearly have endomorphic body types with much larger frames than a majority of the population.

In higher weight categories, these athletes often carry lots of body fat but also lots of muscle too, as body weight is more times than not relative to strength capability and performance, especially at a competitive level.

Advantages of mesomorph body type

Ah, the mesomorphs… these individuals get the best of both worlds (referring to the advantages and not the disadvantages) but not usually to either extreme. 

Many people with this body type could never step foot into a gym or pick up a weight and they may still look more impressive than an ectomorph who trains several times per week. 

Compared to the endomorph body type, they might have as much muscle and less body fat covering it up without needing to do much or any cardio. That’s because they also have a metabolism somewhere in the middle.

Because of this, the mesomorph also usually sees the most satisfying progress at a faster rate, especially compared to the other body types, when and if they do decide to start weight training. 

Advantages of ectomorph body type

If your goal is to look jacked then you might be thinking, “what could be advantageous about this body type”?

While most ectomorphs, on average, aren’t able to build or carry as much muscle mass as the endomorph and mesomorph, decent muscle development combined with smaller joints and low body fat makes for a very impressive physique. After all, this is what the ideal bodybuilding physique aims to be.

Having smaller joints can create the illusion of looking more muscular and aesthetic because of the taper from the largest part of a muscle down to the joints.

For example, when someone has decent biceps and small wrists, their arms may look more impressive. 

Ectomorphs also, on average, tend to have less body fat and appear leaner. Being lean helps your muscles to pop because there’s not a lot of body fat covering them up. 

Then if you combine ectomorphic and mesomorphic traits, you get a cool combo of aesthetics!

Learn about proper weight gain here.

Research on Somatotypes

Are there differences between body types when it comes to being able to handle certain aspects of physical performance? For example, are mesomorph body types superior for anaerobic performance? Is one type more prone to diseases?

Let’s take a look at some of the research on the differences between somatotypes. 

Anaerobic performance

One study involving performance by ectomorphic and mesomorphic body types found that about one-third of strength performance can be predicted by one or more factors of somatotype (1). 

Additionally, research showed that those with higher mesomorphy values did better when it came to strength performance. 

But lower body strength was better predicted with a combination of ectomorphic and mesomorphic values. 

Disease risk

In one 2002 study, researchers concluded that a mesomorphic and endomorphic body type was more prone to certain diseases and risk factors (2). 

This is likely due to higher body weight which isn’t as much the case with the ectomorphic body type.

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Other Thoughts

Genetics will likely play the biggest role in your body type. Many people may have an idea of their somatotype/s but it’s very possible to discover things about yourself you never knew.

For example, you could have an endomorphic body type but also a genetic freak at the same time. But maybe your nutrition is terrible and you don’t work out or have never pushed yourself physically, and therefore, you had no idea as to your potential. 

This could also be the case using the other body types as an example. 

Diet, training, sleep, culture, and overall lifestyle habits are all factors that should be considered before coming to a conclusion about your body type. 

A good example of this is the skinny fat body type. This person may be mostly ectomorphic but there are many possible reasons but they have too much body fat.

Read: What is Skinny Fat and How to Fix It

The body type quiz is a great place to start but ultimately, you’ll have to put in the work and be disciplined to achieve a physique you’d be proud of. 

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