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Somatotyping: Endomorphs, Mesomorphs, and Ectomorphs

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Somatotyping: Endomorphs, Mesomorphs, and Ectomorphs

What is somatotyping?


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the term “somatotype” refers to a classification of human physique/body type.  The somatotype classification system is attributed to a psychologist W.H. Sheldon.  Within the system there are three main classifications: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.  These terms tend to denote extremes and a typical individual rarely falls on any of the three extremes but is usually considered a blend of two or all three with a tendency toward one.  However, for the purpose of simplicity a person who is considered primarily ectomorph with a mesomorph influence is still deemed an ectomorph.  In his work, Sheldon used a 7 point scale to describe an individuals body type.  For example, with the left number representing endomorphs, the middle mesomorphs, and the right number ectomorphs, and extreme mesomorph would be represented as 1-7-1. Thus, 1's denoting lesser characteristics and 7 denoting greater characteristic.





Typically thin face, narrow torso, and seemingly long thin arms and legs.  At a base level not much body fat but not much muscle mass either.  Often appears scrawny.  Typically does not gain weight no matter what or how much he/she appears to eat.  Ectomorphs can still certainly put on fat however their arms/legs will often still appear relatively thin.  Can usually lose weight fairly easily but has more difficulty trying to gain weight.




Commonly more of a square face, broad shoulders and torso, and generally appears muscular at a basic level (without much exercise).  Mesomorphs are often able to gain weight or lose weight (muscle and/or fat) with about the same amount of effort. 




Endomorphs appear to have a rounder head with a rounder torso and seemingly shorter arms and legs with thicker upper arms and thighs.  He/she has a tendency to gain fat easier and usually benefits from a slightly stricter diet.  However, just as there can be a overweight ectomorph there can also be a skinny endomorph.

Now, there's other means used to classify than simply physical appearance. In fact, there's a formula known as the Heath-Carter formula which utilizes measurements such as height, weight, arm circumference, skin fold measurements, and other variables.  You simply plug the measurements into the equation (not presented here) to obtain a somatotype classification.  As with any theory, somatotyping is subject to a decent amount of criticism.  Nonetheless, in the fitness world attempts have been made at designing workouts and diets around these classifications.  Of course, regardless of what you think you might be, a dietary change and some hard work will inevitably show results.




-Coach John


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