Body Types – The Ectomorph, Mesomorph & Endomorph
Before we even consider the science behind body types and human physiology, you only have to look around you to see it is plainly obvious that there are many different body shapes and sizes in the general population.
Walking down the street you will see a whole mix of body shapes and sizes, tall people, skinny people, round people, short people – and sometimes a combination of these.
These different body types are given scientific names, with three of the best known being the ectomorph, the mesomorph and the endomorph.
Each of these help to describe the human physical type, or somatotype and are based on a physique-classification system originally developed by the American psychologist W.H. Sheldon.
The ectomorph is generally the body type that is commonly seen in the most popular beauty magazines, and is the one which many women strive hard to attain.
The ectomorph build is a relatively sleek one and is normally known for its lean physique and lanky body parts.
Because of its structure however, people that could be described as ectomorphs will normally have delicate frames and could be described by some as being “fragile”.
Many women long to attain the tall, size zero look that the ectomorph build epitomises and many spend years getting in shape and toning up, in the hope of achieving it.
They see this body shape as an attractive build to have and will strive to get that “super model” appearance.
Unfortunately however, the ectomorph build, in many instances, is not an ideal body shape for the aspiring male strength and power athletes amongst us.
Male athletes who are considered to be ectomorphs tend to struggle to build muscle mass quickly and often have a less powerful body form with weaker arms, legs, ankles and wrists.
Excellent endurance athletes
Many endurance athletes such as long distance marathon runners tend to have the ectomorph build and are generally recognised as having a lower muscle mass, are fairly flat chested and have a very lean body composition with reduced levels of body fat.
Even though many endurance athletes are likely to have a well toned physique it is recognised that they struggle to develop muscle mass, so they have to work very hard to achieve the muscular density required for their sport.
Many Sub-Saharan athletes (from Kenya, Ethiopia) often feature prominently in elite level middle and long distance running races as most of their best athletes are built in this way.
The high altitude at which many of them train also helps with regards to heart and lung capacity, and general endurance capability.
In one aspect the ectomorph body type seems to be envied by many people, as no matter how much they eat, they never seem to put on excess weight.
This is because they often have a faster metabolism and it is this that helps them burn food off quickly and effectively. Must be nice eh?
Just the word mesomorph gives the impression of a powerful and impressive structure, and indeed it is.
The mesomorph build is the one body shape that is most targeted by men and is envied by many people who aspire to that strong, muscular look.
People that have mesomorph characteristics tend to be able to build muscle mass quickly.
This means that they have the ability to eat what they want and, provided they workout sufficiently, will have an excellent chance of bulking up quickly and effectively.
Mesomorphs also have the ability to retain their newly developed muscle easier than the other body shapes.
Excellent power and strength athletes
Although everyone is different, male mesomorphs tend to have a sturdy and slightly rectangular build whilst female mesomorphs tend to have a typical “curvy” profile to their body shape.
They also tend to be fairly big boned, muscular and strong.
Not surprisingly then, mesomorphs are the ideal body shape for many power athletes including sprint cyclists, rugby players, swimmers, sprinters and bodybuilders as they have a good solid foundation with which to work.
It is however important that mesomorphs monitor their calorific intake, look after their bodies and keep in relatively good shape as they can have a tendency to accumulate unwanted body fat.
As an athlete involved in sports where strength and power are important characteristics for success the mesomorph body shape is an ideal one to possess as there is much scope for building muscle mass and strength for their chosen sport.
Finally, we consider the endomorph body shape.
Typically endomorphs have a round and unstructured physique and tend to have shorter arms and legs.
They tend to carry their excess body weight around the centre of their stomach, and their arms and legs are generally larger in width than those found with the other body types.
It is also recognised that they have a greater number of body fat cells and in some instances their metabolic rate is lower making it harder to burn off excess body fat.
Unfortunately, in many of today’s popular cultures the endomorph body shape is the least favoured of the three and in many instances leads to a desire for change.
This is often because endomorphs tend to put on weight more easily.
Even if endomorphs try to reduce their calorific intake and take part in regular exercise, they will often find it more of a struggle to burn off that excess body weight than the other body types.
This does not mean, however, that if you are a typical endomorph, you should not try to lose weight.
Regular exercise, even if it is just walking, will help to control your weight, but you may have to combine this exercise with regular low calorie meals in order to reach and then maintain your desired weight.
In many instances, endomorphs will be frustrated and envious of other people with different builds, as they often need to work twice as hard in order to get down to their ideal Body Mass Index (BMI)*.
But stick at it, endomorphs! Once the hard work pays off you will look and feel great.
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* Body Mass Index often abbreviated to BMI is a measure of a person’s body fat based on their weight and height. It is calculated using a persons body weight divided by the square of their height.