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    Body Types: How to Train & Diet for Your Somatotype

    Do you or your clients have trouble losing fat or building muscle? Learn how to train and diet for ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph body types.




    Do you have trouble losing body fat, yet seem to gain it after even the smallest slip up with your diet? Or does it feel like you can eat for days without gaining an ounce? It could have something to do with your current body type. But is it really that simple?

    Let's explore the three body types more in depth - endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph - and analyze how they relate to overall body composition.


    How to Identify Body Type

    Endomorph Mesomorph Ectomorph

    How to Improve Your Body Composition

    How to Train Endomorphs

    How to Train Mesomorphs

    How to Train Ectomorphs

    You can also find more information about this topic (and many others like it) within our online nutrition classes.


    Body type, or somatotype, refers to the idea that there are three generalized body compositions that people are predetermined to have. The concept was theorized by Dr. W.H. Sheldon back in the early 1940s, naming the three somatotypes endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph.

    It was originally believed that a person’s somatotype was unchangeable, and that certain physiological and psychological characteristics were even determined by whichever one a person aligns to.

    According to Sheldon, endomorphs have bodies that are always rounded and soft, mesomorphs are always square and muscular, and ectomorphs are always thin and fine-boned.

    He theorized that these body types directly influenced a person’s personality, and the names were chosen because he believed the predominate traits of each somatotype were set in stone, derived from pre-birth preferential development of either the endodermal, mesodermal, or ectodermal embryonic layers.


    So then why are we even discussing this topic? Because while the notion of a predetermined body composition looks far-fetched through a 21st century lens, many of the physiological markers and observations associated with each somatotype do actually exist in the greater population.

    However, the modern understanding is flipped from Sheldon’s original concept; it’s our physiological characteristics that determine the current somatotype, not the somatotype that determines our collective physiologies.

    No one exists within purely one somatotype; instead, we are all constantly in flux and fall uniquely on a spectrum somewhere between all three.


    In light of all this, understanding a client’s current-state body type is quite beneficial for fitness professionals. A simple observation of body composition can help quickly identify various physiological situations a client might be dealing with and allow you to tailor solutions that will preferentially address each one. Use the following somatotype traits to determine which one a person primarily aligns to:


    Stockier bone structures with larger midsection and hips.

    Carries more fat throughout the body.

    Gains fat fast and loses it slow.

    Naturally slow metabolism; potentially due to chronic conditions (e.g., thyroid deficiency, diabetes) but too frequently the result of a sedentary lifestyle and chronically-positive daily energy balance.


    Medium bone structure with shoulders wider than the hips.

    Developed athletic musculature.

    Efficient metabolism; mass gain and loss both happen with relative ease.


    More narrow shoulders and hips in respect to height.

    Relatively smaller muscles in respect to bone length.

    Naturally fast metabolism makes it difficult for many to gain mass.

    Potentially indicative of disordered eating (e.g., anorexia, bulimia) when BMI is ≤17.

    Once you identify which somatotype a client most aligns to, consider the structural and metabolic challenges that are associated with it. Then, tailor the exercise programming and dietary coaching to overcome those hurdles. This will preferentially develop the necessary foundation that each client individually requires.

    For the typical new client, the initial, overarching goal to “get in shape” will essentially boil down to a desire to shift their current-state body type toward a more mesomorphic physiology.

    Obviously, there will be exceptions to this rule – there will always be endomorphs who want to get even bigger to compete in strongman events and ectomorphs who want to keep thin and trim for running ultramarathons – but it rings true for the majority of clients seeking the help of a Certified Personal Trainer or Nutrition Coach.

    In light of that average goal, for example, a client who presents predominately as an ectomorph will most likely need dietary and training solutions that focus on muscle protein synthesis and overall mass gain, while typical endomorphic clients will benefit far more from frequent metabolic training and reduced calorie intakes. So, take a look at each individual, critically evaluate whether you are using the right methods for the body type they currently display, and use the following tips to better tailor your programs for maximal success.

    Source : blog.nasm.org

    Body Type Quiz: Are You an Endomorph, Ectomorph, or Mesomorph?

    Bone structure, how easily you gain muscle, and where you tend to store fat all help define your somatotype (or body type). Once you know your type, there are a few things you should know about how to eat and train to get the results you want.


    Do You Know Your Body Type?

    Knowing your somatotype — whether you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph — may be key to getting the results you want from your eating and exercise regimens.

    By Phil Catudal and Stacey Colino

    Reviewed: November 18, 2019


    Take this 10-question quiz to find out what your body type is.

    Marina Skobliakova/iStock

    Excerpted from Just Your Type: The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Training Right for Your Body Type by Phil Catudal, with Stacey Colino. Copyright © 2019. Available from Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

    If you’re like many people, you might answer the question “what’s your body type?” with a response like “hot,” “weak,” “strong,” “flabby,” “curvy,” or another adjective based on your subjective judgments of yourself. But there are ways to figure out what your natural-born body type is, objectively speaking.

    These objective body types are based on the concept of somatotypes, which were developed in the 1940s to correlate body types with physical strengths and weaknesses, personality characteristics, and behavior. Subsequent evidence suggests personality has little to do with it. But there is research suggesting differences in physiques, hormonal responses, and physical performances in the original somatotype profiles hold true. And there is solid science behind using somatotyping for fitness and athletic training to enhance performance.

    RELATED: How to Train Right for Your Body Type

    To get a precise assessment of whether you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph, or a combination type, you could go to a lab and have your body fat, bone, and muscle mass measured. You can also gauge your body type right now by taking this quiz.

    Read each of the following questions or statements thoroughly and (honestly!) choose the option that best describes you. If you’re not sure which of two responses applies to you, trust your instincts or choose both — you’ll see why later.

    The Questions

    1. From an objective point of view, which of the following factors seems most prominent (or dominant) on your body when you look in the mirror?

    A. Bone B. Muscle C. Body fat

    2. How do your shoulders compare to your hips?


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    A. My shoulders are narrower than my hips.

    B. They’re approximately the same width as my hips.

    C. My shoulders are wider than my hips.

    3. Which of the following objects best describes your body shape?

    A. A pencil B. An hourglass C. A pear

    4. If you encircle one wrist with your other hand’s middle finger and thumb, what happens?

    A. My middle finger and thumb overlap a bit.

    B. My middle finger and thumb touch, but just barely.

    C. There’s a gap between my middle finger and thumb.

    5. When it comes to your weight, which of the following patterns best describes your history?

    A. I have trouble gaining muscle or body fat.

    B. I can gain and lose weight without too much difficulty.

    C. I gain weight easily but have a hard time losing it.

    6. Think about what your body looked like, before you corrupted it with poor dietary and exercise habits, once you reached your full height as a teenager or young adult. How did you look?

    A. I looked long and lanky.

    B. I looked strong and compact.

    C. I looked soft and full bodied.

    7. If you’d been exercising regularly and you were to take a break for a few months, what would happen to your body?

    A. I would lose muscle and strength quickly.

    B. My body wouldn’t change that much.

    C. My body would soften up significantly and I might even gain weight.

    8. Put on a pair of form-fitting jeans — where on your body do they get extra clingy or even stuck?

    A. They don’t. In fact, I can’t keep them up without a belt.

    B. With a bit of work, I can wriggle my way into them over my muscular thighs.

    C. They get caught on my butt or belly.

    9. When you have a serious carb-fest (think: heaping plate of pasta or multiple slices of pizza), how do you feel afterward?

    A. The same as I usually do — normal, really.

    B. I generally feel good, though I notice my ab muscles are extra hard or my belly feels full.

    C. More often than not, I feel tired or bloated for a few hours after the meal.

    10. How would you describe your body’s bone structure?

    A. I have a small frame.

    B. I have a medium frame.

    C. I have a relatively large frame.

    How to Figure Out Your Body Type

    Add up the number of times you answered A, B, or C. If you chose mostly A's, you’re an ectomorph; mostly B's, you’re a mesomorph; mostly C's, you’re an endomorph.

    If your responses were divided fairly equally — as in 5 and 5 or even 6 and 4 — between two different letters, you likely have a hybrid body type. To be specific, if your responses were split between A's and B's, you’re an ecto-mesomorph; if they’re spread between B's and C's, you’re a meso-endomorph; and if you found your responses in a 50-50 or 60-40 split between A's and C's, you’re an ecto-endomorph.

    Source : www.everydayhealth.com

    Somatotypes Explained: What's an Ectomorph, Endomorph, and Mesomorph

    These body type classifications have their roots in discredited pseudoscience—but they're still common shorthand at the gym.


    Body Types Explained: Are You an Ectomorph, Endomorph, or a Mesomorph? 

    These body type classifications have their roots in discredited pseudoscience—but they're still common shorthand at the gym.

    BY ANDREW ZALESKI August 23, 2021

    Simon Abranowicz; Getty Images

    Three years ago, I took it upon myself to radically change my diet—and, in turn, to see if I could make any muscular gains. A relative of mine told me that no matter what I did, it would probably be hard for me to do because I am, in his words, a “hard gainer.” In other words, I’m an ectomorph: lanky and lean, with a high metabolism, little body fat, and not a lot of muscle.

    Ectomorph is a common term at the gym, along with mesomorph and endomorph. Taken together, they represent three generalized body types, or somatotypes. Ectomorphs are long and lean. Endomorphs are rounded, with lots of muscle and body fat, a stockier structure, and a slower metabolism. (Think of football linemen.) Mesomorphs are athletic and muscular, capable of gaining weight or losing weight easily thanks to their efficient metabolisms.

    Body types are often discussed among bodybuilders, nutritionists, and personal trainers. How someone is built typically informs what someone should eat and the exercises someone might do in order to achieve a particular physical end. But the history of somatotypes, and their legacy (and usefulness) today, is not so straightforward as it might appear.

    Sheldon’s Theory

    The somatotypes are the product of William Sheldon. In the 1940s, the American psychologist and physician posited that the psychologies of people were biologically predetermined by their physiological makeups. What you looked like, Sheldon argued, correlated with how you behaved. Long and lean ectormorphs were thought to be sensitive, introverted, and shy. Muscular mesomorphs were thought to be active, assertive, and aggressive. Rounded endomorphs were expected to be extroverted and relaxed, but also lazy.


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    Sheldon’s research was highly irregular and controversial. He based his assumptions, for instance, off of nude pictures of college students, who thought they were being photographed for the purpose of posture correction. (Which would have been weird enough.) He assigned personality traits to each person’s shape—and, from there, linked someone’s shape to their behavior. “Through body type,” wrote Amanda Mull in The Atlantic, “Sheldon believed it could be possible to predict things like future criminal behavior and a child’s potential for leadership—quite literally, that physique was destiny.”

    Sheldon’s ideas came on the heels of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century, now universally seen as a repugnant and racist. And constitutional psychology, that field of research that grew out of Sheldon’s notions, was widely debunked over time.

    The Problems of Body Typecasting

    Drawing straight lines from someone’s physical shape to their personalities is obviously fraught. (As Mull points out, fat people are commonly stereotyped with traits of “laziness, carelessness, and low intelligence.”) Research conducted by the University of Texas at Dallas demonstrated just how hard it can be to shake people free of their biases when it comes to drawing conclusions about others based on what they look like.

    In a study using 140 gray 3D models, with the same face and standing with the same posture, participants were asked to assign personality traits—picked from a list of 30 adjectives they were provided—to the models based on their body shapes. Male models with broad shoulders were considered extraverted but irritable. Rectangular female models were described as shy. What the study showed was that positive or negative impressions of other people are based sometimes entirely on their body shape. Thinner models were thought of as curious, while fatter models were described as careless.


    At the time, Dr. Alice O’Toole, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor of cognition and neuroscience at UT Dallas, noted that while there is “no strong evidence linking body type to personality traits,” people nevertheless “tend to infer personality traits from body shape in systematic and reliable ways.”

    Flipping the Script

    What, then, do we do with the concept of body types, which can still hold a place in personal nutrition and training?

    The first thing, according to certified personal trainer Andrew Payne, is to understand that fitness behavior and physiology determines a person’s body type—not that a set-in-stone body type creates a person’s personality or gives them an immutable set of personality traits.

    “No one exists within purely one somatotype,” he writes for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. “Instead, we are all constantly in flux and fall uniquely on a spectrum somewhere between all three.”

    As Payne notes, one pound per month is the norm for healthy muscle gain, while one pound per week is the norm for healthy fat loss. He outlines a variety of approaches to take depending on one’s current body type and the future body type they’re perhaps trying to attain. Endomorphs, for example, should build more aerobic exercises into their routines if they’re looking to lose weight; ectomorphs, on the other hand, should focus on strength training.

    Source : www.gq.com

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