Have you spent weeks, months, or even years working out, only to get minimal results?
That may be due to the fact that you don’t know your body type.
Dr. William H. Sheldon pioneered the concept of somatotypes (body types) in the 1940s. From his research he determined that an individual can be grouped into one of three main body types:
Each group has its own set of traits and characteristics that separate it from the others.
The Three Somatotypes
Ectomorphs are fairly easy to recognize -- they’re long, lean, and typically have a thin bone structure. As such, ectomorphs tend to have a hard time putting on any appreciable muscle mass and are more akin to excel in endurance-based activities than other forms of physical activity.
A large part of the reason ectomorphs are so thin has to do with the fact that they have a fairly high metabolism and tend to have trouble eating enough calories to build muscle.
Other common features of ectomorphs include:
- Small bone structure
- Flat (or caved in) chest
- Long, stringy muscles
- Fast metabolism
- Quintessential “hardgainer”
You might consider mesomorphs as the “genetically gifted.” These are the natural athletes who can build muscle just by looking at a dumbbell.
Mesomorphs don’t struggle with the low appetite of ectomorphs, but they do have a naturally high metabolism, which helps them to more easily put on muscle while avoiding excessive fat gain.
Common features of ectomorphs include:
- Tall, athletic build
- Lean, muscular physique
- Broad shoulders
- Narrow waist
- Easily gains muscle
- Fast metabolism
Endomorphs excel at putting on weight easily -- both muscle and fat. This gives them a “solid but soft” look meaning that they have a fair amount of muscle on their bodies, but there generally is a thick layer of fat covering up that muscle.
Endomorphs also tend to have a slower metabolism than either ectomorphs or mesomorphs, which is part of the reason they put on weight so easily.
Other common features of endomorphs include:
- Short, stocky build
- Wide waist
- Large bone structure
- Soft, round physique
- Easily gains muscle and fat
Realize that while there may only be three body types identified by Dr. Sheldon, that doesn’t mean we all will fit into exactly one category. A great majority of us are hybrids, meaning that we exhibit characteristics of two body types.
For instance, some people might exhibit characteristics that are predominantly endomorphic but have some elements of mesomorph in them. Others might be a cross between ectomorph and mesomorph where one part of their body gains muscle really easily while another part won’t seem to respond to anything.
Use the information in this article to help identify where you fall in the spectrum of body types.