The 3 Body Types

Today people are so confused in quest of the diet or exercise program that works best for them, they're caught up in a maze of categorizations. Some are attempting to find their ideal course of action by considering their blood type while others are attempting to underrstand their unique oxidative rates. While I find that most categorizations can be bypassed if someone simply understand the Synergistic relationship between nutrition and exercise, back in 1940 a doctor and psychologist named William Sheldon released his work, "The Varieties of Human Physique." He unleashed a science referred to as somatotyping which attempts to categorize people by their genetic body types. Sheldon's work has been both criticized and praised, and while his theories related to somatotypes and personalities might be in question, the identification of a somatic type can help in tweaking an exercise program to meet the desired goals. In short, Sheldon identified three primary body types:

The Ectomorph is long and lean. Ectomorphs often fall into the category of what weighlifting aficionados call "hard gainers," individuals who have a difficult time beefing up. The stereotypical "98-pound weakling" would be representative of the ectomorphic body type. Ectomorphs carry little fat and while they are typically not gifted with natural muscle, they have the advantage, with the proper training and eating, of putting on muscle without much worry about gaining fat. The ectomorph in quest of muscle must train intensely, but relatively infrequently to avoid overtraining. Basic compound movements, squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and rows are usually sufficient to add muscle. Sessions should rarely be longer than 45 minutes and three times per week of resistance training may be ideal. While aerobic exercise is important for everyone seeking optimal health, the ectomorph seeking muscle gain can easily overtrain and should keep aerobic exercise moderate in duration, frequency, and intensity. Caloric intake must be high and adequate protein, carb, and essential fat intake is a must for significant protein synthesis. Higher fat and moderate sugar weight gain drinks can act as aids to amplify weight increases although a foundation of supportive nutrition is essential to avoid beginning a process of fat accumulation.

The Mesomorph is built for athletics. A V-shape, wide shoulders, narrow hips, muscular thighs. Mesomorphs usually maintain "healthy" body fat levels leaning more toward the lower end. They easily add muscle and their bodies are far more forgiving of training mistakes and variances than their ectomorphic buddies. They are often natural athletes, they respond well to training, and their metabolisms are usually sufficient to handle "less than ideal" nutrition provided they get adequate calories to meet energy needs. Mesomorphs respond well to variations in training and should stagger a focus on fast twitch muscle fibers (stimulate by heavier weights) and the slower twitch fibers (stimulated by intensity in the higher repetition ranges).

The Endomorph tends to be rounder in appearance and has a softer body due to higher proportions of bodyfat. The "pear shape" would be a stereotypical endomorph as there is usually significant accumulation of fat around the hips and the midsection. Endomorphs attempting to transform their bodies into lean physiques must be diligent in their meal frequency and must keep metabolism stoked while being extremely conscientious of sugar and fat intake. They should ideally weight train a minimum of three times per week and exercise aerobically at least four or five days weekly. As they begin to add muscle they will further boost metabolism and speed the rate of fat loss.

Few of us fall cleanly into one category. In fact, Sheldon developed a 7-point scale with Ectomorph being one extreme, Endomorph being the other. There are endo-mesomorphs and ecto-mesomorphs and while there is some complex science developed under the category of somatotyping, for most people a glance in the mirror can help determine where you fall on the scale. This is not, at least in my estimation, the science upon which every exercise and nutrition program should be derived, but in terms of seeking out those specific adjustments that may best serve you these tips merit consideration.

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