BlogPhysical ActivitySomatotype: Definition, Types and Which is Yours

Somatotype: Definition, Types and Which is Yours

Mariia Roza
Written by Mariia Roza on June 01, 2021

Disclaimer: Remember that “somatotype” is not a scientifically-based notion. Many researchers state that it shouldn’t be treated seriously, as the rules of physiology are the same for all human beings independent of their “type.”

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Have you ever noticed that some people lose weight fast and efficiently while others put all their efforts into the process but can’t get the results for ages? Maybe you are the one who eats just as much as your slim friend but can’t get rid of extra pounds? Or perhaps you’ve spent years frustrated that you can’t gain muscle? The reasons behind success and failures are multiple, and one of them might be your body type, also known as a somatotype.

According to some scientists, like William H. Sheldon and Barbara Honeyman Heath, there are three somatotypes(1): endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. In the simplest terms, endomorphs are generally larger than the others, mesomorphs are typically medium-sized, and ectomorphs are usually small-framed. Let’s look at their peculiarities and find out how to boost weight loss for each body type.

What is a somatotype?

Somatotypes were first described in the 1940s by Dr. W.H. Sheldon(2). He suggested that a person’s somatotype is determined by genes and cannot be changed. According to Sheldon, somatotypes not only influence body size and shape but are also the reason behind some personality traits. 

Much of Sheldon’s theory has been abandoned, if not outright debunked. The modern scientific community broadly accepts that body type and personality are not related! However, some of his ideas are still popular today and night help you choose the right approach towards fitness and nutrition.

Main somatotypes described

Most people don’t fit neatly into one body-type box. In reality, all people fall on a spectrum between the three somatotypes and may shift along that spectrum throughout their lives. Furthermore, while bone structure, metabolism, and other biological factors may contribute to somatotype, lifestyle factors such as activity level and diet also influence a person’s body type.

Endomorph

Endomorphs are usually larger than the other types. They often have wider ribs and hips. While they easily gain muscle, they also struggle to lose fat. This peculiarity doesn’t mean that endomorphs have poorer health compared to other types. In fact, they may have some strength and endurance advantages due to their muscular build. However, if an endomorph wants to get lean, it will take him or her more effort.

If you feel like you gain weight just by taking a single bite of a cake, you may be an endomorph.

Endomorphs have large frame and easily gain weight | Shutterstock
Endomorphs have large frame and easily gain weight | Shutterstock

Mesomorph

Mesomorph body types fall somewhere between endomorphs and ectomorphs. They tend to gain and lose weight quickly. Sometimes they have clothes of up to 6 dress sizes in their closets as their weight constantly fluctuates.

Mesomorphs are often natural athletes. They can become strong and powerful easier than the representatives of other body types. They also tend to bounce back from being out of shape more easily.

If gaining and losing weight is not a problem for you and you feel that you can regain your shape quickly after a break from training, congrats, you are a mesomorph!

Mesomorphs build muscles easier then other somatotypes | Shutterstock
Mesomorphs build muscles easier then other somatotypes | Shutterstock

Ectomorph

Ectomorphs tend to be small in frame and have a fast metabolism. They often struggle to gain weight: both muscle and fat. 

Even physically strong ectomorphs are rarely bulky. They tend to stay compact, with thick lean muscles. 

You may be an ectomorph if you feel like you never get larger (even while getting stronger and eating a ton).

Ectomorphs have troubles gaining weight | Shutterstock
Ectomorphs have troubles gaining weight | Shutterstock

Somewhere in-between

It is common when a person can relate him or herself to characteristics of more than one somatotype. Some people tend to gain fat or muscle more in one part of their body than another. For example, someone in between mesomorph and endomorph might carry extra fat in their stomach and hips while having skinny arms.

Workout and nutrition tips for each somatotype

The training and nutrition guidance for somatotypes aren’t the 100% guarantee that you will lose fat or build muscle faster and easier. However, you can use information about your somatotype to become more aware of your body and the ways to achieve your goals quicker and easier.

Endomorph

  • Engage in a blend of cardio and strength training.
  • Try fasted cardio (cardio before eating breakfast) to help burn excess fat. Even though the efficiency of fasted cardio is not medically proven, endomorphs tend to benefit from it more than other somatotypes. 
  • Minimize rest time between sets to burn more calories during exercises.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates and opt for lean protein.

Mesomorph

  • Don’t skip strength training because of a fear of becoming bulky. Your somatotype can’t become buff “incidentally.”
  • As you’re prone to slow weight gain, track your weight regularly.
  • You can handle heavy lifting, so use this type of activity to your benefit. 
  • Change your workout routine from time to time to avoid weight loss or muscle gain plateauing.

Ectomorph

  • Focus on compound lifts (bench press, squats, deadlifts).
  • Use heavier weights at lower reps.
  • Don’t neglect cardiovascular training as they’re essential for your heart and lung health. However, making these types of activities your only workouts will be the wrong choice.
  • Low-carb diets were not designed for ectomorphs. You should better focus on a balanced diet with plenty of healthy complex carbohydrates.

Summing up

You’re not defined or limited by your somatotype. You can be a lean ectomorph or a skinny-fat endomorph. However, being aware of the peculiarities of your body type gives you a helpful tool that might speed up your results whether you want to gain strength and muscle or become leaner and lose fat.

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