‘Variety is the spice of life’
Everybody on Earth is made differently, some of us are tall, some of us are short, some of us can easily lose or gain weight and some of us can’t.
All of us have a slightly different body shape as well, some people are naturally lean and slight, while others are naturally broad and muscular.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
These different body shapes can even influence what sport we are likely to excel at, and what medical conditions we could be pre-disposed to.
Our somatotype can be broadly classified into three categories: ectomorphs, endomorphs and mesomorphs.
We will go through each type explaining what the physical characteristics are of these typical body shapes, what athletic potential they made have, and what medical considerations that may need to be taken into consideration if someone was of that type.
Ectomorphs are long and lean, they tend to look ‘skinny’ naturally, and find it hard to put on weight, whether it be muscle or fat. The muscles tend to be less strong than other types, but they can keep on going at a medium intensity for a long time!!
Typical ectomorphs include marathon runners, so the male ectomorph would look like Mo Farah and the female ectomorph would be Paula Radcliffe.
Female ectomorphs are routinely used in the media to depict what it is desirable to look like as a woman (the typical ‘size 0’ look). However it is common for typical ectomorph women to think otherwise as they tend to have little shape (due to low muscle mass) and small chests (due to very low body fat percentages and genetic predisposition).
Endomorphs can be broadly defined as people who are ‘pear shaped’. So the shoulders are usually smaller than the waist (especially in females), and they find that it is easy to build up fat stores around the abdomen.
People of this body type tend to gain weight easily and then find it hard to lose it again, yet they also tend to build muscle easily as well.
Because of the increased fat stores around the middle, endomorphs have a slightly higher risk than the other typical body types of certain conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It is for this reason that endomorphs should keep a close eye on their weight and how much fat they are storing in the middle of their bodies.
Think Arnold Schwarzenegger and you wouldn’t be too far off. Mesomorphs are naturally broad shouldered, muscular with small hips (the shoulders are almost always larger that the waist and hips), and very lean.
Think of an upside-down triangle, with the top part being the shoulders and the bottom point being the waist, and that’s the basic shape of a male mesomorph’s natural upper body. Their legs tend to be well defined as well.
Female mesomorphs tend to have a typical hourglass figure, which put them at the envy of almost all other women of other body types.
Mesomorphs tend to be good at most types of athletics, in particular anything to do with short, fast movements, such as sprinting.
A female example is the Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and a male example is Sylvester Stallone.
Most people are a mixture of all three
Most people are a mixture of all three body types, which is why all of our body shapes are slightly different.
This is also a constantly changing human condition: an ectomorph can gain the body shape of a mesomorph with the right diet and physical training, for example.
To put this into a practical example, Brad Pitt is a typical ectomorph, however when he did the right weight training regime, he looked like a mesomorph (think fight club and troy in particular).
Athletic potential isn’t all about your natural body shape either.
One recent example of this is Usain Bolt, who doesn’t look like your typical sprinter (who would look like a typical mesomorph). Usain Bolt is arguably a cross between mesomorph and ectomorph (long muscles, tall and lanky looking), and yet he is the fastest man ever to run the 100 meter sprint.
The Bottom Line
Whatever body shape you are, it is possible to change, if that’s what you want. The most important thing is that you are happy with your body shape and if you are not, you know how to start at changing it. If you are unsure, have a look at some of the other articles on this website for some great advice.