Many proto-types have been suggested to categorize people with similar statures into one particular group. These classifications not only help people understand their body better but also gives them a direction for managing weight and health status. One such classification was suggested by William Sheldon who introduced concept of body types based on certain morphological characteristics.
The Skeletal frame and body composition of people can help to classify them. Although, everyone may not fit perfectly into one of the body types, these can provide some rough generalization. Body types can be classified broadly into 3 types – Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph.
The ectomorph body type is one that is classified as being relatively lean and tall. Other characteristics that define an ectomorph include a fragile shape, lean physique, small shouldered, flat chested and a delicate body.
An ectomorph generally struggles to gain muscle . They appear fragile and are the ones who can eat as much as they like without gaining weight. However, if eating patterns include junk or unhealthy foods, then they may have higher percentage of body fat which does put them at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Ectomorphs have small and delicate bones and may be prone to bone problems. A typical ectomorph is long and lean and is usually straight up and straight down, also known as a ruler shape.
Fashion models and basketball players fit this category. While most love to hate these genetically-blessed individuals, some male ectomorphs may not be thrilled with their narrow-chested frames, and some female ectomorphs long for more womanly curves.
Although they battle to gain muscle mass, hard work and strict eating regimes can help this body type gain muscle and tone.
Typical traits of an ectomorph:
- Small and delicate bone structure
- Small shoulders
- Flat chested
- Fast metabolism
- Difficulty gaining weight
Some people commonly say that they gain weight just by looking at food! These could well be endomorphs.
An endomorph is categorised by a body shape that is soft and round. Endomorphs usually have shorter limbs as well as small hands and feet. In general, the endomorph has larger upper arms and thighs in comparison to the lower parts of their arms and legs.
It is believed that endomorphs have a higher number of fat cells and due to this, they could carry more fat than the average person. Their bones are large and thick and their waist circumference is generally rather large.
Both Oprah Winfrey and Marilyn Monroe are classic examples of endomorphs
Apart from the physical characteristics, endomorphs may also have a naturally low metabolic rate. While they do gain fat rather easily, endomorphs also have the capacity to build muscle with little effort.
In order to keep in shape and avoid gaining weight, endomorphs need to be extremely strict with their diet and exercise regime.
A mesomorph have the ability to gain muscle quickly and can lose fat weight when on an appropriate diet regimen
The mesomorph body type is the more flexible type wherein muscle can be gained or lost easily. This can beneficial for athletes as they need to maintain weight within a certain range. However, these type of individuals can also gain fat quickly and may take longer time to shed it .
Athletes are generally mesomorphs and this could be due to their ability to build strong muscles and bones. Mesomorphs generally have good posture and a thick skin. The female mesomorphs have a typically hourglass shape, while male mesomorphs generally have a rectangular shape.
Their bones are strong and thick, which help them to carry their large frame. Although most mesomorphs can eat whatever they want and not gain fat, a good, clean diet, rich in protein, can help them to maintain their shape.
These types of bodies are also ideal for bodybuilding as they posses both the strength and physical ability to gain muscle mass.
Typical traits of a mesomorph body type include:
- Rectangular body shape
- Gains muscle easily
- Gains fat more than ectomorphs
- Hard body
- Well defined
People can also be a combination of these body-types with dominating or less characteristics from any of the three.
Classic combination somatotypes include pear-shaped ecto-endomorphs with thin, delicate upper bodies and high fat storage in the hips and thighs, and apple-shaped endo-ectomorphs, with high fat storage in the mid-section and thin lower bodies
Although these body types may seem an obsolete concept, it can help to know and relate with certain characteristics. An ectomorph with high Basal Metabolic rate (energy utilization at rest) can look for improving strength and stamina by gaining muscle while an endomorph born with a lower Basal Metabolic rate can focus upon losing fat mass by appropriate exercise and diet .
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