Some of you are most likely aware what a somatotype is. However for those that aren’t, a somatotype is basically the body shape/structure category that you fit into. To further elaborate, there are 3 somatotypes, an endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. An endomorph is generally more likely to store bodyfat, builds muscle fairly easily and usually not very tall. An ectomorph is generally very tall, low level of bodyfat and struggles to build muscle. A mesomorph builds muscle very easily, is very athletic and doesn’t hold much bodyfat.
Here are 3 examples:
Endomorph – sumo wrestler
Ectomorph – peter crouch
Mesomorph – 100m sprinter
Your genetics are what determine your somatotype. Everyone will be born with certain physical characteristics which may make them slightly ectomorphic, endomorphic or mesomorphic. It is however never a simple case of being one or the other. Usually people are somewhere in between 2 or even all 3 but leaning towards one or the other. If you imagine a triangle where the 3 points are the 3 somatotypes, you could place a dot anywhere in the triangle and that could be you. You may be slightly off to one point or on the side far away from another. It is totally dependent on your genetics.
The point I am trying to make is that you must identify your somatotype in order to account for your physical characteristics and train/eat accordingly.
Here are a few tips to follow after identifying your somatotype to achieve your physical goals.
If you are an endomorph you will easily put on bodyfat and find it very hard to stay lean. This will mean that whilst trying to gain muscle you must be very careful as to the amount of calories you are consuming and where these calories come from. If you have too many sugars or empty calories you will put on fat easily and find it difficult to lose at a later stage. Luckily for the most part you will be able to build muscle fairly easily. This will mean that you wont need an abundance of calories to gain muscle. You will also naturally be very strong. Sumo wrestlers are incredibly strong, even though they don’t look all that muscular. With training I recommend that you train with heavy weights but at a fairly fast pace in order to keep your heart rate high. Try to do regular short duration cardio to avoid too much of a calorie surplus.
I am an ectomorph so I empathise with you guys. If you ever hear someone claiming to be a ‘hardgainer’ it is most likely because they are an ectomorph. You guys will struggle to put on any kind of weight. You will really find it difficult to gain muscle but you will have the benefit of staying lean very easily and dropping bodyfat with minimal dieting effort. Your diets must therefore reflect that. You will need rather high calorie diets to account for your fast metabolisms and ability to use calories. You can however get away with the occasional cheat meal without putting on fat, unlike endomorphs. With regards to training I would advocate heavy compound exercises combined with hypertrophy training on isolation exercises. Take longer rest periods and don’t do too much high intensity cardio. Cardio should not be avoided altogether though as it is beneficial for gaining muscle. You must though account for the cardio and make up for it with extra calories.
If you are a mesomorph you are one of those people that all other gym-goers are jealous of. You pick up a dumbbell and suddenly have 18 inch biceps. It is very easy for you to gain muscle due to high percentages of fast twitch muscle fibres and you are naturally very strong and athletic. You also don’t store fat particularly easily and can drop bodyfat without too much of an issue. I would recommend for you guys similar training and diet to ectomorphs but the calories in the diet do not need to be as high. Guys like phil heath are natural ectomorphs so if you want to get into bodybuilding you are genetically perfect for it.
So if you are wondering why you are naturally tall and skinny or short and fat, or perhaps why you are naturally muscular and lean, it is because of your somatotype. If you can identify this then you can start to embrace it or fight it as best as you can to achieve your goals in fitness and bodybuilding.