Somatotype & Body Types: Find Out Yours
I was passing through Chattanooga, TN last week and as a preamble to my journey to Atlanta I stopped at Large Marge’s Buffet to eat. Let me tell you right now, I don’t care who the survey of the fattest city in the USA crowned as number one.
The patrons of Large Marge’s Buffett could lay claim to that title hands down. Heck, they could very well start their own city since the enormous girth of each person hunched over their trough would count for at least three mortal men of four women.
I didn’t dare go near that mine field that was supposed to be a buffet line. I opted out for a plate of scrambled eggs and under cooked bowl of soupy oats.
When I made my way to the front counter to pay, none other than large Marge herself was working the register; and believe me when I tell you that there was no shortage of “Large” in Marge. She certainly lived up to her billing
On the wall behind a finger print smudged greasy frame was a one dollar bill, right next to a photo of her joint. “What’s that dollar for?” I asked her.
“That’s the first dollar I made from the first meal I sold” Large Marge replied.
They say you always get your greatest ideas when you least expect it. Then it hit me. If there ever was a Kairos moment this was it.
How about you start a fat loss diet there Large Marge, instead of sandwiching a one dollar bill between two greasy pieces of glass and hanging it on the wall, I’d like to see you take that first pound of fat you lost and dip it into a jar of formaldehyde and sit it right next to the cash register or better yet you can nail that slippery little sucker to the wall!
That’s right, and take down that picture of your joint and put up a new transformed image of your physique-albeit potentially three years from now.
That way when people ask you what that slimy yellow blob dripping from your wall is you don’t have to lie and tell them it is a piece of your stomach you had sliced out from your gastric bypass, you can be truthful and inform your local buffet brethren that is was the first pound of the attrition from years of sausage gravy and country fried steak.
Ok so Maybe Large Marge wasn’t down with the whole first pound of fat thing. Still though, there has got to be a better way for Large Marge to slim down than gouging out a sizeable amount of her digestive track and being relegated to eating like a sparrow for the rest of her life. After all what kind of example would that be setting for the locals?
What if you aren’t quite like Large Marge though? What if you were on the entire other end of the spectrum?
What if you thought you couldn’t gain any beef no matter how much you shoveled down your gullet and Olive Oyl from those old school Popeye Cartoons puts you to shame?
Or even worse, ya’ know, the typical skinny kid with a pudgy belly that resembled an inner tube around the mid section. Listen up, if you are going to be skinny you better be ripped, or get big, enough of this skinny- fat bullshit.
Or what if you already have an acceptable figure and just want to transition from mortal (wo) man to superwoman status?
The answer to all these questions can be better answered once you identify your somatotype or metabolic type.
Knowing what to eat or what not to eat can have a profound effect on your physique development.
The number one factor I always base an eating pattern or training program off of is the somatotype of the individual.
However here is where it gets tricky.
Most people don’t have a pure somatotype but rather a subtype of two or even all three but leaning more towards one than the others. I will discuss more on this in a minute.
Also, your somatotype never changes.
That’s right, even if an ectomorph packs on fifty pounds of blubber that person is still an ectomorph.
Even if an endomorph whittles away down to a polished and ripped 4% body fat physique, the chick is still an endomorph.
One of the characteristics that determine a person’s somatotype is the finite factor of bone structure. Yes you may make a significant upgrade in your muscle mass or revamp your sexiness by melting off the equivalent of three Sam’s Club sized tubs of ice cream but your bone structure isn’t going to budge an inch.
Granted very few people have a truly pure somatotype but rather a subtype with the majority of characteristics leaning toward one of the three.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well this picture is worth just a few subtypes.
Back during the 1998 football season when Donavan McNabb and Ricky Williams were ripping and snorting through Sports Center high-light reelss a little known freshman made his debut in the college scene.
In the photo below, barely cracking the two hundred pound mark, true freshman Adrian Wilson offers me some words of encouragement as we hustle off the field after creating a turnover.
(A-Dub wanted to scoop & score on a fumble I just caused.)
That offseason both of us had shoulder surgery and spent our time rehabbing together. I noticed something very interesting. After about a month of no weight training my body became mushier than a beanie baby and my poor chest deflated faster then a punctured birth day balloon.
Ok well nothing very interesting about a moderate ectomorph such as myself losing muscle when I stopped weight training but what was very unusual was that the other ectomorph who was rehabbing along side with me was actually building muscle.
In fact A-Dub, as he had been dubbed by our defensive captain earlier that year, had inched his weight up to a rock solid two-ten.
Alright, so other then the fact that he was blessed with hyper human genetics, there had to be a reason this kid was growing into a man child with nothing more then thera-band use and concentric only pool rehab.
Remember, only a very small percentage of the population is a pure somatotype. Although A-Dub possessed a rock solid physique many of his physical characteristics pointed to the ectomorph: small joints, narrow hips, thin, low body fat, long limbs.
One big difference though. He all but shattered the mold of the slow twitch, endurance based athlete typically found in the ectomorph. Talk about vapor trail speed and to say he had “hops” was putting it mildly; you would have thought he had rocket boosters in his cleats.
The moral of the story is that just because you gain a truckload of muscle or lose tub full of adipose tissue, your somatotype never changes. However I believe that in some cases it actually takes reaching early adulthood in order for one to identify their true somatotype.
Sometimes you just need a few extra years in the weight room, in front of the buffet line or that late blooming adolescent growth spurt to reach your full potential, and in the end it will almost always lean more towards one of the three somatotypes.
The god father of genetic stereotyping William H. Sheldon, M.D. sought to draw connections between body type and temperament.
He used a numerical system as a means of quantifying how much of each somotatype a person displayed. He used a three digit code setting an order of endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph.
A scale of 1 to 7 was used. The closer the number to 1, the less the relation to the somatotype, the closer to 7 the greater.
So the A-Dub example above would have been something like 165.
On a side note Sheldon found that after measuring the proportions of hundreds of juvenile delinquent boys he came to the conclusion that they were generally mesomorphs.
Old school Ayurvedic medicine as in ~3,000 BC old; was founded on the concept of metabolic body types also referred to as doshas. The three doishas are vata, pitta and kapha.
Deepak Chopra M.D., the Dalai Lama of Ayurvedic medicine to the western world believes a persons dosha to have far greater influence on a person’s health and well being than physical attributes alone.
The goal is to always keep your dosha in balance or harmony.
Anything from weather, allergies, diet or stress can throw your harmony off kilter.
Combining Sheldon’s somatoype with Ayurvedic doshas we can get a more clear view of the cluster of traits that make up each of us.
It’s surprising how many traits from the different somatotypes and doshas one person can possess. Even with all the crossover of traits being sprinkled from one end of the spectrum to the other there is usually one somatotype or dosha that is a bit more predominant.
I don’t think it would take long to determine the somatotype for Big Ed but for many of us going beyond the physical characteristics and peering deeper into what makes up the temperament types and doshas will reveal some interesting facts.
Let’s take a look at what Sheldon and Chopra uncovered.
Metabolic Typing for the Mortal (Wo)Man
Physical Characteristics: Linear
Ectomorphy is related to the brain and nervous system.
– Shoulders droop
– Predisposed to lower body fat levels
– Frequent urination and bowel movements
– Thin muscles and slow twitch dominant
– Thyroid and sympathetic nervous system dominant
– Baldness is rare
– Suffers from dry skin and rashes
– Hypersensitive to pain resulting in a lower threshold of pain
– Appear younger than their age
– Thrives on high carbohydrate diet
– Quick onset of hunger
– Low energy levels
– Suffers from quasi-chronic fatigue and must not exercise too hard
Ectotonia focuses on privacy, restraint, and a highly developed self-awareness
– Finely tuned receptive system
– Future oriented
– Accentuated consciousness fights alcohol, drugs, anesthesia and hypnosis
– Dream of a rich fantasy life
Physical Characteristic: Muscles
Mesomorphy is the focus of the muscles and the circulatory system.