You may have heard me say this before: I'm like a Yellow Lab...not a Greyhound. I'm short, solid and muscular, not long, lean and skinny. Ever since I've been fit...exercising regularly and eating right...I've been able to gain muscle and strength quite easily. I've been blessed (muscle tone and definition) and cursed (stocky, muscular legs), all at once.
I personally believe that my ability to easily gain muscle can be chalked up to my mesomorph body type...I am predisposed to it. I have to be. I also believe that some people have to work a lot harder to stay in shape than others. I know people who rarely exercise, eat tons of bad food, and yet, look like they pump iron 7 days a week and live on protein shakes. While others will go to the gym five to six days a week, lift weights, eat right and still have a softer, rounder figure. These phenomenons can only be explained by the fact that yes, there are indeed body types.
In 1954, William Herbert Sheldon wrote the book, Atlas of Men. He classified body types according to three 'somatotypes': the endomorph, the mesomorph and the ectomorph. He also hypothesized that knowing these body types could predict an individual's mental characteristics. Here is a breakdown of his categories:
- Endomorph (aka St. Bernards): Generally rounder, softer shaped. They tend to have heavy legs, narrow shoulders and a large chest. Weight is often carried in the hips and abdomen, and body fat tends to be above ideal ranges. Further, this type of body has difficulty losing body fat and sculpting muscles for definition.
- Mesomorph (aka Labradors): Mesomorphs are muscular and stocky. Their chests are larger than their waists, with broad shoulders. Body fat is within or lower than ideal ranges. They don't have problems losing body fat or sculpting muscles for definition.
- Ectomorph (aka Greyhouds): These individuals tend to have long arms and legs with a shorter trunk, and rounded shoulders. They often have lower body fat, or don't have problems losing body fat, yet, they have problems gaining muscle without a lot of heavy weight training.
Most of us are not completely one of these types, but rather, have a combination of two of these in our make-up. For instance, you could be an endo-meso or a meso-ecto. But, you can never be an ecto-endo. As it turns out, Sheldon isn't the only one to have thought about this theory. Ayurveda has a system called tridosha, which is very similar with the three doshas of Kapha (endomorph), Pitta (mesomorph) and Vata (ectomorph). Also, Plato has had similar theories.
Although we have the power to alter our body composition (lean body mass), what we have to do to do so might vary depending on our predisposed body type. Further, there are some things we absolutely can not change: our bone structure.
What body type are you? Have you ever had your dosha determined? Does this theory help you understand your abilities/challenges when it comes to weight loss/gain?