Why you don't need to exercise based on body type.

You should diet or exercise based on your bodytype


We've all heard the terms ectomorph, endopmorph and mesomorph floating around. Whether it is in the gym or even during physical education class at school or some trainers may have even heard it during their PT certification. It seems pretty legit right? The premise that we are all different body types...well, no really once you start to think about it.


Somatotyping is a a system of taxonomy developed by psychologist (yes psychologist) William Sheldon to place different human physiques into the 3 categories of ectomorph (skinny), endomorph (fat) and mesomorph (muscle-obviously these are very simplified explanations). Sheldon used these classifications as the basis for his theory of Consitutional Psychology where he developed a theory that involved each of these 3 physiques being related to a certain type of temperament. Basically the ectomorph is apparently a little anxious, mesomorph courageous and endomorph complacent. Starting to sound like an offensive and ridiculous facebook meme right.


The somatype profiling came about as a result of asking University students to take part in a process that involved photographing them nude before answering a serious of questions. Sounds legit. I sense a creepy stalker scenario getting out of hand and maybe it just needed some type of excuse! The somatotyping protocol involves scoring an individual based upon components of each category. That is, how much they display components of an ectomorph, endomorph or a mesomorph. The individual will end up with a score with 3 numbers, where a 7-1-1 is a pure endo,ecto, 1-1-7 or mesomorph (1-7-1).  Interestingly, according to Sheldon's book, a pure ectomorph was only seen in 2/10,000 people, a mesomorph 3/10,000 and an endomorph in 1/10,000. Hardly criteria to base a whole market around is it? Even Sheldon himself stated that it was possible to change your somatotype with diet and exercise.


There is some research that has showed some differences between classifications. One in particular revealed that ectomorphs, have lower free fat mass and lower body cell mass than mesomorphs and endomorphs. Think about that for a second. The person who is classified as being skinnier, actually is! Hardly a revelation right. In this regard, would it be possible that the endomorphs and mesomorphs could see themselves at some point, slotting into the same category as the ectopmorphs at some point in time? I think so. Given this, I feel it's important that we view somatotypes as a transient state, rather than a genetically defined state that we should be basing diet and exercise on. Of course, we see people that are naturally built differently to one another, but it is ridiculous to assume that everyone that sits within the same category would have the same responses to diet and exercise, even if they look the same on the outside. 


Final word on this one-Somatotype is based on how we look. Extrapolating this to how we function, physiologically is oversimplistic. Though it makes for some good marketing.