Somatyping is a system of classifying human body types and shapes. Developed by William Sheldon, American psychologist and author of The Atlas of Man, the system classifies humans by the natural, genetically predetermined body build, appearance and temperament.
It was from his desire to answer the age-old question of whether our body type was connected with the way we acted that he found these three common body types: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. Sheldon believes that everyone has all three elements in their physical makeup however the degree in which each in known can vary.
Know your type
- The endomorph is round, corpulent (fat) and pear-shaped. Legs have large bones and arms are shorter.
- The mesomorph is broad-shouldered, thick-chested, narrow wasted, lean and muscular.
- The ectomorph is slim and linear, with small bones, long arms and a thin neck.
- Can you pick yourself out? Maybe you know that you possess a combination of all three body types.
- Take a look around you next time you are out and you'll see that most of the North American population appears to be endomorphic. This explains (in part) the widespread occurrence of obesity in Canada and the USA. Endomorphs love carbohydrates and are ruled by emotions connected to the pleaser of eating sugar and starch. Sure, everyone may occasionally enjoy something smooth, chewy and crunchy, loaded with sugar and fat, but it's the endomorphs who find that work, sleep and fitness serve as only temporary distractions from their constant craving.
Then there's the ectomorph. We all know them (maybe you are one)… the people who can't gain weight no matter how much they eat and laze around. If you are an ectomorph, you are often mentioned in conversation as a miracle. Because it's a spectacle to watch someone like you endlessly gulp down food without gaining weight.
Ectomorphs are often secretly hated by endomorphs for their slender, lean and long bodies. They tend to miss meals, stop eating under stress, and may only occasionally have a sweet tooth.
Their demon plays with their mind saying things like: "You're too skinny, and have no shape", or 'You're less of a woman or man", and the real affect if that often they will suffer from a lower self-esteem. Keep in mind that a ectomorph with a concave chest can be just as anxious, sensitive or shy as about showing their physique at a public swimming pool as an endomorph who fears the thought of someone seeing their 'cottage cheese" thighs or "wide load rear".
For the true ectomorph (hard gainer), the two main limiting factors that halt normal weight gain and muscle growth are metabolism and appetite. Genetics have control of your metabolic rate, but through training, science and nutrition it is possible to slow things down, in the same was an endomorphs wants to speed things up.
Simply put, food must be consumed according to the clock, not according to how you feel. Training is a not an option. The process of gaining healthy weight must be treated like an business enterprise, so to be successful, you do what needs to be done whether you like it or not.
Here is how the hard gainer can increase his or her lean body mass.
- Increase food intake regularly: supply the demand.
- Learn how to sedate the mind and nervous system.
- Create growth though weight training: train like a powerlifter/bodybuilder.
- Modify aerobic activity and minimize unnecessary fuel expenditure.
- Reduce or eliminate intake of empty carbs and chemically damaged fats.
- Eat slow burning, low glycemic foods.
- Maintain a positive nitrogen balance: eat 2 – 3 g of high-quality protein per kg of lean body mass daily in 6 individual portions.
- Decrease catabolism and thermogenesis with supplements: lecithin granules, calcium, magnesium, niacin, B-complex, inositol, melatonin, GABA, glycine, 5-HTP, acetyl-L-carnitine, HMB, CLA, vitamin C, and ginko biloba.
- Stimulate the appetite (weight lifting, B12 and zinc)
- Improve sleep habits (power naps)
- Avoid stimulants (ephedrine, caffeine, tobacco)
- Consume liberal amounts of clean fats and oils.
The answer to part of the ectomorphic puzzle lies in the amount and quality of carbs, fats and proteins consumed daily. Correct training is of superior importance. Attitude is huge. The ectomorph must be realistic, consistent, and above all PATIENT. The motto is "I will persist until I succeed". If the ectomorphic athlete can take in sufficient calories, sedate body chemistry, stimulate growth, conserve energy and efficiently convert energy from food into living tissue, quality muscle mass will be gained along with essential bodyfat.