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  • Somatotypes

    Heard this topic on a talk radio sports performance show and was wondering if anyone has any opinions on the merit of this line of thinking?

    Is there any application to the PB and the genetic tie in?

    I personally think it is pseudoscience (like horoscopes) but just wanted to hear about anybody who has followed this philosophy.

  • #2

    Oh, I don't think it is pseudoscience at all. I think different people are genetically pre-disposed to deposit fat in various places.

    Here they are, from wikipedia:

    * Ectomorphic: characterized by long and thin muscles/limbs and low fat storage; receding chin, usually referred to as slim.

    * Mesomorphic: characterized by large bones, solid torso, low fat levels, wide shoulders with a narrow waist.

    * Endomorphic: characterized by increased fat storage, a wide waist and a large bone structure.

    Now, to contribute personality traits to the body types would be a stretch, but the body types themselves seem completely obvious when you look around at people.

    I would also suggest that it is very important to know what type you are and ACCEPT it. If you are "big boned" and work your butt off trying to look like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, well..let's just say it's not very realistic. You have to work towards being the best version of YOURSELF, not someone else.


    • #3

      I think somatotypology itself is bunkum, particularly the tie between physicality and temperament, but I do think variation and diversity among humans includes distinct body types that may imply differing athletic aptitudes and metabolisms. The words "ectomorph", "endomorph" and "mesomorph" are useful to me just because they are a reasonably accurate way to describe the extremes of the continuum of variation.

      I have a friend with a very similar background to mine, same height, but she's whip-thin and celebrates any weight gain at all, be it fat or muscle. She eats plenty of sugar and starch- very much the farmhouse meat and potatoes and baked goods model. On the other hand, even when I was a college student with absolutely horrible eating habits (as in surviving on a cup of Ramen and some Wonder Bread as my food for the day) and so undernourished I had to take iron and B vitamin supplements just to stay on my feet, and walked EVERYWHERE, I still kept the fat on my hips and bust. But, if I do eat a reasonable diet and do anything that remotely qualifies as intense exercise, I'll put on muscle easily. (By female standards, anyway- but easier than a skinny male friend of mine that craves bulk.)

      "Ectomorph" and "mesomorph" (really endo-meso but whatever) are as good a way of describing these wildly differing results to me as any.

      I really love the pictorial of female athletes here: Form and Function. Form will follow function to some degree, but once you get to an elite level- which all these women are- what they excel at was dictated by their body type as much as the work they put in.


      • #4


        Probably works the other way around a little bit too. Not only is what people are good at influenced by their body type, but (to a limited extent, obviously) their body shape is influenced by what they do.


        • #5

          Karin, no doubt! I figure the powerlifter on the top left would bear a much closer resemblance to the basketballers if that's what she did- but the underlying tall, strongly mesomorphic body structure is the same.


          • #6

            Karin, that is so true! I recently read something about this that gave the example of swimmers:

            some people may train in the pool to get that "swimmer's body" without realizing that the great swimmers are great swimmers because they have that body type to begin with, not because of all the swim training.

            People confuse cause and effect. We all have genetic predispositions and need to work to maximize what we were given, not try to gain what someone else has.


            • #7

              Does that mean i'm probably never going to be in the WNBA?

              (I'm 5'1").