The somatotype refers to one’s physical constitution and allows you to choose a tailor-made diet and training program
- What is the somatotype
- How to recognize your own
What is the somatotype
Somatotypes are a classification based on the physical constitution of people. The term somatotype was coined around the 40s of the last century by the physician and psychologist William Sheldon, who initially used this classification to frame his patients and define their psychological traits. Subsequently, the method was used in sports and dietetics by personal trainers and nutrition professionals to study food and training plans that took into account the physical conformation of their patients and clients. To determine the somatotype of a person it is necessary to take into account some parameters including height, body weight, the diameter of the femur and humerus, the circumferences of calves and arms and the size of the skin folds. It is therefore not a question of a classification that is based simply on the visual examination of the patient or client but on parameters that are measured. On the basis of these parameters, people are divided into a category, depending on whether the quantities of body fat (endomorphy), the development of muscle mass (mesomorphy) or the greater development in height compared to fat and muscles (ectomorphy) are more relevant. . Once the somatotype has been discovered, the professional is able to develop a specific and tailored training program and food plan, taking into account the constitution of the client or patient, which conditions their tendency to develop more or less muscle mass or more or less adipose tissue. This classification is very simplified since no one falls into a single category: very often people have traits of two categories, but usually it is only one profile that prevails over the two. Furthermore, the categories of somatotypes can foresee various combinations, up to determining over seventy different profiles. Finding out what your somatotype is is therefore not so simple, but it is possible to recognize the features that predominate.
As we have seen, each of us has their own constitution which leads to the development of muscle mass and adipose tissue in a different way. On the basis of the constitution or physical conformation it is possible to divide the various physicalities into three broad categories of somatotype:
The mesomorphic somatotype has strong musculature and a harmonious and athletic body. Mesomorphs are generally muscular, have little fat mass distributed evenly and have a “V” conformation, therefore broad shoulders and narrow hips. In general, the mesomorphic somatotype does not have major problems related to body weight and hardly gains weight because it has a rapid metabolism, given by the high muscle mass that consumes more energy than fat mass. To maintain their weight and not gain weight, mesomorphs can structure their usual diet by dividing the plate into three parts: a third of the plate will be occupied by proteins, a third by whole grains and the last third by raw or cooked vegetables and fruit. . Workouts suitable for those with mesomorphic builds are high-intensity, interval training, known as HIIT workouts, which allow you to maintain genetically inherited muscle mass.
The ectomorphic somatotype is characterized by a thin and not very muscular figure. Generally they are tall, slender and slender, so in addition to having poorly developed muscles they also tend to accumulate little body fat. It is quite difficult for ectomorphs to gain weight; the greatest risk for those with this constitution is not to gain weight but to lose tone. To avoid this, those who are ectomorphs should pay attention to diet and exercise. In particular, to be able to maintain or develop muscles, those with an ectomorphic constitution must ensure adequate caloric and protein intake through food. The diet for people with ectomorphic somatotype should include a percentage of carbohydrates equal to 45%, proteins up to 30-35% and at least 20% fat. Ectomorphs can increase calorie, protein and fat intake by consuming portions of peanuts, pistachios, almonds or other nuts and by including oilseeds and protein cereals or pseudo-cereals, such as brown rice and quinoa, in their usual diet. Ectomorphs should avoid a sedentary lifestyle and carry out physical activity regularly: the ideal workouts for those with an ectomorphic constitution are those useful for developing power, which therefore include squats, lunges, exercises with weights.
Compared to other somatotypes, endomorphs are characterized by higher percentages of body fat and tend to gain weight more easily. These are therefore people who are more at risk than overweight and obesity and who struggle to maintain their ideal weight. Endomorphs tend to have a slowed basal metabolism and suffer more from water retention; they are therefore more prone to swelling, heaviness in the lower limbs and cellulite. On the other hand, if they train, endomorphs can develop lean mass, i.e. muscle mass, quite quickly, which allows them to increase the basal metabolic rate. The most suitable diets for endomorphic people should include high percentages of proteins (even up to 30%), carbohydrates for about 40% and fats around 30%. Endomorphs should be careful not to exceed calories and salt, a source of sodium and cause of water retention. Physical exercise for endomorphic people is essential both to burn energy and avoid gaining weight and to reactivate lymphatic and blood circulation by eliminating water retention and cellulite and also obviously to develop muscle mass. The best training for this somatotype involves aerobic or cardio exercises alternating with resistance and toning exercises.
How to recognize your own
To recognize your somatotype you can refer to the descriptions listed above. Self-evaluation is not always easy and it is necessary to take into account the fact that often each of us presents features of two profiles, therefore it is necessary to evaluate which of the two is predominant. The somatotype, however, represents a starting point and is not unchangeable: the physicality changes over the years and in relation to the type of diet and physical exercise. Regardless of one’s constitution, it is always important to eat well and carry out regular physical exercise, taking into account not only one’s conformation but also one’s personal tastes and inclinations.