an interest in “Morphology”

So, a while back when I became interested in “body-typing”, I was reading a LOT about the concepts that all bodies were NOT created equally… or more accurately WERE created “equally”, however, not necessarily identically.

It was clear to me that there were different molds, that there were different types, and even sub-types, but overall there was neither a “one-size-fits-all” solution NOR the “nobody-else-is-like-me” problem. The truth was, of course, in the middle.

So I started with reading “Dr. Abravenel’s Body Type Diet and Lifetime Nutrition Plan” By Dr. Elliot D. Abravanel, M.D. and Elizabeth King Morrison. I have built on that knowledge with many other articles and research, but I’d still consider that work to be a solid about of the base that I draw from. In this book it goes into depth about glandular and hormonal breakdown, causing people to either be a “T”, “P”, “A”, or “G” body type.

But while doing my research, I kept coming across this methodology of dividing people into three main categories, namely Ectomorph, Endomorph, Mesomorph. Thats what I want to discuss a little bit day. Its important information, but, not necessarily useful. Just something for the “good to know” category.

First its important to know, that this branch of body physiology theory was actually developed by a psychologist, in an attempt to link temperament to general stature types. Its official name is “Somatyping” and was developed by Dr. William Herbert Sheldon in the 1940s.

I’m going to break this down as BASICALLY as possible. In 1954 he wrote an entire book called “Atlas of Men”. (Let me be clear here, this theorem and understanding is 60+ years old. It has several overall flaws, but the foundation is fairly solid if used as a guide and not gospel… as I said above “good to know” category)

He divided up a series of body measurements and tests into a set of three categories. Seven specific areas. so “Pure” results would look like this:

Endomorph 7–1–1
Mesomorph 1–7–1
Ectomorph 1–1–7.

Theoretically, he felt he could predict temperament with this information, based purely on body physiology. Having no background in psychology, I can’t comment on that affectivity, but as a trainer, the rest of his data was pretty solid.

So, we’ve all met the perfect “Ectomorph”. Long, thin, minor fat, minor musculature. Has a harder time gaining weight than keeping it off. I have a friend who eats butter with every meal, hits the gym HARD every day and is EXCITED to see the scale go up. Naturally, he is fairly skeletal. We all know one.

Mesomorphs are a bit more average. Average to large bones. They both gain and lose fat appropriate to their intake, but a PURE mesomorph puts on muscle very easily. MANY people at this point say… Oh, well then thats not me. It might be, unless you are actually training to build muscle, you probably have NO IDEA how hard or easy it is for you to gain muscle. I would have WHOLLY denied being a mesomorph, before I started training… then I found that the my weight capacity went up fairly quickly, when I was actually trying at it.

and lastly the Endomorph, what EVERY human over 30 SWEARS they are. Endomorphs are those people that can be careful all day long, but they put on fat FAST. The old saying “a minute on the lips a lifetime on the hips” was invented by endomorphs. We all know this person too. The person who truly truly tries at losing weight, tries WAAY harder than you, but just can’t make it happen. Endomorphs tend towards a rounder figure, they gain weight quickly, have a harder time building muscle, but fat storage is a quick and easy job.

Now, points of interest. As was originally defined, these are not “check boxes” these are sliding scales. You almost DEFINITELY exist SOMEWHERE in-between two of these. Which two? Don’t know.

Why is this information important. It means that comparing yourself to your gym buddy, is just not fair… to either of you… ALMOST EVER. If you and your gym body match BOTH body types… then sure, compare away. But really; the guy pushing hard and jumping up and down when the scale goes up, shouldn’t try and compete with the guy running 12 miles a day to make the scale go down. Their bodies are literally not reacting the same way to stimulus.

So, if you know (or suspect) that you are an endomorph or even endomorph leaning, then I’m sorry, its just gonna be harder for you. Cheat days, enjoyed by your friends will need to be taken a LOT more seriously for you. You could easily gain 10lbs in a day and spend 10 days getting back to center. Your body stores food. Its physiology.

If you are an ectomorph or ectormorph leaning, skipping a gym day is a bigger deal. You’ll lose weight. That awesomely carved out figure you are working on, will deflate like a bad air mattress… FAST.

Mesomorphs in my experience are pretty much average people. You can build muscle, lose muscle, gain fat, lose fat pretty averagely for your body type (of the A,G,T,P variety).

Point of caution: EVERYONE gains fat faster in their 30s and on. Don’t just assume because you aren’t in high school anymore that you are an Endomorph. Its called AGE!

There are some fun little loop holes and tricks, things to know about the mixture of body types, age, diet, lifestyle etc. If you have questions…. just ask.


2 Responses to “an interest in “Morphology””

  1. Can your type change? Because I never gained (or lost) more than ten pounds in high school and early college no matter what I did (or didn’t do) or ate. That changed after I had kids. So can types change, or are they programmed into your DNA or something?

    • Great Question.

      The short answer is “no”. Having children does an absolute number on your metabolism. Age also plays a HUGE factor. Around 30 years old the average persons metabolism slows about 3% per year. So, ALL three body types will find muscle harder to keep, and fat easier to gain after children, and the older they get.

      That having been said. You may exist close to the line between two, or have OTHER medical conditions that are contributing factors. But again “no”, your body type is your body type.

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