The term somatotype is used in the system of classification of human physical types developed by U.S. psychologist W.H. Sheldon.

In Sheldon’s system, human beings can be classified as to body build in terms of three extreme body types:

1. endomorphic, or round, fat type;

2. mesomorphic, or muscular type;

3. ectomorphic, or slim, linear type.

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A somatotype number of three digits is determined for an individual classified by the system, with the first digit referring to endomorphy, the second to mesomorphy, and the third to ectomorphy; each digit is on a scale of 1 to 7.

The idea that human body types are genetically pre-set into one of three camps is nothing new.

Plato mentions it in The Republic, which was written around 380 BC, and 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referred to the idea in The Antichrist years before the American psychologist William Sheldon popularized three broad categories of body in the 1940s.

Since Sheldon’s conclusions were published it has become widely recognized that most people have a body type. These are:

  • Ectomorph: Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle
  • Endomorph: Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat
  • Mesomorph: Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells

These three terms Simply indicate that ectomorphs stay lean despite hours in the gym, endomorphs struggle to  shift their gut, and mesomorphs pack on muscle with ease.

Learning which body shape you were born with, and understanding what that means will help you train smarter and plan your diet better.

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