Body Type

body type


I know that body type (genetics) plays an important role in achievement of serious results in weight training. Still, its influence is often overestimated. No one is able to take a look at you at the very beginning of your weight training and give an absolutely correct judgement whether you have or don’t have favourable body shape (genetic potential) to build a champion body. It is very difficult to define a person’s potential before he started weight training. There are some muscle building aspects that are absolutely not determined by body type. You can have perfect genetic qualities and at the same time you can never realise them.

weight training body typeYour body type parameters influence your weight training system (when choosing the most appropriate exercises, quantity or reps, etc.). But the very possibility to achieve the desired result depends on many more factors that just body type ones. And first of all, these factors are your motivation and persistence.

It’s easy to mark ‘perfect genetic qualities’ of a Mr. Olympia when he had already become an outstanding champion. But in the very beginning he was surrounded by lots of other even more genetically gifted guys who, nevertheless, achieved nothing because they were not thoughtful or aggressive enough. They just gave up too quickly.

Body type appears to be the factor that predetermines a lot of things in our life: we inherit from our ancestors (from our parents in the narrow sense) the type of our nervous system (that defines our character), the skeleton body shape (broad- or narrow-boned) and even physical power, to say nothing of such features as facial characteristic and eye color.

In accordance with all inherited features, people can be divided into three main body type groups. Everyone can be classified according to this system and reckoned among a particular category of people. We can easily define body type belonging of any person by the body shape of his figure!

Ectomorph Endomorph mesomorph bodyBody types:

  • Ectomorph: lean, quick, energetic
  • Endomorph: plump, sluggish, heavy
  • Mesomorph : middle-sized, brawny

All three body types have different metabolism rates.

In ectomorphs’ body all products burn immediately; such people shouldn’t be afraid of stoutness. Ectomorphs have lean body, long bones, slender figure, little fat and thin muscles. It is difficult for them to gain muscle mass; but the muscles, that such person managed to grow, look great due to narrow bones and absence of fat.

body type Ectomorph Endomorph mesomorphEndomorphs, on the contrary, can grow stout visibly because they have slower metabolism (rate of ‘burning’ of proteins, fats and carbohydrates). In addition, energy demands of their organism are also rather low. All these factors lead to excess fat and rounded soft body. Endomorphs body usually gain total muscle mass very easily; but it appears to be rather flabby. The main challenge for this type is to get rid of excess fat.

Mesomorphs are distinguished by developed musculature. Their bones are thick, muscles are big. People of such constitution gain muscle mass very easily; sometimes they simply don’t notice that they start looking too ‘square’.

Most often, nevertheless, a person appears to be a mixture of two types: endomorphic mesomorph or ectomorphic mesomorph. Pure types are rather rare.

Body type Aspects


Bone structure

The best variant for a bodybuilder is to have broad shoulders and narrow waist. Broad thoracic cage (chest) is also desirable.

Heavy and thick bone structure can be a true advantage for power sports (weightlifting, wrestling, and bodybuilding). On the other hand, in spite of the fact that thin bone structure can really limit the maximum amount of muscle mass that you can gain, as a rule, thin-boned athletes look more aesthetically acceptable.

Muscle shape

Shape of certain muscle groups is genetically predetermined and can be only improved but not changed. A huge biceps of Arnold’s is, to a large extent, the result of heredity. He inherited this muscle shape and had been perfecting it for long by means of training.

Ectomorph Endomorph body shapeMuscular cells

Apart from shape of a certain muscle, muscular cells are also of great importance. We inherit a particular quantity of them in each of our muscle group. Possibly, you have friends who have big calves but don’t train them at all. This is just the case. The same Arnold had wonderful chest and biceps muscles but rather ‘weak’ underparts. May be it was due to a special aspect of his trainings but those muscle groups still had a lot of muscular cells in them.

Insertion site

Any muscle is attached to two bones. For example, biceps is attached with its one end to the shoulder and with its other end to the forearm. When contracting, biceps pulls the forearm to the shoulder. The place where a muscle is attached to the movable bone (the forearm in our example) is called insertion site. These sites differ with different people; the farther they are situated from joints the bigger mechanic force muscles can develop.

Type of muscle fibers

It is also a very important characteristic. Most probably, professional bodybuilders have more quickly-contracting fibers in comparison with slow-contracting ones. They are responsible for growth of power and mass; so, their quantity determines your speed of muscle mass growth. If in your muscles low-contracting fibers prevail – it’ll be more difficult for you to grow muscles.

However, there are scientific researches that state that it’s possible to change muscle fiber proportions of any muscle by means of specific trainings.

body type weight trainingNeuromuscular activity

It is an ability of muscle fibers to react to the signals received from the brain. The higher this activity is the more muscle fibers are contracting and the bigger force you are able to demonstrate. That’s why we are able to perform tremendous power efforts in critical situations when nervous signals are beyond usual ones.

Metabolism and body type

Some bodybuilders have quick metabolism (ectomorphs); for them it is very difficult to gain significant muscle mass and body weight. Those who have slow metabolism have a lot of troubles with getting rid of excess fat.

As I had already told, in the very beginning of weight training it is almost impossible to define your genetic potential. There are a lot of bodybuilding stars who have not just average body type but really poor ones. Lou Ferrigno had such poor constitution that he hadn’t been accepted even to his school football team.

So, if mother-nature didn’t presented you with champion body type it appears to be just one more reason for you to display more persistence and purposefulness. You should always remember that there were a lot of athletes with champion inclinations who were overcome by people much less genetically gifted but much more purposeful.

Written by: Dennis Borisov
© April 2010 All rights reserved. Reprint article with link only.

body shape type