Somatotyping was the brainchild of a psychologist named William Sheldon, who originally began his study of body types as part of a study of the physical and psychological attributes of criminals. This grew into a massive project that culminated in his book "Atlas of Men", which he published in 1954. Sheldon published the book to promote a method by which people could differentiate between specific body types, and proposed it as a sort of alternative BMI.(1) To achieve this goal, Sheldon studied and diligently cataloged 46,000 men, proportionately representative of America's ethnic mix at the time. 13,000 were from 31 different colleges, 12,000 came from various social, industrial, and military agencies of the WW2 period, 9,000 were patients of hospitals, and the remainder were men 30 years or older who were totally random volunteers. (2) It's important to note that all of the subjects were either untrained or detrained.
Ectomorph, or an ambiguously gay man? Science says the latter.
Sheldon then developed a unique, three digit system by which each person was rated on their endomorphic, mesomorphic, and ectomorphic features, giving them one of 88 somatotypic identifiers that he then named according to the physical attributes. A score of one meant the person showed none of the tendencies of that somatotype, and a 7 meant you were all up in that bitch.
So, Stuart McRobert have you convinced you were a "hardgainer"? Either a fatass or a skinny fuck practically hopeless in the gym? Well, you're in a mighty small minority if you are. 3 men in 10,000 are pure mesomorphs (the most common of the three pre types!), while 2 in 10k are pure ectomorphs, and 1 in 10k is a pure endomorph.(3) How the fuck have those Beyond Brawn books sold so many fucking copies? YOU'RE NOT DOOMED. YOU'RE JUST A LAZY PUSSY.
The most common somatotypes are 4-4-3, 3-4-4, and 3-5-3, at 60, 57, and 56 in 1000, respectively, and every somatotype with a frequency over 34 in 1000 has a 4 or a 5 for mesomorphic traits, meaning just about everyone can put on a decent amount of muscle.(4) Likewise, your chances of being a 6 or a 7 in each somatotype are 33/1000 for endomorphic, 70/1000 mesomorphic, and 41/1000 for ectomorphic.
So, chances are far likelier that you're mesomorphic than anything else. But wait, there's more! YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR SOMATOTYPE. Sheldon doesn't actually explain how, but he details how true ectomorphs (Walking Sticks) change from looking like extras in Schindler's List to Wasps, with a bigger ribcage and a little more muscle, over time.(5) This echoes my own experience, and the experience of a lot of people I know, who started out skinny-fat, or fat, or simply skinny, and are now jacked and ripped to pieces.
It's not that he's genetically gifted- it's that he breaks his ass in the gym and at the dinner table.
So what have we learned? SOMATOTYPES ARE HORSESHIT. Your real genetic potential relies on a variety of factors ranging from heredity to diet and training styles. Modern reliance on the produce of agriculture has degraded the human form considerably, so that humans are only now reaching the stature we attained as Cro-Magnons. (7) Know what that sounds like to me? Train like a fucking beast and eat like a Neanderthal, and you'll end up built like one.
No mercy for the weak.
- Sheldon, William. Atlas of Men: A Guide for Somatotyping the Adult Male at All Ages. New York: Gramercy Publishing Company, 1954. P. 3.
- P. 11.
- P. 30.
- Pp. 38, 136.
- "William Herbert Sheldon", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Herbert_Sheldon. Accessed 2/11/2009.
- Eaton, S. Boyd, and Marjorie Shostak. The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet and Exercise and Design for Living. New York: Harper and Row, 1988. P. 72
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