Somatotype and Sport

Somatotyping is a system of classifying body types in terms of three categories: endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy.

blank somatograph chartMeasuring Somatotype

Somatotype is most commonly measured using the Heath-Carter measurement system, in which ratings for endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy are calculated using various anthropometrical measurements and also sometimes in conjunction with standardized photos (photoscopic method).

In each of the three categories someone is generally classified on a scale from 1 to 7 (though higher ratings are possible), though you cannot score highly on all three. The three numbers together give a somatotype number, with the endomorphy score first, then mesomorphy and finally ectomorphy (e.g. 1-5-2). The scores may also be plotted in a shield diagram or somatograph, representing the somatotype on a two dimensional scale.

Ectomorphy

An ectomorphic person (e.g. 117) would be tall and thin, with a narrow body, thin arms and legs, little body fat and wiry muscles. An example of an ectomorphic person in the sporting world would be a typical long distance runner or basketball player. In general, ectomorphs rank high on endurance, flexibility and agility. The calculation for the ectomorphy rating is based on the measurements of height, weight and height/weight ratio.

Somatotype Chart showing sport ratingsMesomorphy

A mesomorphic person (e.g. 171) would be strongly built, with a broad muscular chest and shoulders, very muscular arms and legs, and little body fat. An example of a mesomorphic person in the sporting world would be a typical weightlifter or shot putter. In general, mesomorphs rank high on strength, endurance, power and agility. The calculation for the mesomorphy rating is based on the measurements of height, breadths of the humerus and femur, and girths of the biceps (flexed and relaxed) and calf. The girths are corrected for bodyfat using the skinfold measure.

Endomorphy

An endomorphic person (e.g. 711) is generally stocky, with a large round body, a short thick neck, short arms and legs, and with a tendency to store body fat. Sports people tend not to be in this category, being either more mesomorphic or ectomorphic. Generally, endomorphs rate poorly on physical fitness tests and so make poor athletes. Still, it is possible that someone who is rated as an endomorph can modify their rating though diet and exercise to become more mesomorphic. The calculation for the endomorphy rating is based only on the sum of 3 skinfolds (triceps, subscap, supraspinale), corrected for height. Therefore, the higher the skinfolds, the higher your endomorphy score.

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