Somatotype and Sports


“Hey Skinny” is a registered Charles Atlas Ltd. trademark.  Who hasn’t seen the comic strip sales pitch where a skinny guy is embarrassed in front of his girlfriend by a muscled alpha male kicking sand in his face. The suggestion is that, if you follow the Charles Atlas program you will be able to defend your position in the beach hierarchy.  We can joke about that famous ad, but it works.  It works because it springs from the need for males of practically all species to compete with each other for access to females and food.  Like it or not, muscle is the measure of a man, and it is critical to performance in practically all sports.

Your somatotype can reveal a lot about your capacity to succeed in athletic competition. Body-type is at the very center of evaluating athletic capability.  Athletics involves the performance of the body. How can you be interested in the way the body functions and at the same time ignore the body’s structure?  A somatotype is important because it is like a blueprint. It is impossible to have realistic goals for your body if your analysis isn’t based on reality.  The only way to know that reality, is to determine your somatotype.  If you are a professional trainer you owe it to your clients to identify their somatotypes so that they don’t push themselves beyond their safe limits.  One reason coaches and trainers ignore somatotype is because it may discourage some from spending money that will never bring them to their idealized goal.  The arbitrary goal of getting “big” can be just as seductive as anorexia.

Generally, the higher in mesomorphy (muscularity) the more likely you will do well in sports.  This doesn’t mean that a person is born an “athlete.”  There are a lot of things you can do with muscle.  You can be an agile basketball player or a graceful ballet dancer.  You can add endomorphy (fat) to mesomorphy (muscle) and have a sumo wrestler or you can take away endomorphy (fat) and reduce ectomorphy (height) and have a jockey.  You could also end up using your exceptional endowment of muscle to chop wood, build steel buildings, or pedal a rickshaw.

So, are athletes born?  A person’s muscular capacity is inherited, but it is not sufficient to produce an athlete.  An athlete needs “muscular” (physical) education to develop skills for specific sports.  Competent coaches are counselors as well as teachers, so they should be interested in somatotype.  Since somatotype is the frame a person carries throughout their adult life, it’s accurate identification is a logical starting point.  Many coaches in Olympic programs understand this.

At the highest levels of competition, you want to make sure your limited training resources are used in developing the best odds for winning. When training is viewed metaphorically as “construction”, you can appreciate the importance of selecting your materials with the same care as an engineer or architect.

General location of some athletic somatotypes.

A few cautions are in order.  Although it is useful to know the typical body type in a particular sport, it is not to be assumed that somatotype is the only condition for success.  Coaches need to be discreet when disclosing information to athletes regarding their fitness for a particular sport. The younger an athlete, the less reliable the information about their mature body structure. is not in the business of advising professional coaches nor predicting athletic futures for anyone under the age of twenty.  As technicians, we merely supply information.


If realistic expectations are important in developing high-level athletes, aren’t they also important for the average person? Knowing your somatotype can help you answer these questions.

  • Do you know the potential of your body AND its limitations?
  • What can you do about your body?
  • Are you happy with YOUR body?  If not, could it be that your expectations are unrealistic?

Athletic excellence usually involves a mesomorphy rating of 5 or above.  By definition the average person is a 4 in mesomorphy.  A lot of average people can be confused about their potential so they need to keep their goals in perspective.  The average person can muscle up close to the level of an athlete that has a mesomorphy rating of around 5, but they have to be careful of injury from ignoring the pain signals that they are pushing their limits.  And most important: they need to think about modifying their routines rather than giving up their work-outs just because they can’t get to their desired level of achievement.

A word must be mentioned about the so-called “hard-gainers”. These are usually ectomorphs with less than average mesomorphy. Rather than focusing on getting bigger, they ought to realize that they will function better by being muscularly fit - being as strong as they can be - as strong as their potential, based upon a realistic assessment of their body-type.  If you know your somatotype, you can settle this nagging issue.

Exercise and muscular development is an important part of weight loss too.  An overweight endomorph has a powerful ally if he is at least average in mesomorphy. Muscle burns fat.  So the more mesomorphic an overweight person is, the more he needs to incorporate a vigorous muscular workout into his weight reduction plan.  If an overweight endomorph discovers they are below average in mesomorphy, they need to concentrate on aerobic exercises to avoid an injury that will stop their activity completely.

Eventually, will enable people of similar body-types to compare notes and build a knowledge base that will facilitate the development of beneficial programs. Creative solutions are bound to emerge when you have people with shared challenges.  It could be the closest thing to having a twin.


Are you going to dream about a physique that is out of reach?  Or are you going to discover your somatotype and find out your real potential.

Are you going to mentally beat yourself up because you just can’t seem to bulk up? Or are you going to find out if you really are a “hard-gainer?”

You may even discover that you are one of those extreme mesomorphs that could successfully be a champion body builder.

If you want to find out your somatotype please go to the section – HOW CAN I FIND MY SOMATOTYPE

PROFESSIONALSIf you are interested in the possibilities of including somatotyping as an added value to your professional services please click on this link:


NEXT: Somatotype and Diet



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