Body Types & Build
Success as an athlete comes from athletic ability, and our body build. The three components of body build are the type, size and composition. A system developed by W.H. Sheldon (c.1940) uses Ectomorph, Endomorph, or Mesomorph to describe the individual's body build.
Beashel and Taylor (1997) identify three extremes of body types.
An endomorphic individual typically has short arms and legs and a large mass on their frame. Their mass hampers their ability to compete in sports requiring high agility or speed levels and perform sustained weight-bearing aerobic activities such as running. Sports of pure strength, like powerlifting, are perfect for an endomorph. They can gain weight easily and lose condition quickly if training stops.
A mesomorphic individual excels in strength, agility, and speed. Their medium structure and height and their tendency to gain muscle and strength make them a strong candidates for a top athlete in any sport. They can sustain low body fat levels and find it easy to lose and gain weight.
A predominantly ectomorphic individual is long, slender and thin, and therefore power and strength sports are perhaps not suitable as their slight build leaves them susceptible to injuries. While they can quickly get lean and hard, their lack of musculature severely limits their chances in sports requiring mass. Ectomorphs dominate endurance sports and gymnastics. They can archive low levels of body fat, which can be detrimental to health and for females, in endurance sports, it can result in a cessation of periods and iron deficiency.
Sheldon evaluated the degree a body type was present on a 1 to 7 scale, where 1 is the minimum and seven is the maximum.
All athletes are made up of the three extreme body types, so we are all part of endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. Using a score of one to seven, we can grade our bodies on extreme body types. e.g. two, six, three means: two (low endomorphy), six (high mesomorphy), three (low ectomorphy). In this way, we can compare our body types with other athletes. This method of body typing is known as somatotyping - height is not taken into consideration.
The "perfect" bodybuilder would perhaps be a 173, while 475 might be better suited for football, and 147 a basketball player. Having scored in multiple body types, for instance, the football player's 475, does not mean he has all of the traits of each body type mixed. It may mean he has the heavy thick build of the Endomorph combined with superior musculature and strength of the Mesomorph, with the above-average height of the Ectomorph.
Greek researchers Bayios et al. (2006) evaluated 518 elite Greek basketball, volleyball and handball players. Their results indicated the following somatotypes (endomorph, mesomorph & ectomorph) for each sport:
Body size refers to the athlete's height and weight. The ideal size depends on the sport or event and sometimes their position in their sport (consider the various body sizes in a Rugby team). There are standard ideal weight charts based on an individual's height.
Body composition refers to the athlete's body fat. In most sports, the athlete will keep their body fat levels to a minimum. In general, the higher the body fat percentage, the lower the performance.
An alternative method of somatotyping
Research by Barbara Heath et al. (1967) identifies an alternative somatotype method for both sexes and all ages.
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