Somatotypes: Fact or Fiction?

I’m sure you’ve heard of somatotypes (even if the word isn’t familiar), and you may even base your diet and exercise patterns on what somatotype you believe you are, but I’m here to tell you not to let that limit your physique goals!

An article by Alexander Cortes on suggests there’s actually no solid evidence behind somatotypes.


Cortes says a psychologist and doctor by the name of William Herbert Sheldon developed his somatotyping system in the 1930s, and this is where the terms ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph first entered the public conscious. Those are the terms you’re probably most familiar with: Ecto (skinny), meso (muscular and lean), endo (fat). But Sheldon actually based his work on what he believed to be psychological attributes tied to each, not physical ones. They were just adopted by the fitness community later on and evolved to what they are today, but by no means does Sheldon’s work hold a ton of weight and/or evidence when it comes to muscle accumulation or fat loss.

Enter Epigenetics 
Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recruited 23 young and healthy men and women, brought them to the lab for a series of physical performance and medical tests, including a muscle biopsy, and then asked them to exercise one leg and not the other, essentially becoming their own case study. Using sophisticated genomic analysis, the researchers determined that more than 5,000 sites on the genome of muscle cells from the exercised leg featured new methylation patterns known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, these genomes affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become, and exercise activates them.

Does that suggest you aren’t limited to the genes you were born with? Can you be a fatty growing up and not be destined to a fat adulthood?

Absolutely, you can change your genetics through smart nutrition and hard work in and out of the weight room. Heck, I don’t eat all that clean all the time anymore, my calories are way higher than I was when I was a chubby 220 lb. and sedentary, but I have muscle where fat was before and feel so much better mentally and physically.

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Whether somatotypes exist or not, there’s an optimal diet for everyone, with individual variations to account for. What one person can get away with diet wise and maintain a six-pack, another simply cannot. That’s reality. You don’t need scientific proof of somatotypes to know some range of body types exists in the world today.

But the take home point is ultimately not to let your genetic limitations hold you back. You CAN improve what you consider a sub-par metabolism through diet and exercise. Don’t let those mental barriers (“oh, but my mom and dad were like this so it’s inevitable”) stop you from getting started.

Putting It All Together

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My Endomorph Evolution program is a complete blueprint comprising the most effective methods I’ve discovered over my 13 years in this game. Cookie cutter diets and exercise programs don’t work for average guys and gals with average genetics. You simply need a comprehensive plan of attack to get the results mesomorphs and genetically gifted jocks are born with. Check it out.

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If you need help with that first push, reach out to me here and I’ll be happy to help.

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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.