One of my christmas presents had been a vouchers for two massages at a place my dad recommended. (If you happen to be out of ideas what to get for a beloved ones birthday or other occasion, I can highly recommend this as a gift. Who doesn’t love a good massage?)
Today I finally got to make use of one. To my surprise it not only made me feel better afterwards but it was also very interesting! I had not expected all these “by the way” remarks and explainations… it really was more of an educational lesson than a wellness program. Which suited me very well.
The physiotherapist not only gave me tips, but also some exercises to strengthen some of my rather underdeveloped back muscles. (Mainly those small muscles close to my spine.)
And I was also labeled as a ‘more ectomorph type of person’
This was certainly new to me. Surely I had heard about this stuff before, read about it many years ago. But never considered myself as a more ectomorphic person nor did I find it interesting enough to go into too much detail. (If you, like me at first, don’t know what ectomorph means: Wikipedia has a good explanation of the three different somatotypes.)
The main idea is that ectomorphic people are usually tall and thin, fragile, lightly muscled and altogether rather delicately build. I’m not very tall and I never thought of myself delicately build, when compared to some of my friends, yet I can see I’m still closer to this body shape than a mesomorph one.
As for characteristics, I would not put my thumb on it all being true, though all the delicately build, thin and often tall people I know and knew in the past, I would classify as introverts, so there seems to be some correlation in that. But it might as well be, that many introverts because of their inner wiring or inner preferences (hobbies) are thin and delicate as they might not be very active sort of persons. And then there are also those ‘blessed’ by a high metabolism who can eat lots of food and still don’t gain weight. Especially young men.
What I learned about the ectomorph body type
Of course I didn’t stop there with my research and I found another article that was a real eye opener:
- The guy in there wrote about his gym experience and of not being able to gain much weight/ muscle mass after working out for months. But he did not know this until someone pointed out a magazine article about somatotypes to him.
“After reading […] I started to understand more about how my body type worked, my metabolism, and gaining weight. Being an ectomorph I need to focus on calorie intake, long rest periods, and minimum cardio.”
Apparently ecotomorphs are known as ‘hard gainers’ in the fitness world. You can find the whole article here .
- Dr. Sheldon’s Somatotypes were never designed to be used in the fitness world (but as I understand that concept is still widely used).
It was designed by this psychologist to characterize and ‘classify’ individuals into types according to their physiology. So being one body type doesn’t really mean much. A lot of people belive that this is an old fashioned approach and has been proven wrong.
So instead I’ll use the characteristics that apply to me and see what I can learn from them and how I can implement that knowledge into my eating habits and improve my body’s well-being.
Ectomorph or not, I do think that I’m a hardgainer
Whenever I did physically demanding work, my body would quickly adjust at first. It always felt like a sort of activation of muscle power.
But after that nothing seemed to change.
After the initial getting used to the work and becoming capable of doing it, I just didn’t feel any improvements anymore. Neither in strength nor in speed. Whether I was picking fruit or planting trees or cycling as a courier. Progress just seemed to stop. My muscles just didn’t adjust and became stronger after weeks of daily ‘training’ at work. I saw colleagues become better and faster, but I couldn’t. That’s where it seems like I’m a ‘hardgainer’.
Being interested in learning about health, and a healthy way to gain a bit more weight I read a bit more on this website. I started by calculating my daily calorie needs. But honestly, that is where I stopped. I really don’t feel like calculating calories. Not at all. I might have done it for longer btrekking trips (as you are limited in supplies so you need to make sure you bring a sufficient amount of calorie rich food), but personally I don’t like numbers that much. But that’s just me. Does anyone of you calculate your calories? How helpful do you find it? Is it worth the effort? As always I would love to hear your feedback!
I need 2450 calories a day to keep my BMR (basal metabolic rate) up
earning that was important. I classified myself as a very active person when calculating my BMR. I guess classifying myself as ‘active for 5-7 days a week‘ was maybe a bit much. The difference between 1 step less active or 1 step more (=most active level) for me is about 200 calories in each direction. But to gain weight you need to add more calories on top anyways. Wondering ino how much food 200 calories translate I found that this is about as much as 125g of Avocado or roughly half a muffin or 28g of butter.
Learning that it is recommended to take in up to 500 calories more for a hardgainer, leaves me with the impression that the amount of food I eat is ok. Maybe my food cravings for carbs are also thanks to a mismatch between my calorie intake and needs. Now as much as back in the past. Though when active I would always feel like I ate as much as a pig, but I also was always on a budget. And maybe my meals usually were rather low in protein as I loved to stuff my face with empty carbs like cookies. Meaning there likely was a mismatch between my increased need for and intake of nutrients too. Which then could have led to my body not having sufficient building material to strengthen and build up my muscles more.
To summarize this:
- Though it’s interesting to learn about somatotypes, it doesn’t really matter what body type you are. Rather than being limited to the type classifcations and blindly believing “that I can’t do this or that because I’m this type”, creating inner blockages or excuses, we can use that knowledge to adjust our strategies!
- Because it is more important to know yourself:
- Know your energy needs, figure out if you are a hardgainer, normal or easygainer and adjust your BMR calorie needs according to that knowledge. Then observe what changes happen.
- Know your habits. This includes personal habits and preferences as much as your learned or your body’s natural habits.
- I believe that knowing about all this will eventually help make wiser, more educated decisions. And these will lead to an improved well-being as our body gets the nourishment it deserves and needs, and we also learn to master or control our subconscious habits a bit better.