Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do you know your body type?

When we talk body composition we tend to look at dimensions such as: percentage body fat, body mass, muscle and fat mass. Theses variables give us a basic picture of what the individuals body is composed of (keep in mind that there elements such as water and bone are often not accounted for).

The influence of body composition of athletic performance has been extremely well researched and documented over the years. It is easy to see that certain body "types" perform better in certain activities and sporting codes than others.

Tests of anthropometry (the study of human body measurement for use in anthropological classification and comparison), includes measurements of body size, structure, and composition. It is important to keep in mind the impact changes in these parameters has, or might have on sports performance.

For almost all sports, body size has an impact on performance - whether this be a positive or a negative one. Furthermore, body composition, such as the amount of body fat and muscle mass, can also significantly affect sporting performance.

Enter Somatotype: A measure which utilizes both body composition and body size measurements to describe the human in 3 dimensions:

Endomorphic body type: Adipostity

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
Mesomorphic body type: Muscularity

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
Ectomorphic body type: Linearity

Ectomporphs are generally 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.

Determing these 3 components is a matter of completing a few calculations, using measurements of different aspects of the human body.

Using the Heath-Carter system of Somatotyping (the most commonly used), we measure the following parameters:
  • Height (cm)
  • Body mass(kg)
  • Skinfolds:
    - Tricep
    - Subscapular
    - Supraspinalis
    - Medial calf
  • Upper arm and calf girth
  • Epicodular breadth of the Humerus and Femur bones
and then, using some equations, can calculate a numerical value for each one of the 3 components.

Calculated values range from 0.2 - 7, with values between 0.2 and 2.5 being classified as low, 3 - 5 medium and 5.5 - 7 as high.

We are now able to name the individuals body type. The way we do this is fairly simple: Highest value is second, second highest value is first.

Endomorphic value: 4.9
Mesomorphic value: 3.0
Ectomorphic value: 2.7

This individual is an: Mesomorphic Ectomorph

For a visual representation, we can now plot this data onto a 3 dimensional chart:

We use this data to look at normative date pertaining to athletes participating in the same sport, which can then assist us to better prepare our athlete for competition at the highest level.

For example, in the sport of Triathlon, at the Elite level, we would like to see the following values:

Endomorphic value: 3.1 VS 4.9
Mesomorphic value: 3.8 VS 3.0
Ectomorphic value: 2.8 VS 2.7

We now know we need to focus on reducing the athletes body fat % and body mass, which will lower their Endomorphic component value, and at the same time, increase their Mesopmorphic component.

The definition of this body type would be a: Ectomorphic - Mesomorphic.

1 comment:

Johnpaul said...

We now know we need to focus on reducing the athletes body fat % and body mass endomorph