When looking at body characteristics and somatotypes it’s easy to think that endomorphs generally come off as being the worst when looked at from a physique perspective.
Whilst an ectomorph might have a hard time building muscle, in the grand scheme of things that is only one issue whereas an endomorph can have several ranging from poor endurance, a difficulty losing body fat and the hormonal issues that come with higher body fat levels like insulin resistance.
Therefore it’s easy to get more absorbed into the negatives of being characterised as an endomorph rather than focusing on the potential benefits that come with this body type. One such benefit is of course overall strength.
Are endomorphs strong? Due to having a larger frame, bone structure and higher proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres an untrained endomorph will generally be stronger than an ectomorph or mesomorph. They also have the potential to hold more muscle mass which again will contribute to more strength.
Endomorphs certainly are strong and this is why you will see many excel in power based sports like shot put and discuss however they also have poor endurance due to a higher proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres which is why they will struggle at long distance running and other endurance based sports.
What Is an Endomorph
There are three body types classified as somatotypes and an endomorph is one of these which defines an individual based on certain physical characteristics. Many don’t believe that you can group people into a category, especially so broadly as to only have three body types (ectomorph, mesomorphs and endomorph).
I personally agree that every is unique and therefore can’t be grouped so broadly however there is also no denying that certain people have certain characteristics that are all relatable.
I’d personally be defined as an ectomorph (tall, small bones and structure, little muscle mass and suited to endurance based activity) and by looking at ways to train around these characteristics then I fully believe that many can relate to them.
Therefore when looking to build a physique you should always look at what works for someone that has similar characteristics to yourself. While it’s true that no two individuals will respond the same to something, there is certainly a stronger correlation when the characteristics of each individual are closely aligned.
Take the squat as an example, if you have short legs and a longer torso than a barbell back squat will feel natural for you. This would be true to the majority with this structure. If however someone has significantly longer legs then the mechanics just won’t be the same and the two will see dramatically different results from training this exercise.
It’s useful to therefore look at the individual characteristics of an endomorph when you look to define yourself within this particular group.
The majority of endomorphs are defined by the following characteristics:
- Dense bone structure
- Large, blocky frame
- Thick waist and hips with narrow clavicles (not ideal for building a coveted V-taper!)
- Higher proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres
- Well suited to explosive, strength based movements and forms of exercise
- Lower proportion of slow twitch muscle fibres so struggle with endurance based activity
- Stores a high percentage of body fat, particularly around the waist
- Struggle to control insulin sensitivity
- Often round in structure (not a very flattering term but no different than describing a skinny person as having a bony structure)
As you can see, even when just listing these out the characteristics tend to come off with a more negative viewpoint then a positive one and the same is true of an ectomorph.
When looking at base characteristics then it’s only really those with a mesomorphic body type that are seen as favourable when building a physique however you should of course focus instead on the positives and one significant upside is that endomorphs tend to be strong.
Are Endomorphs Strong
Due to a larger frame, a more dense bone structure and a higher proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres, endomorphs are typically the strongest when it comes to the three body types.
As a beginner to lifting weights, most people will start off at a similar level in order to learn the correct form and how to maximally contract the targeted muscle being worked; however, in untrained individuals an endomorph will typically be able to lift more weight.
I used to think that this was because simply weighing more meant that your body just got stronger over time as a result of walking around with more weight everyday and it turns out this is true to an extent.
The real reasoning as to why endomorphs are stronger though is actually more scientific and becomes apparent in a trained individual.
The first reason for endomorphs being strong is because a larger frame and bone structure means that they can comfortably hold more muscle mass. On average, the more muscle mass you hold the more energy is required to support this muscle mass so the body doesn’t typically like to hold more muscle when it’s not required.
A larger frame however will naturally need more muscle mass because it now needs to cover a greater area.
Where the strength difference is most noticeable in trained individuals is because a larger muscle mass means that they also carry more muscle glycogen.
Muscle glycogen is the fuel used for muscular contractions, you’ll often see people in a dieting phase who start to look more ‘flat’ and struggle to contract the muscle or get a pump when working out and this is because muscle glycogen is depleted.
The more muscle glycogen you have, the more fuel you essentially have for strength based training. More muscle glycogen doesn’t automatically contribute to more strength so don’t go consuming as many carbs as you possibly can to get stronger. It’s more the fact that it’s a contributing factor that comes with carrying more muscle mass.
Should Endomorphs Lift Heavy
Due to endomorphs typically carrying more body fat than most it’s often the case that you will see them lifting lighter weights in the gym despite the fact that they have the potential to lift a significant amount more.
While it’s always better to start out training lighter to learn correct form and technique, the reason you see endomorphs training lighter is because they follow the advice of lifting lighter weights for more reps in order to burn more body fat.
If you actually Google the term ‘should endomorphs lift heavy’ the very first result has a description that says endomorphs should not lift heavy weight for low reps and should instead focus on lighter weight for higher reps. It then goes on to say once you’ve reached your weight loss goals you can then go on to isolate the you want to shape up a bit.
It genuinely amazes me that terminology like that still exists today and even worse is the fact that it’s being promoted so highly on the most used search engine! To ‘shape’ a muscle you need to build a muscle.
I couldn’t train my chest to look more square if that’s not the pattern that my muscle fibres run in. to shape a muscle you simply make it bigger, you can target different heads of a muscle group to develop a certain one more than the other but there is no way you can shape a muscle.
While that might seem like a needless rant, it follows on from the fact that endomorphs are literally built to lift/handle more weight. I’ve got small bones around my joints (particularly wrist and ankles) and therefore know that I can’t load the bar up the same as those that are better built for it.
If however you are built to lift heavy weight but want to burn body fat then you should actually lift heavier weight. A heavy deadlift or squat will burn more calories than any session involving light weights will because of the number of muscle fibres you need to recruit to lift heavy weight.
You might have seen powerlifters and thought they are large because they lift heavy weights but the truth is that they eat in an enormous calorie surplus to up their body weight and ultimately their strength. It’s not the case that lifting heavier will actually make you larger.
Therefore if you are an endomorph and have been shying away from the free weights section of the gym and sticking to the fixed weight machines then you need to change up your routine and start lifting some heavy weights.
Heavy is of course a relative term but i’ve seen enough beginners with a big frame squat more than most of the regular gym goers just because of their body type and muscle fibre makeup. If you really want to burn some fat then incorporate a few HIIT cardio sessions each week but just make sure when training with weights that you actually push your genetic potential.
Also check out:
Are ectomorphs weak?
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