- 02 October 2011 02 October 2011
Your body shape is well-known to hold many clues about some of your significant statics, including your longevity and even personality. Nowadays, more focus is put on seeing how athletes in particular have figures that are suited to their sport. Are some people's physiques designed better for certain sports or is it just about hard work and dedication? Evidently athletes like Michael Phelps will have an advantage over you or I in the pool, but does this mean that he would be good at rowing, for example, with his tall and powerful frame. We want to discover if your body shape really does have an impact on your sporting ability.
There are 3 main body shapes that have been defined by physiologists; Endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph:
EndomorphAn Endomorph has a pear shaped body with some fat on the body, upper arms and thighs. This shape can increase muscle mass much more easily than ectomorphs. Therefore, it is generally seen as suited to sports like power lifting and possibly inclusive sports like rugby as we will discuss later.
MesomorphA mesomorph is the classic V shape, with narrow hips and a wedge-shaped body. This, along with minimal body fat, allows them to be a candidate for a top athlete in any sport, as they respond well to cardio and resistance training. Furthermore, as they gain or lose weight easily, it allows them to adapt to the needs of the specific sport.
EctomorphLastly, an ectomorph has a slender and thin shape. Their light frame makes them suited for endurance events, such as long distance running, and possibly for sports such as football or tennis where height is helpful.
A trend has begun to form over time towards larger athletes overall. Examples include both tennis and sprinting. Previously, sprinters who were shorter, more compact and powerful were seen as quick, whilst the larger athletes were seen as taking more time to get out of the blocks and essentially losing out overall in the sprints. However, with Usain Bolt standing at 6ft 5in and Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell around 6ft, this has changed somewhat, with larger athletes generally more suited to sprinting success due to their enhanced stride lengths and powerful levers. Similarly tennis has changed with the top 4 in the world being over 6ft. But this statistic is not surprising as height gives such an advantage in tennis, especially with the overarm serve, meaning it is more evolution than revolution in terms of sporting body shapes and success.
Being big can be beneficial for some sports but not others, with those who run endurance events such as marathons, such as Haile Gebrselassie, excelling because they have small frames and weight. Interestingly, it has been suggested that your body shape shows something about your personality. It is also claimed that those with wider and bigger feet usually work hard and find it difficult to sit down and do nothing.
Numerous sports exist where your body shape will be suited no matter what it is. Some of the most famous sports have become popular because of the fact that so many shapes and sizes are able to take part. Prime examples are football and rugby. Football has a wide range of differing body shapes and sizes, often suited to different positions on the pitch. However this may not be suited to endomorphs due to the aerobic pressures the game puts on your body. The ultimate inclusive sport, known as a 'sport for all sizes', is rugby. Every position has its stereotypical shape, with scrum halves being short and quick, props being large individuals and second rows being tall and slender. This means no matter what combination of body shape you have, there is a position to suit. This is also the case with other sports, such as windsurfing, archery and cycling where it is your concentration, dedication and strength, rather than shape, that matters most.
The muscular make up and fitness of an individual is obviously a key factor when looking at the suitability of athletes. Evidently, a marathon runner or swimmer needs to be physically light and fit, however some sports don't require a specific shape, only a good level of fitness. One example of this is shooting. Shooters can have any body shape, but must be fit to enable them to lower their heart rate for a steady aim. The individual's type of muscles may also make a difference. You may be good at athletics; however, because your muscles are made up of slow twitch muscles, you will be better suited to long-distance events. Athletes such as Usain Bolt may look fit and able to run forever, but his fast twitch muscles mean he is fast over short distances but unable to sustain a decent pace over longer distances.
This has proven that body shapes can be suited to sports, such as endomorphs to rugby and weightlifting, and tall, muscular mesomorphs to rowing. Nonetheless, there will always be a sport that you are suited to. It is not essential that you have to be 6ft 4 and super fit to play tennis; this body really just gives you an advantage at the top level. However, if you are this height and shape, it is quite likely you will have a natural talent for the sport!
If you have already found your ideal sport, then our holidays offer the opportunity to improve your skills in a fantastic setting. If not, we have the perfect healthy and active holidays for you to discover what sport suits you.
Those looking to improve their body shape can travel on a fitness retreat to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Malaysia, utilizing its hot springs and powerful natural therapies to improve health and recovery post-workout. If you'd prefer to improve your golf game on a championship course and take on the unspoilt rainforests of St Lucia on a mountain bike, take a break to the luxurious island resort of The BodyHoliday in St Lucia. Based on the four pillars of restorative beauty, good diet, exercise and relaxation, it offers every pastime possible and caters for all tastes with a wide range of spa therapies, sports and exercise designed to develop an improved body shape.
If you’re inspired to take up a new sport or activity to get in shape, explore our collection of worldwide multi-activity holidays offering everything from cardio and strength training to tennis and cycling. Talk to one of our Travel Specialists on 0203 397 8891 or contact us here to discuss tailor-making your perfect multi-activity holiday.