A lot of skinny-fat dudes find themselves Googling for crumbs, trying to find out how the heck to lose fat and build muscle.
And then their mind melts when they see the word “skinny-fat.” Because, even though they've never seen the word “skinny-fat” before, they've always felt it.
They don't what skinny-fat syndrome is (or isn't), but their emotional tractor beam sucks them in.
Just like mine did.
And a lot of people that feel skinny-fat want to know if they really are skinny-fat.
Which is a useful thing to know.
Take a look at some great transformations in the online fitness space.
Vince Del Monte
The guys above are classic skinny guys, often called “ectomorphs.” The term “ectomorph” comes from the somatotypes, of which there are three.
Endomorphs (leftmost) are like Wario. They gain weight easily and have a difficult time staying lean. They are usually short.
Mesomorphs (center) are like Mario. Well, the new age cool Mario. Not the old and fat version. They can usually build muscle fairly well, while also staying lean.
Ectomorphs (rightmost) are like Waluigi. They are usually thin with longer limbs and have difficulty gaining weight.
People love the somatotypes. People are quick to categorize themselves, too.
I'm a meso! I'm an ecto! I'm an alien!
But I have beef (that's stewing, and it smells good and garlicky) with the somatotypes.
Because the somatotypes hurt more than they help; they weren't even created for fitness, physique or performance purposes.
They were created by psychologist who wanted to associate physical attributes with temperament types, which sounds like an interesting association to explore.
And I guess the fact that said psychologist was a supporter of eugenics (likely trying to find an easier way to eradicate large subsets of the human population) doesn't make it any less interesting. But, well, uhh, yeah…
The somatotypes are man made constructs (just like all categories). One dude's attempt to shove people into predefined boxes.
Some people fall do into those predefined boxes without mess. But others scrape along the edges the entire way down…
…like skinny-fat guys.
If you wanted to shove a skinny-fat guy into the somatotypes, he'd be considered a cross between an ectomorph and endomorph.
Because, if you're skinny, you probably have some ectomorphic traits. That is, if your conception of an ectomorph is someone with a smaller bone structure without a lot of muscle.
And, if you're fat, you probably have some endomorphic traits. That is, if your conception of an endomorph is someone with a decent amount of body fat.
Skinny-fat dudes are balancing in the water with legs in two different boats, which wouldn't be so bad if all you needed to do was balance.
But the somatotype categories carry connotations.
In other words…
- if you're a mesomorph, you just need to breathe
- if you're an endomorph, you obviously need to cut
- if you're an ectomorph, you obviously need to bulk
So those boats you're balancing in? One is moving right. One is moving left.
And you aren't my good friend and pal Jujimufu. You haven't trained your way into being able to do chair splits with a million pounds overhead.
So you pick a boat.
You say, “I'm going to hop into this boat.”
If you hop in the classic skinny guy ectomorph boat, you're probably going to do a lot of strength training and eat everything you possibly can.
This is the prescription for classic skinny guys, which jioejfvhfo[bv[ bcvCVCb vxc vc vcackbar for skinny-fat dudes.
Because, if a skinny-fay guy does this, he's probably just going to get fat. The more body fat you have, the less you can play the classic skinny guy game and win for reasons that'll sprout and bloom later. (Just planted the seed.)
Hopping into the classic fat guy endomorph boat won't help either. You'll probably turn into an emaciated prisoner of war for reasons that'll sprout and bloom later. (Just planted the seed.)
And all of this is a shame considering
THESE BOATS AREN'T REAL
they are man made and carry old (outdated) cultural connotations, which is why I shy away from the somatotypes and instead encourage you to
MAKE YOUR OWN BOAT
and sail the direction you need to sail based on how your body is actually functioning.
This is a hard thing to do. The pull towards categorization and somatotyping is strong because
(A) Humans are categorical thinkers and tribal creatures. I could explain this more but I won't because I know when to shut up.
(B) Identifying with a somatotypes give direction, albeit misguided direction, which is what most people are looking for. In other words, “I am an ectomorph, so I need to ______.” That's a good feeling. Who doesn't want their own Yellow Brick Road?
(C) Somatypes provide an explanation, a rationale, for your physical output. And the human brain loves stories. It loves reasons WHY things are the way they are.
“I am skinny-fat because ______.”
I AM SKINNY-FAT BECAUSE I'M AN ECTOMORPH! IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW! I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW THE RAINNNN IS GONNNNNNE.
The somatotypes hint at some sort of genetic predisposition, which is a rather robust story.
I am skinny-fat because I'm an ectomorph
I am skinny-fat because of my genetics
and coming to this conclusion is natural because that's just how the brain works.
And, really, it's worth looking into.
Because if skinny-fat syndrome IS genetic, then is there even any hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi? Can anything be done? Or is skinny-fat syndrome as locked in as our eye color?