Physical Types – George W. Kirkley (1963)

Today we present another excerpt from Kirkley’s book Weight Lifting and Weight Training. The excerpt below is the second chapter, which describes the classic concept of somatotyping, or categorizing physiques into three general types: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. Nearly any book on strength or bodybuilding/physique training is likely to repeat some version of these ideas.

In recent years, fitness writers have been more critical of the somatotype model for trying to shoehorn every human body into one of three distinct categories, and many weight trainees have trouble determining which somatotype they are supposed to fit into, as they may have aspects of more than one of these types. However, Kirkley here acknowledged that these types are generalizations rather than strict, hard-and-fast categories; and his approach to training different body types in different ways was based on years of experience and observation. Most importantly, he did not dismiss any body type as hopeless when it comes to physical improvement.

KirkleyDeadliftThe author Kirkley demonstrating the deadlift, from elsewhere in his book (click to enlarge, will open in new window/tab)

Book excerpt: Continue reading