Book Review: "Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body" by Ben Greenfield
The idea of somatotyping fascinates a lot of people. If you’re not familiar with the term, somatotyping is based on the idea that each of us belongs to one of several body types. Most commonly, you’ve probably heard the terms mesomorph, endomorph, and ectomorph. From the concept of a body type comes the idea that each type has different advantages and weaknesses, as well as different ways to eat or to train to achieve the best results.
I recently read Ben Greenfield’s book, Get-Fit Guy’s Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body Type. The book focuses on somatotyping as a means of getting the look and health you want. As a longtime trainer and nutritionist, Ben has offered a somatotyping questionnaire for years, which he has used to compile a book.
I’m fairly skeptical of somatotyping in general. Of course people are different and have different needs, but lumping them into specific sweeping categories seems almost as bad as lumping everyone into the same category. Regardless of my skepticism, I found that Greenfield pretty much had me pegged. While it might be a case of basic advice that can appeal to a lot of people, like a horoscope, I found the recommendations in this book to be pretty dead on for me personally, especially when it came to training.
The book is divided up simply, and for anyone who has read my reviews or articles, you know I’m a big fan of simplicity. Greenfield isn’t trying to start any revolutions with this book, but rather provide solid advice based on his considerable experience as a trainer. After introducing somatotyping, including a brief history that I found especially interesting, there is a questionnaire to determine your somatotype.
This questionnaire section is a critical component of the book, as it covered something that is often missed. Too often somatotyping is based on a simple description that simply doesn’t cut it. For those of us who fit somewhere in the middle, we need a questionnaire like the one this book offers that is a quick and easy way to find where we stand.
After the questionnaire, Ben includes a workout and simple diet advice for each type. Beyond the workouts are a series of appendixes that cover a variety of topics of interest, especially for beginners. These topics include tips for losing weight and lingo that you might hear in the gym, as well as a series of exercise photos to supplement the recommended workouts.
I found the book to be an excellent resource for a recreational lifter, especially one new to the gym. However, there were a few mistakes that might be confusing for the intended audience. These are not critical and shouldn’t dissuade someone interested in the topic from checking out this book, but they should be noted. For example, the somatotypes were mixed up as early as page two. Since many readers are new to these terms already, adding to the confusion by mixing up the somatotypes doesn't help.
I would have also liked to see some descriptions to accompany the exercise photos. I know Ben has some web-based resources that can be utilized to assist the reader, but in the book itself it would have been good to have descriptions. For example, the clean and press images show only the clean portion of the movement. A description of the press would have helped here.
The book is not intended for any specific type of athlete, although it may help you find a sport that’s right for you. For my type, the book recommends a sport with diverse attributes, such as a combat sport. What a surprise that I happen to train and compete in just such a sport! Coincidence? Probably not, considering we like to do what we are good at.
While I don’t think somatotyping should be swallowed whole, I found the advice specific to my type based on the questionnaire in this book to be pretty dead on when it came to lifting. Although the description of my eating habits wasn’t quite as accurate, the advice was still simple and solid and would give me the promised results. With some minor mistakes aside, I think this book is excellent for people who are interested in somatotyping, as well as recreational lifters and total beginners.
"Get-Fit Guy’s Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body" is available for $14.08 at Amazon.com.