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Perfil de Somatotipo de una Unidad Especial de Policia.

Somatotype Profile of a Special Police Unit


Special police units are top-level police units that, with their mobility, adapted tactics and modern equipment, solve the most demanding security tasks (Gorenak et al., 2007). Therefore, maintaining a high level of physical and operational preparedness is essential for the rapid, coordinated and tactical operation of special units. Police officers who are physically well prepared and have adequate morphological status are less prone to diseases in the workplace are more productive and better tolerate stress (Zorec, 2009; Yao et al., 2016), therefore morphological requirements for special police units should be even higher in comparison to regular police officers. One of the most used methods of evaluation of morphological status is anthropometry (Claessens et al, 2000; Malina, 2007; Slater et al., 2013; Rodrigues-Ferreira et al., 2015) with its somatotype description. Somatotype as a method describes and expresses the quantification of three components relative to height: 1) endomorphy, which express body fat content, 2) mesomorphy, which express the development of skeletal muscle and 3) ectomorphy, which express the thinness of the body (Carter & Heath, 1990; Ochoa Martinez et al., 2014).

There is a scarcity of studies that evaluate the somatotype of special police units. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the somatotype characteristics of this population to give us a better idea about requirements of body composition and somatotype for training or/and selection process of new candidates.


Subjects. This study included 17 members of Slovenian special police unit. Their mean age was 31.12 [+ or -] 5.61 years, their body height 179.46 [+ or -] 5.36 cm, and their body weight was 79.84 [+ or -] 6.16 kg. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.

Anthropometric measurements. Measurements were conducted in the physiological laboratory at Faculty of Sport, University of Ljubljana. Morphologicalcharacteristics were measured by anthropometry methods and by electrical bioimpedance. GPM Swiss measurement instruments were used for the anthropometry method. Measurements were carried out by an expert with extensive experience, following the prescribed procedures and guidelines set by the International Society for Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) with a technical error of measurement less or equal to 1% (cm).

The following measurements were taken: upper arm circumference (cm), flexed upper arm circumference (cm), forearm circumference (cm), thigh circumference (cm), mid-thigh circumference (cm), calf circumference (cm), shoulder width (cm), pelvic width (cm), elbow diameter (cm), wrist diameter (cm), knee diameter (cm), ankle diameter (cm), sub scapular skin fold (mm), triceps skin fold (mm), biceps skin fold (mm), forearm skin fold (mm), abdomen skin fold (mm), chest skin fold (mm), supraspinale skin fold (mm), thigh skin fold (mm), and calf skin fold (mm). According to the Heath-Carter method (Carter & Heath) we calculated proportions of ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph components. Somatotype attitudinal distance (SAD) and the position in the somatoplot was calculated with the Somatotype 1.2.5. Software. Muscle mass was calculated using Matiegka equation (Matiegka, 1921). Measurements of electrical bio-impedance were performed with the help of the device TANITA TBF-105. Measurements of body weight, body mass index, lean body mass, the percentage of fat mass, absolute fat mass and the percentage of body water were measured.


The values of the variables are shown in mean, standard deviation minimum and maximum. Table I shows the general and body composition characteristics. Table II shows anthropometrical characteristics of the unit. In Table III the somatotype components of the unit are shown. The data show that the special police unit overall presented the balanced mesomorph somatotype (2.59-6.49-1.98).

A graphical description of individual values of somatotype for the member of the police unit with the mean somatotype value is shown in Figure 1. In the special police unit 53% of the members were classified as endomorphicmesomorphs, 29% as balanced mesomorphs, and 18% were classified as ectomorphic-mesomorphs, respectively (Fig. 2).


Recognition of somatotype is of high importance for people that work in special conditions as it describes the physical form in general and gives us a necessary answer for questions related with the specific conditions, demands and adaptation of the body.

The data shows that special police units should present the characteristics of balanced mesomorph with emphasis on mesomorphic component. Study by Santos & Fernandes Filho (2007) done on the members of special military police units BOPE (3.24-5.91-1.72) confirms the necessity of the mesomorph component dominance as well as the study done by Simenko et al. (2016), on police special units (2.6-5.442.06). This information gives us an inside of the importance of the muscle mass which is essential component of producing strength, power and speed in dangerous work conditions. In special police forces the ectomorph component should not be very predominant, because the policemen should have a low mean stature, which is best for group movements of officer's body during combat between alleys, streets and buildings (Santos & Fernandes Filho).

The importance of obtained data regarding the identification of somatotype requirements is to be used as descriptive comparative and selection parameter for/with other branches or units inside of the police. Specific work conditions difer greatly when compared to a general police officers which can be seen directly in the load carriage of basic tactical equipment of police special units, which weighs 21.15 kg (Simenko et al.). Study on the regular police officers from Turkey shows that they present lower mesomorphic component (2.67-4.59-2.96) and as previously mentioned, not so desired higher ectomorphic component (Ozkan et al., 2012).

Special police officers, when compared to different sport disciplines in somatotype values, have the most similar characteristics with Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters (2.23-6.33-1.75) (Baez et al, 2014), judokas (1.87-6.57-1.79) (Stachon et al., 2015) and wrestlers (2.0-6.6-1.2) (Sterkowicz-Przybycien et al., 2011). This information can also give us an important information about strength and conditioning of special units which can be based on previously mentioned martial arts and combat sports with additional technical and tactical training including firearms, tactical team movement, breaching hostage rescue. With good selection of candidates and superior training programs, a good working environment can be created which increases operational performance of police special units.


The author is grateful to Senior Lecturer Bojan Zorec for his assistance and collaboration in the sample collection and to Prof. Dr. Milan Coh for his constant support.


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Gorenak, V.; Krope, S. & Tanasic, M. Evropske Specialne Policijske Enote. Ljubljana, Fakulteta za varnostne vede, 2007.

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Received: 08-03-2018 Accepted: 27-06-2018

Corresponding author:

Jozef Simenko

Institute of Sport

Faculty of Sport

University of Ljubljana

Gortanova 22, 1000 Ljubljana



Jozef Simenko

Lecturer, Institute of Sport, Faculty of Sport, University of Ljubljana, Gortanova 22, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Caption: Fig. 1. Somatoplot distribution of special police unit

Caption: Fig. 2. Somatotype profile distribution of special police unit
Table I. Mean, standard deviation, minimum and maximum of general and
body composition characteristics of special police unit (n=17).

Basics                  Mean      Std.      Minimum   Maximum

Height (cm)            179.46     5.36      169.00    190.10
Weight (kg)            79.84      6.16       68.00     89.30
BMI (kg/m)             24.78      1.53       22.00     27.90
Body composition
Muscle mass (kg)       44.02      3.72       38.00     52.10
Fat mass (kg)           7.95      1.92       4.50      11.60
Fat mass (%)            9.86      2.18       5.70      13.50
Lean body mass (kg)    72.69      4.85       60.80     81.40
Total body water (%)   53.21      3.56       44.50     59.60

Table II. Mean, standard deviation, minimum and maximum of general
anthropometrical characteristics of special police unit (n=17).

Variables                           Mean     SD    Minimum   Maximum

Circumferences      Upper arm       32.88   3.25    26.00     37.40
(cm)             Flexed upper arm   38.31   5.37    32.70     57.30
                     Forearm        29.35   1.13    26.00     30.80
                      Thigh         59.83   2.22    55.00     64.70
                    Mid-thigh       57.54   2.13    52.10     61.60
                       Calf         40.18   1.80    36.80     43.30

Breadths (cm)        Shoulder       41.08   1.90    37.30     43.70
                      Pelvic        27.75   1.53    25.60     30.10

Diameter (cm)         Elbow         7.33    0.39    6.60      7.80
                      Wrist         5.89    0.28    5.30      6.30
                       Knee         9.94    0.41    9.20      10.60
                      Ankle         7.34    0.46    6.60      8.30

Skin fold          Subscapular      11.52   2.71    7.60      17.60
thickness            Triceps        5.62    1.62    3.20      10.00
(mm)                  Biceps        3.64    0.96    2.20      6.00
                     Forearm        4.49    0.77    3.60      6.00
                     Abdomen        13.67   4.89    7.60      24.20
                      Chest         8.55    3.50    5.40      20.00
                   Supraspinale     10.01   2.72    5.40      16.20
                      Thigh         11.25   3.29    7.40      18.20
                       Calf         6.27    1.82    4.20      9.20

Table III. Mean, standard deviation, minimum and
maximum of somatotype components of special police
unit (n=17).

Variable   Mean    SD    Minimum   Maximum

ECTO       1.98   0.68    0.90      3.30
MESO       6.49   0.87    4.20      8.20
ENDO       2.59   0.59    1.70      3.90
SAD        1.03   0.66     --        --
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Author:Simenko, Jozef
Publication:International Journal of Morphology
Date:Dec 1, 2018
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