How To Build Muscle As An Ectomorph
You’ve tried just about everything you can think of. You’re in the gym almost every day, lifting every pound you can every way you can, but you just can’t seem to bulk up. You don’t want to resort to illegal substances, so you feel stuck at skinny. Chances are you’re an ectomorph. Ectomorph isn’t a bad word, it’s just one of the three basic body types: Ectomorphs are thin and don’t retain either fat or muscle easily; endomorphs are prone to both fat and muscle; and mesomorphs are a balance of the two, with some fat and muscle retention.
A one-word description for the ectomorph is “slim.” If you’re an ecto, mesomorphs and endomorphs usually don’t want to stand next to you. It’s not that ectomorphs aren’t personable. It’s just that they’re usually the tall, skinny individuals who have trouble gaining weight.
The classic ectomorph has a delicate build, narrow hips and pelvis, and long arms and legs. They usually don’t have a lot of muscle bulk, but they do tend to have good muscle definition because there’s so little fat padding. Their light structure comes with a price. They tend to have small joints and bones that are easily injured during sporting activities.
A man with this body type isn’t likely to be a star on the football team or the next champion gladiator. This body type is naturally suited for endurance sports: swimming, running, biking, and so on. These men perform so well in endurance activities, however, that they tend to stick with what they do best and neglect muscle training. They have to work harder than men with other body types to get good results.
Be patient. Because ectomorphs have very high metabolic rates, they make slow gains when it comes to adding bulk. The gains will come, but slowly. Men with an ectomorph body have to remind themselves not to get frustrated.
Go for intensity. The only way an ectomorph will gain significant muscle is in the basic, hypertrophy stage of training. In other words, stay in the 8- to 12-rep range. Fewer reps means going heavy; lift the top weights you can manage safely to get a solid, high-intensity workout. Allow plenty of rest between sets. When you’re lifting heavy, you need extra rest time to allow muscles to recuperate.
Limit cardiovascular routines. The ectomorph already has a metabolism like a hummingbird and a relatively low risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease. He should limit high-intensity cardio to about 20 minutes, three times a week.
Hit the major muscle groups. Ectomorphs should avoid isolation-type movements, and stick with the basic, mass-building movements that work major muscle groups and deep muscle fibers. Good examples include squats, presses, and deadlifts.
Because ectomorphs have to move heavy weight to gain size, they also have to be cautious of overtraining. If you don’t seem to be making gains, adjust the workout intensity and take in more calories. Don’t increase the frequency of your workouts.
Other workout tips:
- Do up to 10 sets for larger muscle groups. Drop to 6 to 8 sets for smaller muscle groups.
- When doing warmup sets, stop before the point of muscle failure.
- Focus ONLY on a few big free weight compound exercises (squat, bench, deadlift, etc.).
- Squats, squats and more squats.
- Choose weights that are heavy enough that you can only complete 6 to 10 reps. This is the ideal range for putting on size.
- Very low frequency (typically training each muscle group once per week, any more would supposedly be over-taining for this body type).
- Very high intensity (go heavy all the time).
- Very low volume (very few exercises, very few sets… this body type supposedly over-trains very easily).