How can I put on weight? What should I eat? What supplements do I take? Is there any ectomorph workout plan that will help me stop being this bony, weak, unattractive guy?
These are all questions I would ask myself back in high school when I was 6′ feet tall and only weighed 125 pounds. (35 lbs under the ideal weight for my height according to bannerhealth.com)
It sucked, All my clothes would fit baggy no matter how small I got them. I even remember my crush telling me over the phone one day that she didn’t want me because I was way too skinny for her. It was heartbreaking. I was sick of being skinny!
But, all that didn’t last long…
Today as I write this article I am 6′ feet tall and weight 180 pounds! 💪
Anyways, I want to give you, ALL my ectomorph workout and ectomorph diet hacks that have helped me gain over 50 POUNDS OF MASS. (20 lbs. in the first 4 months!).
As a former skinny guy I know how hard life can be being skinny, and since someone helped me, I feel it’s my duty to give back and help you.
All I ask is that you bring the following prerequisites:
- The hunger to work hard in applying this information
- Ectomorph workout tip #1: The Ectomorph Diet (Eat Over Maintenance)
- Ectomorph workout tip #2: Do Compound Exercises
- Ectomorph workout tip #3: Stay at the 10-12 Repetition Range
- Ectomorph workout tip #4: Progressive Overload
- Ectomorph workout tip #5: Go To The Gym 4 Times Per Week
- Ectomorph workout tip #6: Do Not Skip Legday
- Bonus: Take Creatine
Ectomorph workout tip #1: The Ectomorph Diet (Eat Over Maintenance)
I remember when I first began researching about having to eat more to gain muscle, it seemed pretty obvious to me.
I said to myself
“ok I’ll add a bit more food to each meal and I’ll start eating dessert, that should do it“
I couldn’t have been any more wrong! After all, I was barely scraping 1,800 calories! So the first thing to understand is that you could be deceiving yourself in how many calories you’re actually consuming.
To really get this down you have to be accurate, so accurate that it requires numbers. I’m talking about counting your calories.
Counting calories will make sure that you consistently gain weight by assuring that you’re in a calorie surplus of at least
500 over maintenance.
This surplus will ensure that your body will not burn all the calories consumed throughout the day, therefore leaving some extra fuel for muscle repair and fat storage.
As the ectomorph that you are, you need to realize that you have a very fast metabolism.
Your ectomorph body will burn through calories as a Ferrari burns through gas. This rapid burn leaves you out of fuel and in a much-feared catabolic (muscle burning) state.
So to put it more simply, you can workout 7 days a week, all day if you want to, but you still won’t be gaining any muscle. The reason being that your body won’t have the extra building blocks needed after all the prioritized metabolic functions.
So find your maintenance using the following formula and add 500 to the answer, this will be the number of calories you will have to eat daily.
(Your Current Body Weight) x 16 = Maintenance calories
Once you have the number of calories you know you have to eat daily, you can use the MY FITNESS PAL APP.
This smartphone app allows you to set the amount of calories you need to eat as a daily goal. And then throughout the day you input the foods you ate until you reach that desired goal. What I love about it is that it calculates the amount of calories each food has for you, so you’re always accurate.
Additional Ectomorph Diet Tips
- Consult your doctor first, especially if you have a health issue
- Slowly increase your calories to avoid stomach discomfort
- Don’t be overly anxious about your meals, only a long-term reduction in calories will make you lose muscle mass.
- Eat at least 80% of your body weight in protein (grams)
- A protein shake does help
- Try to keep the sugars low
- It’s ok to eat sweets but if you over do it (Dirty Bulk) you will gain a belly
- A shake with regular protein and banana is better than a sugary mass gainer
- Get your omega oils by eating tuna
- Avoid going over your calories trying to grow faster, you won’t, and you’ll end up fat (be patient)
- Drink a lot of water and eat a lot of fiber to reduce constipation.
- Coffee also helped me for constipation
- Avoid eating too late into the night (lunch should be your biggest meal)
- Fasting for a full day every two weeks helped with balancing my digestive system.
- Keep your workout times and your main meal times far apart
- Eat a banana right before your workout for energy
Ectomorph workout tip #2: Do Compound Exercises
One mistake I notice my fellow ectomorphs make when they first start working out is…
I see them at the gym struggling to do an isolation exercise.
it literally kills me inside! 💀
Not that there is anything wrong with isolating muscle groups, But THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU NEED AS AN ECTOMORPH THAT’S STARTING OUT! YOU NEED COMPOUND!
Compound exercises are crucial for building mass and strength quickly.
So what are compound exercises?
COMPOUND EXERCISE: is an exercise that recruits multiple muscles simultaneously to achieve the required movement. An Iso exercise would be the opposite.
One example of a compound exercise is the bench press.
When you bench press, you are using multiple muscles with the main ones being your triceps, shoulders, and chest. Since these muscles are working as a group, then they will also be growing as a group.
It’s kind of like killing 3 birds with one stone. 🐦🐦 🐦🗿
I wish I would have known this when I first started out. I remember I would do a ridiculous amount trap and bicep exercises thinking I was going to look like Bane from Batman, only to actually end up looking like teen titan Robin.
So should you never do bicep curls, tricep extensions, or any other isolation exercise?
You do want to do isolation exercises but later on. O
Don’t be afraid thinking that your arms won’t grow with compound exercises, they absolutely will!
Compound exercises you need to include are; Bench press, Lat Pulldown, pull-ups, Military press, deadlifts, and squats.
You could incorporate a small number of iso exercises in your workout, but don’t make them the main focus.
Ectomorph workout tip #3: Stay at the 10-12 Repetition Range
Being made fun of because of my skinny frame left a huge chip on my shoulder. A chip that I absolutely learned to love because it led me to change my reality and achieve my body goals through hard work.
Although I must admit, it did hinder me at times…
One of those times was when I was about one month into working out.
My confidence was building with every pound of weight I would add to my lifts, but as it happens with most newbies… My ego got in the way, and I began lifting more weight than I could handle; sacrificing form and time under tension.
I was overcompensating for the insecurity being skinny… 🙇🏻♂️
The months passed and I wasn’t growing, I had begun training like a powerlifter without even knowing it.
Guys it is now widely known through studies that there is a certain way to lift depending on your goal.
For example, if your goal is to lift massive amounts of weight, then your workout routine should include just high amounts of weight at a very low repetition range (between 3-5).
This is the kind of workout that will shock your nervous system, and leads to your body getting used to those heavy explosive movements. Olympic lifters do mostly this kind of lifting, because all they really care about is putting up the weight, not about gaining muscle.
Now as an ectomorph, making those sweet muscle gains is your primary goal, therefore you should adopt a bodybuilders workout.
The bodybuilder’s workout includes a moderate amount of weight at a higher rep range (between 10-12). This rep range will work you muscle tissue till failure and therefore allow maximum hypertrophy, which is the increase in the size of the cells in the tissue being worked. (Source).
Not only did my muscle mass increase once I began doing more reps, but my muscles actually began to look fuller and more rounded!
So make sure you’re doing a weight that is about 65% of your max for 10 to 12 reps.
Rest about 1.5 to 2 minutes in between sets. 🕒
You will know you’re doing the workout right because your muscles will burn after the set and you will feel a good pump, which is basically the muscle becoming engorged with blood.
Ectomorph workout tip #4: Progressive Overload
Every sort of growth happens in life by finding a challenge, overcoming it, then finding an even bigger challenge to overcome that too, this goes on and on till the day you die.
Weightlifting isn’t any different, the key to the growth of muscle mass and strength is progressive overload. Such a big word for something so simple…
Progressive Overload: finding heavy ass weight and lifting it over time, till it doesn’t feel heavy anymore.
Every time you go into the gym you want to be looking to lift a bit more weight than before.
Now, let me explain this concept in a little more detail before you go trying to add two plates your bench press. 🙅🏻♂️
Progressive overload happens very slowly!
Do not go trying to add a ridiculous amount of weight to your workouts. Because remember, you still have to keep the repetition range between 10-12, while also maintaining good form.
Personally, what I did and recommend is… adding 5 pounds every other week to all your lifts in the early stages, this should be enough to promote growth.
Once you’re more advanced this rate of progress will decrease because you’ll be dealing with much heavier weight, so adding just 2 to 3 pounds every other week will do.
Will it get to a point where I can’t add any more weight?
There will come a point where you will reach your natural genetic potential, for the amount of weight you can lift. Resulting in that you won’t be able to add any more weight.
This shouldn’t happen to you as a beginner anytime soon. If it does happen is because you’re probably not eating enough to support the strength and muscle growth that should be occurring.
Personally, I didn’t run into my first lifting plateau up until I reached 240 pounds on the bench press!
If you do reach a point where you’re eating good and you still can’t seem to add more weight, its ok, don’t freak out.
You can always do this little trick. 👇🏼
Since you can’t go up in weight, just do the weight that you’re currently stuck at for another 2 or 3 repetitions, this in itself is also considered progressive overload. Your muscle will be forced to adapt to those few extra reps, and therefore will grow.
Ectomorph workout tip #5: Go To The Gym 4 Times Per Week
How often should an ectomorph work out?
4 times per week TOPS!
Every time you visit the gym, your ectomorph body burns through a ton of calories. Ones that you probably have worked so hard to keep UP by eating like a maniac throughout the day.
And it is for this reason that your outings to the gym should be no more than 4 times per week. As
ectomorphs we want to conserve those precious calories.
If you do decide to go more; just know that it will be more difficult to reach your caloric goal since you’re burning more Cals.
if you’re willing to stuff more food down throughout the day, then you’re more than welcome to visit the gym as often as you’d like.
On the other hand… you don’t want to NOT go to the gym less than 4 days a week, it won’t be enough to work all your muscle groups thoroughly to make some gains.
Below is the workout routine that I personally used to gain over 20 Pounds of mass in about 4 months. I added Iso exercises to target my weak point: Arms
My Ectomorph workout routine
Bench press: 4 sets of 10
Incline bench press: 3 sets of 10
Machine Flys: 4 sets of 12
Bicep dumbbell curls: 4 sets of 10
preacher curls: 4 sets of 10
Hammer dumbbell curls: 3 sets of 12
Squats: 4 sets of 10
Deadlifts: 3 sets of 12
Leg press: 3 sets of 10
calf raises: 4 sets of 12
Overhead press: 4 sets of 10
lateral raises: 4 sets of 12
dumbbell bent over raises: 4 sets of 10
Dips: 4 sets of 10
skull crushers: 3 sets of 10
Tri pulldowns: 3 sets of 12
Wide lateral pulldowns: 4 sets of 10
Close grip pulldowns: 3 sets of 12
Rows: 4 sets of 10
Ez bar curls: 4 sets of 10
Concentration curls: 3 sets of 12
Ectomorph workout tip #6: Do Not Skip Legday
Let’s be real now, for us ectomorphs leg day is NOT the most exciting day of the week, we much rather get a nice bicep pump.
At the beginning I would always skip leg day, and rationalize it by telling myself
“I don’t need big legs, I’ll just wear jeans all the time”.
And it is with that decision that I elongated my muscle gaining process by months!
Simple, your legs take up literally half of your body. The 3 biggest muscles in the human body are the following: The Gluteus Maximus, the latissimus dorsi, and the hamstrings/quadriceps,
Therefore 2 out 3 of your largest muscles are located in your lower body.
Ok, so what?
So, it is widely known through studies that when you stress a muscle fiber in your body by doing resistance training, this causes your body to release the magical very sought after hormone TESTOSTERONE.
Testosterone is responsible for bone mass, fat distribution, strength gains, and muscle gains. It’s then no surprise why bodybuilders inject it into their bodies in the form of steroids.
So, if you haven’t put two and two together yet, here it is…
When you skip leg day it is like passing upon a gold mine of testosterone that is just waiting to be tapped into.
Training your chest and biceps will cause the release of some testosterone, but not nearly as much as the legs, because those muscles are small in comparison.
If you only make the decision to stress those humongous muscles that make up your whole lower body, then your testosterone would surge dramatically leading you to drastic mass and strength gains.
So stay strong and push through leg day, you will get used to it.
I personally love leg day now, I love how proportionally my body looks because of it. Not to mention, women actually love to grab my ass now, they find it sexy!
Some of the best workouts for maximum stress on your legs are Squats and deadlifts, so include those into your workout.
Bonus: Take Creatine
This supplement is almost magical, and I highly recommend it to all ectomorphs who want to get a head start or want to push past the plateau they’re currently stuck on.
Creatine is perfectly safe and legal,
it basically works by giving your body the ability to regenerate ATP (the energy molecule) much faster than you normally would in the absence of creatine.
Since this ATP is being regenerated faster, you will be able to push yourself for higher reps, or even add a little more weight, since the energy is going to be available.
You can find creatine online in three different forms, either powder, pill, or micro dosage form. I usually buy the micro dosage form because it works quickly and efficiently.
Being an ectomorph ain’t easy, we start at a disadvantage compared to the other body types when it comes to gaining mass. But, It doesn’t mean we can’t get there though, we just have to work a little harder.
Follow the hacks discussed above and recapped below for a head-start in your journey to gaining muscle and achieving the body of your dreams.
Please leave me any tips of your own in the comments so I can share them. And share these ectomorph workout tips with your ecto-friends.
- Doesn’t matter how much you workout, if you ain’t eating, you ain’t growing. Eat 500 Cals over maintenance.
- Dump the Iso exercises and get on the Compound ones, these will increase your testosterone and give you massive gains.
- If you want pure strength, then stay at the 3-5 rep range, but if you want juicy muscles then do a bodybuilder’s 10-12 rep workout.
- Give your muscles a reason to grow by constantly challenging them with heavier weight. Take it slowly though!
- Visit the gym 4 times a week, no more, no less. This will ensure you do enough to grow, but not too much to shrink.
- Tap into that unlimited source of testosterone found in your lower body. Leg day will help you make all around gains while also making you look amazing.