Let's face it, people with the ectomorph body type know the struggles of gaining weight. For many, it is a life long pursuit they never really achieve with great success. However, with the right approach to diet and exercise, muscle gain is entirely achievable. This blog offers practical fitness and diet tips from around the web to provide ectomorphs with a blueprint for building muscle.
This is the last article in our series for hardgainers. Visit the Warrior Knowledge page for more tips here.
Exercise Tips for Ectomorphs
For ectomorphs, a simple weight-training routine using high reps, compound movements, and isometrics is crucial.
According to the American Council on Exercise, increasing strength and sculpting the body requires lifting with intensity1. This can be achieved through various methods, but because ectomorphs tend to have more slow-twitch muscle fibers, high weight low rep lifting may not work.
While cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for overall health, people with an ectomorph body type should limit or minimize cardio workouts. This is because ecotomorphs tend to have a higher Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which means they burn more calories just sitting, then most people do when moving around.
Focusing on weightlifting allows for the maximization of muscle growth without burning excessive calories2. Training for things like obstacle course races, 5ks, and other forms of long distance cardio can be counter productive and cause the ectomorph to lose weight and muscle rapidly.
Post-workout recovery is essential for muscle growth. Consider adding a post-workout dose of protein to your routine to stimulate muscle growth and promote faster recovery3. We discuss in greater detail below, but getting enough calories, especially post workout.
Diet Tips for Ectomorphs
Consume More Calories
Unlike other body types that benefit from very low or zero carbohydrate diets, ectomorphs should strive to get adequate amount of carbohydrates and calories if the goal is to build muscle4.
The International Sports Sciences Association suggests ectomorphs focus on consuming whole foods that provide sufficient calories, including lean meat, sweet potatoes, rice, and fruits and vegetables4.
The only thing we would suggest is that while the ectomorph has dietary flexibility, that does not mean they should load up on cakes, refined sugar, seed oils, or other killers.
Protein plays a vital role in muscle repair and growth. Protein is also high in calories, fat, and micronutrients. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, and protein shakes made from whey5.
While there are some great sources of plant protein, they tend to be low in calories and thus, may not provide the best bang for your buck.
Sample Ectomorph Meal Plan:
- Breakfast: Protein Shake, Oats, and Collagen .
- Lunch: Scrambled Eggs (4-6), Bagel/Sour Dough Toast, Apple.
- Dinner: Grilled Chicken with Spanish Rice
Certain supplements can be beneficial for ectomorphs. Creatine, pine pollen, beef liver, and grass-fed orchic for example, can all help support muscle building and overall strength6. Protein shakes in between meals can also be beneficial.
Remember, everyone's body responds differently, so what works for one person might not work for another. The tips presented here are simply a guide and should not be solely relied upon when developing a workout or diet routine. It's always best to consult with a registered dietitian or a fitness professional to create a personalized plan that suits your individual needs.
Building muscle with an ectomorph body type may be challenging, but it's certainly not impossible. Just do what works best for you, and avoid trying to copy the programs of genetic wonders who could look at a stack of weights and grow.