Can the Ectomorph Body Type Get Big?
Would you describe yourself as long and lean? Do you struggle to put on any muscle?
If you mumbled “yes,” you may have an ectomorph body type.
Physical Characteristics of an Ectomorph
Many models who are plastered on the covers and pages of fashion magazines tend to be an ectomorph. Not only are they tall, but they have a thin build with long limbs, small joints, and thin bones.
Unfortunately, there’s not much junk in the trunk and they are skinny with a flat chest. Even though an ectomorph may look skinny, their lack of muscle definition could make them a higher body fat percentage than you may expect.
Ectomorphs have a hard time putting on muscle because their metabolism generally runs higher than other body types. You may have heard someone call themselves a “hard gainer,” which means they are an ectomorph.
Some famous ectomorphs include Matthew McConaughey, Bradley Cooper, and Toby McGuire.
Ectomorph Diet and Metabolism
Since the ectomorph has a fast metabolism, it is a blessing and a curse. The higher metabolism makes it easy to get lean — it seems they can eat whatever they want.
As they age, their metabolism will slow down, mostly due to low muscle mass. This is when an unhealthy gain in body fat can happen.
Ectomorphs should try to eat more carbohydrates and get as many nutritious calories in as they can.
Find your TDEE and strive to eat 500 calories extra per day. This can come from starchy carbs such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Eat up the bananas, pineapples, avocados, and peaches.
Pack in all of the nutrient-dense snacks you can and don’t be afraid of nuts and seeds.
The key here is to eat healthy foods, but eat as much as you can. A higher metabolism isn’t a good reason to fill yourself full of foods that offer no nutritional benefit other than calories.
What you do before and after you work out can help you stay energized during and after your workout.
Try to eat something small or have a protein shake about 30 to 60 minutes before you train — the nutrients will help you make it through your routine. Be sure to drink water and stay hydrated before and during your workout.
Once you’re done exercising, try to get a post-workout meal in within 60 minutes of finishing your workout. Now is the time to load up on carbs and pick a nice protein such as chicken breast or fish. Add a serving or three of some brown rice and you have a great post-workout meal.
Keep Cardio to a Minimum
When it comes to building muscle, ectomorphs are at a disadvantage. While ectomorphs can achieve a lean, shredded physique, it will take a lot of consistent training and nutrition to achieve it.
Become a consistent machine with a well-developed training program will.
Keep your cardio to a minimum. Every time you step on a cardio machine, you’re essentially burning up muscles. But cardio is important.
For general cardiovascular requirements, try to aerobically exercise three times a week for 30 minutes. Use cardio to keep your heart healthy.
Lift Heavy and Lift Often
If you want to lift heavy, build muscle, and get big… you’re going to have to lift a lot of weight and eat even more food.
For an ectomorph to build muscle, you’re going to have to follow a sound routine that focuses on sets of eight to 12 reps. You’ll want to perform these exercises with perfect form and push yourself to lift more.
As for food, try to add in an extra 500 calories per day coming from protein and healthy carbohydrate sources. The extra calories won’t make you fat, but you need those calories to build muscle.
Try This Ectomorph Three Day Workout Routine
This is just a sample workout, so feel free to modify it as you need to. The main idea is to utilize a lot of heavy compound lifts and finish with isolation moves.
Day 1 - Chest & Triceps
- Barbell Bench Press - 4 sets of 12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - 3 sets of 15 reps
- Dumbbell Overhand Extensions - 3 sets of 10 reps
- Chest Dips - 3 sets of 12 reps
- Chest Press Machine - 2 sets of 15 reps
- Dip Machine - 2 sets of 15 reps
Day 2 - Back & Biceps
- Deadlifts - 5 sets of 8 reps
- Lat Pull Downs - 4 sets of 12 reps
- 1 Arm Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows - 4 sets of 12 reps
- Preacher Curls - 4 sets of 10 reps
- Alternating Curls - 3 sets of 12 reps
- Seated Rows - 2 sets of 15 reps
Day 3 - Legs & Shoulders
- Squats - 4 sets of 12 reps
- Leg Press - 3 sets of 15 reps
- Seated Calf Raises - 3 sets of 12 reps
- Military Press - 4 sets of 10 reps
- Bent-Over Lateral Raises - 3 sets of 15 reps
- Face Pulls - 3 sets of 15 reps
Day 4 - Out of Gym
Pick a day you are out of the gym to spend some time moving around, stretching, and foam rolling. Keep tabs on your body and how you feel so you know what to do next week.
You will get plenty of cardio if you do a simple 15-minute warmup and a 15-minute cooldown after your workout.