It’s an unfortunate irony. 90% of the world (probably) wants to lose weight and get a more lean and cut physique. But then, when you finally get someone who doesn’t want to lose weight and is happy with the amount of body fat they have, they almost always feel they’re too skinny and they want to add muscle.
Is anyone happy with their physique?
We call these people ‘hard gainers’. Science calls them ‘ectomorphs’. Whatever you call them though, they’re essentially a bunch of folks who find it incredibly difficult to add any kind of weight and any kind of mass. The result is that they don’t get fat but they also struggle with looking skinny or ‘weedy’. But just as there are ways for endomorphs to lose weight, there are ways that ectomorphs can gain weight.
Here are three essential tips to try out…
Better Types of Protein
A protein shake is a great way to increase your intake of amino acids and your intake of calories. Unfortunately, though, not all protein shakes are made equal. When you’re an ectomorph looking to pack on muscle, you may want to look for a high-calorie shake with lots of carbs as well as protein. You also need to make sure that the protein you’re getting is high quality to support a positive nitrogen balance.
Best of all are protein shakes that release both the carbs and the protein slowly. This will drip-feed your muscles with fuel throughout the day. How about trying a casein shake before bed? That will release protein while you sleep.
Add Heavy Carbs Around Your Workouts
You work out to build muscle but the unfortunate side effect of that is that you’ll be burning calories and losing weight!
One way to avoid this is to make sure that you’re also taking in some carbs around your workouts. Consume heavy carbs prior to your training and afterward (carb backloading) as this will prevent your body from cannibalizing your muscle for fuel.
Keep a Strength Log
An old saying is that ‘what gets measured, improves’. Some people say you can lose weight simply by weighing yourself daily. The same goes for strength – just keep a log of your strength and look out for improvements. Try to find out which types of exercise are increasing your strength and which aren’t. Likewise, keep a log of your food and look for correlations. What did you eat that led to the most strength gains?
As strength is an excellent (and fun) indicator of muscle mass, this is a great way to keep an eye on what’s working and to make sure you keep moving towards your goal.
And when it comes to keeping a strength log, you really want to focus on the big compound lifts that are the best indicator of raw power and that will also help you to pack on more mass than isolation exercises. That means plenty of bench press, lots of deadlifts, and lots of squats!
It’s slow going but keep at it and you’ll get there eventually, even if you’re a slow grower!