Ectomorph Bodybuilding – Workout and Diet Guide Ectomorph Bodybuilding

Intro to Ectomorph Bodybuilding

Whilst many of us would probably jump at the chance to stay lean pretty much all year round, if you’re working your butt off in the gym whilst trying to add muscle mass and are lucky if you gain a quarter of a pound, being an ectomorph may not appear to be quite as glamorous. There are many different body types, shapes, and sizes, though generally speaking, they can be categorised into three sub-sections: Mesomorph, endomorph, and ectomorph.

As this article is focussed on ectomorph bodybuilding, that’s exactly what we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at right now. In this article, we’ll be covering exactly what an ectomorph body type is, how it is categorized, as well as providing a few helpful ectomorph bodybuilding tips designed to help even the hardest of gainers to add quality muscle mass to their frames. So, without any further hesitation, let’s start by taking a more in-depth look at what an ectomorph body type is.

What is an Ectomorph?

Sometimes referred to as the “hardest of the hard gainers” ectomorph body types find it notoriously difficult to add muscle mass and size to their frames. A few of the main general body traits and characteristics of ectomorphs include: a flat chest, tall, long skinny legs, skinny arms, thin and small joints, narrow clavicles, long necks, skinny wrists, small and narrow shoulders, and a trademark “skinny fat” physique, in which they may appear to be lean and skinny, yet will have a slight potbelly and build-up of belly fat on the lower abdomen.

On the plus side, ectomorphs often have extremely powerful metabolisms which means that they quickly burn calories and fat and find it very difficult to gain weight. Because of this, other than a slight pot belly and a bit of belly fat, it’s rare that ectomorphs find themselves becoming obese. However, when trying to build muscle, ectomorphs tend to have a really difficult time. Despite this, it is still highly possible for ectomorphs to build muscle with a little help and know-how, so here are a few handy ectomorph bodybuilding tips


One of the main problems that ectomorphs tend to experience is the fact that due to their naturally fast-burning metabolisms, they often struggle to consume enough calories in order for them to allow the body to build muscle mass. When building muscle, if you wish to add muscle mass, you need to be consuming more calories than you’re burning, which is why it’s so important that ectomorphs pay such close attention to their diets.

There’s no point in guessing how many calories they’ve consumed, they’ll need to be sure if they wish to stand any chance of building good quality muscle mass, which is why it’s advised that they greatly increase their daily calorie intakes. This isn’t an excuse to binge on junk food as the foods consumed should still be fresh, healthy, and balanced, just in larger quantities with an emphasis being placed on healthy fats and quality proteins

Take More Protein

We mentioned previously the importance of diet and quality proteins, here’s a little more about what we mean. When it comes to muscle growth, protein is without question the most important micronutrients as it plays an essential role in cellular health and in the growth and repair of muscle tissue.

Bodybuilders and people who weight train regularly will often consume protein supplements and follow high protein diets, and ectomorphs are no exception to these rules. Ectomorphs looking to build muscle should be looking to consume at least 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 200lb ecto should be consuming at least 400g of protein every day. This is quite a high amount so protein powder supplements can be used to make up one or two meals. As mentioned, the proteins should come from quality sources such as seafood, organic eggs, lean meats, etc. Avoid processed meats such as bologna or salami.

Progressive Overload Training

As hard gainers, ectomorphs’ bodies won’t respond as well as conventional training as saying, a mesomorph’s would, which is why progressive overload training is encouraged and recommended. For each body part being trained, many experts recommend at least 9 – 12 exercises for smaller body parts, and 12 – 16 exercises for larger body parts, with around 9 sets per exercise. The idea is to overload each body part with each training session, pushing it to absolute failure, allowing it to recover and then pushing it to absolute failure again the next time you work it.

The thing to remember is that each workout should be better than the last, as you’re progressively overloading the muscle group. The changes don’t have to be dramatic, but if you get 15 reps on a certain weight for a muscle group, the next time you train that muscle group, try increasing the weight slightly and aiming for 15 reps again. If the weight’s too heavy, aim for another couple of reps instead.

Focus on Compound Exercises

Whilst cables, machines, and isolation exercises are still highly beneficial, for an ectomorph looking to build muscle, the majority of their training should focus on heavy compound exercises instead. Compound exercises are ideal because they work in numerous muscle groups simultaneously, rather than simply isolating them like machines do.

The flat bench barbell press is a perfect example, as not only does this exercise target the pectoral muscles in the chest, it also works the triceps, the deltoids, and even the core as well. It’s like literally performing numerous different exercises all at once. By all means still include machines and isolation exercises, but try to perform them towards the end of your workout when you can really exhaust the already fatigued muscles and shock a little more growth out of them.

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