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Training Tips for Ectomorph Body Type

Updated on August 10, 2017

Classic Ectomorph

They are called Hard Gainers for a reason

Every since I was a little kid growing up, my father would always tell me "all men are created equal, but what happens after that is all up to you". When I first got into weight training and fitness well over 20 years ago, I really didn't believe that, being a true Ectomorph. When your younger and growing up, pretty much all of us have a decent metabolism and can get away with eating whatever you want on a regular basis, but for some, once you hit that 25-30 years old barrier, your bad eating habits will affect you a lot more drastically unless your a true Ectomorph. Ectomorph's appear to have the metabolic rate of some type of God, they may not gain any fat, but the downside of this is that they can not gain muscle mass either. When I was younger, all of my friends thought it was awesome, and praised me, but I saw it as a curse. I was into the whole big muscle and fitness thing, and I wanted to get huge like Arnold and Lee Haney (they were the most popular body builders at that time). Even now at over 40 years of age, I can still eat whatever I please without the concern of getting/gaining fat. I was always told that once I got older everything would eventually catch up to me. So either I'm an exception to the rules, or it's still trying to catch up. I stand 6' tall, at 200 lbs, with about 8% body fat, but it took years and years of training/working out to acquire and maintain the muscle I have.

Ectomorphs can gain muscle without the fat

Benefits of Ectomorph Body type

One of the biggest benefits of this body type is when it actually does gain muscle, the muscle is usually not accompanied by unnecessary fat stores which are typically normal in weight gains in a mass cycle. Other body types (Endomorphs and Mesomorphs) can grow and make mass gains even if they are training/dieting incorrectly, of course it will not be all lean muscle, but gains none the less. There is nothing more important to a true Ectomorph than an intense training routine and impeccable dieting. In fact, one of the biggest problems faced for the body type is over training. Because they are naturally lean, it's not hard to fall into the over training category. Some people, including myself at one point, are so desperate to gain mass, that they put in way too much time and effort in the gym. Insufficient recovery times can also hinder any kind of gains at all. So don't overdo it. Doing to many movements, high rep ranges and sets, and a lot of volume over all can spell zero gains and make you more susceptible to injury.

Training Routine

Your workouts should consist of mostly compound movements (movements involving several body parts at the same time, incorporating the most muscle fibers). One or two movements per body part would be most beneficial. Compound movements inspire your body to release the most testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone), so using these movements are imperative for your growth. Your training should be heavy, for the most part, intense and brief, with longer recovery times between workouts. Training just one body part per day and focusing on heavier, intense training. Sets should be about 3 per movement, with a rep range between 6 -10. This will advocate hypertrophy. The heavy weight will drive intensity and shorter rest periods should be taken in between sets, however the rest between your training sessions should be longer. If you're an Ectomorph and are spending 2 hours in the gym, if you're actually training for all that time, your more than likely over training. You don't have a lot of fat to burn, your work out should be hard and fast. Anything longer than an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes is pushing it.

Classic Ectomorph

Angel Chicken Pasta

Angel Chicken pasta

  • 6 Chicken breast halves, Boneless, skinless
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1 (.7 oz) Salad dressing mix, Dry Italian style
  • 1/2 cup White wine
  • 1 lb Angel hair pasta
  • 4 oz Cream cheese, with chives
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) Golden Mushroom soup, Condensed


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Blend wine and golden mushroom soup. Mix in cream cheese and stir until smooth. Heat through, do not boil. Arrange chicken breast in single layer on baking dish. Pour sauce over.
  2. bake for 60 minutes in preheated oven. 20 minutes prior to chicken being done, boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Cook pasta until al dente (approximately 5 minutes) Drain. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.


It's important to create a diet that has more than the normal daily requirement of calories. If you are a true Ectomorph, simply adding more calories means absolutely nothing. Your body will burn right through them with no problem. Its the type of calories that you are adding that are most important. You want to consume a lot of slow burning foods and macro nutrients that encourages the body into storage and retention, and not released automatically are essential. Ectomorphs absorb and assimilate nutrients very quickly. Foods that you consume that are quick burning will not stay in your stomach long enough to develop into anything. Oatmeal, pasta, bread, rice or yams are some excellent choices for slow release carbs that will slow your body/metabolic rate down. Omega 3 fats and proteins with an above average fat content are also a necessity. Meals should be consumed approximately every 2 to 3 hours. Initially your body will not be accustomed to eating all the extra calories, so you will almost have to force yourself to eat more. Meal replacement or weight gain drinks/protein shakes should be taken often, 2 or 3 times a day and nutritional supplements such as creatine or testosterone boosting products will also be beneficial when consumed properly.

If you are a true Ectomorph and follow this game plan, you will be well on your way to gaining big, lean muscle. This is a process and will take time so you have to be patient and consistent. Understand that you may lose some of your hard cuts during this mass building stage and look a little softer, but your body type will have you bounce back and razor sharp once you have reached your desired weight gain goal.


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    • Erudite Scholar profile image

      Jeff Zod 

      12 months ago from Nairobi

      Hi Kevin,

      Thank you so much for this excellent piece. I have found the best advice on my body type. I have struggled with being an ectomorph for several years. I have recently started training and this article will help me out a lot.


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