Bodybuilding Guidelines for Ectomorphs

Do you have difficulty putting on weight? Are your gains less obvious than you would like? The ectomorph body type is often lanky, lean, and armed with a lightning fast metabolism. It is easy to recognize an ectomorph when you see one but it’s harder to provide the right advice to turn those lean gains into major mass.


Some of the information out there is not individualized enough, some of the recommendations proving unhelpful or even counterproductive. This quick guide will explore four of the most common misconceptions and mistakes related to bodybuilding as an ectomorph.

1. Hardgainers can benefit from clean bulking too.

Some ectomorphs go all the way and adopt a “if it fits in your mouth” or “if it fits your macros” lifestyle, eating everything in sight. This can lead to problems down the road, however, especially because ectomorphs so often fall victim to belly fat. It is important to count your calories and make sure that the foods you are eating are as efficient at delivering those macros as possible.

The biggest reason to eat clean is a straightforward: it can be difficult to meet your daily calorie requirements without counting calories. Choose clean foods with a high calorie to density ratio so you can pack in bigger meals without feeling bloated during your workout.

2. The breaks are just as important as the work.

Your body needs rest - especially if you are a hard gaining ectomorph. Skinny people are often under a lot of pressure to push the pedal to the floor, to train to the max every single day. It is far more important to work smarter instead of harder. You might add an extra day of rest to your week and find that you suddenly have more energy and strength to maximize your real workout days.

The same applies to your diet: it won’t hurt to indulge with care and consideration. Many bodybuilders plan indulgences ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of adopting bad nutrition habits.

3. You can’t afford to skip the cardio.

Ectomorphs know that every calorie is valuable. Cardio may seem like a needless waste of energy when you’re having enough trouble maintaining calories for bulking up, but your body will thank you further down the road. Cardio helps you get bigger faster because it maximizes your appetite, allows you to consume more overall calories, and helps you maintain the density you want by metabolizing fat instead of storing it at the stomach, as is eventually a problem for most dirty bulk ectomorphs.

Cardio also helps to keep your lung capacity in good shape, helps to keep your heart healthy (extremely important for people with shredded bodies), and improves the strength and durability of the joints. You do not have to run: stationary biking and swimming count too!

4. Ectomorphic routines aren’t just for ectomorphs.

You don’t have to look like an ectomorph to benefit from the same weight gain routines they use. People whose bodies are recovering from a lifestyle change, for example, may begin to respond to the bulking techniques that ectomorphs use. Keep an eye out for weight gain routines for skinny guys of all shapes.

Just because you are not a traditional ectomorph does not mean that you will not encounter a period of hard gains - it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing something wrong, but you may benefit from trying something new. Sometimes the simple shock of a new diet is enough to change metabolism and hormone production.

When to Ignore Body Types

Unfortunately, the entire body type classing system is somewhat restrictive, and does not leave much room for individual differences in physique and body chemistry. Never feel bad about going outside the usual recommendations for your body type, so long as you ensure that you are giving each change enough time to work before moving onto the next strategy.

If something works for you, you should keep doing it unless your doctor or personal trainer advises otherwise. On the other hand, do not be surprised your chemistry and reactions to exercise/diet change on the short term only. It may be worth revisiting a routine that once worked for you - don’t let a plateau scare you away for good. Often times, those stalls in progress are the symptom of a temporary problem.

Your body will always surprise you. Change can be rewarding, challenged perceptions can be revealing. If you need more information on the basic principles of bodybuilding, click here.

If you have any questions, please ask below!