Do you struggle to gain muscle and weight, no matter how much you train and eat? Or on the contrary, would you like to lose fat and define your muscles, but you don’t know how to do it? If so, you may be an ectomorph, or at least have an ectomorphic tendency in your genetics.
Ectomorphs are the opposite body type of mesomorphs, which are those who have privileged genetics for fitness. Ectomorphs have a lean physique, with little muscle mass and fat, and a fast-paced metabolism. This hinders muscle development, but also protects them from obesity and associated diseases.
In this article, we’re going to explain what an ectomorph is, how to train as an ectomorph, how to eat as an ectomorph, and how to take advantage of your ectomorph genetics. If you’re an ectomorph or think you might be, read on and find out how to improve your physique and health.
What is an ectomorph?
Physical Characteristics of Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs are the furthest from today’s beauty standards, which tend to value muscular and defined bodies. Ectomorphs have physical characteristics that make them different from others. These are:
- They have a lean physique, with little muscle mass and fat, and a frail appearance.
- They have a fine bone structure and small joints, which gives them an elongated and narrow appearance.
- They have a narrow waist, hips, and shoulders, and a flat chest and buttocks.
- They have long, slender arms and legs, and small hands and feet.
- They have an elongated and sharp face, with fine and delicate features.
- They have fine, straight hair and clear, sensitive skin.
Disadvantages and advantages of being an ectomorph
Being an ectomorph has its disadvantages, but also its advantages. Let’s see what they are:
- They have difficulty gaining muscle and weight, as their metabolism is very fast and burns a lot of calories.
- They have to train hard and eat a lot to see results, which can be exhausting and costly.
- They have to deal with comments and ridicule from others, who may call them skinny, weak, or sickly.
- They have low self-esteem and chronic dissatisfaction with their physique, which can lead them to develop disorders such as anorexia or vigorexia.
- They have an easy time losing fat and defining their muscles, as their metabolism is very efficient and they do not store calories in the form of fat.
- They can eat whatever they want without gaining weight, as long as they don’t overdo it too much.
- They have good cardiovascular health and a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol.
- They have a longer life expectancy and slower aging, as their body oxidizes less and regenerates more.
How to tell if you’re an ectomorph
There’s no exact way to tell if you’re an ectomorph, as each person is unique and can have traits from all three body types. However, there are some signs that may indicate that you have an ectomorphic tendency. These are:
- You’re underweight or normal, but you look thin and shapeless.
- You have a hard time gaining muscle and weight, no matter how much you train and eat.
- You feel weak, tired, and cold easily.
- You can eat whatever you want without gaining weight, but you also don’t feel satiated or satisfied.
- You would like to have more curves, more volume, and more definition in your body.
If you identify with most of these signs, there’s a good chance you’re an ectomorph or at least have a good chunk of ectomorphism in your genetics. In that case, don’t be discouraged, because you also have a good chance of improving your physique and health. You just have to follow a few tips to train and eat according to your body type.
How to train as an ectomorph
What type of training is best suited for ectomorphs
Ectomorphs have one main goal: to gain muscle and weight. To do this, the type of training that suits them best is hypertrophy training, which consists of stimulating the growth of muscle fibers by lifting moderate weights with many repetitions and short breaks between sets. This type of training increases blood flow, nutrient intake, and the production of anabolic hormones, which promote muscle development.
Ectomorphs should train 3 to 4 times a week, focusing on compound exercises, which are those that work several muscles at once, such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, presses, or rows. These exercises allow them to lift more weight, generate more tension, and recruit more fibers than isolation exercises, which are those that work a single muscle, such as curls, extensions, or raises. Ectomorphs may include some isolation exercises at the end of their routine, to give extra stimulation to the lagging or smaller muscles.
Ectomorphs should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions per exercise, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM (the maximum weight that can be lifted once). They should also rest for 30 to 90 seconds between sets, to maintain rhythm and muscle congestion. Ectomorphs should vary their training every 4 to 6 weeks, changing exercises, repetitions, breaks, intensity, or volume, to avoid stagnation and adaptation.
What intensity and frequency to use if you’re an ectomorph
The intensity and frequency of training depend on several factors, such as experience level, goal, time availability, and recovery. However, there are some general guidelines that ectomorphs can follow to optimize their results. These are:
- Intensity: Ectomorphs should train with a moderate intensity, that is, with a level of effort that makes them feel that they are working, but without reaching muscle failure. This involves choosing a weight that allows them to do the set number of repetitions, with good technique and good contraction. Ectomorphs should not train at too low an intensity, because they will not stimulate muscle growth, nor at too high an intensity, because they will become too fatigued and not recover well.
- Frequency: Ectomorphs should train with a low or medium frequency, i.e. with a number of sessions per week that allows them to rest and grow. This involves training 3 to 4 times a week, leaving at least one rest day between each session. Ectomorphs should not train too highly, because they will not give their muscles time to recover and hypertrophy, nor too low a frequency, because they will lose muscle stimulation and adaptation.
Exercises for Ectomorphs: Volume, Intensity, and Frequency
The exercises that ectomorphs should perform are those that allow them to work the whole body in a balanced way, with a focus on increasing muscle mass. Here are some examples of exercises that ectomorphs can include in their routine:
- Bench press: It is the most popular exercise for working the chest, especially the pectorals major and minor. It also involves the triceps, shoulders, and core. Ectomorphs can bench press with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight. Ideally, you should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM (the maximum weight that can be lifted once).
- Barbell rowing: It is the most effective exercise for working the back, especially the lats, trapezius, and rhomboids. It also activates your biceps, forearms, and core. Ectomorphs can row with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or body weight. Ideally, you should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM.
- Military Press: It is the most complete exercise to work the shoulders, especially the anterior, middle and posterior deltoids. It also involves the triceps, traps, and core. Ectomorphs can do military presses with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight. Ideally, you should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM.
- Biceps Curl: It is the most specific exercise to work the biceps, which are the muscles responsible for bending the elbow. It also stimulates the forearms and core. Ectomorphs can do barbell biceps curls, dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight curls. Ideally, you should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM.
- Triceps extensions: It is the most specific exercise to work the triceps, which are the muscles responsible for the extension of the elbow. It also engages the shoulders and core. Ectomorphs can do barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or bodyweight triceps extensions. Ideally, you should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM.
- Squats: It is the exercise par excellence for working the legs, especially the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. It also involves the core and lower back. Ectomorphs can do barbell squats, dumbbell squats, kettlebell squats, or bodyweight squats. Ideally, you should do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, with an intensity of 60% to 80% of the 1RM.
Exercise routine for ectomorph body
A possible exercise routine for the ectomorph body is as follows:
- Day 1: Chest & Triceps
- Bench press: 4 x 10
- Dumbbell Openings: 3 x 12
- Incline dumbbell press: 3 x 12
- Triceps Extensions: 4 x 10
- Parallel backgrounds: 3 x 12
- Triceps Kicks: 3 x 12
- Day 2: Back & Biceps
- Barbell row: 4 x 10
- Pull-ups: 3 x 12
- Narrow Grip Pulldown: 3 x 12
- Biceps curl: 4 x 10
- Hammer curl: 3 x 12
- Concentrated Curl: 3 x 12
- Day 3: Rest
- Day 4: Shoulders & Legs
- Military Press: 4 x 10
- Side Raises: 3 x 12
- Front Lifts: 3 x 12
- Rear Elevations: 3 x 12
- Squats: 4 x 10
- Leg Press: 3 x 12
- Femoral Curl: 3 x 12
- Cufflinks in machine: 3 x 15
- Day 5: Rest
- Day 6: Repeat Day 1
- Day 7: Repeat Day 2
How to Tap into Your Ectomorphic Genetics
Training Tips for Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs have one main goal: to gain muscle and weight. To do this, they should follow some training tips suitable for their body type. Here are some training tips for ectomorphs:
- Train hard but brief: Ectomorphs should train at a high intensity, but with a short duration. This means that they should lift heavy weights, but do few sets and repetitions, and rest little between them. Thus, they will stimulate muscle growth, but prevent wear and tear and fatigue. Ectomorphs should train between 45 and 60 minutes per session, and no more than 4 times per week.
- Train your whole body: Ectomorphs must train the whole body in a balanced way, giving equal importance to the large and small muscles, the anterior and posterior, and the upper and lower muscles. In this way, they will achieve a harmonious and proportional muscle development, and avoid imbalances and injuries. Ectomorphs should do compound exercises, which are those that work several muscles at once, and complement them with some isolation exercises, to give extra stimulation to the lagging or smaller muscles.
- Vary your training: Ectomorphs should vary their training from time to time, to avoid stagnation and adaptation. This involves changing the exercises, repetitions, breaks, intensity, volume, or type of workout. This way, they will maintain their motivation, progress and health. Ectomorphs should change their training every 4 to 6 weeks, or when they notice that they are no longer progressing or that they are bored.
- Get plenty of rest: Ectomorphs should get plenty of rest between sessions, between sets and between exercises, and also between days. Rest is just as important as training, as it is the time when muscles recover and grow. Ectomorphs should rest for 30 to 90 seconds between sets, to maintain rhythm and muscle congestion, and between 2 to 3 minutes between exercises, to catch their breath and energy. Ectomorphs should also rest at least one day between each session, and sleep at least 7 hours per night, to avoid overtraining, stress, and catabolism.
How to get the most out of your ectomorph body
Ectomorphs have a body that many envy, but that can also cause them some problems. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your ectomorph body:
- Accept your body: Ectomorphs may have a distorted image of their body, and think they are too skinny, too weak, too unattractive, or too different. This can lead to low self-esteem, chronic dissatisfaction, and an obsession with the physique. Therefore, it is important for ectomorphs to accept their body as it is, and to know how to value its qualities and defects. This way, they will be able to enjoy their body and their life.
- Use your body: Ectomorphs have a body that allows them to do many things, both in the sporting and personal spheres. That’s why it’s important for ectomorphs to use their bodies, and put it at the service of their passions, their hobbies, their goals, and their dreams. In this way, they will be able to squeeze the most out of their potential and happiness.
- Share your body: Ectomorphs have a body that can attract many people, both of the opposite sex and of the same sex. Therefore, it is important for ectomorphs to share their bodies, and to offer it with generosity, respect, and love to those who love and value them. Thus, they will be able to live enriching and satisfying experiences.
Ectomorphs are the most difficult body type for fitness, as they have unfavorable genetics for muscle development. However, this does not mean that they have lost everything, but that they also have a good chance of improving their physique and health. They just have to follow a few proper tips to train and eat according to their body type.
In this article, we’ve explained what an ectomorph is, how to train as an ectomorph, how to eat as an ectomorph, and how to take advantage of your ectomorph genetics. If you’re an ectomorph or think you might be, we hope this article has been helpful and given you some ideas for optimizing your results. Remember that the most important thing is that you enjoy your body and your life, and that you don’t obsess over your physique. Your body is just a part of you, and it doesn’t define who you are or what you’re worth.
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Frequently asked questions
Which sports are best suited for ectomorphs?
Ectomorphs can practice any sport successfully, as they have good coordination, flexibility, and endurance. However, there are some sports that may favor them more than others. These are:
- Endurance Sports: Ectomorphs have a great ability to withstand exertion for long periods of time, as their metabolism is very efficient and they do not fatigue easily. Examples of endurance sports include athletics, cycling, triathlon, or swimming.
- Agility sports: Ectomorphs also have a good ability to make fast and precise movements, as their body is light and flexible. Examples of agility sports include tennis, basketball, soccer, or volleyball.
- Art Sports: Ectomorphs have a good ability to express themselves with their body, as their physique is aesthetic and harmonious. Examples of art sports include gymnastics, skating, dancing, or yoga.
What are the risks of being an ectomorph?
Being an ectomorph has many benefits, but also some risks. Here are some of the risks ectomorphs should be aware of:
- Risk of Injury: Ectomorphs may be at a higher risk of injury, as they often have weak musculature and an unstable joint, making them more vulnerable to bumps, falls, or sprains. To prevent injuries, ectomorphs should warm up well before training, stretch after training, use correct technique, vary their training, and get enough rest.
- Risk of malnutrition: Ectomorphs may be at a higher risk of malnutrition, as they typically have a low appetite and rapid digestion, causing them to eat little and poorly. This can lead to a deficiency of calories, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and cause problems such as anemia, osteoporosis, weakness, or lack of energy. To avoid malnutrition, ectomorphs should eat in a varied, balanced and sufficient way, not skip meals, eat every 3 or 4 hours and supplement if necessary.
- Risk of psychological disorders: Ectomorphs may be at a higher risk of psychological disorders, as they tend to have low self-esteem and high social pressure for their physique. This can lead them to develop disorders such as anorexia, vigorexia, depression, or anxiety. To prevent psychological disorders, ectomorphs should accept their bodies, have a positive attitude, seek support from loved ones, and consult a professional if they have any problems.