If you have ever asked yourself, why is it hard for ectomorphs to gain muscle, you are not alone. I myself asked the same question after spending 7+ years moping around the gym. It turns out, the answer is that there is no such thing as an ectomorph.
Ok, before you jump down my throat, let me explain. You may have heard the terms ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph before. They are used to describe bodies in their current states. These 3 states are all considered somatotypes, a term coined by William Herbert Sheldon.
Unfortunately, too many people think that their body is stuck in these states, and that there is nothing they can do about it.
You may have also heard the term hardgainer thrown around. This is what people call someone who thinks it is impossible for them to gain weight or muscle of any kind.
Let’s just say, I wish that someone had written this article when I was trying to gain muscle, because I would not have wasted so much time. And after I figured out what I was doing wrong, I gained over 20 pounds of muscle in the first year.
If you are an ectomorph, this is the article for you, and if you keep reading until the end, your perspective on the whole issue. Why is it hard for ectomorphs to gain muscle? It’s not, you are just doing it wrong.
By the way, before we get into everything, now might be a good time to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). We have FREE built in workout plans, and if you are looking to build muscle, this is the app for you.
You aren’t eating enough food
If you aren’t gaining muscle, it should seem pretty obvious that you aren’t eating enough. But there are a lot of people out there that don’t make the correlation. I was one of those people, for a greater length of time than I am proud of.
People that need to put on weight in any way must come to terms with the fact that they will need to eat more calories than their body burns. People who consider themselves ectomorphs simply have a higher metabolism than the average person.
There is one thing that I want you to know. Every person in the WORLD has a different daily calorie goal. You can learn how to calculate your maintenance calories, and improve on your situation from there.
Once you have your maintenance calories in order, you can now understand how many calories your body will demand in order to put on weight. As a general rule, always start by aiming to consume 500 calories OVER your maintenance calories per day.
For me, my maintenance calories are about 3,100 calories per day. And I would need to eat 3,600 calories per day if I wanted to put on muscle.
Some people might be completely different, so take their advice with a grain of salt. My wife for example has a daily maintenance calories of 1,800. She is always making fun of me because I need to eat an absurd amount of food to build muscle.
What you can do to consume more calories
If you are currently in the ectomorph stage of your life, you probably are like me and need a lot of calories to build muscle.
When I first found this out, I tried to eat my way towards my goals. And what I mean by that, is I would try to eat solid foods all day.
Here is an example of what I would try to eat:
- Breakfast: 6 eggs and 4 pieces of toast with butter
- Lunch: 2 tuna sandwiches
- Dinner: 12 ounces of chicken with a ton of rice. With avocado
- Snacks: Nuts, protein bars, and beef jerky
This is a great way to pack on the muscle, assuming that you can hit your calorie goal. Unfortunately for me, doing this everyday was not sustainable. I needed another way to consume a ton of calories in a fairly healthy way.
Introduce the 1000 calorie protein shake recipe. It took me years to perfect the recipe, but if you make this shake and calculate your calories properly, it will be the best aid to your weight gain.
Now, it is a LOT easier to hit my calorie goal and still be healthy. Let me show you now what a typical day would look like for me when I am putting on muscle:
- Breakfast: 1000 calorie protein shake
- Lunch: Mexican beef bowl (lean ground beef)
- Dinner: Grilled chicken with potatoes and broccoli
- Dessert: 1000 calorie protein shake
You might think that this would get boring, but it doesn’t. The protein shake itself tastes as good as a milkshake, but has better nutrition than most health foods out there.
All in all, you want to find what works for you. Do anything you can to hit your daily calorie goal.
You aren’t working out properly
This is a hard pill to swallow. As I mentioned in the introduction, I literally spent 7+ years as a gym goer with not much to show for it. I will admit, that was mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t eating enough calories.
But it also had something to do with the fact that I had no idea what I was doing at the gym. It is fairly simple. If you want to gain muscle, do weight training. If you want to lose weight, do high intensity interval training.
You can scour the internet and even this blog for countless amounts of workout plans. But let’s just talk about some basic characteristics of a good plan for building muscle.
You should be working out 3-4 days per week. You shouldn’t workout everyday to build muscle. Resting between each workout day is important. Also, you will want to minimize your time spent doing cardio.
I was so fed up with the misinformation about building muscle online, that I ended up creating my own workout plan after years of messing around. And this workout plan is what helped me build that 20+ pounds of muscle in one year.
The best part about it, is that it was only 3 days per week. I worked out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The rest of the week, I focused on meal planning and eating enough.
The exact workout plan is what I ended up calling 3 DAY OVERLOAD, which is available on our app, All Workouts: Personal Trainer.
You are giving up to soon
We are all guilty of giving up too soon. Why is it so hard for ectomorphs to gain muscle? All of the reasons above, but also because we give up too soon.
The first step is to create an environment in your body that is going to facilitate muscle growth. That is of course eating at a caloric surplus, and working out 3-4 days per week.
Now, all you have to do is compound that action by months or years, and you are going to achieve a result that you probably didn’t think was possible.
I want you to do something. Right when you are done reading this article, go weigh yourself and take “before” pictures of your body. Now, commit to building muscle for the next 6 months straight.
After 6 months of consistent action, and eating at a caloric surplus, your body has no choice but to be transformed. It really is that simple. Remember, if you are not gaining at least a half pound per week, your caloric surplus is not enough.
Revisit your caloric maintenance goals, and crank up the calories. I also highly recommend using MyFitnessPal for tracking your calories.
Think about this. If you gain a half pound per week for 6 months (26 weeks), that means that you will gain 13 pounds during that time frame. What does 13 pounds of muscle mean to you? What about if you made a 1 year commitment. 26 pounds of muscle? That is a life changing body transformation right there!
Commit to any extended length of time and watch your goals become reality.
Main Point: Why is it hard for ectomorphs to gain muscle?
By now, we know that being called an ectomorph is just a representation of your body’s CURRENT state. That does not mean that your life needs to revolve around this body type.
The sooner you realize that there is no such thing as a lifetime ectomorph, the sooner you can make a difference in your life.
Chances are, you aren’t eating enough calories. Once you learn what your maintenance calories are, you can build muscle rapidly by eating in a caloric surplus.
Do not forget that working out is also incredibly important. Sure, you can eat at a caloric surplus and gain weight without working out, but it won’t be muscle. By eating at a caloric surplus AND working out, you are forcing your body to turn the excess calories into muscle.
If you can keep this up for any extended period of time, you are not going to regret it. Be sure to write down your goals and monitor your progress.
When you see yourself in the mirror every single day, you don’t see the little changes. That is why I recommend taking pictures at least once every 3 months. You can look back on these pictures and see just how far you have come.
What do you think about all of this? Why is it hard for ectomorphs to gain muscle? Leave us a comment!