When I first starting working out, I was about 17 years old, 120lbs. And yeah… I’m a guy. Pretty small, scrawny and pathetic, wasn’t it? Trust me… it was.
But I wasn’t the only guy fitting that embarrassing description. You see, I’m what’s known as an ectomorph, and there are literally millions of other skinny guys out there who are just like me. That’s the bad news.
But the good news is, I’ve been about to adjust my workout and diet in a way that has allowed me to successfully gain weight and build muscle. In order to show you how to do the same, we need to start with the reason guys like us are so skinny in the first place…
What Is An Ectomorph & Why Are We Skinny?
Ectomorph is a term used to describe people (both men and women) with naturally skinny body types who were probably always thin and/or underweight their entire lives and seem to have no idea how to gain weight.
In fact, an ectomorph is the type of person that usually pisses off fat people, because we make it look like we can eat as much as we want and never gain weight. That’s not actually true of course, but our skinny genetics just make it appear that way.
What I mean is, an ectomorph typically:
- Has a crazy fast metabolism.
- Has a thin and lanky bone structure (skinny wrists, skinny ankles, long limbs, etc.).
- Is sometimes a little hyper, and often times overly frigidity (which increases our “NEAT” – non exercise activity thermogenesis – which is a big part of why our metabolic rate is so fast in the first place).
- Is a picky eater who doesn’t always possess a large appetite.
- Is naturally lacking muscle and strength.
- Is naturally skinny, although not naturally lean (there’s a difference).
- Finds it almost impossible to gain weight or muscle mass no matter what type of diet or workout they use.
Does any (or all) of that describe you? If so, you’re an ectomorph! And now that you know why you’re so naturally skinny and have such a hard time gaining weight and building muscle, it’s time we start getting to the solution. Let’s start with the most important area of all… your diet.
Ectomorph Diet: How Skinny Guys Can Finally Gain Weight
As I’ve explained in detail in my weight gain article, the single answer to the “how to gain weight” question is quite simple: you just need to eat enough calories.
But the big problem for an ectomorph is that they NEVER eat enough calories, even when they think they are. While this is sometimes just a result of some skinny guys having the appetite of little birds, it’s mostly because the amount of calories an ectomorph needs to eat to gain weight is WAY more than they think.
I know this not just from dealing with countless skinny guys, but from my own firsthand experience as one. I used to eat and eat and eat and not gain weight. Why? Because even though I thought I was eating a lot, it turns out that my definition of “a lot” still wasn’t as much as it needed to be for my body to actually gain weight.
That’s just part of what sucks about the ectomorph diet. It requires WAY more calories than any normal person would ever need in order to gain weight.
So what’s the solution? Simple. EAT MORE CALORIES! I don’t give a crap how many calories you are currently eating or how full you feel or how it seems like you’re already eating enough. The simple fact is, if you’re not gaining weight, you’re just NOT eating enough calories.
How Many Calories Should An Ectomorph Eat To Gain Weight?
Multiply your body weight in pounds by 17, and start eating that amount of calories each day (example: if you weigh 150lbs, you’d do 150 x 17 and get 2550 calories per day). From there, make sure you weigh yourself once per week (first thing in the morning before eating) and keep track of what your weight is doing. Then…
- If you’re gaining weight at a rate of 0.5 – 1 pound per week, you’re perfect.
- If you’re gaining MORE than that, you’ll be gaining more fat than muscle. In that case, reduce your calorie intake by about 250 calories, wait a couple of weeks, and see if you’re within this ideal range then.
- HOWEVER, if you are still NOT gaining any weight (or just gaining LESS than half a pound per week), it means you are still not eating enough calories. In that case, add another 500 calories to your daily diet and see what happens then.
Basically, skinny guys who want to gain muscle and not just get fat should aim to gain about 0.5 – 1 pound per week. All you need to do is adjust your calorie intake and monitor your weight to ensure it’s going up at this ideal speed. If it’s not, adjust it until it does. As for other aspects of your diet (protein, carbs, fat, etc.), my diet plan guide will explain the rest.
Ectomorph Workout: How Skinny Guys Can Finally Build Muscle
With the most important aspect of your diet all figured out, it’s time to move on to the most important aspect of your workout.
The first thing you need to know is that most of the typical bodybuilding and muscle building routines you see are complete and utter crap for an ectomorph like yourself. They work great for steroid users and guys with amazing genetics, but for skinny guys like you and me? They absolutely suck.
An ectomorph can’t waste time with 100 sets of little isolation exercises and bicep curls and high reps and light weights and “advanced” methods and other similar nonsense. Instead, the majority of your workout routine needs to be focused on big compound exercises like:
- Bench Press
- Shoulder Press
These are the exercises that are going to add the most muscle mass to your body in the shortest amount of time. Make sure you’re doing some variation of all of them at least once per week, and make sure you’re lifting heavy enough to stimulate growth (ideally within the 5-8 rep range most of the time).
Stop Screwing Around And GET STRONGER!
From there, you must remember that the #1 workout goal of skinny guys is NOT to get a “pump” or do “super sets” or “shock your muscles” and any other bullshit. Your goal is to get stronger and make progressive overload happen as often as possible.
What is progressive overload, you ask? It’s the scientifically proven requirement of muscle growth. You need to constantly push yourself to lift heavier and heavier weights over time (and/or lift the same weight for more reps). This type of progression is what signals your body to use the extra calories you are eating to build new muscle. It’s the key to getting results from your workout routine.