Everything about what the legendary Tupac Shakur said in these lyrics rings true.
Skinny males die in the city known as the gym. We are the lowest on the totem pole behind the likes of the female Instagram Selfie crew and the men with huge upper bodies and zero legs. Massive men and females flaunting some skin are seen as kings and queens inside the walls of the gym while us skinny men are seen as jesters.
As the leader of ALL the ectomorphs throughout the world, I have the authority to speak on issues that are close to the chest. Being skinny is very close to me like family.
When a lifelong big man tries to tell a skinny man how to gain weight, sometimes it is laughable to me. “Just eat everything” is a very common piece of advice.
How can a big man know what it is like to have a hyper fast metabolism? As a former skinny bastard who could not wear a tank top, a fitted shirt, or any article of clothing that would show off the physique, I personally know the struggles of my fellow skinny bastards.
For years I could not crack the code as far as what to do in order to gain mass. I bought protein powders and weight gainers with no understanding of the importance of macronutrients. I ate junk fast food when I was younger hoping to gain size but I gained nothing.
As a young man, I used to read popular muscle magazines thinking that they held the answers for building muscle mass. Many of the 138 ads per magazine would say “GAIN 20lbs in 5 WEEKS” and as a young man, I bought the snake oil.
I always had a huge heart and the will to train as hard as a Spartan, but early on I was clearly lost as far as how to gain muscle mass. At 27 years old in May 2011, I was 152lbs!
Now granted I had come down incorrectly for the Mr. Natural Philly bodybuilding show, but even at the max, I was maybe 160lbs. Lost, confused, and unable to gain real mass.
Let’s fast forward to Election Day 2012.
I woke up a clean 182lbs at about 9-10% body fat. In fact I had been waking up at 182lbs for the previous 4 weeks too. I had gained 20 solid pounds since May 2012 when I competed again at a heavier 162lbs.
I had used minimal supplementation. (Mass Gainer, Whey Protein, and Creatine) This was not just a hollow, post-contest rebound weight gain because I had never been over 170lbs in my whole life!
This was real weight that had taken months to pack on. My Polo shirts fit great and I had to buy new jeans because my legs exploded to 24 inches around the thigh on each leg!
But the 6 million dollar question is how? How is it possible for the extreme ectomorph (5’11, 130-135lbs in 2001) to defy his genetics to a point and be able to gain muscular weight at fluid and consistent pace? But first, what is an ectomorph?
I will make it very simple for you. If you are reading this and you are skinny/gangly/airy/bird-like, find it hard to gain weight, and always feel hungry then you qualify as an ectomorph!
I will explain the 4 keys needed for you to gain the real muscle mass you want and be able to fill out those shirts and tank tops.
Ladies, this applies to you too. A common goal among women who train is to fill out their jeans and develop curves. It will not happen but spending all of your time in the “cardio” section of a gym.
I am currently training a young lady who was 107lbs in September 2013 and woke up weighing 120lbs in February 2014 with more curves to boot. Real muscle mass can be gained for the ectomorph if it is being done correctly. Check out my video on tips for gaining mass in my video below:
Before we go any further, I need to tell you this. The ads you see in your local muscle magazine are designed to get you to spend unnecessary money on an overhyped product. “GET MASSIVE IN 4 WEEKS using TESTMASS III” has zero value. If you do not want to work very hard and eat big, then stop reading, have a Coke and smile, and walk out the back door right back the dustbins of oblivion.
Most mass gaining articles talk about the need to eat as it is of the utmost importance. But just eating anything is not good enough to gain solid muscle.
Knowing how many calories it takes for you create a caloric surplus is the key. As an ecto, your metabolism is going 100mph all the time. I do not believe that every formula is right for every person as we all have individual attributes that must be factored in. But making adjustments to that formula can make it work.
Knowing how many calories you burn daily without exercise and knowing how many it takes to maintain your current weight is crucial also.
My initial caloric intake to gain weight was 3200 calories based on the BMR reading.
Knowing my metabolic rate and my activity level, I automatically bumped it up to 3600 calories. By consistently maintaining this amount for 4 months, I able to gain 1-1.5 lbs per week every week without gaining excessive body fat.
It was tough as eating this much food daily was not easy for me. But as an ectomorph who needs muscle mass, you do not need to worry yourself with eating like a pre-contest bodybuilder or trying to get ripped.
Many a skinny man has asked me “Well what about my abs?” Well, a very skinny man with abs means nothing. Skinny high school boys have abs (I was one of them) just because they are skinny and have low body fat not because they are strong.
If you gain muscle mass they will not only look better but be much stronger. And being an ectomorph it is difficult for us to add excessive amounts of body fat. Our gift is that we can stay lean and our curse is we struggle to gain muscle.
Your macronutrients all need to be on point. The ectomorph needs a high carbohydrate intake along with a high protein intake and moderate fat intake. Typically a 40/30/30 (Carbs/Protein/Fat) split with your macronutrients should suffice, and based on your individual needs you may be able to get away with a 45/30/25 split.
Now even though you are not pressed to eat super clean all the time, this is not a disclaimer to go eat at the local McBurger 3x per day. But do not nitpick over every gram of fat or carbs.
Eat and enjoy your food and even arm yourself with a Mass Gainer. I recommend Super Mass Gainer by Dymatize which is taken 2x per day (I recommend as your first meal and post workout) and can give you an additional 1-2k quick calories per day.
The take-home message is to find out your BMR, use the formula to determine your caloric weight maintenance number and then add a caloric value on top of that. After you add the value, you can then split your macros up accordingly. My maintenance was around 2700 calories per day so I went aggressive and added 900.
The formula to find out your macronutrients splits is:
Carbs and Protein
-Total Calories multiplied by the Determined Percentage of Total Calories divided by 4
(2500 X .4 divided by 4)
-Total Calories multiplied by the Percentage of Total Calories divided by 9
(2500 X .3 divided by 9)
Key 2) YOU NEED TO LIFT PROGRESSIVELY HEAVIER WEIGHTS EACH WEEK
In order to get your muscles to grow, you must challenge them.
Light, colorful weights are about as challenging as turning your car key in the ignition. The best and most predictable way to achieve this is through progressive overload.
By simply adding more weight to the bar each week your muscles will grow and become larger and harder. You do not need the “12 WEEK MASS GAINS” workout from Biceps Monthly Magazine, but you do need to lift heavier.
I recommended very basic programming and core movements. 5/3/1, 5×5, or RP-21 will get you started in the right direction as far getting stronger and bigger.
Full Squats, Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts, Bench Presses, Chin Ups, Dips, Lunges, and Overhead Presses will be your staples. They will be performed consistently without question.
You will lift between 3-12 reps depending on the movement and where you are in the phase of the program. As an ectomorph, being strong is not a natural trait BUT you can become ridiculously strong if you follow the program. Leave the light weights and machine circuits to the masses who attend commercial gym classes.
Your sole goal is muscle mass and strength. Embrace the iron, lift heavy, rest 1-3 minutes, and repeat.
Key 3) YOU NEED TO LIMIT “CARDIO”
I despise the term cardio because of what it represents but for this article, I will use it.
Too much “cardio” was my main mistake when it came to trying to build muscle mass.
I love basketball, and used to play 4 or 5 days a week. There is nothing wrong with basketball, but when you play pre and post lifting 4 days a week, you will limit your muscle gains.
A basketball physique is very lean and athletic, but if you are an ectomorph looking to build serious muscle you will need to limit certain activities in order to reach your goal.
For the ectomorph trying to gain muscle, but still looking to have strong conditioning, I recommend you sprint 1-2 days per week. Sprints are the most powerful move in the game and they will actually help you become more muscular and gain size, especially in the legs. Keep the sprints shorter (100 meters or less).
Key 4) YOU NEED TO SLEEP
You do not build muscle in the 1 hour you are in the gym. It is being built when you go home and eat and also when you SLEEP.
Sleep is overlooked and it should not be. As ectomorphs we tend to do everything at a faster pace as it is seemingly in our nature.
However, if you sleep fast your mass gains will finish last. If you are training and sleeping 4 hours a night your body cannot recover from the intense work and if you cannot recover, you will not grow or get stronger.
For the body to recover effectively from hard training I recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per day. If you can only get 5-6 hours at night take a 1-hour nap during your day. You will be able to approach your workout with renewed energy.
If you overlook recovery you will be stuck in neutral.
By implementing these 4 keys into your training, you can rebel against your genetics.
As ectomorphs, we have to use our fast metabolisms and ability to stay lean to our advantage. This will allow you to eat more food and not gain excess body fat.
Believe me filling out an ectomorph frame is a beautiful sight! Ectomorph men and women will never be massive but you can develop a top-flight physique.
Remember genetics is the ultimate father of how you look. But by using the above tips, you can definitely maximize your code and stretch those genetics far!
You may also be interested in:
DID YOU LIKE THIS POST?
Join our mailing list and be first to get the latest news.