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How to Eat and Train for an Ectomorph Body Type Get Big?

Do you look more like a marathon runner than a swimmer? Would you describe yourself as long and lean, willowy or wiry? Is it difficult for you to put on muscle mass? If you said, "yes" to any of these questions, then you most likely have an ectomorph body type.

Physical Characteristics

Models who grace the covers and pages of most fashion magazine tend to have an ectomorph body type. In addition to being tall, they have a thin build, long limbs, small joints and thin bones. Many are flat chested and don't have much junk in the trunk. Although they appear skinny, they can actually have higher body fat than one might expect. Ectomorphs have a difficult time putting on muscle mass because their metabolism has a tendency to run higher than other body types. In the fitness world, we would refer to them as “hard gainers.” Famous female ectomorphs include Kate Moss, Natalie Portman, Taylor Swift, Kate Middleton and Cameron Diaz. Famous male ectomorphs include Matthew McConaughey, Bradley Cooper and Toby McGuire.

Diet and Metabolism

Ectomorphs have a fast metabolism, which is both a blessing and a curse. A high metabolism makes is easy to get lean, and it can seem as if they can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. However, with age, their metabolisms will slow down, primarily due to low muscle mass, which can result in an unhealthy gain in body fat.

The best diet for an ectomorph is one that is higher in carbohydrates and calories. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of calories should come from carbs, 25 percent from protein and 25 percent from fat.

Workout Nutrition

What you do before and after you work out can help you stay energized during and after your workout.

Try to eat something small or have a protein shake about 30 to 60 minutes before you train — the nutrients will help you make it through your routine. Be sure to drink water and stay hydrated before and during your workout.

Once you’re done exercising, try to get a post-workout meal in within 60 minutes of finishing your workout. Now is the time to load up on carbs and pick a nice protein such as chicken breast or fish. Add a serving or three of some brown rice and you have a great post-workout meal.

Keep Cardio to a Minimum

When it comes to building muscle, ectomorphs are at a disadvantage. While ectomorphs can achieve a lean, shredded physique, it will take a lot of consistent training and nutrition to achieve it.

Become a consistent machine with a well-developed training program will.

Keep your cardio to a minimum. Every time you step on a cardio machine, you’re essentially burning up muscles. But cardio is important.

For general cardiovascular requirements, try to aerobically exercise three times a week for 30 minutes. Use cardio to keep your heart healthy.

Lift Heavy and Lift Often

If you want to lift heavy, build muscle, and get big… you’re going to have to lift a lot of weight and eat even more food.

For an ectomorph to build muscle, you’re going to have to follow a sound routine that focuses on sets of eight to 12 reps. You’ll want to perform these exercises with perfect form and push yourself to lift more.

As for food, try to add in an extra 500 calories per day coming from protein and healthy carbohydrate sources. The extra calories won’t make you fat, but you need those calories to build muscle.

Try This Ectomorph Three Day Workout Routine

This is just a sample workout, so feel free to modify it as you need to. The main idea is to utilize a lot of heavy compound lifts and finish with isolation moves.

Day 1 - Chest & Triceps

  • Barbell Bench Press - 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Dumbbell Overhand Extensions - 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Chest Dips - 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Chest Press Machine - 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Dip Machine - 2 sets of 15 reps
Day 2 - Back & Biceps

  • Deadlifts - 5 sets of 8 reps
  • Lat Pull Downs - 4 sets of 12 reps
  • 1 Arm Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows - 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Preacher Curls - 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Alternating Curls - 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Seated Rows - 2 sets of 15 reps
Day 3 - Legs & Shoulders

  • Squats - 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Press - 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises - 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Military Press - 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent-Over Lateral Raises - 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Face Pulls - 3 sets of 15 reps
Day 4 - Out of Gym

Pick a day you are out of the gym to spend some time moving around, stretching, and foam rolling. Keep tabs on your body and how you feel so you know what to do next week.
You will get plenty of cardio if you do a simple 15-minute warmup and a 15-minute cooldown after your workout.