Ectomorph Body Type: How To Build More Muscle As An Ectomorph

Did you know that your body type has a name? Body types, known as somatotypes, are specific classifications of body types, indicting your shape, and how your metabolic processes work. Each body type comes with different metabolic rates, caloric requirements, dietary guidelines, and training specifications based upon your specific goal. Somatotypes represent an amalgam of different lifestyle habits and dietary choices, combined with environmental and genetic factors. If you look more like a marathon runner, swimmer, or describe yourself as lean and wiry, you are an ectomorph and it’s probably much more difficult for you to gain muscle mass and keep on healthy weight. We’re going to talk more about the ectomorph body type, physical characteristics, nutrition tips, and how to gain more muscle to create the aesthetic and body you want.

What Is An Ectomorph Body Type 

Your body type influences and dictates how your body will adjust and react to your specific nutrition and training protocol. Body type influences your metabolism, your ability to gain muscle, to lose muscle and burn or gain body fat.

Ectomorphs are classified as tall and slender. They generally have long lean muscle shape, narrow hips, thin bones, and long limbs. Ectomorphs have difficult time gaining either body fat or muscle mass, due to their fast-acting metabolism. An ectomorph can eat the entire house and not gain a single ounce or stack on any gains. I blessing and a curse. This is why ectomorphs are commonly referred to as “hardgainers” since it’s hard for them to stack on any muscle size and strength.

However, that’s not say that ectomorphs won’t gain and weight at all, especially more body fat. With a not so healthy diet, ectomorphs can quickly be classified as “skinny fat”, gaining little muscle mass, and accumulating body fat especially visceral abdominal fat.

The effort and work required for an ectomorph to gain muscle mass far exceeds that of any other body type. Ectomorphs have a faster metabolism and are thus required to eat more, more often, to gain more lean muscle mass. Being in a caloric surplus is only half the battle. If the goal is to build muscle and grow, then your mouth is going to be doing most of the heavy lifting.

Nutrition For Ectomorphs

The major challenge that an ectomorph will face of being long, lean, and skinny, is gaining lean muscle mass. Weight loss isn’t a problem, since their metabolic rate, is so much faster than other somatotypes.

Find Your BMR

The first step towards finding the right nutrition protocol to gain muscle, is figuring out your basal metabolic rate.

Your metabolism is based on several different energy systems or components. To optimize your body composition, with calories or macros, it is important to understand how your body utilizes energy from food. These energy systems include basal metabolic rate (BMR), exercise activity (EA), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), to calculate and understand your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to accomplish its most basic (basal) life-sustaining functions.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the smallest amount of calories/energy that our bodies need to sustain and support vital functions. This does not account for any activity outside of keeping us alive, meaning beating our hearts, breathing, blinking our eyes, and so on. Nearly 70% of the energy we expend every day goes towards nonmovement-related physiological activity, like breathing, and this is what BMR accounts for.

To find and calculate you basal metabolic rate, use our BMR calculator here.

Calculate Your TDEE

Your metabolism is calculated using what’s called Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). TDEE is comprised of three key components; resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF), and the thermic effect of physical activity (TEPA). TEF is the energy expended when chewing, swallowing, digesting, and absorbing food. TEPA is the energy of activity, during and not during exercise.

Together, all of these metabolic activities make up your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

RMR = BMR + metabolic maintenance activity and physical activity = EA + NEAT
TDEE = RMR + physical activity + TEF

If you want to lose weight eat less than your TDEE
If you want to maintain weight eat at your TDEE
If you want to gain weight which most ectomorphs do, eat more than your TDEE

You can measure your TDEE by using our calculator here Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) Calculator

By determining your BMR and TDEE you can predict, within reason, how many calories you need to eat in a day to lose, maintain, or gain weight. Knowing how many calories you burn (BMR) at rest provides a baseline to eat above to support vital functioning, while your TDEE provides an upper limit on what you need daily to sustain your lifestyle and exercise. You do not want to eat less than your BMR ever.

Or, if you can’t accurately predict how many calories you burn on a daily basis, then hire a certified nutrition coach at TSK training.

Eat More And Add Dense Calories

Once you determine the number of calories you burn throughout the day, accounting for your total activity and bodily processes, you can plan on eating more calories, than what you burn. This will put you in a caloric surplus, to start gaining more weight.

The thing to remember here, is that not all weight is healthy weight. Your diet needs to consist of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. At times, if you find yourself still struggling to gain any weight at all, while still in a caloric surplus, it may call for adding in more dense calories.

I know, it’s not that simple. But consuming more calories, is not the same thing necessarily as eating more food. Although, yes you do also need to eat more food, there are ways you can incrementally increase your calorie count throughout the day to help with gaining more muscle and weight.

More calories will translate into more added energy and weight gain overtime. Making small adjustments to your nutrition plan, will help make the biggest changes and gains, in order to build more muscle mass.  

  • Add Sauces And Spreads to Your Meals (I.e. BBQ, Mayo, Jam, Nutella, Peanut Butter, Syrup etc.)
  • Drink More Juice
  • Add Proteinand Carb Shakes Between Meals

Implementing small changes to your diet, in addition to volume, will increase your caloric intake and get you where you need to be faster.

Ectomorphs should consume more carbohydrates, fasting acting or simple as well as complex. Carbs like rice, oats, sweet potatoes, and potatoes, are best for adding quality nutrients to build more muscle.

RELATED ARTICLE How To Gain More Muscle As a Hardgainer

How To Build More Muscle And Train As An Ectomorph

In terms of training, as a hardgainer or ectomorph, being lean is not the problem. Putting on lean muscle – is. Lifting using progressive overload principles, stacking up more weight over time while utilizing a resistance training protocol, will be best to build and grow muscle.

Slow efficient workouts, with 4-5 sets each exercise, at 8-10 reps, will help grow more muscle and build more size.

Research has always shown that habitual and consistent training with healthy eating habits, will have the strongest and most positive effect on body composition.

Utilizing a pre and post workout carbohydrate, like Clean Carbs, is a great way to get more complex carbohydrate and quality calories to build more muscle and improve performance.

Protein of course is crucial to initiate the muscle building process. Ectomorphs will almost always need to utilize a protein supplement, such as whey protein isolate, to increase protein intake throughout the day. Drinking a protein shake, at least 2-3 times per day, will help increase lean muscle gain.

Supplements like creatine and post workout protein will also help in building quality strength and gains. 

Ectomorph Body Type: Takeaway

Ectomorphs. like other body types face their own specific challenges. If the goal is weight gain and building more muscle, that is. If you want to maintain size and strength, eating a well rounded healthy diet and being consistent in training, is important just as with any other body type. However, the work load to gain more muscle will be challenging, requiring a high caloric intake, slow and steady training progression, and being very consistent with your caloric surplus. With a high metabolism, your body will use food as your fuel rapidly, even when you eat more. That means, incrementally increasing calories over time, with dense foods and high caloric adds, like simple carbs, juice, and sauces, will help. If you have trouble, and can't seem to reach your goals, stop waisting time and hire a certified nutrition coach. 

Need Help With Optimizing Your Diet And Nutrition Plan To Finally Get The Results You've Been Waiting For?

The Swole Kitchen is an exclusive membership opportunity for those who are looking to pursue a performance-driven lifestyle. By combining wellness consulting, nutritional lifestyle improvement, and 1:1 customized nutrition plans to our members, our programs aim to optimize human potential. In each of our programs, you’ll receive guidance to reclaim your health, fuel your lifestyle, and pursue performance ambitions, all while learning how to make nutritional decisions from a place of self-trust and intuition. All of our coaches are committed to providing the highest level of results-driven wellness to our members.

We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.


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