How To Build Muscle as an Ectomorph? (The Ultimate Guide)

How To Build Muscle As An Ectomorph

Growing muscle mass is no easy task. It involves knowledge, dedication, discipline, and hard work.

But, let’s momentarily focus on the first thing we said: Knowledge.

Why? Because hard work doesn’t do much by itself. Working intelligently AND hard gets you farther.

We’re bringing this up because many people throw themselves into all sorts of work out routines.

And, while it’s great to diversify your approach by trying different methods, certain routines or programs work better for some than others.

No, we’re not telling you to drop off a specific exercise.

Anything to pushes your limits is great, but people are different. This is the exact case with body types.

In this article you’ll discover how to build muscle as an ectomorph.

Body types are classified in different ways. Let’s Discover Them!

While it’s obvious each body is different, physicians and professionals divide your physical characteristics into three large groups known as somatotypes: Endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs.

  • Endomorph

These are people predisposed to have large bodies, wide waists, with relatively short arms and legs.

Evidence exists these types of bodies are more predisposed for fat storage in their abdomen.

  • Mesomorph

Their frame is characterized by a large torso with wide shoulders. Small waist and low body fat storage in their abdomen.

Unlike endomorphic types, their predisposition for obesity is lower. This is what it’s called the “athletic types of bodies”.

  • Ectomorph

People with this frame are the opposite of endomorphic types.

They are tall with slender frames, large extremities, and, unlike mesomorphic people, their bony joints are less pronounced.

Also, unlike endomorphic people, they are the least predisposed to store fat.

Of course, these are not strictly set types.

Some people possess frames that fall into both categories, such as the endo-ectomorphs with “apple-shaped” bodies.

The fat accumulates in their mid-section and, contrastingly, thin lower bodies. 

If you fall under the category of a tall, skinny person with long arms and very little body mass and/or muscle, then the following is for you.

how to build muscle as an ectomorph?


Growing muscle is no easy task. For some, it comes easier as their muscular physique and skeletal frame facilitate the job.

For others, like tall, skinny people, the job is more difficult.

They train endlessly, yet they observe no difference. But that’s because training at the gym with weights is just half the battle.

The other half is right at your nutrition. You have may hear the phrase ‘Eat big, lift big’ to the point you are tired of it.

However, it’s repeated because it has a token of truth.

Ectomorphic people possess a high metabolism – meaning their body processes the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins much faster than other types of bodies.

These nutrients are not deposited in their bodies as easily as other types of people.

First, let’s gloss over the basics to check out if you are doing it correctly.

  • Meet Up Your Protein Requirement.

Protein plays a big role in muscle buildingIt provides the necessary amino acids to build your muscle.

Think of them as construction blocks that, one by one, they stack up to make bigger muscle fibers.

Poultry, meat, eggs, and fish should be, from now on, your staple. But besides these, protein powders are your ally too.

In short, it’s indispensable you force yourself to eat a good amount of proteins in each meal.

Otherwise, you will not notice any muscle growth.

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  • You Can Loose On The Food Restrictions, But Not Too Much.

You may have already imagined this, but due to a high basal metabolic rate, ectomorphic people can eat more (and should, if they want to get bigger).

Normally, people are recommended to eat clean and adhere to a healthy lifestyle, but in this case, you need to cheat a little.

Junk food provides easy access to those highly desirable calories, such as burritos, burgers, or pizza.

Beware, though, junk food is unhealthy.

They are an option to bootstrap you to your desired caloric needs for the gym, but they are high on sodium and processed sugar.

Being able to eat a bit more of junk food doesn’t mean you can gorge yourself with those every day.

  • You have to EAT!

We can’t stress this enough: Eating is important.

Without the food, there is nothing to build on, akin to how a sculptor requires clay to shape his art, you need nutrients and calories to shape and build your muscles.

Don’t skip meals.

Having a single coffee for breakfast as a stimulant to go through the morning will make your gains come slower.

A hearty breakfast such as an omelet is a much better option.

Eat 3 balanced meals.

They should contain carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.

2-3 healthy snacks spaced in between the big meals.

Nuts are high on calories, delicious, and filling too. Don’t snack on food such as Doritos, for example.

Don’t be discouraged by your frame!


Yes, skinny guys have it harder to achieve their desirable musculature. But that’s only superficially.

In reality, ectomorphic people are just as capable as the “average” guy to reach their genetic potential.

Skinny people start off with less muscle mass than the average guy. However, you can look at it in a different way.

Your average, non-skinny, lifter can only gain so much muscle before he reaches a plateau following a certain period of time (it varies from person to person).

Skinny people, on the other hand, can easily gain twice as that before reaching their plateau since they start ‘way behind the starting line’.

By that time, you have already built a strong and muscular frame.

However, be aware the amount of muscle gained depends on a lot of factors, such as nutrition and consistency.

Thus, it’s hard to determine what’s the specific amount of muscle one can grow in a certain period of time.

Another important thing to mention is a lot of ectomorphic people are discouraged by their physique.

Their own doubts shackle their potential, restraining them from their possible gains.

Following a good training program with dedication and consistency, asking advice from reputable coaches, putting in enough effort with a good diet and proven bulking supplements are the keys everyone, regardless of their initial frame, needs to follow to achieve their desired strength and looks.

Ectomorph Exercises To Build Muscle

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Now, we move onto the part most people are interested the best exercises on how to build muscle as an ectomorph.

The angular stone on which the bodybuilding community builds its programs for muscle growth is the idea of creating high muscular tension.

In other words, you have to exert a mechanical effort on your muscles, inducing their growth.

Your muscle fibers, then, proceed to use the amino acids of your diet and stockpile carbohydrates as energy reserves in the form of glycogen.

Thus, if a muscular frame is what you are looking for, emphasize short, but intense training.

Yes, long sets will increase your resistance but are not ideal for muscle hypertrophy you’re looking for.

A great example of exercises that create high muscular tension is multiple compound movements.

Unlike some routines that target a muscle individually, compound movements work out multiple ones, making them work in unison to move two or three joints in a line of motion.

This way you can build mass over your entire musculature.

More muscles working together equals more weight lifted and, thus, more testosterone released.

Examples of good compound exercises are:

  • Full Barbell Back Squat.
  • Barbell Bench Press.
  • Barbell Deadlift.
  • Barbell Overhead Press.
  • Dips.

Even “basic” training such as pull-ups require the synergic movement of multiple muscles, encouraging growth over time.

An important thing to consider is to avoid training “redundancy”.

For example, barbell back squats and deadlifts target the same muscles (quads, glutes, and hamstrings).

You want to gain as much muscle mass possible, by repeatedly training the same area you might slow or even limit your gains.

  • That doesn’t mean you can’t do isolation lifts.

Albeit targeting many muscles sounds enticing to maximize gains over a short period of time, don’t abandon simple isolation lifts such as a bicep curl.

Despite you are not training as much muscle mass as compound lifts, there are certain advantages to isolation lifts:

You can target a muscle to its fullest potential.

Albeit many muscles participate in compound lifts, not all of them contribute equally to the range of motion.

For example, the long head of the triceps in a bench press. By individually targeting the triceps as a whole, we can push it even farther.

Certain muscles need to be trained in isolation to improve them.

Abs, neck, and forearms are an example. They are barely stimulated in compound lifts. If you don’t train them individually, you won’t see noticeable results.

Isolation lifts are simple and fast.

You don’t need a whole hour to train your forearm or biceps, a quick workout routine is enough to stimulate them.

Thus, they can be incorporated in your daily training without hassle, especially if you are a skinny person that needs to build strength.

Stick to your routine, eat big, and get big!

How To Build Muscle As An Ectomorph

In conclusion, compounds lifts excel for specific targets, while isolation lifts excel at others.

A synergic combination of both will make your gains appear much faster. 

Start with compound lifts and see which muscles are being barely stimulated. Proceed to add isolation lifts to fill in those gaps.

Thus, every muscle group is targeted without making your workout routine an overwhelmingly taxing endeavor.

There is a long road for people with ectomorphic bodies, but rest assured. It isn’t impossible!

Remember, this is not a race nor a competition against anyone else.

Push yourself to become 1% better than you were yesterday and, by the end of the year, you will see the results.

We hope you enjoyed our article about how to build muscle as an ectomorph.

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