As much as some people struggle with losing weight, there is another group with exactly the opposite problem. They are ectomorphs and they struggle to gain some weight. The former group considers the latter lucky, they think they can eat anything they want and remain slender and lean. However, from the second group’s perspective, this isn’t such a blessing.
Having a furnace-like metabolism that quickly burns consumed calories is a double-edged sword. For naturally lean people, trying to add muscle mass or any mass for that matter can be a long and hard struggle. Sure, it can be great to be able to eat whatever you want without a spare tire forming around your waist.
On the other hand, the biceps you’ve been training so hard for in the gym since you were a teenager, refuse to do so and the only thing you’ve managed to gain in the gym is a new circle of friends (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So the question is, what can you do to start growing and see some real progress?
Customize your approach according to your body type
The majority of workout programs are designed for people who would be classified as “mesomorphs”. These are the people who have broad shoulders and a small waist, which gives them a V-shaped torso. Men who are slim and have trouble gaining weight are called “ectomorphs” and their metabolisms can process food much faster than the other body types, and the third group being “endomorphs“.
Keeping a nutrition journal and tracking your daily caloric intake might seem like something an overweight person who’s trying to lose weight do, however, ectomorphs should also track the food that they eat. Lots of them underestimate the number of calories they are consuming, which is why tracking is a great method to ensure that you’re ingesting the right amount of calories to see results. It’s quite simple, you need to consume more calories than you’re burning.
What should you eat?
Ectomorphs whose goal is to bulk up should eat between four to six meals a day to get ahead of their fast metabolisms. You should strive for a diet with a macronutrient ratio of 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fat.
Protein is an essential macronutrient when it comes to building muscle mass and it should be present in every meal. Rich sources of protein include lean meats such as chicken, turkey, lean mince, fish, as well as protein powder and eggs.
Ectomorphs tend to burn carbs way faster than the average person, however complex carbs are always harder to break down so it’s a long process. That’s why they are an excellent choice for ectomorphs. Great sources of complex carbs include brown pasta, sweet potato, oats, quinoa, and brown rice.
It would be obvious that you should avoid foods with a low number of calories. You want every food that you eat to count. Several examples of calorie-dense foods include avocados, nuts, salmon, dried fruit, different types of lean meats, etc. Here is a comprehensive list of such foods. Top 10 Foods For Building Muscle.
Drink protein/carbohydrate shakes
Another way to add in a few extra calories is by drinking shakes. When you make your shakes you know exactly what’s in them and can avoid the high sugar content that many commercial shakes have. You can add more calories by mixing in some nut butter, ground oatmeal, Greek yogurt or some other products. You can also use coconut or almond milk in case you’re not a big fan of ordinary milk.
Don’t go overboard in the gym
Sometimes when it comes to training, less is more. Of course, this sounds counterintuitive at first, but there’s logic to it. Many times, ectomorphs think that they need to spend as much time as possible in the gym to build more muscle. Rest is a waste of time, in their minds.
It would seem logical, but when we rest, that new muscle tissue is being built, training is just the stimulus for new growth to occur. Those who have high metabolisms burn calories a lot faster and take longer to recover from training sessions which mean they have to limit their time in the gym.
Going to the gym three to four times a week, with each workout lasting up to an hour will bring more benefits than training six days a week. Focus on doing shorter but intense workouts, consisting of compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses which stimulate the entire body and will get you the best results. When training this way your body will crave lots of calories and you will bulk up fast.
Strive to increase the weight by the smallest increment each training session. That way you’ll know are progressing but you will also give your body ample time to adjust to the program without overtraining. You would want to refrain from doing too much cardio when trying to bulk up.
Be disciplined, eat, sleep, repeat!
Many ectomorphs are often restless types and they find it hard to sit still in one place without fidgeting or tapping their feet. Their bodies also tend to burn muscle as an energy source so it’s important to avoid any type of unnecessary physical activity. Such activity is likely to burn more calories which is why it’s important that they’re resting as much as possible when not working out.
Getting quality sleep is vital. You should strive for at least eight hours of sleep every night to let your body fully recover from the intense workouts. As we already mentioned, rest is when muscle growth occurs, and there’s no better rest than a good night’s sleep.
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‘Eat, sleep, repeat’ is the motto you should be following. It will be the basis of your training plan and one to surely bring about positive changes in your body.