No two bodies are the same. Even twins who might live their entire lives in the same environment, eating the same foods and working out similarly, will end up with different body types.
Genes have a lot to do with your body type, of course. But your environment and lifestyle habits can influence it greatly.
If you are an ectomorph, and you are looking for muscle growth, then you are in the right place. Read on to see what the skinny-fat ectomorph body type is all about and how even you can gain muscle.
What Is the Ectomorph Somatotype?
The concept of somatotypes or body types came from Dr. William H. Sheldon in the 1940s. It’s a useful concept to be aware of, especially if you are having a hard time with muscle growth. There are 3 basic somatotypes to keep in mind:
These are the folks with lots of muscle, lots of fat, and they can gain and lose both easily. They are heavier and rounder individuals.
These are the skinny folks, who can eat anything and everything and never gain any weight. They are the ones who work out at the gym for a year and still look the same – wiry and thin.
They have little body and fat, and little muscle. They also might be designated the skinny-fat ectomorphs.
They tend to eat high sugar and fatty foods without abandon, due to their propensity to gain weight with difficulty. They might look skinny when wearing clothes, but might be carrying more fat than is healthy for their BMI.
The problem is that others see these skinny-fat ectomorph types and are envious of how skinny they look. As you already know, looks are not what matters when it comes to health, fitness, and muscle growth.
These might be the ideal body type, as they are strong, solid, and athletic. They gain muscle easily, and in fact, they might skip the gym for weeks at a time, without affecting their muscle growth a notch.
Muscle Growth for the Ectomorph Type
The problem with the ectomorph type is that it’s hard for them to gain muscle.
If they are interested in gaining muscle, they might start eating tons of fatty foods and protein, but that doesn’t result in muscle gain. It only increases the fat deposits on their body. It’s also unhealthy to eat such foods.
Thus, you need to have a plan and use a specific protein intake, and muscle protein synthesis strategy to move from a wiry skinny ectomorph to one with muscle and definition. Let’s look at some of these strategies below.
Figure Out Your Why
Too many ectomorphs want muscle growth, but they don’t know why they want it.
They might be working with envy goals, as they look around at the folks in the gym and want to emulate their bodies. Or they might want to look better in certain outfits they wish to wear.
The problem with these envy-based goals or aesthetic goals is that they aren’t strong enough to keep you going on the long track to muscle growth.
You might start enthusiastically, but wane off quickly, as you realize the path to muscle protein synthesis using resistance training is strenuous and exhausting. This is why you need the right why.
Figure out why you want to gain muscle. Why do you want to change the way you look? A great goal to work with is increasing your vitality, longevity, and passion for life.
Consume the Right Nutrients
As iterated earlier, you can’t stuff your face with lots of fatty and sugary foods and expect to gain muscle. Muscle cells need good quality amino acids to build themselves up. For muscle growth, you need to eat well.
What does this mean? It means to increase the quality of the foods you eat. Of course, you need to have a bit of fat in your diet to stay healthy. But mostly, you will be focusing on protein intake.
You already know this, but your body uses protein to repair, build, and grow damaged cells and tissues. When you do resistance training, you break down the muscles in your body and then repair them with a little extra.
The protein that is used to build up your muscles comes from amino acids. These amino acids can be sourced either from the food you consume or the muscles that are already in your body.
Because you have a fast metabolism as an ectomorph, ensure that you never go long without food. It would be better for you to eat some cheat foods, like Burger King or McDonald’s, than not eat for 10 hours straight.
Also, carbs are extremely important in your muscle growth journey as they increase the secretion of the hormone insulin, which promotes protein synthesis, and thus, muscle gain. So don’t go on a low-carb keto diet!
Keep a Food Journal
You might think this is a finicky step, but it’s necessary to your muscle growth journey. When you track the grams of protein you eat in a day, you know whether you are getting enough proteins in your diet.
Track everything you eat in a day, because this will also keep you accountable to yourself. It’s easier to cheat and eat something sugary or unnecessary if you are not writing everything down in a journal.
Ensure that you stick to 2g of protein per kg of body weight for the first 12 weeks of resistance training, and then you can bring it down to 1.2g to 1.6g per kg after that.
You cannot gain muscle if you are not eating enough protein for your body weight. It just won’t work, as your body will start sucking protein from the muscles in your body to compensate for your workouts. You don’t want that.
In fact, that’s exactly what you wish to avoid. You already are working with less muscle mass. You don’t want that precious muscle mass to be broken down to supply your workout needs.
Make sure to eat a big protein-rich breakfast every day and add 2 protein shakes per day into your regimen.
Pick a Workout and Stick to It (Resistance Training Being Key)
You can’t lift weight and increase your protein intake temporarily and expect any changes. If you have done any research online, you know that you need to focus on resistance training to gain muscle and increase muscle growth.
Find a workout that suits you and your needs, and then stick with it. Switching from one workout to another week after week will not result in any significant muscle protein synthesis for you.
Stay focused. Keep your eyes on the finish line.
Don’t get distracted by what your endomorphic or mesomorphic friends, or gym buddies are doing. They have a different body type from you.
Also, follow the rule of progressive overload in your workouts. You need to add weight to the bar every time you lift – you can’t gain muscle if you benchpress 135 pounds for the rest of your life.
Keep a training journal (along with a food one), so you can keep track of how much you are lifting, and how much you need to add every time you workout. Your body adapts faster than you realize to the weights you lift.
Realize that you need to feel the burn to make any progress with muscle growth. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Your muscles will thank you for it as they get stronger and bigger.
Work on the Bigger Muscles
You can’t be working with dumbbells either. It has to be compound training that will do the job for you. Focus on things like bench press, overhead squat, deadlift, and military press.
Don’t get distracted by the bodybuilders in the gym that are focusing on drop sets and doing lots of reps. They are in a different league than you.
Your resistance training should focus on the major muscles in the body, rather than the spot training of bicep or tricep curls.
Move From Skinny Fat to Skinny Fit With the Strategies Above
Now that you know what you have to focus on as an ectomorph, get going. it might take you longer as a skinny ectomorph to gain muscle, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time for your genetics to catch up to your resistance training. Give your body time to get used to your new training and food regime, before declaring it a failure.
Don’t listen to the naysayers, stay focused, and you will have the body of your dreams soon enough.