Avid gym goers most probably know that there are three basic types of physiques: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. The endomorph carries the most fat and less muscle tissue while the mesomorph has a large frame which is naturally high in lean muscle tissue and low in fat.

The ectomorph however lacks both which makes it difficult for him to pack on lean muscle mass and store fat. Although the ectomorph is commonly thought as the “ultimate hard-gainer,” it doesn’t mean that he can no longer build exceptional muscle mass.

It can be very frustrating for an ectomorph who trains hard for a long period of time and still sees only minimal gains, if any. This often leads him to either give up his training altogether or turn to using performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids.

Muscle brought on by chemical usage inevitably fades away when steroid intake is discontinued, but many of its side effects will not. Fortunately, there are a number of good ways that an ectomorph can build muscle mass naturally without resorting to dangerous artificial means.

It is common knowledge that an ectomorph tend to have super high-metabolism. This means that he burns calories at a rapid rate. Calories, the fuel derived from all three macronutirients – carbohydrates, protein and dietary fat – increase the body’s ability to manufacture bodyfat and help drive protein into muscles for growth. Therefore, it is crucial for an ectomorph to cease all intense aerobic activities that consumes much energy for a period of time and increase his caloric intake.

Increasing the calories means eating more muscle-building foods. An ectomorph must eat six good-sized meals a day every 2 1/2-3 hours to help maintain a constant flow of nutrients throughout the body. It is important to eat on schedule and to never skip meals due to inconveniences or lack of foresight.

A proper weight gain diet should consist of a high-carbohydrate, high-protein meal. Mass gainers need at least 2.5 grams of complex carbohydrates (pasta, russet potatoes, multigrain bread) for every pound of bodyweight and 1 to 1.5 grams of protein (chicken breast, fish meat, egg whites) per pound of bodyweight. Eating carbohydrates will help kick-start the muscle building process while protein will help maximize muscle revovery from intense workouts and prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue. A mass-building diet should also derive 20% of total calories from good fat sources (fish oils, olives and avocados).

An ectomorph must also train differently as compared to endomoprhs and mesomorphs. He should be able to train harder but for a shorter period of time. Training for more than an hour would likely turn the body in catabolic stage where protein is utilized for energy instead of muscle building.

He should stick with the basic compound exercises such as bench presses, squats and deadlifts; using weights that allow for between 6-10 repetitions for about 3-4 sets. Anything more than four workout per week may well be too much. An ectomoprh must also be sensible in his training. For example, there is no need to work on the front deltoids and triceps after blasting the chest since they have already been worked via the chest exercises. The same goes for the biceps in relation to back exercises.

The right mental attitude is as important as exercise and diet. An ectomorph, no matter what genetic drawbacks he has dealt with, can build exceptional muscle mass by working out and eating right consistently.

Poor genetics must not be used as an excuse. Many prize-winning bodybuilders have already proven that it is never impossible to build a well-muscled physique despite having an ectomorph body. All it takes is just patience and dedication. An ectomorph must use his small frame to his advantage, working on good symmetry and a toned overall look.

Sample weight gain diet for ectomorphs

Meal 1 – Six egg whites; four pieces of wheat bread; a glass of protein shake; a piece of fruit.

Meal 2 – Two boiled chicken breasts; a bowl of pasta; a glass of non-fat milk.

Meal 3 – Two cups of brown rice; a large chunk of grilled tuna; a glass of orange juice.

Meal 4 – A glass of protein shake

Meal 5 – Two pieces of grilled chicken breasts; a bowl of vegetable salad; a glass of orange juice.

Meal 6 – Another protein shake.