Want to pack on some muscle?

If so, you’re not alone. For ectomorphs gaining muscle can seem impossible. I know because I’m an ectomorph and yet I’ve been able to gain over 50lbs of drug- free lean muscle with awful genetics and bad lifting proportions (I’m about 6’3” and 90% of my height is my legs).

I’ve also helped many other ectomorphs gain muscle. With patience, hard work and a little know-how of how to train appropriately for your body type, you can gain muscle and start filling out your clothes.


Check here this amazing diet plan for  an echtomorph to gain muscle!

Weekly Plan

4 days per week works well for many ectomorphs. This allows you enough time to stimulate muscle gains while still allowing time to recover. Try going Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday or Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Also, if life gets crazy, you can always drop it back to 3 days a week. Why not 5 or 6 days per week? One; your body may not be able to handle it and two; you need to put more time into your recovery.

Schedule Recovery

Hitting the gym is important, but so are all the recovery measures necessary to actually build the muscle you want. Don’t just hope it will happen – schedule it in!

If you are serious about gaining muscle, you need to make extra time for: sleep, some power naps, grocery shopping, meal prep, eating, cleaning dishes and taking some down time.

How to structure an ectomorph workout routine2

Exercise Selection

The fastest way to your goal starts with picking fantastic exercises.

The most perfect combination of every other training program variable can still be rendered useless if it is filled with inferior exercises.

Find 2-4 variations of each of the following movements: squats, hinge/deadlifts, vertical & horizontal presses and vertical & horizontal pulls. Don’t worry if you find the traditional powerlifts (i.e. squat, bench & deadlift) don’t fit your body well. Use variations that work for you (e.g. front squat, dumbbell bench, rack pull).

Also check these 8 lower body strength exercises

Also, while you don’t want to get carried away with it, you will want a small amount of direct work for things like arms and calves.

Progress Your Exercises

After you are picked fantastic exercises, the next step is to get great at them! For example, if you can do from barely doing body weight chin-ups to being able to do sets of 5 with an extra 50lbs around your weight, your biceps and lats will be bigger!

Keep a training log and try to regularly add weight or reps each session.

Try an upper lower split

As you move past the beginner phase, whole body routines can be challenging for the ectomorph.

The systematic fatigue that goes along with full body training makes it difficult to get sufficient volume with a weight heavy enough to stimulate muscle growth.

Upper/lower splits allow you to focus more on a specific area and hammer it hard!

They also allow a small amount of time for direct work for arms and calves. However, unlike body-part split routines, an upper/lower split forces you to pick amazing exercises.

Alternate between strength and size

One great periodization method for ectomorphs is daily undulating periodization.

The idea behind this is that your training varies per day. With other forms of periodization (e.g. linear) you will not work on hypertrophy in other phases which prevent you from building and in some cases even maintaining lean muscle (e.g. during a strength or power phase).

As an ectomorph, you need to get stronger to get bigger but you also need direct hypertrophy training to build and keep lean muscle.

Here is how you could lay out your week:

Monday: heavy lower body
Tuesday: heavy upper body
Wednesday: rest, light activity (e.g. brisk walk)
Thursday: hypertrophy lower body
Friday: hypertrophy upper body (fun way to finish the training week!)
Saturday: grocery shopping, light activity
Sunday: rest

Use appropriate volume

Often ectomporphs are told to use a low volume so they don’t over-train. While is true that too much volume will prevent you from gaining muscle, so will too little.

Use about 3-6 sets of about 3-6 reps on your heavy days and about 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on your volume days.

Experiment within these ranges until you find what works for you.

Learn to say no

Today more than ever the fitness industry is bombarded with lots of “cool” stuff. People love innovative, exciting things. However, as an ectomorph, you are going against your body’s nature tendencies and trying to pack on lean muscle.

To make this happen, you have to devote all your training time to the goal. Stay focused on doing the best exercises for building lean muscle and leave the other stuff – at least until you have reached your muscle building goal.

WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.


Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans