If you find it hard to pack on weight and muscle, or have a naturally slight frame with long slender muscles, then you are more than likely the classic ectomorph – or "hardgainer", in bodybuilding jargon.
Don't worry though, it is suggested that between 60-85% of folks fall into the ectomorph category, which is also why a lot of folks get frustrated when performing workouts at the gym. You see, most of what you read in the bodybuilding magazines is not ideal for the ectomorph and hardgainer. So what happens is folks follow the workouts in the magazines not realizing that they're often hampering and delaying their success.
So if we can't trust the magazines to give us a great ectomorph workout, then what can we do?
Well, the good news is that the ideal ectomorph workout does not require you to train 5 or 6 days a week, nor does it require you to spend hours every day. You should be able to complete the ectomorph workout within an hour or so.
There's no need to spend hours every day focusing on one body part like some workouts … you know the kind that go … Monday is Chest Day, Tuesday is Back Day, Wednesday is Legs Day … etc. What these kinds of workouts do is get you to expend 60-80% effort through the whole workout, because 100% effort would result in exhaustion before you finish. That doesn't make much sense.
They also cause you to workout each muscle group only once per week, whereas 3 good all-body ectomorph workouts per week would result in 3 times the muscle growth and development.
The ectomorph workout will look to build multiple muscle groups simultaneously, therefore the ectomorph workout focuses on the classic "big basic" exercises of
Bent Over Rows
Remember we want functionality as well as growth. These big basic exercises help you to develop a great total body physique, rather than isolating biceps, or pecs or whatever.
Less Is More – what I mean is that in your ectomorph workout, you want to focus on high quality reps (between 8-12) and low numbers of sets (between 1-3). Anyone who tells you to do 6 sets of 12 reps is not giving you good advice for an ectomorph workout. If you're able to do 6 sets of 12 reps on an exercise then you're not putting out enough effort. Gaining muscle mass for the ectomorph comes from high-intensity low-volume training – ie 100% effort on less sets.
Eat Big To Get Big – eating well and consuming the right amount of calories is the biggest stumbling block an ectomorph faces in their workouts and ability to gain mass. The recommended daily calorie intake for a person is between 2000 – 2500. However, many ectomorphs see this and think that this applies to them too. BIG mistake! Weight gain and weight loss is all about caloric deficits – simply put, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume, and to gain weight you need to consume more calories than you burn.