The common complaint of the ectomorph is: "No matter what I eat, I can never gain weight; I've always been thin and very lean." In bodybuilding, they tend to be the ripped lightweights and middleweights, rather than the massive heavyweight types. When they retire from competition, they tend to stay very lean and their muscle mass usually shrinks down a bit in size. Despite the challenge, many ectomorphs have gone on to become successful bodybuilders after years of consistent hard training and proper eating. The following guidelines will help maximize results for the ectomorphic body type.
Ectomorphs are thin, hyperactive people with fast metabolisms. So the first and most obvious solution is less activity. Like an engine idling too fast - an ectomorph has to hold down the brake just to keep from lurching forward. Conservation of nervous energy is important. Ectomorphs must slow down and relax more.
By their nature, ectomorphs tend to require less sleep and often suffer from insomnia. Because they burn so many calories even while not physically active, it's important for ectomorphs to get plenty of quality sleep every night and to do so on a regular schedule. Taking naps is also helpful.
Ectomorphs tend to be high strung, stressed and hyperactive. Stress reduction techniques can help the ectomorph get better results from their nutrition and exercise programs. Taking up meditation can be especially beneficial. An excellent book about meditation from a scientific point of view is The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson.
Ectomorphs respond best to brief, high intensity training programs. Daily training and marathon workouts are incredibly counterproductive. The ectomorph must get in and out of the gym quickly and allow plenty of recuperation between workouts.
Although there are some people with light, fragile ectomorph bone structures who also are carrying excess fat, body fat is seldom a problem for the ectomorph. As such, cardio should be kept to a minimum and done mainly for health reasons. 15-30 minutes a day, three days a week is usually sufficient.
Keep the calories high and never, ever, ever miss a meal
Ectomorphs need calories - and lots of them. They need to eat high calorie density foods and use moderate amounts of good fats such as flax oil, nuts, seeds, natural peanut butter and cold-water fish such as salmon. Skipping meals is the #1 cardinal sin for the ectomorph.
Carbohydrate restriction is an effective fat loss strategy, but since ectomorphs burn up nearly everything they consume, there's usually no reason to restrict carbohydrates. Fifty or even fifty-five percent of total daily calories should come from carbohydrates in the ectomorph diet with 30% from lean proteins and 15-20% from fats.
People with ectomorph tendencies quickly discover that they can "get away with" eating certain foods without ill effects on body composition, so they often do exactly that - eat anything and everything. However, this is not a wise practice because even an ectomorph should be concerned with nutrient density and not just calories. Nutrition is not just for cosmetic improvements; it's about your health. Never use a muscle-building program as an excuse to "pig out" on junk food, even if you find you can "get away with it." Ectomorphs must think about the nutritional value of everything they eat and about the effect of food on their health.
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