Unlike many other publications containing only pre-set training cards, the purpose of this article is to first provide an “attack” strategy for Ectomorfi and Hardgainer.
«The motivated and reasoned appeal to means suitable for achieving a goal»: this is the generic definition of strategy. Now we just have to replace the word “purpose” with “muscle growth” and the words “suitable means” with “nutrition, integration, training and rest”.
But be aware that belonging to the ectomorph somatitpus, most training cards aimed at muscle-building (or simply increasing muscle mass) will not work or produce poor results.
There are completely different rules and strategies for ectomorphs and disobeying these rules is equivalent to saying goodbye to the so much sweating hypertrophy.
Hardgainer against Ectomorfi
The term “hardgainer” is often equated with the term “ectomorph” despite the difference is substantial and the wrong comparison in the field of biotipology.
The term “hardgainer” is often used roughly to define those who find it difficult to increase their muscle mass due to nutritional deficiencies of various types, failure to respect recovery times or rest, wrong training methodology, etc.
To belong to the ectomorphic somatotype is instead a real biotypological condition, visible, in some senses independent of diet and training.
Frank Zane and Flex Wheeler (Schwarzenegger described him as one of the greatest bodybuilders I have ever seen), two legendary bodybuilders, both known for their impeccable symmetry and physical form, belong to the ectomorphic somatotype.
Obviously, if for Frank and Flex being ectomorphs has not been considered as a “death sentence” in the competitive field, they could instead experience muscle growth hitches when an ectomorph tries to adopt the same training methodology and the same nutritional approach of a “Luckier” mesomorph.
At this point in the article, before moving on to the strategy, it seems right to define above all for the newbies some elements characterizing an ectomorph:
- High height
- Long and thin arts
- Flat chest and narrow shoulders
- Long front
- Thin face, sometimes worn
- Chin that withdraws inward
- Narrow sides
- Fast metabolism
- Low percentage of body fat (bf, body fat)
- Reduced or absent natural muscle tone (ribs are not muscles!)
- Weaknesses throughout their body
The Training Strategy
There are some rules to follow scrupulously and without too much delay, here are the following:
Think of intensity and not Volume
To put it short and to give some examples, the cards (so popular online or in the magazines of the sector) with high volume of training containing 12 exercises with 40 series in split-routine (ie the classic “program” where the various muscles are divided into groups and in each training session only some of them are trained) will never work on us ectomorphs.
Many of us are “misdirected” by the classic programs that recommend “8-12 repetitions for muscular hypertrophy”, although true (result of various studies and working on individuals with different somatotypes) this statement is the most incorrect for an ectomorph.
The key to rapid muscle growth in terms of size and strength lies in the wisdom of an ectomorph in totally abandoning the idea of ”high volume” training and focusing on the idea of ”high intensity training”, which means keeping 6 and 8 repetitions (sometimes even less) for 2-4 sets without exceeding 3-4 different types of exercise for each training session.
Remember to have a ridiculously fast metabolism, your goal is not to burn an infinite amount of calories in the gym, the muscles grow at rest and not during the training session so start practicing with this concept.
A fairly good principle for our situation is “hit it and quit it” or “hit and quit”: stimulate the muscles for a sufficient number of sets, repetitions and exercises and run away.
Adopting these simple precautions will lead you to add more weight to the balance thanks to the low number of repetitions and series, this will result in a high growth potential, the only one that you need to increase the mass.
To sum up what has been said, you must orientate less your training on the number of series and repetitions and more on the intensity of each single series, a workload between 80 and 90% of your ceiling (1RM, 1-Repetition maximum) should be fine
“Repudiate” the Isolation exercises
There is no room for isolation exercises in an ectomorph training strategy aimed at muscle growth in terms of strength and size.
Many of us blindly follow the popular training cards recommended by bodybuilders who are almost never ectomorphic and who often resort to the support of chemistry from the beginning; these individuals can increase their muscle mass well by doing 10-12 exercises a day for 6 days a week, we can not!
It is time to eliminate the excesses from our training sheet and concentrate only on the most profitable and really useful exercises for us; it’s not good to be in the gym for an hour and thirty minutes when we can do everything we really need in 45 minutes.
Although this is a difficult concept to “swallow” it is necessary that it be applied immediately, if this does not happen the results would be, as often happens, almost completely inexistent with the physical form of departure.
- With this premise, the exercises valid for ectomorphs must mainly satisfy these two requirements:
- Stimulate more muscles (Multiarticular exercises is the way!)
- Possibility to increase loads in a high way
Now let’s see what basic exercises meet these requirements:
Ectomorfi and Hardgainer | Training strategy
The deadlifts stimulate more total muscle mass than any other exercise (legs, back, trapezius, backbones) and inserting them in your workout will finally move the balance needle in the correct direction.
Focus on unloading as much force as possible to the ground before lifting the barbell off the floor and completing the repetition by fully extending the hip once at the top.
Feel free to make even sumo or those with snatch.
Unlike the classic squat, the box squats improve our stability once you get down, without the use of a box (or a chair, step, cast-iron disks one above the other) would increase the chances of tilting too much into forward losing control of repetition.
The box squats are a great exercise for the musculature of the hip as you are forced to “rest” in a physical point and involve less knees unlike the classic squats, it is important however that the box is far enough to touch only half of your seat during the descent.
It is advised to initially practice to navigate in space and understand exactly where the box is located, there is nothing worse than loading a barbell and trying to sit down on the ground; Once you have touched the box, focus on the time of contact with your back and go up with an explosive movement.
You are wondering why not the flat bench … simple! As for the box squat, the goal is to use a range of motion (degrees of freedom of movement) with a greater training power that can then make you get as much mass and strength as possible.
Difficult to find ectomorphs able to lift record loads on the flat bench, the long arms translate into a greater distance that the bar must travel in space, this in turn results in turtle improvements in the strength and increase of loads .
The floor press eliminates much of the instability caused by the shoulders once they reach the bottom, eliminating the last degrees of movement and allowing you to use a greater load and complete more repetitions.
The classic flat bench is not the best option for an ectomorph eager to grow, you can return to the flat bench once you become strong with the floor press.
Military Pin Press
As for the bench, the small shoulders of us ectomorphs are not made to lift large loads above the head; the classic military press can obviously be done but the risk is to remain stalled with loads and with force for weeks.
Replacing military press with military pin press for a few months, the reduced range of movement will eliminate any limitations caused by long arms and unstable shoulders, allowing us to use greater loads and immediately benefit from a totalbody exercise like the military press.
A good example of an ectomorph training program consists of a 4-week mesocycle with 3 days of training per week, it is a simple program but I can assure you that it is not necessary to make it complicated, it works well.
Focus on increasing the load of primary and secondary exercises, week after week; it is essential to carry out tests to establish your ceiling and therefore the% 1RM required for each primary exercise, do not do it will result in the failure of the entire program, the numbers are essential!
Complete every single repetition without losing concentration and technique, resting for as long as you need between a series and the next; the rest between the training days must be at least 48 hours, at the end of the mesocycle take a week of de-load or restarted from week 1 with the new ceilings (certainly increased).