Being a natural ectomorph fighting gravity comes with frustration that only others in the shadow of ectomorphism can understand. I am one of those guys. I know how it feels to live the life of an ecto dancing with barbells. This post goes to you fellow ecto warriors. You will never lift alone.
1. The Bench Press Hates Ectomorphs
One thing is certain in this life: the creator didn’t blow breath into ectomorphs to create the best bench pressers on earth. Anyway you look at it, ectomorphs are not optimally built to push a heavy barbell, and everything that ectos achieve in the pressing sector happens in spite of their antelope genetics.
The first structural flaw that stops us from developing surreal bench pressing prowess are the thin, girly wrists. When I buy a watch I have to reduce the bracelet to infantile levels for it to fit me. No joke.
Pencil wrists are problematic because when you bench the arms act as pillars transmitting power to the bar. You don’t need an ideal IQ to understand that a thicker pillar provides extra stability and transmits more force than a pencil. Meager wrists simply leak strength and are more likely to cry when compressed by the heavy bar. For that reason, the bench pressing heroes have relatively thick wrists.
The next architectural problem for the benching ectos are the long arms increasing the travel of the bar. There is a reason why men with T-rex structure dominate in bench press competitions – short arms equal more stability and less work.
The final nail in the coffin is the set of narrow shoulders installed on most ectomorphs. Sorry, but that is a problem too. If you have shoulders hitting each other, your base is compromised. It’s much easier to bench with a wide platform underneath.
2. MYTH: Ectomorphs Don’t Get Fat and Enjoy Perpetually Shredded Abs By Default
There is a large group of mentally deficient people calling themselves muscle professors who always present ectomorphs as weird creatures who need at least 5000 calories to prevent personal evaporation. Honestly, ectomorphs can get fat just like everybody else. I am an ectomorph myself and yet reached 24% body fat at one point. My secret? I consumed too much food in order to ”bulk up” and become a ”real man” as advised by the barbell community.
People often advise us to just up the calories because the fragile bone structure of the ectomorph creates the illusion that he is slim even though most ectos are well above 15% body fat. When non-lean ectos initiate food overload, the result is skinny-fatness of the highest order. Consequently, ectomorphs should also follow sensible diets and avoid too much junk food. Sadly, we don’t get a free pass even when it comes to leanness.
Another misconception spread by the hypertrophy experts is that ectomorphs must follow a diet and a training plan designed specifically for hard gainers. Wrong! According to the real world there isn’t a diet for hard gainers, for the fact that easy gainers do not exist. Nobody gains muscle easily. Most people labeled as ”easy gainers” just have better genetics and are bigger by default. Past a certain point, they transform into hard gainers too. Never forget that muscle growth is not a perpetual linear process. Not even roid users gain muscle forever.
3. Ectos Deadlift Bending Barbells, But Dream of the Squat and Bench Every Night
Chain-like arms allow ectomorphs to deadlift brutally heavy barbells while looking incapable of a pull-up. Ironically, most ectos don’t care that much about the deadlift and would gladly trade it for a better squat and bench. This is a classic example of the you-always-want-what-you-cannot-have effect common for homo sapiens.
Ectos don’t appreciate their deadlift gift because it often feels like a consolation prize given to the proletariat. You don’t need a lot of muscle mass to deadlift heavy. Meanwhile, it’s literally impossible to squat and bench big weights without muscular development that stands out. As a result, the deadlift is frequently associated with the term ”wiry strength” a.k.a ”skinny bitch strength”.
4. MYTH: Tall Ectomorphs Have Larger Measurements Than Manlets
Yes, many ectomorphs are relatively tall, but not all of us are. There is no height requirement to classify as an ectomorph. What decides whether you are an ecto or not is the thickness of your bone structure.
Ectomorphs rarely have impressive measurements, for our bones are two thin. A manlet with a robust skeleton will easily acquire larger measurements than an ectomorph.
5. Squatting Sucks
Just like bench pressing, squatting as an ectomorph results in a tormented soul. Many ectomorphs have long limbs making the ecto structure sub-optimal for heavy squatting. Long femurs force the lifter to bend over more to acquire balance. Every extra degree of forward lean increases the involvement of the hips and lower back. When you are an ecto with stilts given by nature, the squat often turns into a glute maximizer instead of a quadriceps constructor. Even if you invest five trucks of effort in squatting, you will still be behind the manlets with short legs and long torsos. The solution? Depends on your goal, but if you want to target specifically the quadriceps, leg pressing, a high-end sin according to the barbell prophets, could help.
6. Building Big Biceps, Hamstrings and Calves = Ectos’ Mission Impossible
Many ectomorphs, me included, showcase subpar biceps, hamstring and calf development because of long tendons and short muscle bellies in the areas. Sadly, or not, lengthy tendons shorten the muscle belly and limit the potential hypertrophy. A long muscle has more fibers a.k.a. growth material. Men with long biceps bellies have fuller and bigger arms by default.
7. Dressing The Giraffe Neck Ain’t Ez
Another problem for many ectomorphs are their naked necks. The longer your neck is, the harder it is to dress it with a trap coat. It takes a lot more effort, and in many instances, it’s literally impossible because not every set of traps can hypertrophy its way to Everest. Poor trap insertions often result in a perpetual pencil neck sentence. Naturally, direct neck training could help too, but in the world of bodybuilding, a place where genetics reign supreme, a structural weakness remains a weakness forever.
8. Looking big in clothes? Maybe next life, bro.
A pure ectomorph that looks big in clothes is as rare as a flying shark. The forces behind ectos’ inability to impress without striptease and angles game are once again the fragile bone structure and narrow shoulders. Ectomoprhs are not designed to play the role of a muscle gangster that fills the room with his massive filaments.
Nevertheless, some ectomorphs create an illusion of grandeur by maximizing their lats and chest development. Developed lats coupled with a small waist make you look a lot bigger than you actually are. A long time ago, I spent a week in a rock climbing gym filled with ectomorphs showcasing very wide lats and shredded abs – an intimidating combination, especially when the chicken legs are masked.
9. Ectomorphs Weigh Less Than Non-ectos of Similar Height
It’s not uncommon at all for an ectomorph to weigh less than a non-ecto of similar height. For example, I am about as tall as my father, but he is far from an ectomorph. He has dinosaur joints and a really hard time living under 200lbs/90kg. Granted, he also has a fat gut, but even without it, he would never reach the lower numbers [150-170lbs] where I have been dwelling all my life except for a few bulking years filled with skinny-fat delusions.
10. Adding Just A Little Bit Of Mass Can Make A Huge Difference
A gram of extra muscle mass on an ectomorph attracts more attention than expensive shoes on the feet of a street beggar. When everything is dark, and misery is king, even the slightest trace of light feels like the whole sun. I guess this acts as another consolation prize for ectomorphs naturally deprived of extraterrestrial muscle building genes. The areas where this effect has the most profound influence are the arms, lats, chest, forearms and quads. Those form the forefront. If you have one of those body parts developed as an ecto, some heads will turn… if the angles are right, of course.
11. Some Say We Don’t Even Exist
Overrated experts say that the body types known as mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph are a fragment of someone’s imagination. Not really. We exist and so do the other two versions. Yes, there is an element of mixing, and not everyone is a fine example of each body type, but the main points stay strong. When I read the description of an ecto, I immediately knew I was one even though not all points were accurate.
12. Bro, I Won’t Break, But Thanks For Asking
I had to transport packages filled with new furniture. The delivery guy, a muscular man with big arms and a central nervous system conditioned to sustain hours of odd objects lifting, almost cringed when he saw me. He didn’t trust me with the big packages and allowed me to transport only a light mattress with comfortable handles. Little did he now, that at the time I had a three plate deadlift and a semi-decent weighted pull-up. I was definitely capable of helping him with the heavier stuff too, but his prejudice prevented him from identifying my power. Well, that had a good side too – I saved some strength for my future workout.
I’ve been in similar situations in the gym too. One time, I was squatting 100kg/220lbs for 10×3 when a muscle professor asked me: ”Are you squatting this?” I nodded. ”You serious? It will break you,” he said and started laughing out loud. Ironically, it was my last set already.
As an ecto, you get used to people doubting your physical abilities because you simply don’t look like a guy who lifts a lot. Hardly a surprise since this life is ruled by illusions, emotions and deceptions. Don’t worry, you will get acclimated to it. Keep your strength hidden and use it as an invisible dagger that the security officers thinking you need special treatment cannot see.
13. Just lift heavy, bro. You will un-ecto yourself in no time.
Mainstream media spread the following myth – ectomorphs will transform if they limit the volume and raise the intensity. Wrong, actually. Even heavy weights don’t have the power to ”cure” ectomorphism.
Also, contrary to popular belief, ectomorphs do not disappear into the nothingness if the volume is on the higher side. We adapt to it just like everybody else. We don’t have special ecto fibers that refuse to operate when the work demand increases.
The main ectomorphic traits are mainly a result of bone structure, which training cannot fix. There isn’t a special rep range or intensity level that will somehow reconfigure your ecto hardware and let it update to version Big Poppa. If a routine builds muscle for the other body types, it should work for ectomorphs too. We are all humans after all.
14. Most Ectos Are Torso Dominant
You will rarely see a classic ectomorph with very impressive legs and arms. Filling your limbs with muscle is a hard quest when they are extra loooong. Ectos do much better in the torso department. Many ectomorphs have decently hypertrophied chests and lats. The explanation is simple – the structure of the ectomorph makes him torso dominant.
15. MYTH: Ectomorphs Are Very Feminine and Make Perfect Beta-Males
Many wrongfully assume that all ectomorphs are super sensitive white knights one step away from becoming high-end beta-males ready to provide for just any woman. All I can say to those people is – you wish.
P.S. Potential: How Big Can You Get Naturally is out.
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