Ever since I joined the dirty muscle game, I’ve been hearing a multitude of nonsensical claims in reference to ectomorphs fighting gravity. Luckily, I’m about to destroy the majestic stupidity spread by the mainstream megaphones. Unlike them, I won’t waste your time with politically correct low IQ concepts based on malignant and unnaturally positive philosophies.
Here’s the deal: ectomorphs cannot get big naturally because our bones are incredibly slim and often in the company of extra-short muscle bellies at places crucial to the acquisition of a fuller look. Another trait that sometimes accompanies “ectomorphism” is low testosterone.
When you combine those three elements (bone thickness, muscle length and unfavorable bodily chemistry), you get an ecto desperately scrolling through endless search results in the middle of the night, hoping to discover a routine that will turn him into a muscular beast.
Let me save you the trouble – the mystic program that you are searching for does not exist and never will. I know because I’ve done the same research for more years than I care to remember. Nonetheless, an ectomorph can get ripped and build jealousy-triggering strength in some lifts.
This is a savage statement but valid nonetheless. It’s better to learn the truth now than waste decades banging your head against the wall for nothing in return.
Why are bones so important?
Bones are not important. They are essential and determine a large percentage of our physical existence. Brad Pitt wouldn’t be Brad Pitt without the shape of his skull. Michael Jordan wouldn’t be Michael Jordan if he was 5’4” tall.
Bones have a tremendous influence on muscular growth too. Larger skeletons equal bigger muscles by d-e-f-a-u-l-t. A man with 7.5-inch wrists will naturally have bigger arms than someone like me with 6.25-inch wrists.
To illustrate this point with barbarian simplicity, I want you to search for images of female volleyball and basketball players. Of course, do it after finishing this awesome article. What you’ll see is that those women are quite big even by male standards. They owe their size to bones. A woman with a large skeleton can easily dwarf a dude with a fragile and modest structure.
This dependence is at place because larger bones need more muscle mass to operate properly. If you put the natural muscles of a man with a small frame on a robust brah, you will short the skeletomuscular system of the big bro. A massive car needs a massive engine. Consequently, people with otherworldly skeletons receive large muscle fibers in the “basic package” whereas ectomorphs like us have to cope with less.
Note: The above is not debatable. It’s an axiom as omnipresent as gravity.
Why Do Muscle Bellies Matter?
A long muscle has a higher growth potential right from the start because it contains more fibers (cadets) that can later graduate to generals.
Moreover, lengthier muscles do not come with “pre-joint” gaps. They insert nicely into the joint and give you a full, powerful appearance. Meanwhile, short muscles are married to long tendons resulting in a scrawnier appearance.
This remains true even in the presence of steroids. Compare the arms of Sergio Oliva to those of King Kamali, and you’ll know what I mean.
According to my observations, many ectomorphs have short muscle bellies at the following locations: biceps, hamstrings, calves, forearms. Subsequently, those body parts are severely lagging.
Why does bodily chemistry matter?
If you have been reading nattyornot.com (an amazing site) for a while, you probably know that I am not a huge fan of natural testosterone boosting when the goal is extra muscular development. The motif behind this reasoning is that a man’s testosterone baseline has to increase monumentally to elicit additional muscle synthesis. Herbs and food cannot do that. Most of the benefits that you get from optimizing your testosterone levels naturally are outside of the muscle construction spectrum.
Nonetheless, having an optimal testosterone chart is a highly desirable condition as it fuels you with energy to attack the gym and life in general. However, no amount of natural testosterone optimization will ever compensate for a small skeleton. Hence why I put this factor last.
Do Ectomorphs Have the Worst Body Type for Bodybuilding?
If we’re strictly talking about natural bodybuilding, ectomorphs are just not built for it. I don’t care what the positive thinkers say. That’s the truth.
Be careful, though. Many muscle scholars will try to brainwash you. They will tell you that small joints create the illusion of bigger muscles thanks to a contrast, but they will gladly omit crucial details from their reports such as the fact that the popular lifters used as examples have been injecting a pharmacy of steroids straight into the glutes for years.
In simpler terms, ectomorphs who inject may indeed gain extra points for their small joints, but naturals don’t enjoy that luxury.
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t say that ectomorphs have the worst body type. Sometimes, it’s better to be a skinny ecto than a natural-born permabulker [endomorph].
One thing is certain, though – ectos have the hardest time filling their clothes naturally.
Are the Myths About Ectomorphs True?
No, they aren’t. Most people who try to educate you on the topic have no idea what they are talking about.
For some reason, the industry keeps presenting ectomorphs as humans with turbine-like metabolisms. They say that ectomorphs need a colossal number of calories to sustain themselves. That’s the biggest lie ever told. I’ve been an ectomorph before many of you were even born. When I up the calories, I always get fat.
Yet people keep telling me about some mythical ectomoprhs who evaporate into the nothingness unless they consume 5,000 calories every day. Those specimens exist only in fairy tales and the corroded minds of the unaware.
Contrary to popular opinion, ectomorphs shouldn’t bulk up as this is the fastest path to becoming a skinny-fat brah – a condition in which you are simultaneously underweight and overweight due to a severe lack of muscle and a fairly high body fat. And yet the specialists never stop telling us to “just eat more”.
If you’re yearning to acquire the shape of a potato with sticks stabbed into it, be my guest – bulk up, brah.
Do Ectomorphs Struggle to Build Muscle?
Here’s another revelation – ectomorphs do not struggle to build muscle on top of their natural base any more than the other somatotypes. The sad truth is that all men have a hard time getting buff.
The difference in this case is that ectomorphs are just naturally smaller due to their thin frames whereas mesomorphs and endomorphs are larger without lifting – an advantage leading them to the wrong conclusion that they respond better to training when they are actually bigger due to a thicker bone mass.
At the end of the day, the amount of muscle that endos and mesos gain through natural training is not as high as they think.
Can ectomorphs get ripped?
Yes. Any healthy man willing to diet long enough can unmask his six-pack abs. Ectos are not excluded from this rule. The catch is that you may have to consume significantly smaller quantities of food than the commercials for ectos advise.
Can ectomorphs build sick strength?
It depends on the lift. In general, we suck at pushing exercises like the bench because we lack thickness and tend to have longer limbs, although that’s not technically a requirement to classify as an ectomorph.
Out of the classic movements, the deadlift is the one that favors the ectomorph body structure the most.
With persistent effort, ectomorphs can obtain some serious strength. When you combine it with the typical gazelle-like appearance of an ecto, you have a recipe for a guy who is significantly stronger than he looks.
Nevertheless, ectomorphs are not designed to be powerlifters even though there are exceptions.
How Should Ectomorphs Train and Eat to Build Bigger Muscles
Many stupid sites will fill your already tormented head with recipes and unnecessarily complicated routines based on broscience. Back in the day, I read that ectomorphs shouldn’t lift longer than 45 minutes. Why? What happens to an ectomorph after that time frame? Do we melt? Of course not.
Ignore those politically correct idiots. There aren’t lifting blueprints that can reverse ectomorphism. If you want to train with a higher volume do so. If you prefer more intensity, choose that route. As long as there’s stimulation, it doesn’t matter. People who claim to know a secret hack that will get you out of the ecto cage naturally are either unaware or have an incentive to pull you into their vortex of illusions
Life’s cold. I often feel like we are nothing but scripts running on a big computer.
Am I wrong or not? I guess we’ll all learn soon enough.
Thanks for your books man. They helped me to open my eyes.
Which is your best body comp reached (in terms of tall x weight x bodyfat)?
I’m not sure. In my fat state, I was 195lbs @ 23-25%BF (1/4 of me was fat). In my lean state, I was 160lbs @ 10-13%. I don’t have great genetics for this game. I am just an ecto who killed himself training and then just saw the truth. Ironically, when I was fat, I was eating only clean foods.
With me, when i was fat 30-20%bf i was fasting and following Warrior diet, and just make me more Craving and Gomad Warrior, without fasting i acquire 10-15%bf, because Calories in the end of day is the thing the matter.
And your height?
Lovely. Great mind-blowing… I think I classify as an endo meso. I’m 5 feet 6 ……77 kgs. I need to get to 63 to look ripped. Can you send me your email I’d please so I can send my pic to you.. I will love your feedback. ( Just a normal pic with shirt )) thanks and I have bought 2 of your books. They are v v good
Thank you for the support. My email is: email@example.com
Again a lot of wisdom born from experience! ??
Are 6’7 inch wrists (17cm) medium or small bone structure?
I am 177 cm with 17 cm writs too and would say that is ecto as fuck, also accompanied with think fingers. I mean, I have seen women in the public transport with thicker writs and fingers than mine.
My arms are 39 cm right now after I stopped training them directly with isolation exercises. What is yours? I always tried to grow them bigger, but nothing worked permanently. I used to do these high volume arm 3-4 times per week workouts, even tried blood flow restriction and got them to 40-41 cm, but this is only temporary pump lasting only 3-4 days, until they go back to regular 39 cm.
Sounds like we in the same boat. My arms are 39cm/40cm. Also tried everything over many years.
So obviously the cap for 17cm wrists is about 39 – 40 cm arms in lean state. I also got mine to 41 once but I wasn’t so lean. Goes to show bone thickness rules.
Although I think its better to be lean with 39cm arms than fatter with 41cm arms. Girls appreciate the leanness more.
Interested to see how big your forearms are? Mine are 12 inches unpumped last I checked.
12.2 inches cold.
I know only few natty guys with bigger arms(42cm), but they have very wide shoulders, even when they where skinny. So I guess having a big frame can also affect your arms muscle mass potential.
I once read somewhere that your wrist circumference plus 10 inches is pretty much the maximum for the circumference of a lean natty upper arm. I think this is correct.
Maybe Truth Seeker can tell more about this?
Read this: https://nattyornot.com/jeff-nippard-natty-or-steroids/
Special for Brett… ??
This is the best physical conditioning article I have ever read. I was always an ectomorph and was fooled like most. Today with 53 years I have just begun to understand, thanks to you. A hug, friend, greetings from Uruguay
P.S. Excuse me, my English is very poor
Revealing and somehow funny for the experienced ectomorphs.
And soul crushing for the ecto newbie lifters. I guess any newbie ecto reading this article will say “bullshit, this is limiting believes”. But after 4-5 years of lifting they will realize what is going on and remember that this guy was fucking right.
Your articles are amazing!
I’ve been training for almost 5 years, and before i was slave to Gurus and Youtube Channels, and stay in ethernal loop of Cuting and Bulking and accelerated aging exercise, but have the same weight and bf after the Natural Loop.Today, i just give up of follow the ego path, and adopted the minimalist path, following your 1×5 with 3 exercises weekly(9min weekly training) and LCHF diet in the weekdays(just for keep calorie déficit and low hunger, nothing magical). After lose 5 years of my life in this samsaric microcosm, i realize that is need almost anything for keep the gainz of muscle and strenght for long term, and do more would be stupidity for me,
because more work would come, without benefits.
I consider myself pretty ecto too. My wrists are 7’2 while being 6’1. Doesn´t matter what I do, after years of training progress stalls. Doing Curls 40 Pounds per side on 6-8 clean reps and still basically the same arm size I started with. Doing Pullups with 20-30 pounds of extra weight. No more gainz! This blog is a revelation somehow!
You and Sandow have the same wrist circumference (7.2 inches). Thats certainly not slim boned.
His arm were measured properly once and they were recorded as being 16’5 inches cold.
I would say most natties (80% rough estimate) will never have arms bigger than 16’5 inches in lean condition.
Most natties will have arms between 15 – 16’5 inches in a lean state (not more than 15% bf).
You can assume a natty lean arm of 10 inches plus the wrist circumference, but then you need to train, eat and rest consistently and dedicated for at least 4-5 consecutive years.
That rule is not true.
I should have 16’7 inch arms then.
Ive been training hard for 10 + years already. Growth for natural arms stops drastically after 2 – 5 years. Your arms don’t slowly grow after decades, bit by bit. They get to a certain size, then they stay there.
Not even sandow or grimek achieved the 10+ rule. Sandow should of had 17 inch arms then and Grimek should of had 18. Both would of worked their arms hard (and did based on their pics of their development in their arms). Yet even they fell short of the bro science 10+ rule.
The ‘rule’ is actually about 9 if we want to use a rule. Alot of men will probably not even get that though.
@Brett. Haha, it’s not a fixed rule.
Incidentally, you are right that the maximum natty genetic potential has been reached after 4-5 years (in adulthood), provided that you have been dedicated, consistent and properly trained, eaten and rested for all those years.
Finally a info that is the truth ! I’ve been body building since I was 14 years old (1973) , did the full body x 3 per week for 3 years & at 168lbs @ 5ft 8” more or less peaked for my age at that time , 6.75” wrists 15” arms 22” thighs . Opted out of contests when I was 18 recognising the competition with steroids was too great to risk my long term health . When 30 years old returned to training but by accident found that strength increases especially in legs were only possible for me when I trained them once a week . In 5 months 250×10 > 340 x10 , and further progress on upper body when omitting legs in work out , in other words ,specialise ! So final measurements after 1 year of this 16” arms and 25” thighs 31.1/2 “ waist at 172lb . Can’t comment on body fat percentage other than I was contest shape , at a comparison with other known contestants of similar structure I recon about 8% , all I remember of that time was that I thought about food all the time !
The main thing that is forgotten by most engaging in drugs ,is their health , I’m 60 years old now and still training just once a week , the strength hasn’t diminished at all ! Just keeping slim is tough . Most of those I competed with that took the drug route are either dead or have lost their mind , depression etc . The figures above I find quite realistic with the exception that just occasionally there is a natural that genetically has everything in place ,they are the exception , which is a poor measure to judge ourselves , just concentrate on bettering your self , that way you’ll be more content .
Best advice I can give out of all of this , is try less first , if that gets results ,don’t do more .
Great site 👏🏻