Your Body Type - Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?

Body type influences how you respond to diet and training. Understand your body type in order to plan your muscle building training and diet program.

The Three Body Types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph

Image courtesy of Govt. of Western Aust. Dept. of Health

When I first got into the muscle building scene I was overwhelmed by the amount of different training programs, bodybuilding supplements, diets, articles and information there was out there. There were so many conflicting diets and training programs available and I had no idea what I “should” be doing. The result of this was about 6 months in the gym with little gains and almost no motivation to workout anymore.

I was at a complete loss and about to throw in the towel and give up. Then a guy in the gym gave me a magazine and told me to read the article in there about body types. So I did and it opened my eyes up to the reason why I wasn’t making any gains in the gym.

I am a true ectomorph (classic hardgainer) and my bodyweight was 60.2kg (132.5lbs) when I first walked into a gym. I had no idea about body types back then. I assumed (like most beginners do) that the more I worked out the bigger I would get. Thinking that “more was better” I started following a program designed for an elite bodybuilder. This resulted in gains of about 1.7kg in 6 months.

After reading the body type article in that magazine I started to understand more about how my body type worked, my metabolism, and gaining weight. Being an ectomorph I need to focus on calorie intake, long rest periods, and minimum cardio. It was only then I started making some real gains and I’ve never looked back.

So it’s important to be able to identify and understand your body type. Different body types require different training methods and diet plans. So listed below are the 3 male body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph, along with their characteristics.


An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy. Ecto’s have a light build with small joints and lean muscle. Usually ectomorph’s have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Shoulders tend to be thin with little width.

Typical traits of an ectomorph:
Ectomorph body type
  • Small “delicate” frame and bone structure
  • Classic “hardgainer”
  • Flat chest
  • Small shoulders
  • Thin
  • Lean muscle mass
  • Finds it hard to gain weight
  • Fast metabolism

Ectomorphs find it very hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism which burns up calories very quickly. Ecto’s need a huge amount of calories in order to gain weight. Workouts should be short and intense focusing on big muscle groups. Supplements are definitely recommended. Ectomorphs should eat before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night. Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them.


A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for bodybuilding. They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong which is the perfect platform for building muscle.

Mesomorph body typeTypical traits on a Mesomorph:
  • Athletic
  • Generally hard body
  • Well defined muscles
  • Rectangular shaped body
  • Strong
  • Gains muscle easily
  • Gains fat more easily than ectomorphs

The mesomorph body type responds the best to weight training. Gains are usually seen very quickly, especially for beginners. The downside to mesomorphs is they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs. This means they must watch their calorie intake. Usually a combination of weight training and cardio works best for mesomorphs.


The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft. Endomorphs gain fat very easily. Endo’s are usually of a shorter build with thick arms and legs. Muscles are strong, especially the upper legs. Endomorphs find they are naturally strong in leg exercises like the squat.

Endomorph body typeTypical traits of an Endomorph:

  • Soft and round body
  • Gains muscle and fat very easily
  • Is generally short
  • "Stocky" build
  • Round physique
  • Finds it hard to lose fat
  • Slow metabolism
  • Muscles not so well defined

When it comes to training endomorphs find it very easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, a large portion of this weight is fat not muscle. To keep fat gain to a minimum, endomorphs must always train cardio as well as weights. Usually supplements may not be needed as long as the person has a high protein intake in their diet.

A Combination of Body Types

These body types aren’t set in stone. In fact, most guys have a combination of two body types. These combinations are either ectomorph/mesomorph or mesomorph/endomorph. It is not uncommon to find a pure mesomorph that gains weight like an endomorph for example.

So which body type are you?

Given the information above you should be able to identify your body type. You may also want to optimize your diet and training to suit your body type.

One final point I want to mention is that no matter what your body type you can build a big, ripped, muscular physique. Even the skinniest of guys can bulk up. Yes, it’s harder but if you’re willing to put in the hard work it can be done. I have about the skinniest natural build possible and at the time of writing this article I have gained about 30kg (66lbs) of lean muscle mass.

Learn more:

Learn more about how to build lean muscle naturally on your body type by joining Muscle and Strength. Muscle and Strength has a huge community of Muscle and Fitness enthusiasts who can help you reach your goals!

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388 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 10/06/2016 - 15:21

I don't know if i'm a meso only or meso combined with endo because i can gain muscles very easily but also my muscles doesn't have HD (only 4K LOL) but that can also be because maybe i don't do enough aerobic exercise. Don't really know.

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Posted Tue, 03/29/2016 - 18:34

I am so glad I found your article, I married an ectomorph and wondered why in the world he couldn't gain muscle mass! I thought w/my life style he'd bulk up. His arms have always been thin as well as his legs, and no pecs. I have a very small frame but I gain muscle mass extremely easy, and since we've been together he has gained weight (due to my heavy protein diet) but it's all gone to his waist, no muscle gain (we play tennis, bike, miles of speed walking; I do weight training, but he avoids it at all cost, he finds it useless and boring). Anyway, thank you for the article, I now can show him why he's always been the "skinny guy".

MikeWines's picture
Posted Wed, 03/30/2016 - 11:26

Somatotyping is largely physiologically irrelevant. See here:

To quote myself from the article itself: "Somatotypes were originally developed by a psychologist from Rhode Island named William Herbert Sheldon. Originally, body typing was developed to characterize individual’s psychological state based upon their anthropometry.

In the end, the bodybuilding and fitness community adapted the somatotype classification system as a way to categorize physical deviations present in trainees.

Not only that, the original model developed by Sheldon was designed entirely for men so what are women supposed to use?

As you can see, somatotypes are fairly limited in their design, application, and significance.

Somatotypes were never designed as a means to estimate muscle growth potential or an individual’s genetic response to training.

Remember, body types are not the “be all, end all”; you’re not destined for hardgainer hell simply because you’re tall and lanky with narrow shoulders.

Similarly, you’re not doomed to put on fat if you’re an endomorph who loves carbs. This is merely a reference point, nothing more, nothing less.

Don’t limit yourself psychologically by believing your somatotype is something you can’t control and the limiting factor for your gains.

As Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes has said before,

“More than anything else, I think somatotypes are useful for the most general of classifications for beginning trainees, not as a rationale to limit one's potential. Your somatotype isn’t even “real.” Don’t use somatotypes as an excuse to create a preconceived limit where there isn’t one.”"

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Posted Sun, 02/21/2016 - 19:45

My body ECTOMORPH ... Please help me find a suitable training program

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Posted Thu, 02/18/2016 - 17:36

People still believe this trash? Body-morph types are a bro-science thing of the past. There is no such thing as being an "ecto" or "endo". Yes, one can either be born with, or develop metabolic disorders that either speed up or slow them down greatly, but they are EXTREMELY, I repeat, EXTREMELY rare. If you think you're an "ectomorph" and can't gain weight, or an "endomorph" and can't lose weight, I'd immediately ask, are you counting your macronutrients and caloric intake with a proper measure of your Basal/resting Metabolic Rate (BMR) and also accounting for your daily activities to find your true Total Daily Expenditured Energy (TDEE)? 99.9% of the time, no, you aren't properly calculating your intake or even your TDEE because you're either more or less active than you think, and your 1 cup of rice is actually more like 3. Please leave any citations with real proof that any of this crap is real (and make sure it isn't date information from a 30 year old medical journal).

MikeWines's picture
Posted Fri, 02/19/2016 - 10:24

I would agree 100%. This article is fairly antiquated in nature and I've already covered the "somatotyping myth" in another more recent article which you can find here:

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Posted Tue, 07/12/2016 - 16:20
Michelle Haynes

Nice Comeback, Mr. Wines. You need to give me some lessons:)

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Posted Fri, 01/22/2016 - 12:46

Hi I'm new to the gym looking for and one to help with routines would like to build a little bit of muscle but not sure if doing rite exercise

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Posted Sat, 12/19/2015 - 12:08

What the author fails to mention is that as we age, our body types rarely stay the same (due to slower metabolism/dietary habits). Of course you can't change your height, but if you are a lazy ectomorph in your 20's, you can very easily become a mesomorph borderline endomorph even by your early 30's. I've seen it happen to many non-gym types. Metabolism and aging is something that should be addressed here.

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Posted Thu, 02/18/2016 - 17:39

Ok can you stop using the morph words? First of all, they aren't real to begin with. So if you're saying as you age you can get fat because you're lazy and don't work out... duh? Metabolism actually doesn't change too much from mid 20's - late 30's for most individuals (pending the change of testosterone levels). If you maintain an active lifestyle for most of that time, chances are you T-levels won't dip too much, hence your metabolism (or in other words BMR/TDEE) won't change much. In fact, if you exercised moderately through your 20's, you should have a greater muscle mass and thus be able to intake a higher caloric amount. Metabolism and aging isn't really a thing, if you're talking about aging and drop of testosterone, then fine I agree, but that's why there's medical options to tackle that (TRT either creams or injections).

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Posted Thu, 07/07/2016 - 09:23

Ryan, I would also look at the ingredients that have changed in our food as well as the mutation known as our children. When junior is coming from a 5 4 mother and a 5 8 father yet ends up being 6 5 ar 12. Their eugenics as well as Familia traits show their bloodline was never of the tall gene. The government is helping create a new body type. Myself as for exercising am lean and focus on cardiovascular be it through road bikes, bmx, and a bit of skateboarding. Age has halted the skating a bit as well as health. Appreciate your comments. You seem to be of utmost knowledge on the subject. I do crack up watching the "natural" ha meathead gasp for air because they lack wind. You should also address slow and fast twitch muscles. Thanks again..

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Posted Tue, 07/12/2016 - 16:23
Michelle Haynes

He should maybe write his own article instead of berating everyone else.

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Posted Wed, 07/13/2016 - 09:32

hahaha... yeah agreed.. my post was trying to be a tad more subtle.. twenty thumbs up...

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Posted Sun, 09/25/2016 - 11:36

Ryan: 20s to 30s does not constitute 'aging'. 40s to 50s is where you'll see metabolism slowing down. So it is a 'thing'. Plus, it isn't about testosterone when you're female. I'm 45 and I eat less than I did at 25 when I weighed 115 lbs (a little underweight for my frame). I weigh 155 lbs now (a tiny bit overweight for my frame). And my lifestyle is no less active. Trust me, Ryan, it really is a thing for most of us. Then there's my husband: skinny his whole life and right buff and hot when I met him. He eats the same and can't seem to lose weight despite the salads. (I know some things he could do, but I'm not into being my man's critic). Fact is, a person needs to alter his/her habits as they truly age. And 20s and 30s do not represent true aging. It wasn't till my 40s that fat loss became difficult. ☺

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Posted Wed, 10/28/2015 - 14:45

Can a 6ft 5inch man be a endomorph

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Posted Sun, 09/06/2015 - 03:58

So many idiotic comments on this forum, involving nutrition, and body types. My god, Majority of yall aren't educated and devoted your entire life to fitness and nutrition. Not saying some of yall posses some knowledge but idiotic comments such as "I'm right and you're wrong" and stuff like "Well, I looked online and it said to do this". People please...I need something stronger than this tea for all this bullshit.

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Posted Mon, 09/14/2015 - 04:45

how? i buld my body pless reply me

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Posted Fri, 06/03/2016 - 13:44

If you were educated you wouldn't say "yall", you would be able to spell 'possess,' and you wouldn't use offensive language to make up for your limited vocabulary.

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Posted Sun, 08/23/2015 - 08:39

I am a mesomorph , slight muscles , I never got in a gym . now I want to join a gym ,but I want a atheletic body (not bulky but flawless when u remove your shirt ) .
Anyone help , should I take gainers ??!!
Search sj.menac on Facebook u will get me
I will be great full for your help

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2016 - 09:18
Garry Pierre

You start on basic body weight exercises push ups squats lunges sit ups pull ups and seated dips first after 2 weeks of this routine gradually go to weights

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Posted Sun, 08/23/2015 - 08:39

I am a mesomorph , slight muscles , I never got in a gym . now I want to join a gym ,but I want a athepetic body (not bulky but flawless when u remove your shirt ) .
Anyone help , should I take gainers ??!!
Search sj.menac on Facebook u will get me
I will be great full for your help

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Posted Fri, 08/07/2015 - 15:11

Thank you this has encouraged me.I am mostly ectomorph, with some mesomorph and little endomorph... which means I need to work twice as hard... feeling a bit frustrated about it, but I won;t give up.

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Posted Sun, 07/12/2015 - 13:37

hello evry one !

i am an ectomorph , and i eat a TONES of natural foods evry day !!
some time i eat 1kg of sardines just in breakfast !!!!
that mean moor then 240g of proteins !
lets not count what i eat in the last day !

and i never get mass !
ESPECIALY my leggs ( calves ) and butts , and Triceps -___-

SOS Help :P
and if i have to tak a Supplements protein , please tell me what is the best for me , i wanna get only Muscles
Thanks you

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Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 23:02

This is how I gained mass, eat a full sized meal every 2 hours, with as many calories as you can possibly take in. In about 2 months you will gain atleast 20 pounds

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Posted Sun, 08/09/2015 - 22:57

your body will only absorbs certain amount of protein per sitting (example 150g). There is no point eating 1kg of sardines for your breakfast, it will go to the waste, what I recommed is splitting the 1kg sardine in to 3 meals and your absorb full of the proteins e3ach every few hour , you will size gain in no time.

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:17

Thanks you kevin , i will try that and see what i gain

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Posted Fri, 01/15/2016 - 20:30

First of all.. if you keep eating "1kg of sardines", you will get very sick. It's not a question of if you will get sick but when. Natural whole foods are great and you do not need supplements. As long as you are getting all vitamins and minerals and a surplus of calories, you're all good.
Secondly.. not even Big Ramy needs 240g of protein a day or he actually requires somewhere around that amount daily. The PROTEIN hype is all bullshit suggested by the "fitness" industry, that you need that much protein. It's a hustling moneymaking industry which takes advantage of idiots who will buy anything and believe everything.. You need 1-1.7g of protein pr kg body weight a day. Anything above that is fine but not necessary.
If you are not making gains, your training program is wrong or you are not doing the work required. If you are trying your hardest and not seeing results, my guess is, you are following a workout meant for someone on gear(drugs). Try a novice or medium 5x5 type program. Something simple with compound movements where you hit every body part in each workout. Do this for at least 5 months.

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Posted Fri, 01/15/2016 - 20:37

I forgot to mention.. try eating at least 3500-4000 calories a day. Don't worry about your macros to much. But do take in at least 1-1.7g protein pr kg body weight and 0.75g fat pr kg body weight. Carbs are your actual fuel! And don't do any cardio for the first couple of months. Good luck!

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2016 - 14:21

Thanks you soo much brow ! i will try that !!

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2016 - 15:22

be careful to not work out too frequently as you'll end up burning more than you gain.
It may be different for us (I'm also an ecto) but I train 2x - 3x times a week since I have schedule restrictions. Top it off with eating a lot. Carbs are a big deal.

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 01/25/2016 - 10:13


One isn't better than another, it depends upon what you're trying to accomplish (i.e. your goal), your level of experience, and your maximum recoverable volume.

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Posted Fri, 04/29/2016 - 15:27

Do not only concentrate and isolate such few muscle groups per day, you need to work on all muscle groups each and every day so you dont screw up like i did... building properly is vital, you need to make notes and moniter each individual muscles's growth rate/shape and make sure to pay attention to the other muscle groups in comparison to make sure they are proportianate to one another.

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2016 - 14:34

one another thing please !
what is better ? 5 days or 4 days ??? per week
( I am not nuw for bodybuilding... )
my 4 days was gona be
D1 Chest / Triceps
D2 Back / Biceps
D3 Rest
D4 Legs / Abs
D5 Shoulders / Abs
D6 Rest
D7 Rest

or in
D2 i do Back and Abs
And D5 i do Shoulders and Triceps

And for 5 days i would do

D1 Chest / Abs
D2 Back / Abs
D3 Triceps / Biceps
D4 Legs /
D5 Shoulders / Abs
D6 Rest
D7 Rest

What do you think ???

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Posted Tue, 06/07/2016 - 06:31

Pray to God

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Posted Thu, 07/09/2015 - 12:07
Kurt Wetzel

First regardless of body type it's best to do strength training and cardio. I would say I am a combo of a mesonorph/ectomoroph. I have a harder time gaining muscle and gaining fat but if I do not exercise and just sit around eating junk I will gain weight. I am tall and lanky which does not help me out. Oh well I am stronger and in better shape than people think. That leads me to say regardless of body type, to an extent, you really can't look at someone to judge their fitness levels.

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Posted Fri, 04/17/2015 - 04:01

Decamorph. Genetics are invalid

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Posted Mon, 03/09/2015 - 12:16
appiah richmond

My body is a mixture endo and meso type.I like to eat fatty foods that I cannot get rid of.

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Posted Sun, 12/21/2014 - 13:05
Zack C

I have never seen such horrible grammar spelling and general bad English. You guys must be joking. Don't people know the difference between "buy" and "by" ???

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Posted Fri, 04/29/2016 - 15:31

they are probably foreign, or too much adrenaline use has made them stupid.

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Posted Fri, 11/14/2014 - 13:43
Jason Reffitt

Skinny fat is the way to be!

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Posted Sat, 10/04/2014 - 01:54
Michael C

These 3 body types remind me of the 3 "doshas" in Ayurveda: vata (ecto), pitta (meso), and kapha (endo). Ayurveda says the same things regarding metabolism, muscle mass and the ability to gain muscle. Additionally, it goes into great detail about other aspects of physiology as well as psychology. Long textbooks have been written about the 3 types, so I won't mention any more here, you can Google for the details if you want. I will say, though, that from my experience, it's very accurate. You can tell me your favorite foods and I'll probably be able to guess your type. The same goes for spending habits, hair color, predominant emotions, etc. Check it out.

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Posted Sun, 07/05/2015 - 06:41

While it is true most individuals have a combination body type, what good does it do to strive for the "perfect 10" bod when the soul needs adjustment. Having a balance between optimal morals, physical activity and stamina, proper nutrition and healthy socialization amongst others is the balance needed for a content life. Focusiing on one area harshly is not fruitful in the pursuit of a balanced life.

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Posted Mon, 09/22/2014 - 06:08
setareki ratuvou

good gain some muscles

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Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 07:44

im an ectomorph and im skinny ive been trying to gain weight mostly so that id look good and I want to feel good about my body also so that girls would look at me instead of the other way because im skinny pleace can anybody help me out

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Posted Sat, 06/13/2015 - 15:47
Laurence Almand

Jordan - Accept your heredity. If your parents were skinny you are going to the slim, so don't complain. Consider yourself lucky that you don't weight 250 and have heart problems! Im also an ectomorph and have had good results with systematic weight training, even though I will never be "musclemorph". A word of warning: DON'T try using steroids to gain weight. They cause weight gain, but they also cause serious liver cancers and heart problems. Those of us who are "born slim" are lucky, so accept yourself.
About the girls: If you cultivate a nice personality and are considerate and appreciate women, you will find a good woman who appreciates you in return.

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Posted Sun, 06/21/2015 - 03:59

Laurence, that is a cracking reply. You're a good guy.

Jordan I'm an ectomorph and used to think the same way as you, I'd try hard at the gym for months and see vey small gains. I took up running and guess what us ectomorph are great at it. Go for a run see how you enjoy it. I bet you'll get the running bug.
As for the girls , Laurence has hit the nail on the head.
All the best mate

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2016 - 09:31
Garry Pierre

Yes first of all weight training and nutrition how to implement it is the question , in your case more heavy eating but healthy instead of oatmeal substitute it with grits sausage wheat bread toast and eggs with a cup of orange juice in the morning a hour later exercise add weight to your body weight exercise like dips and pull ups add 10 pounds to your self and commence to do slow concentrated exercise allows your muscles to build less reps like for example 3 sets of the designated exercise protein shake afterwards of whey 45 minutes afterwards eat heavy and healthy like steak and potatoes with added vegetables

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Posted Thu, 08/28/2014 - 00:18

okay then

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Posted Sun, 08/24/2014 - 00:46


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Posted Sat, 08/02/2014 - 21:44

I'm an ectomorph , I recently came to the conclusion that I want to gain weight and start strength training.
can someone please offer me an advice as what kind of diet I should follow and exercise routine that would be ideal for my body type . thank you in advance