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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378 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 02/11/2012 - 12:32

Hate being an ectomorph. Wish i was bigger like other guys at school..

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Posted Fri, 02/10/2012 - 19:05

Love this website. Lost my trainer and since finding this website, have found that I can be my own trainer. Have always had problems losing my belly no matter how much cardio or weight lifting I did. I finally figured out and accepted the fact that my diet was my downfall. I am now watching, calories, fat, and alcohol intake and can say that I have finally found my abs underneath my belly. Question is - Pregnancies do stretch the skin, I don't have stretch marks but I have flabby skin around my belly. I see female body builders who have had children and they don't have loose skin on their abs. Will the skin just naturally tighten if I stick to it? How long will it take? Do I have to bring down my body fat% to a certain level, or is that level individual? Have you spoken to women with this problem? What is your take?

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Posted Tue, 02/07/2012 - 08:11

I seem to be a cross between ecto and Meso, I have broad shoulders, very thin waste and can be considerably strong, only weighing 11 stone and being 6 foot 2 I find it very hard to gain weight, my matabolism is crazy! I have very long arms, especially my forearms which have never shown any sign of muscle gain, I just want to know what do I do to make real gain, people get a shock due to my strength I just don't have any gain to justify anything! Any advice would be great! Also I don't know if anyone has the same problem, I used to train when I was younger and damaged my deltoid, I believe the muscle in my shoulder, what do I do to make this stronger again? Thanks :)

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Posted Sat, 02/04/2012 - 00:57

excercise and be are all beautiful in your own ways :) i am ecto/meso///// i will never have small figure...i have and i looked bones are large and require meat!....i'm a mother...i dont need to sport a tiny bikini...i dont need eyes on me....i go to the gym regular, and karate, i enjoy a good fight (i'm fiesty hahahaaa)...and i think the best quality to have is a great personality, and commitment to your health and well being

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Posted Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:28

Hi, thanks for this but I don't really know what type I am.
when I was a kid I was very skinny and aet alot of junk food.
THen at the age of 15 I stopped doing sports and 2-3 years after I started to gain weight like nuts(I didnt stop eating like junk).
Then about 1 year a go I broke my leg and I didn't eat as much(because I was in bed etc) and I lost like 5kgs in less than a month.
What kind of body type am I? I think If I meet my calories intake I can lose weight.

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Posted Mon, 01/16/2012 - 11:42
Eberhardt Kalma...

There is one answer to all the queries on gaining mass in this post:

•Eat real food: Eat on a regular basis: Don't get hungry
•Stay hydrated: Drink nothing but water. Alcohol does not serve your goal.
•Stay way from the following food groups:
-grains ("grains" means bread, cereal, cookies, etc.)
-legumes, beans, lentils and especially soybeans (or any ingredients that include them)
-nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers)
-dairy and eggs

Be consistent. You won't get massive by tomorrow, next week, or next month. Believe it or not, to support massive muscles, you have to develop the BONE STRUCTURE that can carry it. Muscles exert tension on bones. It is possible for a muscle to exert so much tension that it can break the supporting bone, especially if the muscle is gaining strength faster the the bone is growing. This is a process of years.

You might be able to "juice it up, " but you will develop issues with your joints, and even if you get big muscles, your basic structure will look weak to anyone who can tell the difference.

So be patient, because it's possible for you to grow.

I'm a pure mesomorph. My little brother is a pure ectomorph. We started working out when we were kids in 1988, but he didn't gain as fast as I did. That didn't discourage him. We kept working out, and eventually he surpassed me because of his desire.

Consistency, consistency, consistency.

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Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 15:33
jay 1

hi thanks for writing this article i am naturaly thick set and stocky so i find it hard to lose weight easily yet i also find it quite hard to find a diet and gym plan to help me get toned muscles without getting much bigger as i am a good size now can anyone help all replys willl be appreciated thanks

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Posted Sat, 12/17/2011 - 00:50

I am a FEMALE ectomorph and have always wanted to have lean muscle definition. I looked up tons of stuff on how to build muscle but since most is geared towards men, I think I did it wrong and just ended up gaining more body fat. I lifted heavy weights around 10 reps max and always went up in weight when I could. I ate tons of protein and carbs and had protein after every workout but somehow I just got bigger and not cut and defined like I wanted. I do have the body type that could look like a fitness model if given the right direction! I almost want to give up on having that curvy, muscular look that I think looks so sexy and just go back to looking like a skinny model. Any help?

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Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 19:17

I am definitely a endomorph i do cardio and lift and just cant seem to get under 230ibs which is not good seeing as i am only 5 foot 8. i used to be almost 300 pounds but lost it the wrong way not eating drinking tons of water and chain smoking stopped smoking and eating again feel a ton better but still cant get past this weight any suggestions

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Posted Sat, 12/03/2011 - 03:19

Have naturally large pecs and naturally very strong on squats.

Short and light bone structure.

Small shoulders, biceps, OK back.

Gain muscle incredibly hard... Been working out for 20 years. Should be huge but am still fairly tiny(but much better than before). I have been training hard. Tried doing 6 reps very heavy, tried super sets, now trying 10s with drop sets.

See best results when eating a lot of calories but will get as much fat as muscle. When I cut back I lose a lot of muscle if I do not over eat protein while cutting or cut too fast. Seems to be enough if I forget to do it right for a single day..,

Seems like I am a combo of all types haha??

Any help appreciated.

A lot of protein seems to work for me. Over doing it. Not big shakes but many. Beef also seems to work.

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Posted Sun, 11/13/2011 - 23:42

Im a meta type have 50kg(19yrs old) height a kabadi player but no weight i want increase my weight around 60kg or above so plz give me a ideas.....

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:32

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here are some articles that can help:

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Posted Fri, 11/11/2011 - 14:34

i am15, 5 foot 4 inch tall.. i work out with my dumbells n stuff.. i wanna grow tall, and build my body.. any suggestions?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:32

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here are some articles that can help:

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Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 12:41

hi am robel,am 15 and weighing 55 kg and i am a type of ectomorph,i want to gain weight with out taking pills(naturally)...give me the type of food i should be eating...and i drink fresh uncooked eggs before gyming/picking up weights,doing push up' body is just getting divided(getting six packs) but that's not what i want all i wanna be is fat and strong like the mesomorph ..pls help?

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 00:58
Isaac Heesen

Thanks for posting this! I had never heard of different body types explained like this. I would definitely say that I'm an ectomorph. I used to weigh 120 lbs until I started working out and taking protein supplements, I currently weigh 153 lbs. I feel as though I haven't been able to gain anything recently though, perhaps I need to increase my caloric intake.

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Posted Mon, 10/10/2011 - 17:56

Hey guys. I think I am an endomorph(genetically mega thighs)/mesomorph combination. I am 5 ft 8 and I weigh 197 pounds at about 19-20% body fat. I've worked out once for 4 months at a stretch and I went to 207(Sorry, I don't know my body fat level at 207) but my body become incredibly strong and my cardio was amazing. The best I have ever been in my life. My workout involved 3-4 days a week with 3 miles of Cardio(in around 25 minutes) each day and 30-40 minutes of solid lifting. I broke up my workouts by muscle groups. So my question is: Why did I gain weight instead of losing it? Is there something I can do in the future to make sure I can come down to 185? Thank You :)

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/13/2011 - 14:06

Weight gain is all about diet. You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help:

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Posted Sat, 09/17/2011 - 09:43

I am 5'7'' and 121 lbs asian male. I started weight training such as dumbbell curl,chest press,lateral raises,prisoner squats,bent over row,hammer curl,side curl 2 month ago with 114 lbs and assigned it few different workouts for different day. My workout intensity are about 1 hour daily. Now I am 122 lbs, but I realize that everyday my weight is not stable. It can be 120 lbs, then goes up 122, then goes back 114 or 116.
I want to know the correct workouts for me to gain weight since I read about some workouts are not suitable for weight gainer ectomorph such as lateral raise. I need help to plan my diet also.
Thank you.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/03/2011 - 15:20
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Posted Fri, 10/14/2011 - 17:20
john han

some times you are not at you full potential, so it happens. it might help if u take 3 or 4 days off, and see how much you have lift. also stretch you muscles before working out.

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Posted Thu, 09/15/2011 - 20:43

hey i always thort i was big boned and wud always be fat in highschool i was 6ft5 and weighed 130 kgs,then got down to around 96 kgs i speed my metabolism up to a point where i could eat like a horse and stay at the same weight, so i stopped tryn to lose fat thnkn this was my normal size, but recently iv realised i still have quite abit of excess fat left on me stil. also i put on muscle easily and i gain and lose fat easily, im really curious what my body type is? im guna try lose all my excess fat then ill let u know what i weigh

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/03/2011 - 15:18

Hi Troy,

That might not have anything to do with bodyfat so it's hard to say. How hard you train can have a huge impact on body composition while bulking.

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Posted Sat, 09/10/2011 - 22:24

hi i wanna some informations about loosing waight at the stomake part and having a defined muscels in it quickly and thx for uu

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 11:09

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help:

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Posted Sat, 02/04/2012 - 01:05

focus on cardio and core excersize.(4 days per week)..this is where fat likes to 'hang out'. watch your carbs and junk food..(6 days per week)(7th is a ''free dayy''...but no junk food on the 7th day) these aand you will see a fast response. i won 2 weight loss compititions using this method (1500 cal/day for females...add 300 for males)all ''salad veggies are free clories so never ever go hungry...drink lots of water.... all my heaaaaaaalthy regimens and excercize are monitored by my gym/personnal aaaaaaaa button is broken hahaaaaaaaa

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Posted Sat, 09/10/2011 - 11:58

hey im 12 and i wanna do body buildin and stuff i can deadlift 90kgs alreddy :D got any tips

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 11:09

My best tip is to take your time and learn form. Keep working on it every week.

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Posted Fri, 08/26/2011 - 17:51
Chub B

I think I'm Endo/Meso, but I'm not sure. However, I need a workout / diet regiment to follow---desperately!!! I'm 5'2 and 243 lbs woman. I recently had a baby and I am ready to get fit. Can u help an over-weight, new mommy?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 08/31/2011 - 23:53

Hi Chub,

This workout is a great choice:

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help:
<strong>Need more help? <a href="">Ask me on the forum.</a></strong>

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Posted Tue, 08/02/2011 - 12:03
Dane Gayle

all of this is good and all but knowing your body type is one thing. Am not satisfied with my body type, by anycahnce can it be changed. For example i would like to be a ectomorph. Its great to be a meso...Altho my musles build fairly well. i want height so that my muscles aren't missed because of a short statue.

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Posted Mon, 08/01/2011 - 13:44

I think im an Ecto because i workout everyday but find it VERY hard to gain any muscle what so ever. I lift heavy and try to hit my muscles slow and hard but it really doesnt work. I dont have supplements but i eat loads of protein and calories.
can some one direct me to gain muscle mass?
e.g when to workout, whether to do it every day.. such n such

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 15:11

What does your daily eating plan look like?

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Posted Fri, 10/14/2011 - 17:14
john han

you should not be working out every day. get a routine in place with resting days and workout days, plus a good meal plan

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Posted Thu, 07/28/2011 - 07:21

Im an ectomorph who has just started going to the gym about two weeks ago, what kind of workouts should I be doing to gain muscle? And do you have any suggestions for supplements?

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Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 04:43

My body type is ectomorphs
iIam 31 yers old weight 65
but growth of my muscles r very lean and thin
how can i built my muscles with work out in zym or home zym
suggest me all techinqes and valuable routins work out
I hope u solve my problem
I want to look muscular and stronger
pls reply

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Posted Sat, 02/04/2012 - 00:44

chander, try increase in protien. lift weights to build muscle. when you can do 3 reps of 10..increase weights for 1 rep, 2 reps regular weight...then increase again but for 2 too 3 reps...when easy increase want muscle build...take breaks lift heavy...muscles have to tear a BIT AND HEAL TO GROW. cardio is not for you...strength train is

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Posted Wed, 07/13/2011 - 23:23
Kyle L.

I don't mean to be negative, but what I took mainly was that if you're not a Mesomoprh your not going far. I'm a Ectomorph, of course. I've been weight lifting for about 4 years. My desire and commitment to growing stronger aand fitness is over whelming. I've changed my works numerous times, tried different supplements and eating habitats. I've gone up and down in weight. From workouts that involve; doing the aimlessly look around for a new machine to work on , to power lifting, and muscle building.

I don't like accepting the fact that I won't keep progressing. I've felt lately that this is the strongest I'm going to get. While the people I've seen day in and day out are improving, and gaining strength. Cause they have that oh so awesome Mesomorph type.

I know I must sound like a baby or what not, but that's just my frustration. No matter how much I workout, or intensely. I'm not going to get any stronger or ripped like that bald guy whom lacks humility in the tank top.

My biggest thing is that if this is widely known within the community. Why is it that the majority of workouts are tailored to mostly Mesomorph type physiques? I mean from what I'm seeing on here there's quite a bit of Ecto's.

Sorry about an spelling errors.

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Posted Sat, 02/04/2012 - 00:38

keep up your stregth training. if you require a trainer, get one. try increasing weight when it seems too easy(even just for one repition at a time)...i am a mix of mes and ecto...i am a woman! i beat men in armwrestling and karate all the time...but cant seem to shed this darn 'muffin'' around my mid section...i have incresed my 'core excercise' and decresed my upper body (chest and shoulders) I can do it...and so can you! i will never have a size 3 figure! but i am who i am...

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Posted Thu, 06/23/2011 - 05:04

hi sir

i guess i'm an ecto/meso body type where my upper body type looks like an ecto with flat chest and thin ,my lower body type is of meso type (but it's like endo for me)

i find it difficult for doing any physical exercise

please suggest a good answer for me

i'm 5'10 and having 69

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Posted Tue, 06/21/2011 - 16:20
Ryan S

I think I am an ectomorph. It is very hard for me to gain weight, and very easy to lose weight. Here is my dilemma. I love doing Judo. But, Judo is a very cardio intensive workout that trims my body. But, I want to find a way to gain weight and mass at the same time that I practice this sport. Is this possible?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/14/2011 - 15:37

Hi Ryan,

Absolutely. One of the keys is to find calorie dense foods that don't fill you up, such as whole milk, almomds, etc. You an also add a bit of butter or olive oil to veggies, that sort of thing.

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Posted Fri, 07/15/2011 - 10:35
Ryan S

Thanks steve. I think if I work out everyday that would help too. Its hard with a busy schedule. What other foods can you recommend to me? Thanks.

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Posted Sat, 06/11/2011 - 04:36

I have a friend Cindy who is in her mid 30's, a recent divorcee. She had put on weight after her marriage failed. Currently, she is almost 140% overweight. She used to be only 110% overweight. All her life she has problem managing her weight. She is determined to overcome her weight problem and wants to look slim again. Her target is to see significant changes in 3 mths m within 9 months to be slim. She is 160cm, 75kg n her body is endomorph. Would you be able to recommend some diet n training regime to help her achieve her target?

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Posted Fri, 06/10/2011 - 05:57

Hello there. My name is Harry and I am a very round child. I was wondering what the best way to loose weight is. I want to be just like my best friend Sam. i also like to sometim,es eat too much and put weight on like a I LOVE TOAST

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Posted Fri, 06/03/2011 - 12:06


I am a classic ectomorph, at least I think I am. I am 5'10 about 163 lbs. It is very hard for me to gain muscle and weight. In your article you wrote "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."

I am wondering about the long rest periods. About how long in between workouts. Right now I do a 3 - 4 day exercise routine with the following type of exercises:

front and back squats, deadlifts, power snatches, clean and press, barbell and dumbell bench presses, chin ups and pull ups.

Thanks for all your help!

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Posted Tue, 05/17/2011 - 20:12
billy andrew


i'm having trouble building chest mucles any sugg

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Posted Tue, 05/17/2011 - 19:30

I know I'm definitely a mesomorph. Currently at 131 lbs, around 5' 7" to 5' 11". 8-11 percent body fat (mostly around my lower abs. I'm Trying to gain about 30lbs of lean muscle and tone up my core (again my lower abs and obliques). I know green is good when trying to clear up the excess fat around the core but my parents dont really buy healthy food like that. So any advice for general foods around the house and oblique workouts would be great. And im trying the six meal diet currently and trying to get to 2 gallons of water a day. I have Whey protein but i dont really use it consistently. Current training routines are split days, each one lasting 45mins to 1hr, high intensity. So cardio is included in it. An example of my workout is the Spartacus workout from the Iphone App. Again any advice to help me with my goal of gaining 30lbs of lean muscle and getting even more toned during the summer would be greatly appreciated.

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Posted Mon, 05/16/2011 - 03:14

Hi,to me for your muscle to be physically develop some one adequate diet.