Bulking diet and workout tips – how to gain weight if you’re ectomorph

Wie du mit einem effektiven Zirkeltraining deine Fitness verbesserst, Muskeln aufbaust und dabei Zeiteffektiv trainierst.


When setting up a workout and diet plan, it’s important to understand that not every body type is the same. We have ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs; in this article we focus on the first ones, also known as hard gainers, and how they can bulk up their muscle mass.

What are the characteristics of an ectomorph body type?

While the most common fitness goal is to reduce fat and lose weight, the ectomorph body type is the one in which people struggle to gain weight as, no matter what they eat, they body frame remains slim. Some might even consider them as “lucky” but their fitness goals can be as challenging to achieve as for most people, as they really battle to put on muscle mass and their diets require to eat a lot in order to get the required amount of calories.

Some of the physical characteristics of ectomorphs are flat chest, wide and visible clavicles (as well as shoulders), symmetrically built body frame, narrow waist, thinner joints, long and round muscle bellies, and low body fat percentages.

In addition, there is more to an ectomorph to what the eye can see. Ectomorphs typically have lower testosterone levels and a faster metabolism, leading to lack of anabolic muscle building and difficulty to gain weight. This also gives them a higher caloric need and different priorities when working out, needing less cardio for example.

Other important characteristics affecting the fitness plan of people with ectomorph body type are, being able be more flexible on their diets with what we call “cheat meals”, and also getting full easily which sounds great for most but, in the case of ectomorphs, it makes it harder for them to be able to eat the amount of calories they need in order to gain weight.


The most important step to get into bulking is to set up a proper meal plan. Just like we can determine how many calories someone needs to eat in order to lose weight, it is also easy to understand the basic principle to increase gain weight and increase significant muscle mass: You need to be in a calorie surplus.

A calorie surplus means to eat more calories than the amount that the body burns off throughout the day, both with normal body functions and daily physical activity. For a responsible and conscious bulking, we recommend a surplus of 15% over the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), which is the estimation of the amount of calories your body needs according to your weight, height, age and level of activity. If you’d like to learn how to calculate your TDEE, then we recommend you to read our article on how to create your own meal plan, or you can use some of the tools available online.

But be careful! Although it sounds nice to have to fill up your day with calories, it does not mean you get to eat all the burgers and pizza you want. It is important to give the body the right nutrients it needs, so it can focus on gaining muscle mass while still avoiding to store fat or waste the efforts at the gym because of poor nutrition.


We’ve been sold the idea that carbohydrates are the enemy and we should stay away from them, but in reality, when consumed responsibly in a well-designed meal plan, carbohydrates are our best friends when it comes to fueling the body and giving the muscles the energy they need to regenerate and recover from a heavy workout session!

As ectomorphs have a hard time gaining muscle, they need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to enhance recovery so they can train again quicker. This is why it is recommended for them to take fast-absorbing carbohydrate drinks after their workout so their muscles can start working on regeneration immediately, by breaking down those carbohydrates into glucose, the main source or energy for the muscle. Additionally, consuming also carbohydrates of slower absorption helps the body keep a constant source of energy throughout the day, which is great to continue building muscle in an anabolic state.

Complex carbs recommended in a diet for ectomorphs are brown rice, brown pasta, whole-wheat bagels, yams and sweet potatoes. Overall, carbs should represent 55% of the total amount of calories consumed in a day.


When the goal is to gain weight and build muscle, there is no way that protein can be overlooked when setting up a meal plan, as it is the most important macronutrient. Proteins are the body's essential building blocks, building up the cells in the form of amino acids. They are also the main component of muscle.

During bulking phase, ectomorphs should aim at a 25% protein intake from their total calorie intake, with preference for lean meats to avoid unnecessary consumption of fats that could result in gaining weight, not from gaining muscle, but from increasing our bod fat percentage. The recommender sources of lean protein are turkey, chicken, fish, lean stakes, eggs. Protein shakes are also excellent alternatives to increase daily protein intake.

It is always important to consume complete proteins and, when following a vegan diet, to make sure that different plant sources of protein are combined to ensure the intake of all the amino acids.


Another macronutrient people tend to fear, but fats also play an important role in the body as they support skin and hair health, and lubricate cells in the body. More importantly, fats are key for people with an ectomorph body type because of their function regulating testosterone levels, therefore supporting muscle growth.

You may need fats, but don’t run too fast to the fast food restaurant! The type of fats is also a factor to be considered; foods high in saturated fats should be avoided to prevent clogged arteries, increased cholesterol, or being at risk of heart diseases. On the contrary, unsaturated fats and high in Omega 3, 6 and 9 are perfect examples of the type of foods that should be added to your shopping list.

1 gram of fats contains 9 calories, helping ectomorphs catch up with the needed amount of daily calories. Overall, the daily fats intake should represent 20% of the nutrition.

Supplement tips

  • Gainer: Muscle gainers contain both fast and slow absorbing carbs (in the form of inulin), as well as complex proteins, so your muscles will get instant supplementation for them to begin recovery and, with it, you’ll be able return to the gym sooner.

From our BioTechUSA catalogue, Hyper Mass is an outstanding choice to increase your daily calorie intake, with three different types of carbohydrates, three protein sources and added creatine and dietary fibres. If by any chance you don’t have a mass gainer available, you can make one by adding the unflavoured Carbox to a protein shake like Iso Whey  Zero.

  • Creatine: Creatine increases your performance in a successive burst of short-term, high intensity exercises. The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 3 g of creatine. 100% Creatine Monohydrate is prepared with pure, pharmaceutical grade creatine in powdered form. It’s flavourless so it’s easy to mix with other supplements like weight gainers and protein shakes.

  • Pre-workout: To build muscle you need intense and heavy workout sessions, which will require a lot of energy from you. Nitrox Therapy is an energizing formula with added creatine, carbohydrates and high caffeine content. Yet, it’s sugar free so it can fit in any diet.


What is the best bulking workout for an ectomorph?

The intensity of a bulking workout should be less about on the cardiovascular activity and more about the weight, as the goal is to improve testosterone in order to maximize muscle gain. For this, the workout should consist of compound exercises (squats, deadlifts, bench presses) as they will activate more muscles and allow you to exercise with more weight. The duration should not be more than an hour, plus the additional time for warm-up, core exercises, and stretching at the end of the workout.

Proper stimulation means training a muscle group once or twice a week very hard.

Regarding cardio, best is to keep it minimal as possible (if any), as calories are precious for ectomorphs and they can’t afford to lose the surplus.

Here is an example of a 3-day bulking training plan but let’s dig a bit deeper into must-do exercises:

Bench-press: There is a few different ways to do bench press; you can have a close grip, a narrow grip or a wide grip, which will vary depending on the muscles you are targeting, focusing mostly on the chest as the primary muscle and involving other secondary muscles depending on the grip. Make sure the technique is right to preserve your shoulder health.

Squat: Some people view this as the king of all exercises and it’s going to be really important, particularly for building leg size and strength, but it’s also going to build up strength through the lower back and the core muscle. There are many variations you can try depending on your mobility and fitness level, such as the barbell squat, the front squat, goblet squat, etc.

Deadlift: Everyone should be doing deadlifts as long as the technique is correct. It’s a great exercise for increasing posterior chain and lower back strength, improving posture, and also improving strength through the legs. In other words, it works hamstrings, glutes and back muscles.

Pull-up: This exercise is going to predominantly target the muscles of the back and also the arms, so it is a great exercises for improving posture and, again, posterior chain muscles.

Once you set up your diet and workout, it is all a matter of consistency and dedication in order to see the expected results. Time to bulk up!

German Henao

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