A Complete Ectomorph Workout to Build Muscle Mass for Men

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American psychologist, William Sheldon, had an idea about human body types and personalities and discovered his own theory of somatotypes.

Sheldon came up with three types of these somatotypes: ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. Each one has its own specific features. He came up with this idea by classing people according to the three types of germ layers of embryonic development: the endoderm which develops into the digestive tract, the mesoderm which becomes muscles, the heart, and blood vessels, and the ectoderm which forms the skin and the nervous system. Each person fits a specific somatotype. The ectomorph is the topic of conversation in this article. Learn what an ectomorph is and find a great ectomorph workout routine!


The Ectomorph

Physically, an ectomorph has narrow shoulders and hips, a thin and narrow face, a thin and narrow chest and abdomen, thin legs and arms, and typically have very little body fat. Ectomorphs have a hard time putting on weight, which can in turn cause having a hard time putting on muscle mass. They tend to be thin and fragile. According to Sheldon, the ectomorph also has a specific personality. They tend to be self-conscious, introverted, socially anxious, and emotionally restrained.
Just because an ectomorph tends to be skinny doesn’t mean that they can’t build muscle mass. It may take a little longer than it would for a mesomorph or an endomorph but with hard work and dedication, the ectomorph can do the same! Follow this ectomorph workout guide to build muscle mass!


Cardio for the Ectomorph

Because the ectomorph tends to have a fast metabolism, they are constantly burning calories like crazy. Their metabolism is always working so calorie burning isn’t a problem for this somatotype. If an ectomorph is trying to put on muscle mass, performing cardiovascular exercise is not necessary. It is recommended that the ectomorph only performs the minimum amount of cardio that is required for general heart health. The best things to do for cardio for an ectomorph workout are 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio three times a week or 15 minutes of high intensity circuit training three times a week.


Strength Training for the Ectomorph

The best strength training ectomorph workout is to do low rep, heavy load. Because the ectomorph has a hard time putting on size, lifting heavy is the best options. Lifting weights also burns calories so if a person with an ectomorph somatotype is doing a low weight, high rep workout, they are going to incorporate more of the calorie burning workouts rather than muscle building. Stick to heavy weight, low reps on your training days. Because of this, it is not ideal for an ectomorph to lift too many days a week. When you are lifting heavier, you should be giving your muscles a chance to recover.



The perfect ectomorph workout routine should consist of about 4-5 days of weight training with their three days of cardio. Try out this sample ectomorph workout to gain as much mass as possible!


Day 1: Chest and Triceps

-Bench Press
-Push ups
-Decline Bench Press
-Incline Dumbbell Flyes
-Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension


Day 2: Back and Biceps

-Seated Cable Rows
-Pull Ups
-Cable Curls
-Wide Grip Lat Pull Down
-Narrow Grip Lat Pull Down
-Hammer Curls


Day 3: Legs

-Barbell Squats
-Leg Press
-Hack Squat
-Leg Extension
-Straight Legged Deadlifts


Day 4: Shoulders and Calves

-Dumbbell Military Press
-Barbell Military Press
-Standing Calf Raise
-Seated Calf Raise
-Dumbbell Lateral Raises

As for rep and set range, try to keep your reps at no more than 10 and perform 3-4 sets of each exercise.

The three different types of somatotypes, ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph, were created by William Sheldon to help people better understand where their personalities fall. The ectomorph is typically skinny, fragile, and has a hard time gaining weight or putting on muscle. With proper training and nutrition, the ectomorph can experience these muscle gains just as much as any other somatotype.

Following a low cardio, high load training program will get the ectomorph to where he wants to be. Whether you are an ectomorph looking to gain mass or any other somatotype looking to put on muscle, try out our training program. Are you an ectomorph? If so, share your muscle gaining experience with us. Let us know what works for you! 

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