In today’s article I will explain why these people find it so hard to gain weight and how they can gain good quality weight with minimal fat gain. 
Not everyone wants to achieve a drastic drop in body fat to gain a 6 pack in 12 weeks. Some people want the exact opposite; but as hard as they try to gain a decent bit of weight, their weight remains unchanged or in some cases falls. Are these people doomed to be ‘skinny’ for the rest of their life? Personally I don’t believe so! 
 
Too many people in the fitness industry are focused solely on helping people lose weight and forget that some people are trying just as hard to gain some. Although I had included this topic on my ‘articles to do list’, it was down near the bottom.  
It’s only after 3 different people came to me with this problem this week, that I realised it deserved promotion towards the top of the list. So why do these people struggle so much to gain weight? 
 
Ectomorphs (typically have thin limbs with narrow shoulders and hips), or ‘Hard Gainers’ as they are often called, have been given a different name by Phil Learney who coined the term ‘easy losers’, both of which I think sums it up perfectly. The reasons ectomorphs find it so hard to gain any weight is because of their very fast metabolic rate. Imagine their metabolism as a huge roaring fire that constantly needs wood (fuel). This constant need for fuel means that their bodies will even break itself down to create its own ‘fuel’ if the person isn’t eating enough calories to keep the fire alive! This is why they struggle with weight gain, because they aren’t putting the wood on the fire! 
 
Although ectomorphs have a high metabolic rate, they actually have a very slow digestion rate. This is because their high metabolic rate forces them into a sympathetic nervous state (fight or flight state), which is why many ectomorphs you meet will be very sensitive to stimulants; many struggle to sleep and can come across very anxious. Being in a sympathetic state turns down the bodies non-essential functions, so digestion takes a back seat – because it’s very unlikely you will be eating a steak whilst being chased by a bear. 
 
Now here is the good part, because their metabolic rate is so high, they have an increased ability to actually build good quality lean muscle, they just need to eat the right food, and more of it, to build the stock pile of wood for the fire. Ectomorphs actually have a blessing in disguise! 
 
So how can these Ectomorphs who are ‘Hard Gainers’ & ‘Easy Losers’ conquer their slow digestion, use their increased ability to build muscle and utilizes their roaring metabolism ?  
 
Here are my top 6 tips for helping ectomorphs put on weight: 
* Make sure you know what your baseline number of calories should be.  
As, an ectomorph, once you know this you must be looking to push past it, because the standard formula for working this out doesn’t take into account your fast metabolism. Again, I cannot stress to you enough how important it is that you feed your body. The reason why you are classed as ‘‘Hard Gainers, Easy Losers’ is because if you don’t constantly put in the calories your body needs, then your body will break down muscle and ‘feed’ itself to keep up with its metabolic demand. (click to work out base calories) 
 
*Increase your meal frequency.  
This is a big on; as mentioned above you need to eat more. And because your digestion is slow your body won’t be able to handle having 3 big meals; as this will lead to constipation and big gaps between meals – Ectomorphs need to be constantly putting fuel onto their metabolic fire – I suggest splitting your calories up into 5-6 smaller meals to help with digestion and keep the fire going! 
 
* Make sure you have enough protein in your diet.  
I have written about this before, but for ectomorphs this is especially important. If your body has an increased ability to build muscle, it’s vitally important you give it the building blocks it needs! Because your digestion is slow you don’t need excess protein, just get up to your baseline (mentioned in the above section). 
 
* Increase their carbohydrate intake.  
As mentioned above ectomorphs have an exceptional metabolism and can therefore handle more carbohydrates. I would typically start an ectomorph on about 50-55% of their macronutrients as carbohydrates. If you are in a place to handle carbs (which they are) then you need to utilize that. This is especially important for males who weight train (see next point). 
 
*Introduce a ‘During’ and ‘Post’ workout shake.  
This is especially important if you weight train. You don’t want to be going into a training session catabolic (where your body is in a calorie deficit, meaning it will be more likely to break down muscle). To combat this I suggest you load up on carbs during your weight session such as vitargo or cyclic dextrin (cyclic dextrin is easier to digest) -start at 15g and work up to 30g. Thrown in some EAA’s – 20g (essential amino acids; the building blocks of muscle) and this should help you stay in a ‘muscle building’ state while you train, rather than the catabolic state most people train in. 
 
* Ditch the cardio.  
Burning excess calories is the last thing you (ectomorphs) want to do. If you are a runner then trying to add any weight will be pretty hard as your calorie expenditure and muscle breakdown will be very high. For those of you who are using running as ‘exercise’ I suggest you ditch it for weight training. Running will be breaking down your muscle and also putting you into a calorie deficit. Weight training on the other hand, as long as you are eating enough, has the huge potential to help you increase and grow muscle leading to quality weight gain. 
 
* Use a re-feed meal once a week.  
If you are doing all the tips above and still can’t gain any weight once a week have a clean reefed. This means that for your evening meal eat double the amount of carbohydrates you normally would. Make sure you track this, because if it’s not enough and things still aren’t improving then increase it the next week. The odd dirty reefed for you (ectomorphs only) won’t hurt! But make sure you don’t drag your friends down with you, as you are in a special place they wish they were in! 
How many of you have struggled to gain any substantial weight and used these or different strategies to gain quality weight?  
I’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation below or on Facebook. 
 
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