Bulking 101: The Ectomorph!

Before I precede any further I want to make one point clear, do not THINK you have a fast metabolism and try to follow this protocol because you will end up looking like Lee Priest in the off season pretty damn fast.

Since being involved in bodybuilding for sometime now I have experienced the same old story of the ectomorphic bodybuilder hitting a plateau at 180-200 pounds way too many times now. This is how the conversation usually goes.


"Help me, I'm stuck at 200 (at a height of 5-10 or so) and I can't seem to gain any more size or strength no matter what I do. My body fat stays around 5%-6% and I eat around 250 grams of protein, and the rest of my foods are clean sources. I try to eat a lot but I don't really have a big appetite."

What's wrong with this picture? A hell of a lot, actually. Listen, if you have an ectomorphic metabolism, you must adhere to a different set of rules if you wish to one day hit freak status. And this all boils down to the dinner table.

Ectomorphic bodybuilders (those who have very, very fast metabolisms) must eat massive amounts of food to reach their goals. This is due to the fact that their basil metabolic rate is several times faster than the average person who requires them to have to eat massive amounts of food to maintain muscle mass, never mind gain.

Think about it, if 3,500 calories got you from 160 pounds to 180 pounds, and 4,000 got you up to 200 pounds, what do you think you're going to have to consume to get up to 220 pounds, never mind 250 pounds? Your caloric intake is going to have to be raised drastically in order to get to higher body weights. Also, your protein intake is going to have to be raised significantly to support the growth of new tissue. So let's use the typical scenario that was mentioned above and work to create a way to get this bodybuilder on the fast track to growth again without raising body fat levels too much, if any.

Before I proceed any further, I want to make one point clear: don't just assume you have a fast metabolism and try to follow this protocol, because you will end up looking like Lee Priest in the off season pretty damn fast. If you do not understand monotypes, please review what pure ectomorphic qualities are, and then see if you fit the picture.

I do not want to see some heavy endomorph think he has a hard time gaining size read this article and think that this is what he has to do to get larger. Endomorphs follow an entirely different set of rules from an ectomorphic bodybuilder.

If an endomorph follows this protocol, you will get fat, there is no doubt about it, so don't try it if you don't want to gain a few extra rolls and a double chin.

Protein Intake

If you think you are going to get past 200 pounds while only eating 250 grams of protein, you are crazy. If you want to get from 200 pounds to 220 pounds, a good rule of thumb is to double the weight you wish to be at, and that's how much protein you should consume on a daily basis. So if you are shooting for 220lbs. you should be consuming around 400-450 grams of protein on a daily basis.

I know this seems like a lot, but if you employ some of the hardgainer strategies that I discuss in this article, you will find that you can add up a lot of protein on a daily basis very quickly. Your mainstay of proteins should be coming from steak, eggs, chicken, protein shakes, and milk.

All of these protein sources are dense sources, calorie-wise, especially steak and eggs. These should be the bulk of your protein sources, due to the fact that they are known to put on mass fast. So, with your protein needs down, that only comes out to about 1800 calories or so. Which is not much at all, but a hell of a lot of protein. So where will the rest of those calories come from, knowing that our example has the appetite of a fashion model?

Junk Food

Yes, you read it correctly. Junk food can be a very useful tool to the ectomorphic bodybuilder trying to put on size without worrying about body-fat levels too much. But as with everything else in bodybuilding, there are rules to how you must incorporate junk food into your daily diet to aid in gaining size and not just satisfying your taste buds. The selection of junk food must contain adequate amounts of protein to meet your needs.

So, this can be Wendy's, KFC, pizza, and foods like that. Just think about it: If you eat a triple cheeseburger from Wendy's, you are getting around 50 grams of protein, but you are also getting a whopping amount of calories that you will not get from eating your standard chicken and rice meal.

There is also another rule that must be meeting before you go run off to your nearest fast food joint: You must have some sort of protein shake before you eat the meal, consisting of a minimum of 50 grams of protein.

You must also try to limit your intake of carbohydrates when you go out for these meals, which means, at Wendy's, skip the fries and stick to the burgers, at KFC, stick to the chicken and ditch the mash potatoes, and when having pizza, skip the bread and just stick to the pizza.

This will insure you gain minimal amounts of fat from this technique, while giving a blast to your metabolism. Just by having a junk-food meal a few times a week to a small one once a day, you can add an easy extra 1,000+ calories to your diet, while at the same time satisfying your taste buds.

The Protein Shake

Protein shakes are one of the greatest assets when trying to gain size fat. They are quick, easy, and you can drink them pretty quickly and frequently. But protein powder and water (or milk) will not provide you with many calories whatsoever, so you will have to improvise.

With each protein shake you have, you should strive to take in 1-2 tablespoons of a healthy oil (olive and flax will be the best), but don't add too much oil too quickly, or you'll have some bathroom problems following the shake. With the oils, start slow and work your way up.

Olive oil and flax oil have more bodybuilding benefits than I list here, and they can also increase your calories very quickly. But when incorporating a high amount of fats, you should try to limit your carbohydrate intake at that specific meal, so the fats will be used as your energy source and not laid down as adipose tissue.

With protein powders, you can also create your own weight-gainer shakes by including ingredients such as:

  • Oatmeal
  • Simple sugar powders
  • Fruit (frozen or fresh)
  • Egg whites
  • Peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice cream, chocolate syrup, etc.

Now, just think if you laid all of those foods out in front of you, how long it would take you to eat that meal, and you most likely wouldn't finish it. But if you blended that into a big shake, you could drink it quickly, and due to the fact that all of the food choices are blended, the digestion process would occur faster and more efficiently than if you had eaten them whole.

The last way that an ectomorph can incorporate the protein shake is by eating your regular healthy meal, followed by a protein shake consisting of 30-50 grams of whey mixed in some water or milk.

So, say you have 3-4 meals of 50 grams' worth of protein in the form of chicken or steak with your rice and vegetables, you will be able to add an extra 120-150 grams of protein just by drinking a whey shake with each solid meal. And that's also not including your weight gainer shake, or your protein/healthy fat shake, which will each include around 60 grams of protein. Protein shakes can go a long way in gaining size.

Now don't get me wrong, all of these techniques listed above will make consuming the amount of calories necessary for growth easier, but at the same time you will still have to force down the food and meals at times. But you will be able to drastically increase your calories/protein by incorporating these simple techniques at the right times.

So, for example if you have trouble eating a large breakfast in the morning, this is an opportune time to incorporate the homemade meal-replacement shake (drinking a shake is a lot easier than eating a large plate of eggs with a big bowl of oats) for your breakfast. And you will most definitly be able to take in more calories than your standard breakfast if you combine some/all of the ingredients that I laid out above for the homemade shake.

BONUS: Protein Shake Recipes

Berry Good Shake

100% Whey Protein (Berry Flavor) 2 scoops

Strawberries 4

Blueberries 15

Non-fat Milk 16 oz

Ice Cubes 1/2 cup

Protein-Carb Almond Blast

100% Whey Protein (Vanilla Flavor) 2 scoops

Skim Milk 10-12 oz

Dry Oatmeal 1/2 Cup

Raisins 1/2 Cup

Almonds (Shredded)12

Peanut Butter 1 tbsp

Strawberry Nut Shake

100% Whey Protein (Vanilla Flavor) 2 scoops

Fat-free Strawberry Yogurt1 Cup

Macadamia Nuts (SHredded) 6

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffle

100% Whey Protein (Chocolate Flavor) 2 scoops

Creamy Peanut Butter1 tsp

Non-fat Milk 16 oz

Ice Cubes1/2 Cup

Creatine Catalyst

100% Whey Protein (Vanilla Flavor) 2 scoops

Granny Smith Apples 5

Creatine Powder 5 g (1 tsp)

Ice Cubes1/2 Cup

For more recipes, click here.

If you don't like making a lunch, grab a protein shake and head over to Wendy's for a few burgers during lunchtime. Just try not to eat the fast food too late into the day, when your metabolism starts to slow down somewhat. But for most pure ectomorphs, their metabolisms are racing the whole day. After the fast-food meal, you can have a healthy meal of chicken and rice followed up with a 50-gram shake. Then, assuming you train later in the day, this is a good time to have your protein + fat meal.

Following your workou,t you should consume a simple sugar and whey shake to insure that the rebuilding process takes place immediately, and within two hours, have a carb-laden healthy whole-food meal. Try to limit fats in the post-workout window, due to the fact that they will slow the absorption rate of the meal eaten, but for an ectomorph, carbohydrates can be consumed in large quantities after working out. And lastly, before resting for the evening, have another shake or solid protein meal with a small amount of fats.

Carbohydrates should be limited in this meal because your glycogen stores should be tapped out from your post-workout feedings, and you don't want those excess carbohydrates taken in before bed to become converted to adipose tissue. So there is an example day for the ectomorphic bodybuilder who has hit a growth plateau. This example incorporates all of the strategies listed above, but you do not have to incorporate them all at once.

Try to add a few of the strategies every few days or so, enabling your body to slowly adapt to the stimulus of increased food intake. Within a few weeks of starting this protocol, you will have turned your body into a muscle-building/fat-burning machine. But remember one thing: None of this will work if you are not consistent on an everyday basis.

In the sport of bodybuilding, consistency is KEY.