How to Build Muscle: Bulking Up for Skinny Guys

How to build Muscle? Any ectomorph can be at a disadvantage due to their fragile and thin bodies. Some general traits of this somatotype include: flat chest, small joints, small and droopy shoulders, long skinny necks, and probably the only upside is that they’re usually relatively lean.

The reason why ectomorphs struggle to put on size is because of their extremely fast metabolism.  It can often seem as if no matter how much you eat, you just can’t gain any weight.

As an ectomorph myself, I’ve dealt with these problems first-hand. I used to try everything and anything to put on muscle. From drinking 2 gallons of chocolate milk a day to chugging mass gainer every morning, I’ve tried it all. Luckily, over the past few years I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to gaining muscle as an ectomorph. I’m currently sitting at 165lbs at 7% body fat and 5’10” height. You can take a look at the pictures below to see how my body changed throughout the years.

ectomorph athlete weight gain muscle mass How to Build Muscle
Jeremy’s transformation

In the left picture I was around 13 years old and couldn’t gain weight for the life of me. In the middle pictures I was around 17 years old and had already worked out for a year. The last picture is me currently at 21 years old after several years of working out. As you can see I put on a lot of size and strength throughout the years. It wasn’t easy but it was definitely worth it and has helped me out tremendously as an athlete.

Throughout the process, I’ve learned that some things work and some things don’t. I’m going to share with you the 5 things that you must do to put on size as an ectomorph.


crossfit athlete bjorgvin karl gudmundsson deadlift powerliftingSource: Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson
Compound Exercises: Deadlift

As an ectomorph you don’t want to just focus on isolation exercises when trying to put on muscle. This won’t get you very far. You need to focus on compound lifts. The reason why compound lifts are so effective is because they work a lot of different muscles simultaneously as well as your smaller stabilising muscles. They also provide a “hormonal boost” by increasing testosterone and growth hormone levels compared to isolation exercises.

The main compound movements I recommend are the following:

  • Bench Press
  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Overhead Press
  • Weighted Pull-Ups

You need to incorporate these exercises into your program every week, as these are the exercises that will put the most muscle mass on your body. Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk are great options as well. Use these articles to learn more about technique and programming:

– Deadlift

– Squat

– Clean

– Snatch

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