HomeBody typeEctomorphEctomorph Workout Plan: Resistance Training

Ectomorph Workout Plan: Resistance Training

ectomorph workoutBeing a female ectomorph is currently in vogue. Unfortunately, male ectomorphs are in a less enviable position. In men, muscularity is the prized trait. Ectomorphs, tend to lack both muscle and fat. However, it is not impossible to overcome your lack of muscle mass. It requires a serious focus on mass building through diet and weight training. The good news is that you have a naturally low body fat percentage. Thus, with even little gains in muscle you are able to boast excellent muscle definition. Female ectomorphs may want to gain mass to add shape.


Ectomorphs need to stimulate their muscles “deeply” in order to increase your muscle mass. Whereas a mesomorph could almost accidentally gain mass, an ectomorph has to start their workout with a well laid out plan. You need to work intensely with heavy weights and low repetitions. Avoid isolation exercises, which only target individual muscles. This tactic won’t achieve the kind of full body muscle stimulation you require. Instead, go for major compound exercises such as the bench press, deadlifts, squats, lunges and bent over barbell rows. Also, exercises using barbell and dumbbell are great, as they allow you to use full range of motion. The more muscles you work, the more muscle growth you get.


You probably will benefit the most if you train with heavy weights. Therefore, build up muscle with 2 – 4 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions using a moderate-to-heavy weight for each major muscle group. Take longer rests between sets (2-3 min). This allows you to lift intensively again for the next set. Consider doing a split routine where you work some parts of the body one day and then others the next. You can also try body-sculpting classes. Once you are happy with your muscle size simply train to maintain it.


Performing workouts using heavy weight is intense and taxing on your body. You need to make sure you are resting and recovering fully between sessions. Therefore, be careful not to overwork your muscles in a bid to gain mass fast. This will not help your effort to grow muscle. Continually tearing muscle during workouts does not allow it to heal. Moreover, the extra exercise will burn the calories you need for that same muscle to grow. This results in your energy-deprived body consuming its own fat and muscle. Muscle is broken down during workouts and repairs and grows during recovery. Therefore, do not work a muscle group two times per week.


  1. Hi,

    I’m really glad to have found your site!!

    I am a 5’9″ female mesomorph. Unfortunately, I really admire the ectomorphic body types for a woman as they are so feminine and delicate. I naturally have strong legs and arms, and a six pack, without EVER doing any sort of weight/resistance training- I hate this. I barely have fat, but there is just so much muscle that it makes me heavy- I hate this too.

    I have never done any sports whatsoever. However, I walk everywhere, minimum 40 minutes a day, up to 4 hours on weekends and this is very low resistance. I have tried absolutely EVERYTHING to get rid of these horrible muscles. This included juice fasting, water fasting, extremely low calorie diets with lots of cardio, and being sedentary when I got scared the walking was bulking my legs. It’s miserable. When I look at my forearm, the first thing that comes to mind is a juicy drumstick.

    Short of just starving myself to look like I’m from the Ukrainian Holodomor, can you please tell me how I can make slim down these muscles and lower my weight despite not being fat whatsoever?

    Thank you…

    • Hi Jilly,

      Sorry for not getting back to you quicker. Instead of extremely low calorie diets, which starve the muscle, try long-distance running, which works on a different premise. Running for endurance (as opposed to sprinting) triggers a change in the type of muscle you have. Muscle tissue is made up of muscle fibers, which come in different sizes. Mesomorphs tend to be predominant in the larger muscle fibers, which creates a bigger, bulkier muscle. Endurance running stimulates big muscle fibers to turn into smaller muscle fibers, which means your muscles become smaller and look longer. This way you’ve made the muscle smaller by changing the type of muscle fibers you have, not by starving the muscle like you would fat. Walking wont trigger this change. You need a high enough intensity, i.e. you need to jog/run, to stimulate this switch.

      I hope this helps. Keep me posted on how it’s going.

  2. Thanks for your informative website. I am a 56 year old woman, 5’10” at an lifetime high of 140 lbs. I’m generally an ectomorph but am now what you refer to as skinny fat. Peope would call me slender but need to firm up things up! I try and get in at least 5 days/week of some sort of exercise, mixing Core SPX (50 min 2/wk) w/ stationary bike, walking and elliptical (30 min). What would your diet/workout recommendations be for toning up….I’ve found it’s so much more difficult as I age!!
    Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Tammy,
      Thanks! Metabolism slows down as we get older, so it does get harder to resist weight gain. It’s great that you’re exercising 5 days a week. To help improve you body composition make sure that you are doing your cardio against some kind of resistance. In other words, when you’re on the elliptical ramp up the resistance and go slower. You should really feel your leg muscles working. From your workouts I can see that you really enjoy cardio/ endurance exercise. That’s because that’s what ectomorphs are really good at. If you want to change your body you’re going to have to do resistance training, which most ectomorphs loathe. A combination of long limbs and little muscle means ectomophs lack strength. But focusing solely on cardiovascular exercise isn’t going to give you the body you want. You need to add muscle by doing compound exercises such as lunges and squats as explained above. Go here to read about skinny fat and here for some leg exercises.

  3. Thanks!! What would be most effective….doing all the leg exercises every day or alternate? I actually hate cardio and would much rather do weights so force myself to get in 30 min of cardio at least 4/week. These are great leg exercises and I look forward to doing them all more regularly!! Will eating more protein help maintain or build muscle?

    Thanks again….you’ve been really helpful!

    • Hi Tammy,
      It’s great that you like doing weights! Don’t do the exercises every day. You need to allow the muscle time to recover, repair and grow. You can go for a whole body resistance plan that you complete about 3 times a week (on nonconsecutive days), or you can go really intense and target just one body part in each workout session (e.g. monday arms, tuesday legs, wednesday abs, thursday back). Do your resistance training first and then do about 20 minutes of cardio to finish and you should be fine. In terms of eating more protein, that depends on whether you’re getting enough in your diet. If you’re eating protein with every meal, you should be fine. But, if you want to supplement, try drinking a protein shake (with some carbs e.g. milk/ banana) after your workout to help maximize muscle growth. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi!

    Reading your articles has helped me identify that I fall in between an Ectomorph and a Mesomorph and am unsure what I should focus on. I am 5’8 (long torso and long legs) and my weight seems to stay right at 135 no matter what I do. I am small boned but built athletically (broad shoulders and naturally defined muscles). I want to slim down and eliminate body fat.; I get toned quickly and am afraid that I will bulk up and look like Gabrielle Reece instead of Miranda Kerr. What types of exercises are best for my body?

  5. I am turning 65 on the 13th of June.The last three year my butt,legs and arms fat and muscle went missing.I miss my butt the most what can I do to get some of that back?

  6. I really enjoy this website! Its so helpful. Is there a such thing as an overweight ectomorph? Because my body is small framed and all of the characteristics of an ectomorph body type fit me, except the fact that I am very overweight. I weigh 228lbs and am 5’5”, but am shaped like a ruler. Before I gained this weight I was very lanky. No matter what website I go to, there is nothing about overweight ectomorphs. am I just weird?

  7. Hi, im an ectomorph, i have read so many articles on what i should be eating and how i should be exercising but im sooo confued about it all! Any help on nutrition and exercises would be great!

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