Ectomorph Bodybuilding (Section)

This section (ectomorph bodybuilding) covers the bodybuilding part of the muscle growth formula for ectomorphs.

Go through this section on ectomorph bodybuilding to understand the mechanics and get a solid foundation.

 

The Muscle Growth Formula for Ectomorphs

The muscle growth formula is very simple – it boils down to intense weight training + proper nutrition + sufficient rest = muscle growth.

 

1. Weight Training

 

Ectomorph bodybuilding

 

1.1 Muscle Growth Process – Layman Explanation

In layman’s term, weight training induces muscle growth by causing micro tears to your muscles. Your body will repair the tears and bring about muscle growth to protect it from future stress.

This process is brought about by progressive overload, eating enough and resting.

It is actually more complex than that but for practical purposes, knowing this is half the battle won.

I recommend reading through the technical explanation as it will allow you to really understand and so tailor your workouts smartly.

 

1.2 Muscle Growth Process – Technical Explanation

A muscle fiber is composed of thread-like myofibrils and sarcomeres. When you introduce tears or trauma to the muscles, this activates satellite cells located outside the muscle fibers which will fuse with the muscle fibers (1). This starts the process of hypertrophy (increase in muscle fiber cross sectional area).

muscle fiber

Satellite cells can multiply and fuse to muscle fibers to form new myofibrils and/or repair damaged fibers, causing the myofibrils to increase in thickness and number (2). Note that this does NOT create more muscle fibers (hyperplasia). Rather, it allows the muscle fiber to synthesize more proteins and create more contractile protein (action, myosin) within the muscle fiber.

More of those = more force you can generate.

It has been posited that there are two types of hypertrophy: sarcomere/myofibrillar hypertrophy (referred to as functional) and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (referred to as non-functional).

Sarcomere hypertrophy is as I have mentioned earlier.

As for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, it is about increasing the non-contractile portion of the muscle (e.g. fluid, mitochondria, glycogen). They don’t produce force but provide energy for the contractile portion to do so.

Some believe that powerlifters who are smaller sized but are stronger train for sarcomere hypertrophy (heavy weight, low reps) while bigger sized bodybuilders who are weaker train for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy/size (low weight, high reps).

 

powerlifter

 

So it seems that to get big, train for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (high reps, low weight)?

No, that is a myth. When hypertrophy happens, both sarcomere and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy occur. It is impossible to have one without the other (3).

The practical implication here is that everybody’s bodies are different, so the optimal training style depends on how your body/genes react. Do not get overly focused on just one style, but mix in different styles and get the benefits of each.

Another point is that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy might also not be totally nonfunctional, as there is evidence that this brings about increased hydration of the cell which may mediate a hypertrophic response and increase contractile hypertrophy (4).

Besides how the cells react, growth factors play a part as well. These growth factors refer to hormones and cytokines that stimulate satellite cells to increase the size of muscle fibers.

Three of these are the insulin-like growth factor (IGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), which will be explored in my Ectomorph Inner Circle.

 

1.3 Muscle Growth Process – The Mechanism and Principles

Now that you know the physiology of muscle growth, research has shown three primary mechanisms by which weight training lead to muscle growth – mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress (4).

Along with these three mechanisms, you need to know several other muscle building principles to achieve real muscle gains, click to find out more.

 

2. Proper Nutrition

 

Ectomorph nutrition

 

It is apparent that to grow muscles/gain weight, we have to consume more calories than we use up.

But how many calories do we need?

And what kind of calories should we go after? Go after the wrong ones, and you could end up skinny fat or even fat. Your health will be impacted as well.

For a start, I recommend clean bulking as compared to traditional bulking.

Once you are done looking through those articles, do look through the other articles in the nutrition section.

 

3. Proper Rest And Recovery

 

rest and recovery

 

The last crucial ingredient of muscle growth is proper rest and recovery.

For a start, as mentioned earlier, muscle growth occurs at home, when you are resting!

For even more advanced bodybuilders, they understand how to use rest and recovery to manipulate hormonal levels to effect muscle gains.

To find out more, do join my Ectomorph Inner Circle as I share information about rest and hormones (& more) which I am pretty sure most ectomorphs do not know of.

 

References

(1) Sophie B. P. Charge, M. A. (2004). Cellular and molecular regulation of muscle regeneration. Physiological Reviews, 209-238. http://physrev.physiology.org/content/84/1/209.long

(2) Young sub Kwon, M. a. (2004). How do muscles grow? Retrieved from The University of New Mexico: http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/musclesgrowLK.html

(3) Cameron J. Mitchell, T. A.-V. (2012). Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 71-77. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404827/

(4) Schoenfeld, B. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2857-2872. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847704

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. I’m not a beginner to weight training. I’ve been doing it for years both with and without a personal trainer. It’s just that my gains have been minimal. I am a classic ectomorph and I’m not just a hardgainer – I’m an impossible gainer! Will your exercise program work for me?

    Reply
    • Hi Stephen,

      First, I would like you to shed the thinking that you are an impossible gainer! I used to feel the same way in the past, but I’ve realized the issue is that I’m just not eating enough.

      Just eat more gradually. There comes a point where you just know how much you need to eat. Eating is crucial because without sufficient nutrients, no amount of hardcore training will help you to grow.

      I can tell you that most exercise programs will work for you, mine will too, but most importantly, you have to eat enough.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

      Reply

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