If you’re only here for the 2 week training guide, we won’t judge.  Just download it here! But if you want some of the whys, keep reading!

Ectomorph Training Guide

For most ectos, the burning fat is the easy part. You’re already naturally lean and only have a small amount of fat cells to shrink down. So the focus of your training is on building muscle.

And to build muscle, you MUST LIFT WEIGHTS!

But how you lift weights is important. The structure of your workout will decide whether you build muscle or just add mass. And most of us don’t want to just get big – we want to build muscle with some definition.

So to build muscle, here are the key components of your training: 

  • Combine isolation and compound movements
  • Control your set and rep numbers and
  • Base your workout on tempo training

Let’s first review the movements.

Isolation exercises “isolate” one single muscle group (thank you Captain Obvious).  To picture this, think of a bicep curl.  When you curl, you restrict all other muscle involvement in order to focus solely on your bicep (and yes, this bicep curl will do more for muscle growth than eating pizza ever will). If you want to get all-technical, you really don’t isolate a single muscle group because even in a bicep curl, your forearm, hands, and fingers all have muscles that are engaged. So an isolation exercise is really restricting one single MAJOR muscle group – in this case, the bicep.

Compound movements are exercises that use at least two MAJOR muscle groups. For these, picture squats or pulls ups.  For most of these exercises, one of the major muscles groups is really doing the majority of the work while the other muscle group (or two or three) are drafting off the effort of the primary one. But that’s okay, because even that little extra effort is good for that muscle.

For an ectomorph, an ideal muscle building program has a combination of both compound and isolation exercises. Why? Because both have their benefits for your body type!

Compound Movements are beneficial for efficiency
. By combining muscle groups, you streamline your workout and hit two birds with one stone (or two muscle groups with one exercise). You also elevate your heart rate and work on your cardiovascular health. And you’re able to lift more weight meaning you progress faster. All good stuff.

Isolation Movements allow you to focus on breaking down very specific muscle fibers. Specific isolation moves can have a time and place in an ecto training program. If your compound movements have hit most muscle groups except a few, your isolation exercises will attack those last few groups. Or, if you are focused on specifically building one muscle group, isolation exercises will help that one muscle grow faster. There is a time and place for these isolation exercises, but they should not make up the meat and potatoes of your workout.

Okay, so we know to combine our movements.

How many of these movements do we do?

Well, the guideline was to “control” your sets and reps. That sounds perfectly clear, right?

Let me explain. There is no magic formula for the number of sets and reps an ecto needs to perform for each movement. Why? Because it all depends. It depends on what exercise you’re doing, what weight you’re using, how much time you’re spending on each rep, how long your rest is… basically every factor could change your set and rep numbers.

But generally speaking, you want to keep your sets and reps in the middle range.

Clear as mud?

Some body builders routines include just 2 or 3 reps at an extremely heavy weight. Your body won’t respond well to this so you need to do a few more reps at a lighter weight. BUT you don’t need to do endless reps and a super light weight because you won’t gain the muscle you want. So you need to sit somewhere in the middle.

Sure, I could tell you the magic ecto formula is 5 sets of 7 reps. But it might not be for you. So instead of focusing on the specific numbers, add a little variety to your workout. Just keep your number in the general middle range.

What this means is GENERALLY, keep your sets somewhere between 3-5. And your reps somewhere between 5-9. If you are doing 7 reps, you should be tired (and needing a spotter) by about rep 4. Yes, that means your weights should be heavy!

But really, what matters more than your set and rep numbers is your


And that means that the TIME UNDER TENSION is more important than blasting through your rep and set numbers as fast as your can.

Time Under Tension is the amount of time your muscles are under strain during your set. So to build muscles, you need to keep your muscles under strain.

When a Time Under Tension (TUT) formula is written, it includes 4 numbers in a row. Each number specifies the length of time it should take for a specific part of the exercise.

Let’s take an example: Squats at 2:3:4:1

This means that the first “2” is how many seconds it should take to drop down in the squat. The “3” is the hold at the bottom of the squat. The “4” is the time is should take for you to stand back up. And the “1” is the time at the top of your squat before you start the movement again. Based on these numbers, you know that each rep would take you 10 seconds.

And when every single move is calculated (including your rest)– you know exactly (down to the second) how long your workout will take! Efficiency at it’s finest.

Let me give you a little advice about how to approach tempo training workouts.

When done with the right amount of weight, this is hard. So drop your ego when you walk into the gym. If one squat takes you 10 seconds to complete, and you’re doing 7 reps for 4 rounds – that is almost 5 minutes of actual squatting. No, not 5 minutes of standing next to the squat rack, sipping your water, checking out social media on your phone. It means five minutes of actually moving your body with that heavy ass weight on top of your shoulders. That is exhausting. There is no way you can lift as much weight doing a tempo training workout as you would just busting out 28 squats like you used to do.

So recognize that you’ll be lifting lighter weights than you “feel” like you should be lifting.  But it’s better for your muscle growth in the long run.

Let’s take a minute to review the stupid things I give you permission to FORGET ABOUT when you start training for your ecto body:

1. Wanting to lift heavier weights because you don’t “feel” like the weight you have is enough. I know, you want to show off how much weight you can lift. But trust me. Tempo training is going to build your muscles faster than powering through a few heavy reps.

2. Caring what those dweebs next to you think about the weight you are lifting. Again. Forget about it. You’re training for you. And since we have different body types, we need different training styles.

3. Thinking you’ll build muscle faster by following a body builder’s plan. Wrong. Those are designed for mesomorphs, not your body type. What works for them will not build muscles in you the same way.

4. Thinking you must spend 2 hours in the gym to get the muscle growth you want. Nope. Efficient workouts don’t take hours. And for ectos with already high metabolisms, spending too much time working out can actually be counterproductive. When you burn 2 hours worth of calories, it can be nearly impossible to get you back to an anabolic, muscle building state.

5. Thinking that extra sets will build muscle faster. Wrong again. Remember, with tempo training, your focus is on slow and heavy reps. If you add on more sets, you’ll have to decrease your weight. As part of a varied training program, this is fine. But day in and day out – this will stunt your muscle growing potential.

6. Shortening your rest time to get to the next set faster. Poor choice. You need rest to keep proper technique with your heavier weights. AND your rest should be built into your tempo training. So quit trying to change the game plan.

(see a trend here – more is not better)
So forget about those silly ideas. Find your tempo training plan that incorporates compound and isolation exercises and keep a slight variation in set/rep numbers as part of the program.

Bam. Muscle growth.

Understand the basic concepts, but not really sure how to make a workout with them? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back (and biceps and shoulders and glutes and quads).


It will definitely get your blasting fat and building muscle! And we promise there’s no BS.

Ectomorph Training Guide




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