Most ectomorphs often have troubles determining where and how to start their fitness journey. Like any other person, picking the best workout plan is overwhelming and tricky for ectomorphs. If you are trying to figure out what these exercises are, then you are in the perfect place!
It should come as no surprise that some of the best workouts for ectomorphs are engraved in our daily activities. However, since you may not know about them, you could easily overlook them. For example, a daily activity such as walking.
Likewise, they also involve common exercises that you may tend to underestimate. Read on to determine the best and most practical workouts for ectomorphs and how you can perform them correctly.
Who Are Ectomorphs?
Ectomorphs are people with a body shape that has low fat and muscle (2). Their body shape is leaner but it also consists of long limbs. Such individuals face numerous challenges trying to gain either weight or muscle.
Contrary to what you may think, it is quite possible to struggle to gain either weight or muscle. In most cases, people think the challenging body shape is that of endomorphs. It is because this is the body shape of people who are struggling to lose weight.
The reality is that each body shape has its challenges. Therefore, you should not judge an individual’s workout efforts. In addition to these features, ectomorphs also have smaller joints and thinner bones.
Their frame might also be narrower and their chest and butt flatter (11). Ectomorphs can always increase their strength through various strength training workouts. Similarly, they may do various full-body exercises. Below are samples of some of the best workouts for ectomorphs, depending on their fitness goals.
Cardiovascular Activity (Cardio)
Cardiovascular activity is also referred to as aerobic activity. However, most people simply refer to these exercises as cardio. These are very rewarding exercises, not only for your body but also for your overall health.
Experts recommend adults weekly engage in at least 150 minutes of any aerobic exercise of moderate intensity (3). If the exercise is more vigorous, they suggest participating in it for at least 75 minutes weekly.
The experts also acknowledge that cardiovascular activity can help in building muscle. They state that doing cardio regularly supports both muscle growth and function. Here are some of the best cardio workouts for ectomorphs:
Running is one of the best aerobic activities, and for ectomorphs within any age group. It helps with increasing the strength of your skeletal muscles, and consequently building muscle strength in this body part.
However, for it to be rewarding, you have to do the following:
- Seek professional guidance before you start a running program. Consult with a doctor and trainer, especially if you have weak bones, knee pain, or other health conditions.
- Maintain this routine. Running once a week will not yield results. You have to adopt this exercise into your routine and run at least three or four days a week.
- Eat a balanced diet. You have to eat the right foods to give your body energy for your workouts. You should eat before and after you work out (6). Some of the foods to have before exercising are oatmeal and berries, banana with peanut butter or a turkey sandwich. After workouts, you can consume low-fat chocolate milk, string cheese with an apple, or a fruit smoothie with Greek yoghurt.
- Enjoy the exercise. If you enjoy a particular workout program, you tend to be committed to it. So, determine if you enjoy running, and whether or not you do so outdoors or indoors. If you enjoy running indoors, then get yourself a treadmill machine.
Taking a brisk walk is another great workout option for ectomorphs who are just starting their fitness journey. Walking may pave the way for another intense aerobic exercise such as running. It is also a great workout idea if you have severe health conditions such as serious knee pains.
Swimming is another great workout for ectomorphs who especially love the water. The above activity works various body muscles. For example, when you are doing various strokes, you engage your biceps, shoulders, arms, triceps, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Similarly, when lifting your body out of the water, you use your abdominal and lower back muscles. It means that swimming can be a great full-body workout for ectomorphs. Remember to consult with a professional before you start this exercise program.
The rowing machine is another great cardio workout that ranks as a full-body workout. It has numerous benefits, including the fact that it is impact-free and does not bear weight (8). Here is how you exercise on a rowing machine:
- Sit on the rowing machine seat and strap your feet to the platform.
- Bend your legs and pull your knees in. Maintain a straight back posture to avoid harming your back.
- Keep your arms straight and grip the oars of the rowing machine.
- Use your feet to push against the platform while moving your body up and arms backwards.
- Stretch your legs fully, pull your arms back and then bend your knees.
- Repeat this exercise until you complete your reps.
Another aerobic workout idea for ectomorphs is cycling. It is a great exercise program for ectomorphs who enjoy the outdoors. For this exercise, you will need to wear the appropriate gear and purchase a comfortable bike.
If it is your first time cycling, you can tag along with your friends or family members. It will help in making this exercise more fun. For safety purposes, it is important to stick to known bike trails.
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The next great category of workouts for ectomorphs is strength training. It consists of some of the best mass building workouts for ectomorphs. Doing such an exercise consistently can help ectomorphs either gain or maintain lean muscle mass.
Similarly, weight training can also help ectomorphs gain weight if done at least three times in a week (7). However, strength training will not work without a proper caloric intake. You have to take in enough calories to help fuel your body with enough energy.
Strength training workouts are classified into various groups. They include:
- Lifting free weights
- Taking part in resistance band workouts
- Doing bodyweight workouts like squats and push-ups
- Using stationary weight machines
- Attending weight training classes incorporating a few or all of the listed activities
Different strength training workouts target different parts of your body. Therefore, consult with your trainer for more insight on the best workouts depending on your goals. Here are a few of the best strength training workouts for ectomorphs:
The Cable Crossover
The cable crossover exercise is one of the ectomorph exercises that works your lower and upper chest muscles. To do it, you will need access to a cable machine. Here is how you do this exercise (10):
- Set the pulleys directly above your head. Place one handle to each pulley and then pick an appropriate weight.
- Grip one handle in each of your hands. Your palms must be facing downward. Stand in the middle of the machine and step forward to increase the cables’ tension.
- Step one foot forward and lean in front.
- Stretch your arms outside but maintain a slight bend in your elbows. Remember that at no point should your elbows move behind your shoulders. They should always be in front of your shoulders.
- As you breathe out, bring your hands together as if you are about to clap.
- Return to the initial starting position by slowly stretching your arms. Breathe in as you extend your arms.
- You can do one or two sets of the cable crossover. One set consists of eight to twelve repetitions.
The Decline Dumbbell Press
The next weightlifting exercise that an ectomorph can perform to build their chest muscles is the decline dumbbell press. If you do not have a pair of dumbbells, you can use a barbell as well. However, this will limit your reps since it is heavier as compared to dumbbells.
In addition to either some dumbbells or barbells, you will also need an incline bench. If you have this equipment, follow these steps to perform this exercise:
- Position your incline bench at 45 degrees. Lie on it and hold a dumbbell in each of your hands. Lift the dumbbells and let them lie on your thighs with your palms facing inward. Keep your back straight and flat at all times.
- Lift each dumbbell over your chest as you stretch your arms up toward the ceiling. Remember to let your hands face inward throughout.
- Grip the dumbbells shoulder-width apart and rotate your wrists till your palms face away. Doing this with an overbearing weight can be strenuous and may result in some injuries.
- This is the reason why you are advised to seek professional assistance when you start incorporating weights.
- To start, bend your rams until they form a 90-degree angle at your elbows. The dumbbells must be on the outer edges of your chest.
- Breathe out and use your chest muscles to push these weights up. At the top of your lift, squeeze and hold this position for a second or two.
- Slowly begin to lower the loads to the initial starting stance.
- You can do various sets, depending on your instructor’s recommendations. One set may contain any number between eight and twelve reps. Remember to also rest and hydrate as you rest in between sets.
Home Workouts For Ectomorphs
In addition to breaking your back in the gym, you can also exercise at the comfort of your home. All you need is a practical home workout plan for ectomorphs. A useful workout plan will contain any or all of these exercises:
One of the best full-body workouts for ectomorphs is the burpees. They are incredible full-body workouts as they incorporate both the squat and the push-up (4). Here are the steps of correctly doing a burpee:
- Stand upright with your arms resting on your sides. Drop into a squat position with your hands planted on the floor beside your feet and then jump back with your hands remaining on the floor, to drop into a high plank position.
- Perform a push-up before returning to your squatting position and then back to the initial standing pose.
- Do as many reps as possible or until you meet your given target.
- If you want to increase the intensity of this workout, jump up out of the squat into the standing pose. It might be more challenging but it will increase your workout’s intensity. If you are a beginner, you can decrease the workout intensity by doing away with the push-up.
Lunges are other best workouts for ectomorphs who want to work out their entire body. However, this exercise is only beneficial if it is performed correctly. Here is how you correctly do a lunge:
- Start in a standing position with your arms on your hips.
- Take one step in front using your right leg.
- Bend the left leg such that your knee is slightly above the floor. Your weight should at this point be supported by the ball of this foot.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the standing position. Do the required reps for your right leg before switching legs.
- You can do one set or as many as you can. If you do three sets, for example, make sure you rest in-between them.
Push-ups are other great and simple workouts for ectomorphs. They work several body muscles and build your arms, shoulders and chest (9). Here is the proper form of doing a push-up:
- Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Your arms and back must be straight and your entire body from head to heel must form a flat line. Keep your feet together and flex your toes to bear your body weight.
- Place your palms flat on the ground. If the ground is uncomfortable or rough, you could place a mat underneath. Let your fingers point directly forward.
- Your head must be in line with your spine. It will help in the prevention of various injuries and aches. If the two are aligned, start to slowly bend your elbows outward and lower your body toward the floor.
- Lower as much as you can. You can try to aim to touch the floor using either your chin or chest.
- Use your arm muscles to push your body back to the starting position. Engage your abdominal muscles to get more support for your back.
- Do as many push-ups as you can or until you complete your set or reps.
Squats are other great full-body workouts for ectomorphs. Here is how you do them:
- Stand upright with your feet apart.
- Keep your back straight and then slowly go into a crouch until you have a squatting stance.
- Lower as much as you can and once in the squatting stance, hold for a couple of seconds.
- Rise and then clench your glutes.
- Repeat this as many times as you can to determine your set. You can do one, two, or three sets of this exercise. It all depends on your workout circuit.
Planks are other great workouts for ectomorphs that are classified as isometric exercises. Isometric exercises refer to workouts that place tension on specific muscles without indulging the movement of any surrounding joint (1).
Such exercises are very important in building muscle strength, improving physical endurance and posture. Other exercises, such as the planks can also help in building your core strength. Here is how you do a plank:
- Place your elbows and arms on the floor. Find a suitable floor surface or perform this exercise on a comfortable yoga mat. Your arms must be under your shoulders.
- Slowly start to lift your body until it forms a horizontal line. Your back must be straight and your feet must be close together. Your toes must also be flexed to help in supporting your body.
- Stay in this position for twenty to thirty seconds. Your trainer might increase this length of time, depending on your fitness level. For example, if you are at an advanced level, your trainer might ask you to hold this position for 45 seconds.
- After this, lower your body to the floor and rest for one minute. Repeat this exercise after the break and perform it three to five times. Again, these reps may vary depending on the reps recommended by your instructor.
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Tips To Help You Benefit From Workouts For Ectomorphs
The following strategies will help you reap the most from ectomorph exercises:
Warm-Up Before Exercising
You must warm-up before you start doing workouts for ectomorphs. There are various ways you can warm up. One of them is by taking a brisk walk. Walks are great warm-up exercises to do before jogging or running.
If not, you could do another aerobic exercise for five or ten minutes (5). The key is always warming up to loosen up your muscles before you start the more intense workouts.
Swap Your Workouts
Do not rely on one routine to help you attain your goal. Speak to your instructor to determine how and when you can switch your exercise programs. For example, you could switch from running to weight lifting after a month.
If you are doing ectomorph workouts for muscle mass, then you need to do them consistently. Similarly, if you are doing these workouts for weight gain, make sure you are also persistent. The results may take a while but they will only appear when you put in effort consistently.
The Bottom Line
Workouts for ectomorphs range from aerobic exercise to strength training workouts. An ectomorph workout plan could include exercises such as walking, squats, lunges, cable crossover exercises, push-ups, and planks.
For more gain from these workouts, you must be consistent, eat well, and always warm-up before performing them. Doing these will help you either gain muscle mass or attain your desired fitness goal.
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The information in this article is not a representation of medical or professional advice. Seek professional guidance before you implement any of the suggested workouts for ectomorphs.
- 5 isometric exercises for people to try (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Everything you need to know about the mesomorph body type (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to build muscle with exercise (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- List of the best full-body exercises (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- The best foods to fuel a workout (2017, mayoclinic.org)
- Tips for gaining weight safely and things to avoid (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What are some of the top cardio workouts? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What are the best exercise for overall health and fitness? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What are the best lower chest exercises? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Your Body Shape Says About Your Health (2020, webmd.com)