(Article updated September, 2015) You probably know that protein is a really important macronutrient for building muscle. In fact, my little sister probably knows that protein is important for building muscle. There’s some truth to this—if you don’t eat enough protein your body won’t build muscle. In fact it can’t build muscle, since muscle is build directly out of digested protein. This is a common problem for some absolute beginners, vegetarians and vegans. They eat too little protein and thus struggle to put on muscle.
But what about your regular gym dude? What about the guy that trains 6 times a week? What about a skinny ectomorph trying to pack on muscle? They all probably think they need a helluva lot of protein.
However eating a diet overly high in protein is a great way to limit the amount of muscle you build, especially as an ectomorph.
But isn’t it no pain no muscle-gain? In rare cases this can be true, but this depends on your particular goals, level of experience and training plan. For most guys stopping short of total muscle annihilation will get them to their goals much faster. For ectomorphs looking to quickly build muscle this is always the case—unless you’re such an enormously muscled ectomorph that no one would ever describe you as one. There’s a very big difference between uselessly fatiguing yourself and getting a good workout, but even most advanced trainees can’t recognize the difference. I’ve been there.
But isn’t that last rep the only one that matters?! Isn’t that last rep the one that separates the weaklings from the champions?! Grab a seat by the squat rack, and let me tell you about keeping 2 in the tank.
We’re going to write up a 5-part series debunking some common muscle-building/fitness industry myths, starting with the most scam-ridden body part of all—your abs. You already know that you need to lose fat to see your abs, so I’m not going to beat a dead horse. This myth is far more insidious, and besides, this blog is for ectomorphs, so typically the reason we don’t have kickass abs is that they just aren’t big enough. Most ectomorphs thus try to solve the problem by doing crunches (or sit-ups). Jared and I sure did. We did crunches, reverse crunches, sit-ups, ab circuits, myotatic crunches, weighted crunches, side crunches, that bicycle thing, rope crunches. We did a hell of a lot of shitty ab exercises. The problem is that we were training spinal flexion instead of stability. That’s the opposite of what you want in a powerful body. Not only that, we were damaging our thoracic spine with every rep.
What the hell are you talking about?! Let me explain.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made with training, and in life, is to worry about useless-ass trivial things. When I used to be a “pro” bodybuilder (in my parents’ basement), my regime was more complicated than trying to understand why they made 13 movies of Land Before Time. The first one was just fine. Each one just got progressively weirder.
Obe is a student in studying commercial aviation, not unlike the other Obi you all know and love. Unlike Obi though, Obe is real. He’s married, spends his free time playing soccer and watching movies, and a little over 5 weeks ago became a really supportive member of the Bony to Beastly community. He’s kicking some serious ectomorph ass, but isn’t even doing anything all that crazy to get his results. He’s following the plan, working out for an hour three times a week, eating well and making sure he has his calories in before going to bed. And he gained 4 pounds of muscle a week 5 weeks in a row. This just goes to show what proper training and nutrition can do, and that our potential for growth, hardgainer or not, is a hell of a lot greater than what most of us assume.
There are a hundreds of different exercise routines that people try. My only question is: how is it working for you? If you aren’t getting the results you want and living the lifestyle you want to live, it’s time to re-evaluate your approach to training. People can spend years working their tushies to the bone—literally. They work so hard that their gluteal muscles erode from their pelvis and all that is left is bone. It’s happened to me, and let me tell you, it is not pretty!
You see my friend, working hard is essential, however, working hard on the wrong program will not get you the body you’re working so hard to get. Huh?
It takes hard and—equally important—smart work. Nowadays, I feel that this idea tends to get distorted; I know for me it was. Consider this: would you rather work for 3 hours at $100/h and earn a total of $300, or would you rather work 8 hours for $15/hour and earn $120? No brainer, right? So why do people think that hour after hour of inefficiently training in the gym is the solution?
Haha watch out bodybuilders—us skinny creative dudes can diesel-up too! The handsome yet tiny thing on the left is Jeff before starting Bony to Beastly. He started the program at 136 pounds with internally rotated shoulders and upper and lower crossed syndrome (postural problems that plague most of us ectomorphs with desk jobs). The beastlier man on the right is Jeff 5 weeks later weighing in at 145.5 pounds and with most of his postural problems solved. He’s also balanced out most of his muscle asymmetries while increasing size everywhere.
Some guys dread going to the gym and are constantly coming up with excuses as to why they can’t find the time, money or motivation to make it. Other guys go to the gym 8 days a week and there’s nothing you can do to get them out because, well, they’re built like the pentagon and hard to push around.
If you view the gym as a chore you’re going to have one hell of a miserable time putting on muscle, and sadly you’ll likely give up long before you do. But if you think of the gym as a place to let off steam, unleash the beast, haul some heavy weights, and get your masculine hormones firing it can be a pretty fun place. And damn if you train smart, one day soon you’ll be a powerful beast of a man.
April 2010 – the month that two skinny ectomorphs decided they were fed up with being skinny ectomorphs. Did we know what an “ectomorph” was? Hell no, we just knew we were really damn skinny and really damn fed up with it.
So we made a pact: 30 days of whatever it took to build muscle (steroids not included).* Skinny genes be damned, we were growing out of our skinny jeans.
And we did. That first month went so well that we decided to expand our muscle-building pact to four months, and by the end of those four months the Bony Boys were a thing of the past. Furthermore the success we had inspired us to create the entire Bony to Beastly program.
*Well okay so we were freshly graduated from university, living on our own, and entirely unemployed … so the financial costs had to, err, be pretty low. We were also in the midst of starting up our design business and our schedules were pretty full. But we were very determined.
Hey guys this may be a little overdue, depending on what you’ve been eating 😉
I went on a date last week shortly after training, and before heading off to the bar I crammed down as much food as I could: a 2 scoop whey shake, 2 bananas, 4 eggs, a shot of olive oil, and then I grabbed a litre of milk and started walking off to the bar. This is after finishing my 1200 calorie workout sugar/whey shake. I arrived just as I finished my litre of milk and greeted my date. I then quickly had to sit down to make sure none of that hard-swallowed nutrition came back up. She thought it was pretty funny, and 45 minutes of wheezing later I was back to normal.