Okay so not having heard of something isn’t a myth—it’s a mistake. (I apologize for the lithpy pun.) Anyway, neutral spine and neutral neck (or “packed neck”, as Marco calls it) are both really damn important. Proper spinal alignment is debatably the single most important training cue out there. All performance trainers, powerlifters and high level athletes know this, but most gym-goers are out of the loop. They lift with really poor spinal alignment, not because they aren’t focusing enough on form, but because they’ve never even heard that spinal alignment exists, let alone matters. You’ve probably heard not to round your back, but that’s as far as mainstream sources go on the matter. The problem here is that as ectomorphs we’re particularly vulnerable to injuries, as our structures are naturally smaller. We can fix this, of course, and your bone density and tendon strength will soon reach beastly levels, but as a skinny dude starting out you can do some real damage to yourself if you neglect your alignment.
This post will help you improve your longterm health and strength, dodge future back pain, and help you build more muscle in the short term by properly targeting the muscles you’re trying to hit.
Carbs are considered unhealthy in most diets because they taste good and they’re easy to overeat, which causes people to gain weight. Most people are overweight, so anything that causes them to gain even more weight is unhealthy. But what if you’re an ectomorph who’s trying to gain weight?
The other reason that carbs have a bad reputation is because they can cause insulin to spike higher. When insulin spikes higher, it causes people to gain weight, including both fat and muscle. But what if you’re an ectomorph who’s trying to gain muscle? Wouldn’t the insulin spike help?
If carbs cause weight gain, and if ectomorphs are trying to gain weight, shouldn’t ectomorphs eat more carbs?
For most guys, stopping their sets short of failure will allow them to build muscle more quickly. This is especially true of people who are still relatively new to lifting. This is because training to failure can cause excessive muscle damage, which can impede muscle growth. It can also ingrain poor lifting technique, which can negatively impact longterm progress.
But isn’t that last rep the only one that matters?! Isn’t that last rep the one that separates the weaklings from the warriors? Grab a seat by the curl rack, and let me tell you about keeping two 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 many different workout routines that skinny guys will often try as they bulk up, ranging from strength training to bodyweight workouts to bodybuilding. Now, as a general rule, we recommend that you do dedicated hypertrophy training if your goal is to bulk up, but for the purposes of this article, let’s talk about how to get more muscle growth out of any workout program.
My only question is: how is your workout routine working for you? If you aren’t getting the results you want, or living the lifestyle you want to live, then it’s time to re-evaluate your approach to training.
People can spend years working their butts to the bone—literally. They work so hard that their gluteal muscles erode from their pelvis leaving only bone on their behinds. Believe it or not, this actually happened to me, and let me tell you, it was 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.
For example, if your training isn’t designed to help you accomplish your specific goals, then you may get an entirely different set of adaptations out of it. No matter how long you spend improving your cardio, it’s not going to cause any extra muscle growth.
For another example, if your training isn’t efficient, then working harder may not yield extra muscle growth. 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 thin man on the left is Jeff before starting the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program. He started the program at 136 pounds with internally rotated shoulders, a head that jut forward, and hips that made his belly stick out—issues that he was eager to fix.
The Beastlier man on the right is Jeff 5 weeks later weighing in at 145.5 pounds and with most of his postural problems greatly improved. He also succeeded in balancing out most of his muscle asymmetries while increasing muscle size everywhere.
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 knew virtually nothing about building muscle. We just knew we were really damn skinny, completely fed up with it, and determined to become muscular at all costs.
That day, the two of us made a bulking pact: we would do thirty days of whatever it took to build muscle naturally (steroids not included). Skinny genes be damned, we were growing out of our skinny jeans.
At the end of those thirty days, we had gained more than two dozen pounds between us. It was working, we were finally gaining muscle. So we doubled down on our efforts, extending our bulking pact for another three months.
By the end of those four months, we weren’t skinny anymore.
Here’s the story of our ectomorph transformation: how we went from skinny to muscular.
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.