The Skinny Guy’s Guide to Being an Ectomorph

Most of us ectomorphs describe ourselves as being naturally skinny and we tend to have a hard time gaining weight. More specifically, though, ectomorphs are usually defined by having narrower shoulders, lankier longer limbs, thinner bones, and a lower body-fat percentage. Being an ectomorph is also associated with having a higher metabolism and a smaller stomach.

If you’re curious about whether you’re an ectomorph or not, there are a few simple tests that you can do. All you need to do is measure the width of your frame, the thickness of your wrists, and the length of your muscle bellies. You can do it at home in just a couple of minutes.

We’ll also cover how the various ectomorph traits affect our ability to build muscle, what our genetic muscular potential is, and how we should approach bulking up.

Do Our Bone Structures Affect Our Attractiveness?

In our article on aesthetics and attractivenesses, we dive deep into the most attractive male proportions. When it comes to your shoulders, the broader your shoulders are compared to your waist, the more attractive your body looks to women. Having naturally longer collarbones can help with that, certainly, but attractiveness is based almost entirely on how lean your waist is and how muscular your upper body is (study).

After all, having broad shoulders is just a proxy for strength, and having a lean waist is just a proxy for having a low body-fat percentage. If you have a muscular upper body and a lean waist, then your bone structure won’t matter very much. Women don’t care much about our body type, but they do care about whether we’re in good shape or not.

However, the more we understand our body type, the easier it’s going to be to get into great shape. Figuring out if we have narrow shoulders relative to our hips is a great place to start because it’s almost entirely genetic and can influence our ability to build muscle.

Do You Have Narrow Shoulders?

I initially read about this a decade ago in the old Scrawny to Brawny book by Dr John Berardi. In it, Dr Berardi suggested that if your collarbone-to-hip ratio is 1.46 or higher, then you have an ideal frame for building muscle. Digging into the research, there are indeed a few studies proving that we can use that ratio as a way of predicting our overall size and muscle mass.

Two of these studies are especially interesting.

The first is a study out of Johns Hopkins University titled Body Mass Prediction From Skeletal Frame Size in Elite Athletes. In this study, the researchers took elite athletes who competed in various sports, measured their collarbone-to-hip ratio, weighed them, and established a way to predict body mass based on bone structure.

The strength athletes, such as the Olympic weightlifters, were the broadest and most muscular, with a ratio of 1.5. These are the mesomorphs, and they really are naturally bigger and stronger. The endurance athletes, such as the decathletes, were the narrowest and thinnest, with a ratio of 1.3. These are the ectomorphs, and again, they really are naturally thinner.

A follow-up study titled Body Mass Prediction From Stature and Bi-iliac Breadth in Two High Latitude Populations confirmed the findings from Johns Hopkins, but more importantly, proved that the findings were applicable to the general population, not just elite athletes. They found that the Inupiats (aboriginals of Alaska) have a 1.38 collarbone-to-hip ratio and are slenderer than Finns, who have a 1.41 ratio (study).

In both studies, the researchers found that these body type differences were predictive, meaning that by taking these shoulder and hip measurements, we can get an idea of how big and muscular we can naturally get. All body types can build muscle, but guys with a more mesomorphic bone structure are going to have a slightly higher muscle-building potential than guys with a more ectomorphic bone structure.

Measuring Shoulder Width

If you want to figure out whether you have a mesomorphic or ectomorphic frame, you can measure the length of your collarbones (bi-acromial breadth) and then divide it by the width of your hip bones (bi-iliac breadth).

To do that, you need to make sure that you’re measuring the width of your bone structure, like so:

Bony to Beastly Bone Structure V-Taper Ratio

To figure out how long your collarbones are, use a measuring tape to measure the distance between the outermost parts of your shoulder bones. This doesn’t include your upper arm bone or your shoulder muscles, but just where your shoulder joint begins. Also, keep in mind that we’re measuring the distance between the joints, so hold the measuring tape out a little bit in front of your body so that it doesn’t curve around your chest.

Then do the same thing with your hips, measuring between the outermost part of your upper hip bones, again without bending the measuring tape.

Once you have these measurements, divide your collarbone length by the width of your hips to get your ratio.

Bone Breadth Ratio = collarbone length / hip width

  • If you have a ratio under 1.4, you have a more ectomorphic body type
  • If you have a ratio of 1.4–1.45, you are average
  • If you have a ratio of 1.46–1.5, you have a more mesomorphic body type

Examples of Men with Broad and Narrow Shoulders

For an example of someone with amazing natural muscle-building potential, we can look at the classic bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Even as a young teenager, you can see that his collarbones are quite broad and his hips are quite narrow:

Muscle-Building Genetics, Bone Structure V-Taper, Steve Reeves

However, even ectomorphs can build impressive amounts of muscle mass, especially if their goal is just to look strong, healthy, and attractive.

A couple of good examples of that are Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. Both have ectomorph body types, but Ryan Gosling has a narrower ectomorph build, whereas Brad Pitt has a slightly broader ectomorph build. If you’re an ectomorph, chances are that you’re somewhere in the middle.

Ectomorph Actor / Celebrity Genetics Ryan Gosling & Brad Pitt

How Does Shoulder Width Affect Muscle Growth?

The research from Johns Hopkins shows that ectomorphs naturally carry less muscle mass than mesomorphs. However, if your goal is to become strong, muscular, and healthy, it won’t make as much of a difference as you might expect.

Most research shows that our muscular genetic potential is only about 5–10% lower than the average man’s. And since hardly anyone gets anywhere even close to their genetic potential, that’s hardly any limit at all.

For example, if you look at Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt above, both of them are ectomorphs, and neither of them is anywhere near his natural muscle-building potential. If you want, you can become far bigger and stronger than either one of them.

If you’re curious about how big and strong you can get, and how quickly you can do it, here’s our article on ectomorph muscle and strength potential.

Are You A Hardgainer?

The original hardgainer test had to do with the thickness of our bones. In the 1950s, the famous bodybuilder Reg Park began noticing that “the small-boned type” didn’t build muscle as easily as other body types. Because they didn’t gain muscle as easily, they were dubbed hardgainers.

Reg Park wasn’t a scientist, mind you. He didn’t actually measure anyone’s bone thickness, and he didn’t prove a causal link. It was just an observation. It sparked a line of research, though, and a couple of decades later, Dr. Casey Butts found that there is indeed a relationship between bone thickness and muscle-building potential.

Now, before we talk about Dr Butts’ bone-thickness research, it’s important to talk about a common misunderstanding about skinny guys and hardgainers.

Skinny Guys Tend to Gain Muscle Faster

However, there isn’t a link between bone thickness and the rate of muscle growth. In fact, guys who are naturally thinner tend to gain muscle more quickly than average. This is because skinny guys are further away from their genetic limit, allowing them to gain far more muscle before running into the law of diminishing returns.

Because we’re starting underweight, many of us skinny guys are able to make remarkable “newbie gain” transformations. Here are some examples of skinny guys quickly building muscle.

Hardgainers Have Trouble Gaining Weight

There’s also research showing that some people resist weight gain. For example, in a famous 1999 study, the researchers overfed people by 1000 calories and measured how much weight they gained. Some of the study participants gained as much as 9 pounds, whereas other participants gained less than a single pound. This landmark study proved that some people have a harder time gaining weight than others.

For example, in a famous 1999 study, the researchers overfed people by 1000 calories and measured how much weight they gained. Some of the study participants gained as much as 9 pounds, whereas other participants gained less than a single pound. This landmark study proved that some people have a harder time gaining weight than others.

Although hardgainer was initially used for people who have a hard time building muscle, that’s now been replaced with the term “non-responder.” The term hardgainer now usually refers to someone who has a hard time eating enough calories to gain weight. (We’ve got a full article on hardgainers.)

So as skinny guys who are trying to bulk up, we’ve actually got the potential to build muscle very quickly, but we also tend to have an incredibly hard time eating enough calories to do so. Here’s our guide for eating more calories.

Do You Have Thin Bones?

Dr Casey Butts’ research found that guys with thinner bones can support less muscle mass on their frames. As we mentioned above, this doesn’t have much impact on a skinny guy’s ability to build muscle. In fact, we can often build muscle more quickly than others.

However, the thickness of our bones will impact how muscular we can ultimately become. Given that the weight of our bones impacts our body weight, having thinner bones can also mean that we weigh less overall even when we have a comparable degree of muscularity to other people.

Measuring Wrist Thickness

To see if we have proportionally thin bones, we need to measure how thick our bones are and then compare that to our heights. The best place to measure your bone thickness is in your wrists and ankles because, unless you’re extremely overweight, those measurements are determined almost entirely by the thickness of our bones.

Wrist size is most closely related to arm muscularity, whereas ankle size is more closely linked with leg muscularity. Most guys don’t really care about how muscular their legs are, so we’ll use wrist size.

Bone Thickness Ratio = Wrist Circumference / Height

To find out whether you have an ectomorphic bone thickness, measure your wrist circumference and then divide it by your height (in cm or inches). If the number you get is smaller than 0.1045, you have thin wrist bones, which is a sign that you’re an ectomorph.

To figure out what an exceptionally thick bone structure is, Dr Butts took the wrist and ankle measurements of bodybuilders from the 40s and 50s, before steroids were available. For example, the thinner bodybuilder Ron Lacy (Mr. America 1957) had a moderate ratio of 0.1058, whereas the thicker bodybuilder John Grimek had a ratio of 0.1138.

Dr Butts compared the bone size of every single famous natural bodybuilder against their muscularity to see if there was a correlation between bone width and overall muscularity.

After measuring the proportions of hundreds of bodybuilders, Dr Butts found that men with a ratio of 0.1111 or greater were able to build substantially more muscle than the average guy. Their genetic muscular potential was about 10% higher. He called these guys “easygainers,” but that term never really caught on. We’ll refer to these guys as mesomorphs instead.

To be clear, a 10% increase in genetic muscular potential isn’t much for the general population. Most people never reach their genetic muscular potential anyway, and once a guy looks strong, he reaches a point of diminishing returns, where becoming even bigger and stronger won’t make him any healthier or more attractive.

By the time a guy can deadlift 400–500 pounds, squat 300–400 pounds, bench press 250–300 pounds, and curl 135 pounds, becoming even stronger isn’t going to have a big impact on his health or appearance. This means that this upper limit of muscularity is really only relevant for strength athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters. In that case, it’s best to be a mesomorph.

Bony to Beastly Ectomorph / Hardgainer Genetics Skinny Wrist Size

Anyway, moving back to our body-type tests, we’ll use a ratio of under 0.1045 to denote an ectomorph body type and a ratio of over 0.1111 to denote a mesomorph body type.

  • If your ratio is over 0.1111, you have great muscle-building genetics
  • If your ratio is 0.1045–0.1111, you have average muscle-building genetics
  • If your ratio is under 0.1045, you’re an ectomorph

However, we quickly realized that not a single member of our community had a ratio that was even over 0.1. We aren’t just ectomorphs, we’re extreme ectomorphs.

For example, my wrist circumference is 6.5” and my height is 74” (6’2), making my ratio 0.088. With wrists this small, I’d still be classified as an ectomorph even if were only 5’4 tall.

I reached out to Dr Butts to ask about this, and he told me that having an exceptionally thin bone structure is rare enough in the bodybuilding community that his calculations can’t account for it. He predicted that we’d likely be able to exceed his predictions of muscularity. He was right, too. Many of us have, myself included.

This goes to show that if you’re on the extreme side of being an ectomorph, the calculators that predict muscularity aren’t calibrated for you, and so they might underestimate your muscle-building potential.

Does Having Thin Wrists Make it Harder to Build Muscle?

According to the research of Dr Casey Butts, having thin wrists is linked to a 5–10% decrease in muscle-building potential. However, this doesn’t affect our rate of muscle growth, it just means that we’ll reach our genetic muscular potential at lower body weights.

Given how few people reach their genetic limit, this shouldn’t be a big issue. However, it might mean that you need to train for muscle mass more deliberately than guys who are naturally more muscular. For example, guys with thicker bones often carry more muscle mass by default, and so they may be able to maintain a pleasantly muscular physique just by doing cardio. An ectomorph, on the other hand, may need to bulk up with dedicated hypertrophy training in order to become strong and healthy.

Sometimes having thinner bones is a disadvantage, such as when trying to fill out the sleeves of a t-shirt, maintain a healthy posture, avoid concussions, or avoid broken bones. As such, again, we tend to benefit from lifting weights, which is going to fill out our frames with muscle mass, make our bones denser, strengthen our posture, and protect our spines.

Sometimes having thinner bones is an advantage. We have the potential to be quite strong and athletic for our size, being fairly light even after gaining quite a lot of muscle. That’s a great asset when it comes to running, doing bodyweight exercises (such as chin-ups), or playing sports with weight classes.

Ectomorphs May Be The Most Attractive Body Type

Another benefit is that men with thinner bones are often considered more attractive to women. To test this idea, we surveyed over 500 women, showing them the bodies of celebrities with a range of different body types.

The results of our survey showed a clear preference for ectomorphs who had succeeded in building muscle, with Brad Pitt’s Fight Club Physique being rated as the most attractive male physique.

Brad Pitt's ectomorph body in fight club was rated by women as being the most attractive male body type.

The most famous Hollywood actors are all ectomorphs, too. They all have narrower bone structures. This is true with guys like Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, although you could argue that has little to do with their physiques, and you’d probably be right. They’re mainly known for having attractive faces and personalities.

What’s more interesting is that when you consider the actors who are known for having the most attractive bodies, again, it’s a list of ectomorphs.

Some good examples of attractive actors are Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Cam Gigandet, Paul Walker, and Michael Fassbender, all of whom have thinner, ectomorph bone structures.

Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Cam Gigandet, Paul Walker, Michael Fassbender Bodies & Ectomorph Genetics

Ectomorphs are often rated as the most attractive body type outside of Hollywood as well. The top male models have thin bone structures, and many of the athletes who are considered attractive have ectomorph builds as well. Take a look at the top male model Mr. Ward and the soccer player David Beckham:

Mr. Ward and David Beckham Ectomorph Hardgainer Genetics

How Full Are Your Muscle Bellies?

The third and final ectomorph test has to do with the relationship between our muscle bellies and our muscle tendons.

Most people know that lifting weights can make our muscles thicker, making us bigger and stronger. But most people don’t know that lifting weights can also make our muscles longer, improving our strength and flexibility.

No matter how much we lift, though, we cannot change the length of our muscles in relation to our tendons, which can have a big impact on how our physiques look and perform.

How to Measure Your Muscle-Belly-to-Tendon Ratio

An easy way to test your muscle belly size is by measuring how big your biceps are relative to your tendons. If your muscle bellies are smaller, it will be harder to develop big biceps, but the muscles will contrast sharply against the tendons right next to them, giving you more attractive muscle peaks.

Bony to Beastly Muscle-Building Genetics Small Muscle Bellies

To determine your muscle-to-tendon ratio, flex your arm to 90 degrees, face your palm towards your biceps, and see how many fingers you can fit between your biceps muscle belly and your forearm. (See the video for an example.)

  • If you can fit 3 or more fingers between your biceps and forearm, you have an ectomorphic muscle-to-tendon ratio.
  • If you can fit 2 fingers, you’ve got an average muscle-to-tendon ratio.
  • If you can fit 0–1 finger you have a more mesomorphic muscle-to-tendon ratio.

In the above video, you can see me easily fitting three fingers between my biceps and forearm, slotting me firmly in the ectomorph category. With bodybuilders and fitness models, this is quite rare. However, when you look at guys a little further away from bodybuilding, you see far more famous ectomorphs. Some top tier actors, like Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, are ectomorphs who have very small muscle bellies.

Brad Pitt & Ryan Gosling Hardgainer / Ectomorph Muscle Belly Genetics

What Does Having Small Muscle Bellies Mean?

The main place that guys notice smaller muscle bellies is in their biceps. It’s not that it looks bad, it’s just that their arms tend to start off looking lankier, and often require some extra isolation work in order to fill out a shirt sleeve.

Some guys can get away with growing their arms with compound lifts, but you probably aren’t one of them. If your arms are naturally lankier, build your routine around big compound arm lifts like chin-ups (for the biceps) and overhead presses (for the triceps), but also include plenty of isolation work, such as biceps curls and triceps extensions.

Also, remember that your biceps and triceps are just a small part of your upper arms. You can add tons of girth to your arms by training your other upper-arm muscles, such as your brachialis, brachioradialis, your deltoids, and all of your forearm muscles. The best way to do this is to use a larger range of motion when doing your arm exercises:

  • When doing chin-ups, for example, start from a dead hang and bring your chest all the way up to touch the bar.
  • When doing overhead presses, bring the weight down all the way to touch your chest.
  • When doing curls, start with your arms fully extended, and bring the bar all the way up to your chin.
  • When doing rows, reach all the way down, and then pull the weight all the way up to your torso.

The larger your range of motion, the better you’ll stimulate the main movers (such as your biceps and triceps) and the more you’ll involve all of the muscles that can assist in the movement, including all of the other muscles that can bulk up your arms.

Overall Ectomorph Muscle-Building Genetics

Okay, so let’s say you have a stereotypical ectomorph body type, as I do. That isn’t bad. Yes, it might ruin your chances of becoming an Olympic weightlifter, but it also increases your odds of becoming a decathlete.

Now, to be fair, you probably aren’t trying to become a decathlete. If you’re like me, you’re probably a skinny guy who’s eager to bulk up. So learning that you have a great future as a marathon runner isn’t exactly great news.

The good news is that being strong, healthy, and attractive is different from pursuing professional sports, and we don’t have a disadvantage there. Yes, it can be harder for ectomorphs to become as strong as other body types, but it’s also much easier to stay lean.

Skinny guys benefit from lifting weights, gaining weight, and bulking up. Most other guys benefit from doing cardio and losing weight. We’re not worse off, we just have different strengths and weaknesses.

More good news: women often rate the ectomorph body type as being the most attractive. For an exaggerated example, compare the mesmorphic wrestler Brock Lesnar with the ectomorphic model Sean O’Pry (the highest paid male model):

Ectomorph Muscle-Building Genetics Brock Lesnar Body vs Sean O'Pry

Lesnar’s strong mesomorph physique is great for strength sports and bodybuilding, whereas O’Pry’s ectomorph physique not only lines up perfectly with health ideals, but most women also consider it extremely attractive.

Also, note that O’Pry isn’t anywhere close to his genetic muscular potential. Even if his genetic muscular potential were 10% lower than average (as is typical with ectomorphs), he could still gain at least another 30 pounds on top of that physique before brushing up against his genetic limits. His genetics would never be a limitation for him.

To be clear, neither body is better than the other, but each is better at different things. Given that we have more in common with the ectomorph on the right, I would recommend aiming for a body more like that. His face may not be something we can acquire, but that body is realistically achievable for every ectomorph.

In fact, given how far O’Pry is from his genetic potential, that physique isn’t all that difficult to build. It’s something you could do with a good diet and three hourlong workouts per week. It wouldn’t even take that long. A year, at most.

Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Shia LaBeouf (Realistic Ectomorph / Hardgainer Bodies)

Women aren’t looking for the next Steve Reeves or Arnold Schwarzenegger, just a guy with a strong, healthy physique who will make a great father and make his family feel safe. Think more along the lines of Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, or Shia LaBeouf.

How Should Ectomorphs Exercise?

Ectomorphs often make the mistake of assuming that lifting weights is for guys who want to look like bodybuilders. Yes, it’s true that bodybuilders build their physiques by lifting weights, but even if you just want to build a little bit of muscle, you should still be lifting weights. After all, lifting weights is the type of exercise designed to help guys become bigger and stronger.

Hugh Jackman Deadlifting to Build Muscle

For example, Wolverine doesn’t look like a bodybuilder, but Hugh Jackman (above) was deadlifting 405 pounds to get in shape for that role. In fact, deadlifting 405 pounds is a good benchmark of strength if you want to build a visibly strong physique, as are benching 225 pounds, squatting 315 pounds, doing chin-ups with 50 pounds around your waist, and pressing 135 pounds overhead. Even for an ectomorph, all of those goals are realistic.

You don’t have to use a barbell, of course, but the same principle holds true if you’re using dumbbells. You’ll still want to hit the equivalent strength standards.

The problem is, most ectomorphs realize that their body type isn’t built for strength sports, and so they’re drawn to the types of exercise that line up with their natural strengths. They gravitate towards callisthenics, cardio, martial arts, and general physical preparedness, such as CrossFit and P90X. That can be frustrating, though, because it doesn’t help them build muscle mass, and so it fails to help them build strong, healthy, and attractive physiques.

Remember that the fitness model who represents P90X, Tony Horton, built his physique with bodybuilding before being hired to represent P90X, at which point he became a little smaller. Same thing with the callisthenics guys. Most of them build their muscle with weights before moving on to callisthenics.

If your goal is to be bigger and stronger, it’s best to be deliberate about gaining size and strength. It’s best to train in a way that’s specifically designed to help you bulk up, which is called hypertrophy training.

I suspect that once you start following a good bulking program, you’ll realize that your ectomorph genetics aren’t any kind of limitation. Here’s an example of a skinny guy who succeeded in bulking up:

Bony to Beastly Ectomorph Transformation Skinny Hardgainer Genetics

To be clear, your results won’t look like his. We’re all a little bit different. We all build muscle in slightly different ways. But the point is that you can certainly build muscle.

If you want a program that will teach you absolutely everything you need to know about building muscle as an ectomorph, you’ll love our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program.

About Shane Duquette

Shane Duquette, BDes, is a writer and illustrator with a degree in design from York University. He co-founded Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell, where he specializes in helping skinny people bulk up.More about Shane here.

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116 Comments

  1. JK on May 19, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Need to read the whole thing but just doing the tests i can see im definitely a hardgainer. Second test i actually got a 0.09 so yeah really bad luck on that

    • Shane Duquette on May 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

      It sounds really low, and I’m sure it is, but almost everyone in the Bony to Beastly community is under 0.1, with most guys being similar to us (0.085–0.095). We all still build muscle just fine once we get the hang of it 🙂

      • paul on June 16, 2018 at 9:47 am

        Shane, I love your site. Your analysis of the positives of being an ecto made me appreciate my genetics. In fact it gave me a real boost – so thank you!

        I have a question as I’m a bit of a mix:
        My shoulder to stomach ratio is 1.46 – so a great V.
        My wrist to height is 0.095. My ankles are v thin too
        I carry excess fat around my stomach. I did trim down and almost exposed a 6 pack at 10.5% body fat (57kg @ 5ft 8) – but I looked too thin everywhere else.

        I am strong but struggle to put muscle bulk on (especially my limbs). I squat (on a smith machine) double my body weight but my legs are skinny.
        I’ve been lifting heavy for about 5 years. 4 way split, 4 sessions pw. 2 sets X 5 exercises 6-10 reps.
        If I eat a lot I tend to just get fatter? Any suggestions gratefully received!

        • Shane Duquette on July 10, 2018 at 3:40 pm

          Hey Paul, glad you’ve been loving our site! Congrats on your gains, and it sounds like you’re wicked strong 🙂

          As for why you’re so strong while still looking thin, it could be that you’re making what’s called “neural gains” instead of muscular gains. This is where you improve your lifting technique, your leverage, your ability to use your muscles explosively, and your ability to move various muscles all together as a team. You improve your coordination, you could say. Problem is, you can do all of that without actually building any new muscle. To remedy this, the solution is—you guessed it—eating more calories and gaining more weight. Since that just tends to make you fat, I’d say to double check your protein intake. You need at least 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight per day. Also make sure that you’re sleeping well. If that’s not it…

          Another possibility is that you’re a torso-dominant lifter, so when you’re squatting it’s your butt that’s doing the work, not your legs. When you bench press, it’s your chest doing the work, not your triceps. When you row, it’s your back doing the work, not your biceps. If this is the problem, you can start doing more isolation exercises for your limbs. More bicep curls, leg curls, tricep extensions, leg extensions, narrow-grip push-ups, narrow-grip pulldowns and chin-ups, etc. That should put more emphasis on your limbs, and then when they eventually catch up, they might even start participating more in the big lifts.

          The third thing is that the issue you’re describing tends to happen to people who focus on heavy strength training. Maybe it’s time to take a break from that and focus on lighter bodybuilding. More emphasis on stimulating muscles, getting a pump, feeling the burn, and less emphasis on just lifting as much weight as possible in the big movements. (Keep some of the big heavy movements in there, though, just shift some emphasis away from them.)

          I hope that helps!

          • Paul on July 11, 2018 at 8:07 am

            What great advice! Thank you so much. I’m going to address all the areas you detail. Will keep you posted!



  2. DanRamone on May 19, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Hi! Can i make these measurements also with cm?

    • Shane Duquette on May 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Absolutely! They’re all ratios, so as long as you’re consistent you can use either inches or centimetres. For example, for the bone thickness test I could use 16.5 cm / 188 cm or 6.5″ / 74″ to get a ratio of 0.088 in either case 🙂

      I mention this in the videos but I forgot to mention it in the article. I’ll fix that now.

  3. Saurabh on May 19, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    You nailed it bro. Hats off. Had read one of these in Scrawny to Brawny eBook in which they mentioned about 85% of 1 RM test also.
    All info on one page, its amazing. Just wondering, when we ectos have more endurance fibres, then why we are supposed to lift heavy only always and that too generally 3 whole body sessions per week. Is it because of increased MPS or something else also¿¿¿

    • Shane Duquette on May 19, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks, man!

      People can indeed have slightly different ratios of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fibres, so if we were doing a pure strength program we might suffer because of it, and guys with more fast twitch fibres might not do all that well if they did a program that heavily emphasized higher rep stuff. We do still have a variety of different fibres though, regardless of the ratio, so for the best size and strength gains, we want to train ALL of our fibres optimally.

      When it comes to strength genetics though, I think we’ll put some more tests and research into a new article for that, talking about insertion points, leverages, limb lengths. In the meantime, check this older one out:

      http://bonytobeastly.com/ectomorph-weightlifting/

    • Shane Duquette on May 19, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Oh! And we don’t recommend training heavy all the time. For the best gains in muscle size it really helps us naturally skinny guys to have some higher rep stuff—stuff up above 12 reps.

    • Lewis on December 3, 2016 at 4:21 am

      Exactly what I have being thinking 🙂 In fact I get burnt out and injured when I do low reps I have done high reps 8- and I have done 6 days in a row and I feel great but low reps I struggle with 2-3 sessions a week with low sets.

  4. Atish Pratap on May 19, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    This article is great. I really am a hardgainer
    My shoulder to hip ratio is 1.3, my wrist to height ratio is 0.069 and I can fit 4 fingers between my biceps and forearm. Is this too bad?

    • Shane Duquette on May 19, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Not bad, no, it just means you’re a true ectomorph, much like most of us around here 🙂

      • Daniel on July 9, 2016 at 4:52 pm

        Shane, you say that fitness models are ectomorphs. I have seen many fitness models who were elite mesomorphs. What is the difference between ectomorphs and mesomorphs to be sure if what I’m saying is correct?

        • Analyser on April 4, 2018 at 3:38 pm

          What is difference?There is wrist circumference and shoulder/hips ratio and chest shape and leg’s length.It may be very different combination. In medical and science classification we’ve got
          -mesomorph ( rather high shr ratio and normal length of limbs and rather large or normal(medium)circumfarance wrist
          -ectomorph (rather long limbs and medium shr ratio and small circumferance
          In reality we see body combination like ecto-meso., ?meso-ecto.

  5. Filipp on May 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Great stuff Shane. I love that you back all your stuff with evidence, research and just the facts! no B.S. with you guys! I respect that!

    • Shane Duquette on May 20, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      Glad you like it, Filipp! Thanks 🙂

  6. Den on May 20, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Hey, Brother Mr. Shane! I ‘ ve been lurking enough! It’ s time that I communicate. So, I am really ok with my progress ( I DO have continually increasing stength, tone and some definition), yet I just seem to just crawl when adding mass. Yes, I don’t eat enough- that may be the real answer here, but the good workouts include some impressive pump (subjective perception here) which I augment with what I call “HOLD”. This is where I finish with a maintained posture with free weight in a static (Well, I DO move around), usually contracted position.It ‘s kind of like turning any exercise into a variation of a farmers walk. It is WORK! It does makes me look good!(especially with a very high head posture) But, 1) the pump goes no more than an hour, and 2) can’ t seem to add mass. 3) and what the heck am I doing with my “held” farmers walks? Any thoughts? Thanks! You ARE the best! – Den

    • Shane Duquette on May 21, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Heya Den, welcome to the site! And congrats on the progress you’ve made 🙂

      Ahahaha yeah, the eating enough part is definitely the hardest. We’ve got some strategies for that though. Have you read The Skinny on “Just Eat More”? That might help.

      I think what you’re doing is good, and there are certainly some postural benefits to that style of training. It’s called isometric training. That pause you’re adding to your lifts we call “ISO holds” in the strength and conditioning community. I’d do that more with postural accessory lifts though, not so much the steak and potatoes ones that you’re relying on to build muscle mass. With the big compound lifts like bench presses, rows, squats, chin-ups, deadlifts, I’d focus more on lifting heavy weights explosively and then lowering them under control. That’s been proven to produce by far the most muscle growth, and very reliably.

      The pump is just your muscle swelling up with blood. I wouldn’t think about that all too much. It’s not an important factor when it comes to muscle growth. I would focus more on how your strength is improving from workout to workout, how your weight is increasing from weigh-in to weigh-in.

      Sounds like you’re already doing well, so keep it up 🙂

      • Kyle Russell on May 1, 2018 at 7:38 pm

        Hey Shane, can you update the link on this reply? It doesn’t seem to work. Thanks!

        • Jared Polowick on May 3, 2018 at 1:40 pm

          Done!

  7. Jason Thorpe on May 22, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Shane, great article which I enjoyed reading. I passed all three ectomorph tests with ease, but I already knew I was one.

    I think I also suffer from low T and wonder if there is any connection between ectomorphs and low testosterone levels as well. Have you heard of any study that’s proven or disproven this? Do you have any advice from someone with low T (and trying to gain muscle)?

    • Shane Duquette on May 24, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Hey Jason, thanks for the kind words!

      This is something we talk about in the Bony to Beastly program and community, but I’m realizing now that we’ve never really talked about it on the blog, and we should! In the meantime, let me see if I can give you a real good answer here.

      While I am certainly no specialist, we’re lucky enough to have a doctor in the community who does specialize in male hormones (urologist). You can see his transformation in the sidebar—DoctorB. He posted a lot of tips, busted a lot of myths, and even wrote a few cool guides in the member community. Amazing guy. Here’s a small excerpt from one of his guides, slightly shortened for brevity:

      “Normal levels of testosterone have been established. Most medical associations agree that anything below 230 ng/dL is deficient, and above 350 ng/dL is normal. However, testosterone circulates in three forms in the body: bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), albumin, or in free form. Total testosterone measurements done in a standard lab test measure all of these together. Interestingly, only a small portion of it is actually available to the body: bioavailable testosterone. In medicine, we actually only care about bioavailable testosterone. No established normals have been set for bioavailable testosterone. This is why some people can have borderline low testosterone and feel just fine, have no issues packing on muscle, having plenty of lean mass, and good sex drives.”

      However, he mentions that symptoms of low testosterone should definitely be checked out, with the most common symptom being a low sex drive. If that’s the case, an appointment with your local urologist may be in order.

      What about muscle though? Guys will sometimes inject testosterone (steroids) to improve their ability to build muscle. They do this by bringing their testosterone levels to supraphysiologic levels, or, for example, to 10x the healthy level. To quote DoctorB again:

      “The benefits of testosterone supplementation to supraphysiologic levels can allow a guy to go way past his genetic potential. Usually, people will hit a wall where it becomes extremely difficult to gain muscle. While continued growth is possible, it’s slow and usually becomes increasingly more difficult to continue upwards, as the body resists change from its equilibrium or where your genetics allow it to be. This is generally accomplished by the body regulating how much testosterone it will release (among other things). By using testosterone, one can blow way past one’s genetic potential, but this can result in significant side effects.”

      This is why most successful bodybuilders—even the ones with great genetics—will reach a point where they need to turn to steroids in order to keep progressing. However, this has very little to do with the impact of low vs high natural levels of testosterone, since the difference is relatively small there. For example:

      Low: 230 ng/dL
      Healthy: 350+ ng/dL
      Steroids: 4,000 ng/dL

      A lot of us guys who struggle to build muscle mistakenly think that it’s because of low testosterone—I certainly had that thought myself—but you can see that the difference between low and healthy is too small to create a meaningful difference. Instead, the genetic factors that would make it harder to build muscle are the ones in this very article here.

      However, that doesn’t mean that testosterone isn’t important, and there are definitely things we can do to naturally improve it: getting lots of good sleep, eating tons of calories, lifting heavy weights, being active, avoiding vitamin/mineral deficiencies (e.g. vitamin D), and much more. We go over all of these things in the Bony to Beastly program, as lot of these things that make us hormonally more masculine also make us way more muscular (and healthier). A good bulking program will factor all of those things in.

      Anyway, if you suspect that you have unhealthfully low levels of testosterone, I would recommend bringing that up with a urologist so that you can get yourself healthy again. However, if you worry that you are on the lower side of healthy, don’t worry too much about that—it won’t really impact your ability to build muscle in a significant way. In addition to this, as you go about building muscle your testosterone levels will likely rise, especially if you do it in a smart and healthy way 🙂

    • Lewis on December 3, 2016 at 4:33 am

      I read somewhere in an actual study that if your testosterone levels are within the normal range a guy with 400ng/dl wont gain muscle less than a guy with 900ng/dl but if you took testosterone then you would need to have 1300 ng/dl to get massive gains and that would require drugs so guys with great genetics dont need much drugs to get massive results. I am not recommending drugs quite the opersite what I am saying is dont worry if your testosterone is within the normal range a small increase wont do much.

      This confirms what I am saying a bit, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12679426

      • Shane Duquette on December 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

        Well said 🙂

  8. Andy on May 25, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    This is a cool article but I think that it’s unlikely that all of these characteristics will apply to most people. I have very small wrists (under 6.5″) & no v-shape structure but my muscle bellies are long & the tendons are short in basically every body part. I have also disproportionately short limbs and long torso. What would you say is the most important defining characteristic for someone having bad genetics/”ectomorph” genetics? From experience I can build muscle without much difficulty but my body does not have very good shape due to the lack of v-taper, stumpy overpowering legs, etc. even when I diet down very low

    • Shane Duquette on May 25, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      Hey Andy, glad you liked it!

      You’re very right. It’s rare that guys are super ectomorphic in every way. I think it’s rare to even be an ectomorph at all, actually. Apparently only 3% of the American population, for example, is trying to gain weight.

      What’s the defining characteristic of being an ectomorph? Going by the somatotype definition of, “a person with a lean and delicate body build,” it would be either having thin bones or a narrow structure. So perhaps tests 1 and 2.

      The muscle belly thing, while not related to being an ectomorph, per se, can make it harder to gain muscle. (Or in your case, easier!) However, when it comes to building muscle, we often use ectomorph more colloquially to mean guys who are naturally skinny—the guys who struggle to gain weight. So I would say that all of these tests count fairly equally.

      You might be a guy who would benefit from more of an upper body focus so that your upper body and legs balance out. I think we often focus on our weak points too, while seeing the strong points of others. Sounds like you have a lot of genetics advantages also!

  9. thomas on May 27, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Hi Shane,

    Just a quick message to say i really approve that you guys start making videos. I hope it will bring you more success, cause i appreciate your smart work.

    Thomas

    • Shane Duquette on May 27, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you, Thomas! 🙂

  10. Gregory Mateo on May 29, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Hello Shane. I have been reading your articles for a while and I find them very interesting, so I’d like to ask you a question. My wrist size is 6 inches and I am 5 foot 9, but I weight 154 pounds with some muscle and my body fat percentage is probbale less than 15%.. What is the ideal physique that I could aim for?

    • Shane Duquette on May 30, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      You could probably get results similar to the actors pictured at the bottom of the article without needing a lifestyle centred around being in the gym and eating. It won’t take 10 years to get there either. I think those would represent healthy, realistic goals for you in the medium term 🙂

  11. Hassan on May 29, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Superb article, one of the best you’ve produced yet; interesting and in-depth.

    • Shane Duquette on May 30, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      Really glad you liked it, Hassan! Thank you 🙂

  12. Bryan Cream on June 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Is it possible to be a hard gainer and be “skinny fat”?

    • JK on June 2, 2016 at 10:56 am

      yeah they have an article about that on this page 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on June 2, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Hardgainer is a term used to describe someone who has trouble building muscle, not gaining weight in general. So it’s possible to be someone who gains fat easily but doesn’t build muscle easily, making you more of an endomorph hardgainer.

      That’s a combination of a couple tricky genetic traits, but there’s still a lot you can do. Again, as with pure ectomorphs, it’s a sign that you should be lifting weights to improve your nutrient partitioning, insulin sensitivity and increase your muscle mass. In addition to that though, you may also benefit from burning some calories by being more active (e.g. more walking) or doing some cardio. Not a crazy amount, but just enough to give you some dietary flexibility. A couple 20 minute cardio workouts per week in addition to 2–3 hourlong weightlifting workouts would do the trick at first, and then you can increase the length of your cardio sessions as you get fitter and fitter.

    • Shane Duquette on June 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Here’s the article JK was referring to 🙂

      http://bonytobeastly.com/skinny-fat-guide/

  13. Ryan on June 6, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Hi,
    I was trying to figure out if i’m an ectomorph , but the results didn’t really clear that up for me. I had a ratio of 1.6 on the first test;sounds high but I had someone else measure me as well with the same results. as for the second test I got 1.0 exactly and they 3rd test i could fit almost 2 fingers, but not quit. so i’m not sure what to think! I do have the short torso and long limbs thing though. any thoughts?

    • Shane Duquette on June 8, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Hey Ryan,

      Unless you’re known as being a borderline mutant for how broad your shoulders are, that’s a measurement error. It could be that you’re not measuring where your shoulder joint begins, but rather factoring in some muscle. Or letting the measuring tape curve around your body a bit. The guys with the best genetics in the world there have around 1.5, so with 1.6 you’d be very famous for your shoulders.

      With that said, sounds like you aced the test, dude! You might still be an ectomorph, or a thin guy, but I think once you start eating and lifting for size, damn, you’ll explode!

  14. Rayyan on June 8, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Hey,
    I’ve always been a skinny guy but my friends and family have noticed that I have a very significant v taper, and the first test confirmed this as I got a ratio of 1.5; I did not believe it at first but after several measurements, it turned out to be true.

    However, I do have narrow or ectomorphic bones and average muscle bellies.
    How well do you think I’d do in terms of attaining a big/strong physique.?

    • Shane Duquette on June 10, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Not a bad place to be! I think you’ll have an easier time building up a physique more like Brad Pitt’s than Ryan Gosling’s, what with the broader shoulders, narrow waist, narrower bones and average muscle bellies. The bone structure v-taper should make gaining size a little easier too 🙂

  15. Oscar on June 14, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Hi Shane, what do u think of Dexter’s physique (serial killer)? Does it impress you, something regular people can easily attain? He also looks like an ectomorph, that’s why I am asking.

    • Shane Duquette on June 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Hmm. It’s possible he’s an ectomorph, but he looks more mesomorphic to me. His bone structure and frame looks thicker and broader than you see with a lot of ectomorph actors, even after they build muscle. His muscularity and body fat percentage is very realistic though. He doesn’t look like he’s relying on world class genetics or steroids or anything.

  16. Sutton on June 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Saw this new article in my email the other day. Man, I really need to get back into the community. I would have kept doing this program but school and work kept getting in the way.

    As for the article in question. I haven’t tried the first test as I’m not sure if I’m assessing where the joint is properly but i’m .0950 for the second test and I can fit two fingers, almost 3, for the third test.

    Thanks for the great article as always shane, you rock man and despite having never met you before, you’ve been one of the greatest influence in my life about healthy living

    • Shane Duquette on June 20, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Hey Sutton, not bad on the tests! 🙂

      Thank you so much for the kinds words. We would love to have you back in the community, man, so I hope you decide to sign back up! 😀

  17. Andreea on July 9, 2016 at 3:20 am

    What about women?does the same measuring-calculus works? what about the results?

    • Shane Duquette on July 11, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      The same principles would somewhat hold true, especially when it comes to bone thickness and muscle belly / tendon length. That’s a good point though. We should make a women’s version on our Bony to Bombshell site 🙂

  18. Lelza on July 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    I have a bone breadth ratio of 1.33. Can i achieve a physique like sergi constance with ratio like this? I don’t care if it take longer period of time.

    • Henry dick on November 3, 2018 at 6:51 am

      Dude you have an endurance build.
      And 1.33 is too low , you will have to carry lot of muscle mass in your deltoids to even get closer to sergi constance

  19. Mike on July 20, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Hey Shane – great resource and super informative. I am so confused right now as I have always thought I was meso-endo – tall, and long limbed, but but prone to weight gain (>20% body fat- yada yada). After reading through your articles and stuff, I came to the strange realisation that I am maybe not this at all, and once I had done these three tests my suspicions are confirmed. I have a bone breadth ratio of 1.3, the wrist size measurement of 0.9 and a 3-finger muscle belly… uh-oh…. and all of a sudden I see I cannot possibly be endo – I have always been seriously FAT on top of skinny. or am I doing it wrong – how can I have gotten so fat with a skinny body type?
    I am so confused….

    • Shane Duquette on July 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Hey Mike,

      I think you are indeed part endomorph. Both ectomorphs and mesomorphs are characterized by a low body fat percentage, they just differ in their muscle (and bone structures).

      Similarly, both ectomorphs and endomorphs are often characterized by having lower amounts of muscle mass, they just differ in their body fat percentages (and bone structures).

      Sounds to me like your longer limbs and thinner bones is your ectomorph side, and your propensity for fat gain is your endomorph side. (The bone breadth ratio of 1.3 fits with both ectomorphs and endomorphs, as does your 3-finger muscle belly gap.)

      This isn’t super bad news or anything, you’re just a guy who might want to focus his efforts more on lifting than other types of exercise. (Some cardio on the side wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)

      • mike on July 21, 2016 at 3:30 am

        Thanks for your reply Shane- jeez, the best of both eh? hard-gainer AND fat storer – didn’t know this was even possible! Jeez . Super bad news indeed LOL. Oh well, knock up the cross-fit to five times a week then 🙂 take care man

        • Shane Duquette on July 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm

          CrossFit is more optimized for general fitness (vo2 max and whatnot) than for strength/muscle, but yes, with the right nutrition that could give you some results!

  20. Glew on August 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Cool. I FINALLY got a measuring tape.
    But I find the first test hard to carry out. Maybe I should ask someone to measure me… I come up with results from 1.35 to 1.53 depending on how I measure my shoulders (38-40 cm) and hips (26-28 cm). I am still very skinny, so my bones are very visible, should be able to measure, but I’m not clear what points to measure between.
    Anyway, after copious measurements, I think I come up kinda average on the Shoulder/hip ratio because I have extremely narrow hips.

    My muscle bellies aren’t too short, though, 2.5 fingers. So that’s not too bad.
    My wrist/hight is 0.088-0,086. So thin bones is probably a major factor for me. It’s a bit of a relief to know that I’m not even as extremely skinny as it is possible. Appetite is still a problem, but at least I know I don’t have too much of a setback in genetics.

    • Shane Duquette on August 7, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Sounds like you’ve got a narrow mesomorph sort of physique. You’d probably build muscle well and look pretty striking afterwards. Not bad results at all! 🙂

  21. Rommel on August 28, 2016 at 4:46 am

    he hi shane I have a question that your program work for people who cannot 1 proper push up well.
    should I be able to do 20-30 puch ups first or start your program. Does your program contain push ups.
    Also I think I have low testosterone and low bone density due to excessive masturbation is there a correlation ship between excessive masturbation and ectomorps because my father have very high bone density is very muscular.
    Thanks in advance for reply

    • Shane Duquette on August 28, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Hey Rommel,

      If you can’t do a push-up yet, that’s totally fine. You can begin with raised push-ups and work your way down to the floor. Then when that becomes easy, you can put weight plates on your back 🙂

      No need to master the push-up before joining. Gaining size and strength is what the program is all about, so you can build up the muscles you need for the push-up—chest, triceps, shoulders, and abs—while simultaneously building up the size and strength of all your other muscles!

      Masturbation shouldn’t really affect your ability to build muscle, but most things done in excess can have negative consequences.

      Building some muscle should help with your testosterone and bone density as well.

      • Rommel on August 30, 2016 at 12:04 am

        But still I think if I would be able to do 20 push up I will feel more confident to join program and I think my weak link is shoulder muscles can you do any help. Also I am 17 so if I join can you tailors program in a way my neck become thick and I get powerful jaw.

        • Shane Duquette on August 30, 2016 at 2:39 pm

          Yeah, I can see how that could help you feel more confident. You really, really do not need to be able to do even a single push-up to join the program, though. In fact, sometimes it can be easier to teach a beginner how to do them perfectly than it is to teach someone who has learned how to do them imperfectly.

          Yep! We have lots of exercises that will thicken up your neck. A lot of the strongman stuff we do is great for that. However, even just gaining weight will help.

          Most people start with shoulders that cave forward. Their back is weak. Sometimes it can be that they do too much heavy chest work (or push-ups), since that will tighten the chest muscles and pull the shoulders further forward, but more often than not it’s because they do no heavy work. So to fix up your shoulders, a big part of that is strengthening your back and the backs of your shoulders. Your rear delts and your lower and mid traps. Stronger rhomboids can help too.

  22. Oscar on September 5, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    Some say ectos have high tolerance, so for them working the same muscle every day (what would be overtraining for other people) is better than the traditional method.

    Is that true?

    • Shane Duquette on September 6, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      What’s the traditional method? Doing full body workouts three times per week, so every muscle group every second day? That would be much better, yeah.

      You get programs like that Bulgarian squat thingy that train a lift every day, but that’s more for practising the movement so that you can become more efficient with it—better coordination. For optimal size and strength, you’ll see better results with rest days in between. That’s when the muscles are built, after all 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on September 6, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      (There’s some truth to us being able to train more often, though. For example, if an ectomorph starts off deadlifting 135 pounds, for example, he’ll be able to deadlift as heavy as he can much more frequently than the guy who can deadlift 700 pounds because it won’t be as taxing on his central nervous system.)

  23. RRR on November 9, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Hi,

    My forearms develop pain after lifting for a while and I had to stop twice for several months for the pain to go away.
    The pain is permanent once it appears and it only gets worse until I stop using my forearms completely.
    When it appears it hurts badly when I squeeze my forearm with my other arm about half way in the length of the forearm.

    I have super skinny wrists (0.0914 ratio) and I don’t know what to do.

    I just started lifting again after about half a year and started curls with ridiculously small weights (3 kg dumbbells) that make feel ashamed of myself and I do 5 sets with increasing rep count (5, 10, 15, 20, 25). While I like the pump I feel in my biceps (I suspect higher reps might work better for me, say I’m trying it), my weakling forearms feel like they are about to go sore for the third fucking time and I didn’t even get to use some weights.

    Any advice? If I get another break for a few months due to pain in my forearms, I’m screwed.

    Thanks,
    Skinny bastard

    • Jared Polowick on November 15, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Hey RRR,

      When it comes to pain we always recommend that you should see a professional like a sports physiotherapist, doctor, etc. instead of getting a diagnosis over the internet. They’ll be able to see you in-person and help you come up with the best plan to move forward. If you can get into a position where your forearms aren’t preventing you from lifting, then we can help you learn how to gain weight and defeat your skinny genetics.

      I can share a bit of my story… and I am not saying this applies to you, or that you should assume it applies to you. But I had tendinopathy in both of my arms. Pain was one of the big reasons I got into lifting and kept up with it. Eating well (whole foods), lifting weights, and sleeping well radically helped me manage my pain. Ergonomics at my desk helped reduce flare-ups as well. There is some research showing that lifting can help restore strength, I really love farmer carries for this. I also did some Graston work, which does not have a lot of research behind it, but I think it helped. It could have been everything else (sleep, better food, ergonomics, etc.). I was desperate and tried a lot of different things. Depending on where you are you may want to read about it. But definitely seek out help from a professional who can see you in person 🙂 I hope you can find a solution RRR, I know how frustrating it is to be in the kind of pain you’re describing.

      • RRR on November 15, 2016 at 5:48 pm

        Thanks for sharing your personal experience with this crap!
        In the meantime I have tried doing hammer curls instead of regular ones and I think it works a lot better for me. It doesn’t feel like the pain is about to come back when I do hammer curls. I even increased the weights a little, up to 4kg.
        I also did some more research and I’m currently under the impression that my Pronator teres muscle ( http://teachmeanatomy.info/upper-limb/muscles/anterior-forearm/ ) is causing me the trouble. I’m currently going with hammer curls and kinda trying to slowly move towards regular curls by not doing clean hammers, but instead rotating the forearms a little towards a regular curl position. I plan to gradually rotate the forearms more and more, until I will eventually be able to do regular curls. I’ll see how this goes.

        I’m pretty reluctant to go to a doctor because, well, let’s not go into details and let’s just say it’s because I’m stubborn! 😀

        • Jared Polowick on November 16, 2016 at 2:17 pm

          I’d still recommend seeking out a sports physiotherapist then 😉 Doesn’t sound as bad as going to a doctor, yeah? If they’re working with athletes a lot, they know how important it is to actually help them get back to top game-level, rather than just helping them to manage the pain. I think it might be one of those things that if they can help you solve the issue, you’ll be kicking yourself wondering why you waited so long. Either way, good luck with the issue RRR!

  24. Lewis on December 3, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Cool artical I have being curious what my genetics are for the gym.

    I got 1.36 for the hip/shoulder one and 0.114 for the bones. And a 3 finger biceps gap.

    What does this mean for the gym ? Elite endurance body with easy gainer bones ?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on December 3, 2016 at 11:23 am

      Huh, that’s a cool combination! You’ve got your taper hinting that it might be harder to bulk up your frame, but your bones hinting that your potential is actually quite large.

      1.36 is quite good too, though. Not the best in the world for building muscle, but still very good. I think, based just on these results anyway, that you should be able to do very well 🙂

  25. Ozymandias on December 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    That math is far from right. To illustrate this, I will use an example.
    Imagine you have two guys, guy A and guy B. Guy A has a bone breadth ratio of 1.6, resulting from 16″ shoulders and 10″ hips. A rather small-framed guy who, according to the formula, has elite musclebuilding potential. In comes guy B, with a 1.35 ratio resulting from 22″ shoulders and 16″ hips; a rather brawny, blocky build. Guy B, according to the formula provided, has elite endurance potential.
    From the examples I provided, I could picture guy A as a sprinter, or maybe a point guard, and guy B as a powerlifter or offensive lineman. Doesn’t make sense to calculate musclebuilding potential as shoulders/hips; the larger each measurement is, the larger the frame, and, consequently, the burlier the person. The formula is wrong. This formula is better suited to calculate the aesthetic potential of a bodybuilder, since the more tapered the body, the more aesthetic it is; the strongest and more muscular men, such as powerlifters, shotputters and offensive linemen, have rather large hips and shoulders, putting their ratio closer to 1 than, say, a hurdler or basketball point guard.

    • Shane Duquette on December 21, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Hey Ozymandias. The math in this article is correct, as is yours. The reason why your example isn’t working is because you’re combining multiple factors together. If you were just talking about shoulder:hip breadth, then you’re right, you would predict that guy A has more muscle-building potential. Once you add in how big and blocky their builds are, you have more knowledge that could give you an even better prediction. For example, the guy with the big, blocky build probably has far thicker bones (+muscle), he might be far taller (+muscle), etc. Also remember that being a sprinter is a power sport, so even though you made guy A small, you’re imagining him as having elite power potential.

      Most famous powerlifters are kinda chubby. Big waists. Big muscles around their hips as well. And yes, broad bones. But on average, their shoulders are still far broader than the bone structure of their hips. If you want to see what they look like without the fat, take a look at powerlifters in lighter weight divisions.

      And remember that these aren’t perfectly predictive, just clues.

    • Em on July 27, 2019 at 7:47 am

      The stats you’ve presented arent realistic, a 16 inch bi-acromial is the average for males, and a bi-iliac of around 11.25 inches is the average for males.
      I’m pretty sure there is no-one on Earth with a bi-acromial of 22 inches.
      A 17 inch bi-acromial would easily be considered 90-95th percentile, an 18 inch bi-acromial would be considered 99.9th percentile and having a large bi-acromial is a mesomorphic trait.
      Reading these comments, these guys claim to have 17 or 18+ inch bi-acromials yet chances are they are all skinny guys/ectomorphs measuring themselves wrong (most likely posting their bi-deltoid measurement) and not mesomorphs.

  26. […] Source: 1, 2, 3, 4 […]

  27. Isaac on March 4, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Nice aarticle man, I’ve always wondered what my genetic potential is.

    I have a shoulder/hip ratio of 1.39
    A wrist/height ratio of .1029
    And about 1.5 fingers of my bicept

    What does thia mean?

    • Shane Duquette on March 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Sounds like you’ve got pretty good genetics, Isaac!

  28. Matthew H. Finton on March 5, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Hello Mr. Duquette. I found your website on pintrest and now feel like I actually have a voice now! I’ve always been called a Hardgainer with limited genetics but after reading this article I’m not so sure. Im 6’6.5″ @ 160# (3ft arms/legs, long torso and long neck) and only a 10.5 shoe size) and my results for the 3 tests were:
    1) 18/12 = 1.5 strength
    2) 7/78.5 =. 089 Hardgainer
    3) 2.5 fingers [borderline]. Average
    I’m still not sure what these results will mean when I start working out again (with your program of course). Thankyou for your time

    • Shane Duquette on March 6, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Hey Mr. Finton, I’m glad we could finally give you a voice! Best of luck when you start working out again 🙂

      (And nice shoulder breadth!)

  29. Ian roberts on May 21, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Hello iam 5.11.5 and have 8 wrist and 10 ankle i cant fit 1 finger between my bicep what would i be endo mesa?

    • Shane Duquette on May 22, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Taller than average hints at ectomorph, but there are tons of exceptions there, and I suspect you are one of them. Your wrist is quite thick—definitely an endomorph or mesomorph thing. Your muscle bellies are long, which is definitely a mesomorph thing. I’d say that you’re seeming fairly mesomorphic from what you’ve said, especially if you’ve got more of a v-shaped silhouette. If you’ve got wide hips and wide shoulders, maybe a bit of endomorph.

  30. Joshua gearing on May 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for the article. Was searching for info about hardgainer and found your site. Best i seen so far. I am looking to gain around 30 to 40 lbs of lean muscle. Currently at 150 lbs at 6ft 1. but I often get a problem with stomach bloating when I am attempting to bulkup.Is that normal or does it have to do with my diet? I got
    Bone thickness : 0.0958
    Bone breadth : 1.3849
    Muscle bellies: can barely fit 3 fingers

    • Shane Duquette on May 31, 2017 at 10:56 am

      It probably has to do with your diet. It’s normal to feel full while bulking, but bloating is often due to poorly digesting something. You might not be used to eating so much protein, you might be eating too many complex carbs, you might be having more milk than you can properly digest right now—something along those lines. Some of these problems go away on their own as your digestive system adapts to your new diet, but you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you can figure out what’s making you bloat up and then easing back on it.

  31. K on June 23, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I’m kind of more confused than before. First off, I’m surprised that smaller bellies are a sign of being ecto, as long muscles make limbs appear more thin. It’s sort of counter-intuitive, I guess.

    I only “passed” one test, with a .0945 on test #2. That seems like the most objective one anyhow, but combined with a 1.4 on test #1 and 2 fingers on test #3, I don’t really know what to think.

    Also, at 180 I still have plenty of room for growth, but I’m the same height as you. It’s hard to see how I won’t be over 200 lbs if I go for the size you achieved. Any insights into why I might seem to be heavier than I appear?

    • Shane Duquette on June 27, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      You’re actually correct. I think maybe I didn’t communicate as clearly as I was trying to. Longer muscles will appear more thin, yes. The guy with long arms will look like he has smaller arms. For example, Marco has proportionally long arms at a height of 6’4. Even though they’re 16″ around, which is gnarly, they don’t look all that enormous until you see them up close.

      What I meant with that test is that the ratio of your muscle bellies to your tendons is what matters. So if you have short muscle bellies compared to how long your tendons are, your muscles will look smaller. Then add to this that if you have long limbs, your arms will look smaller.

      This means that the guy with proportionally long tendons compared to his muscle bellies AND long arms will have the lankiest looking arms, and he’ll really benefit from putting some extra work into developing them.

      As for why we look different at different weights, I’d guess that it’s because you passed a test that will increase your weight. I’m surprisingly light for my size given how thin my bones are. If you just compare your bone size against mine, you can see how we might have a weight discrepancy there.

      • K on June 28, 2017 at 9:53 am

        That makes perfect sense, thanks for the reply! Having read quite a bit more since, I feel kinda silly that I even asked. It’s amazing how ignorant I was on all of this. I suppose I just never realized there are actually people like me out there, so I never even looked. Information gleaned from popular sources can be… less than helpful… for people like us.

        Anywho, keep up the good work man. Seriously, you have shared an impressive amount of knowledge on this subject and this fellow ecto really appreciates it.

  32. Zaid on July 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Hi im 14 years old
    im 5’9 and 125 lbs i workout and i eat alot
    how can i gain some weight please

    • Shane Duquette on July 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Hey Zaid, we put this blog together to provide you a bunch of relevant free information. If you go through our articles, you’ll find that every single one is written with the skinny guy who’s trying to gain weight while struggling with his appetite and metabolism. I think they’ll help.

      If you want to be walked through the entire process—a workout program, videos teaching the lifts, coaching through the entire process, recipes, a nutrition plan, and more—then you can buy our entire system here: http://bonytobeastly.com/the-program/

      It’s designed to help guys in your exact situation, and we’re so confident that it will work for you that we back it up with a 100% money-back guarantee. Try it out for a few weeks, and if you don’t like it, return it. No risk whatsoever. But in just a few weeks, we’ll have already helped you gain a few pounds 🙂

  33. […] The standard advice here is that your sleeve should end halfway down your upper arm. For us skinny guys, I think it pays to consider our muscle bellies. Our muscle bellies are often shorter, and thus often look better with even shorter sleeves. (You can find out if you have ectomorphic muscle bellies in this article here.) […]

  34. bongstar420 on August 31, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    My wrist to height ratio is .09 and my weight is 140-150 no matter if I binge eat for years or live on years of caloric restriction. I am more than a hard gainer. I can’t gain fat even if I try. I still have the 6 pack I got 10 years ago when I did try muscle building. You can see the fine definition of almost all my muscles.

    My bones do not break, and I have many more reasons to have broken than most people because despite being the introverted intellectual type, I am prone to doing risky things that make common people fearful. I’ve watched others break bones on falls half as intense as what I have been through. I have bad joints though. I suppose its possible I had hairline fractures I never treated.

    Call me when my muscle mass gets me ladies with +130 IQ on the reg…I already feel more comfortable talking to actual really attractive women if they are not dumbasses. I get nervous interacting with them when I know they only have a wet hole to offer, and I’d rather not be bothered with further interaction beyond that.

    More power to you non-intellectual types or those of you who want vagina so bad you will fake a personal connection and interest though. You need the muscle because the average (I don’t mean looks wise) women really do value that over brains.

    • Shane Duquette on September 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      I think you forgot to leave your phone number.

  35. Rakovsky on December 28, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Hey friend maybe You could answer my qestion too, about what You think about my body type:

    Bone breadth around 1,34 (bi-acromial 16,6 – 17inch; bi-iliac 12,4 – 12,5inch)
    Bone thickness around 0.093 (wrist 6,7 inch; height 72,2 inch)
    Muscle bellies 2 finger tendon

    Weight 185 pounds (around 15-17% fat)
    Height 72,2inch a little more than 6 feet
    my belly is quite big around 36-36,5 inch and i have 14,5 inch in biceps (quite muscular as i have trained, also low fat on that area)

    I have a friend who is 100% ecto and have a little more trouble gaining strenght and muscle, but also have another who is totally mesomorph and he is gaining everything faster than me. So i can gain muscle fat and strenght with average speed, also i always have had very good speed and quite good endurance.

    Any ideas about my body type and best training methods?
    (btw sorry for any mistakes, english is not my first language)

    • Rakovsky on December 28, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      and i also have quite large hands and feets if that says anything:)

      • Shane Duquette on December 31, 2017 at 11:03 am

        I would recommend buying quite large shoes and gloves, for sure.

    • Shane Duquette on December 31, 2017 at 11:02 am

      I’ve you’ve got more of a versatile / combination body type, then you can be a bit more flexible with your training type. Even if you do something more fitness-oriented, you might wind up with a fairly fit looking physique. However, it sounds like your goal is to build muscle. In that case, lifting weights (and more specifically bodybuilding) will always be your best bet. It builds muscle so much faster than any other method 🙂

  36. Rakovsky on January 8, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks for reply Shane

  37. John on April 10, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Hi I was just wondering what you think my potential would be. Test one I get about around 1.41 varys with inches and centimeters. Shoulders (15, 15.5 in) hips (11 in. maybe a little less). I’m not sure on exactly where to measure though it’s not where your clavicle ends is it cause I can see my clavicles but I can feel more bone beyond that and I dount think it’s my upper arm bone so I’m not sure. Wrist(6.5) to height(71, 71.5) I get .09 or .091. My muscle belly’s 3.5 fingers. Thanks for your time.

  38. Christopher Orick on August 5, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Wouldn’t being an ectomorph be an advantage in the wild? Endurance is one of the biggest assets for a human being. Being a huge muscular man didn’t help much considering even then we’re some of the weakest animals on the planet. Not to mention the huge food consumption.

  39. Bruh on August 27, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Hey Shane, i have a wrist/height ratio that’s around 0.075 which is really low…di you think i will still be able to grow my biceps?

  40. RapidFail on October 13, 2018 at 2:16 am

    Bone breadth around 1.3 bi-acromial 17.5″; bi-iliac 13.5″
    Bone thickness around 0.089 (wrist 6.5″; height 6’1″)
    Muscle bellies 3 finger tendon

    Current weight 161lb, body fat appears to be about 16%.

    Pretty sure I’m an ectomorph!

  41. Naveed on October 14, 2018 at 3:34 am

    Bone breadth (bi-acromial 18″, bi-iliac 12.5″)
    Bone thickness around (wrist 8″, height 5’10″)

    Muscle bellies 1.5 finger tendon

    Current weight 187 Lb, body fat appears to be about 14%.

    Am I Ok?

  42. Lifter Nerd on November 3, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    It’s hard to measure biacromial to biiliac width ratio from the picture you chose. It’s already difficult to estimate from a picture, and even more so when the subject has arms raised.

    This is a better picture of Steeve Reeves for estimation of the biacromial to biiliac ratio. His arms are hanging to the sides

    https://i.pinimg.com/474x/1f/f7/34/1ff734568128242380053de4b4dd75aa–steve-reeves-fine-men.jpg

    From this picture, the ends of the acromia begin approximately where the shoulder slope begins to steepen. The biacromial width is 297 pixels.

    The biiliac width is a little tricky. In these old pictures, people at the time wore their pants higher than they do today, so we cannot measure the width of the waistband. In the picture linked above, the iliac crests are at where his right pocket starts to flare. The biiliac width is 205 pixels.

    Steve Reeves biacromial to biiliac width ratio is therefore 297:205, or 1.45. It’s at the top of the “average” range you give in the article. It’s very good, but not Olympic weightlifter territory.

    Although 1.45 is a very good aesthetic ratio, it’s still just the top of what you call the “average” range, it’s not 1.5.

    What made Reeves exceptional was that the absolute width of his shoulders was just very large. His dimensional biacromial width (as opposed to the dimensionLESS ratio) can be estimated using the ratio to his head width. This ratio is 3. Assuming his head width is 50th percentile of 6 inches, then his biacromial width is 18 inches.

    Face breadth data (Appendix B):
    http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a268661.pdf

    An 18-inch biacromial width doesn’t seem like much amidst all the numbers bandied about on the Internet, but if you actually compare it to the data, it exceeds the 95th percentile of biacromial widths.

    Biacromial breadth (Table 54):
    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_11/sr11_249.pdf

    Now on top of an already large shoulder frame, Reeves put on some deltoid muscle.

  43. sam.a on February 6, 2019 at 9:03 am

    hey im a little confused my results were
    1.41 shoulder to waist ratio
    0.1039 for my wrist to height ratio
    1 finger tendon
    does this make me an easy gainer or hard gainer also am i an ectomorph or a mesomorph pease explain.

    • Shane Duquette on February 18, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      Hey Sam, it’s rare to find someone who’s a pure ectomorph or a pure hardgainer. Most of us have aspects of different physiques.

  44. João on February 23, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    I don´t know what to think about my genetics haha,
    my shoulder to waist radio = 1,6
    my wrist to height, though, is 0.1,
    my biceps is 1 finger tendon.
    I guess the most important of the three is the wrist/height, so it makes me a hardgainer?

  45. […] quite a while to even figure out what our body type was. Eventually, though, I learned that we were ectomorphs because of our narrow bone structures and thin bones. I also learned that we were hardgainers because of our small stomachs, meagre appetites, and […]

  46. […] you’re curious about how much of an ectomorph you are, here are the three tests that researchers use to measure bone structure and body type. Even if you’ve got an extremely ectomorphic bone structure, though, it’s hardly a […]

  47. […] Ectomorphs are taller, lighter men with proportionally thinner bone structures and rectangular body shapes. Most skinny guys are ectomorphs, but not all ectomorphs are skinny. Being an ectomorph has more to do with our bone structures and proportions than our muscularity. (If you’re curious about how much of an ectomorph you are, here’s how to measure your bone structure.) […]

  48. What's the Best Type of Lifting for Skinny Guys? on September 6, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    […] program for skinny guys. This was back in the good old days, back before the word “ectomorph” was coined, back before skinny guys even knew they could build muscle. Back then, being […]

  49. Bony to Beastly—Jeff's 5-Week Progress Update on September 11, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    […] And although we base our routines on compound lifts, we never shy away from isolation lifts like chest flyes and biceps curls. After all, many of us naturally skinny guys have lankier arms and narrower shoulders. […]

  50. […] naturally skinny guy, on the other hand, might only weigh 130 pounds. He’ll likely have slightly thinner bones, a narrower frame, and a smaller stomach, which accounts for some of the weight difference, but most of the weight difference is […]

  51. […] get even more confusing because we’re naturally skinny “ectomorphs.” The more cardio we do, the more calories we’ll burn, and the more calories […]

  52. […] fast metabolisms, etc.). If you’re curious about your own genetics, You can learn more about whether you have a thin bone structure here. Shane will teach you how to measure your bone structure so that you can see if you have naturally […]

  53. […] simply because I was eating like a sumo wrestler. I’m an unusual kind of ectomorph. I have the classic ectomorph bone structure, but most naturally skinny guys also have a hard time eating enough to gain weight. I was lucky in […]

  54. How to Bulk Up a Bony Upper Back | Bony to Beastly on September 22, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    […] from the side. This might not be a big deal for guys with a naturally stockier body type, but most ectomorphs have fairly skinny torsos by default. Bulking up our spinal erectors, then, is a great way to […]

  55. Bony to Beastly—The Skinny on Clothing & Style on September 22, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    […] for us ectomorphs, things are not quite so simple. We’ve got a rarer body type, and it can be hard to find clothes […]

  56. Bony to Beastly—The Skinny Struggle is Real on September 22, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    […] first of all, a person who is naturally skinny is called an ectomorph. It’s one of the three male body types. It’s an old term with a strange history, […]

  57. Why Ectomorphs Should Lift a Little Differently on September 22, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    […] are two important things that we naturally skinny ectomorphs tend to forget when we start lifting […]

  58. […] naturally skinny guy, on the other hand, might only weigh 130 pounds. He’ll likely have slightly thinner bones, a narrower frame, and a smaller stomach, which accounts for some of the weight difference, but most of the weight difference is […]

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