Being ripped is scientifically described as being an absolute unit! Okay, so maybe that’s not true, but if you’re an ectomorph, you might need to work pretty hard to get ripped.
To get super ripped as an ectomorph, it can take anywhere from 6 – 12 months, but it really depends on the person.
Basically, it all comes down to your genetics – but ectomorphs don’t have good genetics, though, right? Right…
What Does It Mean To Be an Ectomorph?
Ectomorph forms part of the three somatotypes that were developed in the 1940s to describe the 3 types of bodies we find in human beings. If you think it’s a bit weird that all of humanity can be summarized into only three body types – you’re correct.
The somatotypes were originally developed by the American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon. Because William didn’t really have a lot of knowledge about human physiology, he based these bodies more on psychology rather than biology.
- You have trouble building muscle, yet you remain incredibly lean.
- You remain lean despite having a diet that is “not great.”
- You have narrow shoulders, narrow hips, and small wrists/elbows.
- You would describe your metabolism as “fast.”
Before you go ahead and yell, “Hey, that’s me,” none of this is actually true. Somatotypes were developed without adequate research, without any studies, and they simply hold no true value. Each human is individual and has its own genetics.
Yes, there certainly are similarities between some of us. But that doesn’t mean we can split all of humanity into three specific categories.
There is some truth here, however, and in the modern world, ectomorphs are simply described as “hard gainers”:
- Hard gainers do have a lot of trouble gaining muscle.
- Hard gainers can still pick up fat when doing nothing and following a poor diet.
- Hard gainers don’t have a specific bone structure.
This differs slightly from the “ectomorph” because it’s not “one size fits all.” Some people just have a harder time building muscle and therefore have a harder time getting ripped.
What Does “Being Ripped” Even Mean?
The term ripped is thrown around left and right in the media, but what does it actually mean? Well, because it isn’t a scientific term, descriptions can differ from person to person.
That said, for the most part, you’re looking at two main factors:
- Having a great amount of muscle mass: It’ll come as no surprise that in order to actually classify as someone who is ripped, you’ll need to be pretty muscular. You’ll be spending a good amount of time eating a ton of foods and lifting even more weights to build that lean muscle mass.
- Getting unbelievably lean: This means you’ll have to be dieting for a great amount of time and burning some calories with cardio to lean out.
One thing to remember is that being ripped is not sustainable for months on end. Most influencers and models are using some kind of PED, and Photoshop use is very prevalent. In order to avoid damage to your health, you should limit being truly ripped to only a few weeks.
How do you even get ripped, especially as an ectomorph or hard gainer? Well, grab your mass gainer shake, pull up a chair, and let me show you.
Get Big By Becoming Dirty Strong
It’s no coincidence that the strongest people are usually extremely big, and the biggest people are usually pretty strong. This should be your first goal on your road to “ripped-ness.”
We have to get you as strong as we can possibly get you – but why?
The body reacts to external stress – a stimulus. Thus, if you can provide your body with a significant stimulus, it’ll have to react dramatically, even if you have an ectomorph body type. That reaction would be building a ton of muscle.
Resistance Training as an Ectomorph
Over the course of 12 – 16 weeks, your goal should be to be better weekly in the gym. You can get better by practicing progressive overload, which includes the following:
- Using heavier weights: As mentioned before, providing that novel stimulus will force the body to actually grow more. So, adding an extra 5lb plate every second week to your lifts is going to make a huge difference.
- Do more sets: Doing more sets (or more volume) is not the best way of overloading, as you will one day run out of time. You should thus be careful with this one and maybe not push for more than 18 sets per session.
- Intensifiers: These are really only to be used if you’ve tried other options. Adding “intensifiers” to your workouts, such as drop sets or rest-pause sets, can also create a novel stimulus.
So the goal is to build a physique so big, menacing, and strong that you’ll have that foundation of muscle that a ripped physique is built on.
Ectomorph Nutrition for Getting Ripped
Swiftly moving on to the food, you’re gonna have to eat a lot of it if you want to be ripped, even if you wind up still being skinny and ripped.
Trying to gain muscle mass is a really calorically intense activity, and more often than not, people underestimate how much they really need to be eating.
Lucky for you, there are actually a few simple tips you can follow:
- Eat between 200 – 400 calories above your maintenance calories (if you really struggle to gain weight or you have an active job, try 400 calories).
- Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
- Eat at least 0.3 grams of fats per pound of bodyweight.*
- Fill the rest of your calories with carbohydrates.
* You can absolutely increase the ratio of your fats. However, some studies have suggested that you stand a greater chance of building lean muscle mass with a high carbohydrate diet.
You should be aiming to gain between 0.5 – 1.0% of your body weight per week. If you’re gaining more or less than this, decrease or increase your calories accordingly. Once your weight loss stops, you’ll also need to increase your calories as well.
One last thing.
It’s okay to lose your abs, especially if you’re a younger individual. We know, based on your genetics, that you’re probably going to get them back pretty easily. If your goal is simply gaining quality lean muscle mass, you have to sacrifice them for a while – nobody posts pictures to Instagram in the off-season anyway; it’s only lifting videos!
In this phase, you’re also going to be able to have a few cheat meals here and there. Nothing too crazy, and nothing too big. Just one cheat meal per week should do you just fine.
I Hope You Like Vegetables…
Once you’ve gained a few pounds (newbies can gain, like, 20lbs in their first year), you’ll need to strip away the fat you have to reveal that chiseled body underneath. This means you’ll need to spend a good amount of time in a calorie deficit.
This is really the only way you will lose fat.
Sure, Keto, Fasting, IIFYM all might work, but they all work because they create a calorie deficit. Again, I prefer my athletes to run a higher carbohydrate diet because it’s more effective for muscle retention.
To actually place yourself in a calorie deficit, you have two main options.
First, you can simply decrease the amount of food you are eating per day. Secondly, you can increase the amount of “moving” you do – essentially – cardio.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Once you’ve found your maintenance calories, eat 200 – 300 less than that to start losing weight (have those calories come from carbohydrates and/or fats).
- Increase your protein intake from 1 gram per pound of body weight to 1.2 – 1.3 grams. Why? Well, when you’re in a calorie deficit, the body uses protein a bit more inefficiently, while eating more protein has been shown to aid in fat loss.
- You can split the rest of your calories between fats and carbohydrates as you wish.
- You don’t have to do cardio, but you certainly would benefit from it. Cardio does burn calories, and it can even be great for your health as well.
Again, you should be aiming to lose between 0.5 – 1.0% of body weight per week, as trying to lose more than that could actually lead to muscle mass loss. Which leads me into training.
Let’s Talk About Training Intensity
You should still be training really intensely.
Yes, you should still be focusing on practicing progressive overload, but you should be very careful about increasing the number of sets you’re doing. Increasing volume too much when in a calorie deficit can lead to an increase in cortisol.
Cortisol is a natural stress hormone in the body that is produced every day, but too much can actually lead to limited fat loss and muscle gain.
Add the Finishing Touches
We often believe we have to do the most or more, at least. The truth is, you don’t need to do everything to get ripped. You would benefit extremely from working hard, following a healthy diet, and sleeping enough.
Other than that, there are only really a few other things you need to focus on:
- There are only two supplements that would help you with 100% certainty, namely creatine and protein powder (study & study).
- Sleeping more than 8 hours is certainly going to benefit both your fat loss and muscle gain journey.
- Trying to decrease your stress levels as much as you can also help keep cortisol at bay.
- Stay consistent. Aiming for perfection is great, but shooting for consistency is what’s going to get you the most amount of results.
- Don’t stay ripped for longer than needed. It isn’t really beneficial in any sense to stay at less than 10% body fat.
How Long Does It Take for an Ectomorph to Get Ripped?
Taking into consideration that ectomorphs don’t really exist, the time it takes will depend from person to person. Certain people will have a much easier time, whereas others might take a bit longer.
It would not be wrong to think it would take an average of 6 – 12 months for most folks.
Now, it takes that long because muscle growth itself takes a long time. We are spoiled by movies thinking it happens in the length of one motivational song when, in reality, building muscle is hard. It’s grueling, and it takes a long time.
Fat loss – on the other hand – should be easier for you, a hard gainer. Your naturally high metabolism is certainly going to benefit your endeavors to lose a few pounds of fat. You will, however, need to fight really hard to retain that muscle mass.
Don’t try to lose weight (get shredded) for more than 12 weeks on end. After all, as a hard gainer, you run the risk of actually burning muscle if you go for too long, too hard.
Overall, the process is quite simple. Spend a good amount of time actually increasing the amount of lean mass you have (and you’ll build some fat, too, that’s normal). Then, simply strip away the fat without cutting muscle mass. Job done.
Last two tips:
- Learn how to cook chicken in various ways.
- Buy a blender.
Drinking your food is a lot easier than eating it.
Don’t blend your cooked chicken, though.
You can blend tuna and orange juice if needed. At least, that’s what Brian Shaw, 4-time world strongest man, did.