Ectomorphs are naturally skinny. Some people see this as a blessing – you can eat what you want without getting fat, right – but if you want to bulk up and get bigger as an ectomorph, you’ll find this is very difficult to do.
Due to a faster metabolism, ectomorphs tend to burn more calories than they store as body fat, this seems like a cheat code to building muscle but is it just a myth, and realistically, can ectomorphs get fat if they don’t follow general bulking guidelines?
Read on as I debunk this myth and explain why you can get fat as an ectomorph and how to avoid it.
Table of Contents
Can Ectomorphs Get Fat
Untrained ectomorphs have a fast metabolism and low body fat percentage which is an ideal base for building muscle and bulking up. If, however, an ectomorph has too high of a calorie surplus they will gain body fat just like any other body type.
When starting out in the gym, an ectomorph will be skinny. There is no denying it, the reason you identify as an ectomorph in the first place is because you have “skinny” characteristics. These characteristics include:
- Small bone structure
- Long limbs
- Fast metabolism
- Low body fat percentage
- Narrow shoulders
- Difficulty gaining weight
These characteristics are the main reason why ectomorphs struggle to bulk up and gain size. This then leads to drastic dieting strategies like dirty bulking and consuming junk foods in an effort to up their daily calories and gain some size.
It’s definitely frustrating but the underlying issue is the belief that ectomorphs won’t get fat – even when bulking.
Sure, ectomorphs have a harder time gaining weight than most people but their basic physiology is still the same. Humans have an energy balance that determines weight gain or weight loss.
If you have an energy surplus, you’ll gain weight and if you have an energy deficit, you’ll lose weight. Both calories and daily energy expenditure will factor into this balance.
The reason ectomorphs struggle to gain weight is because they burn more calories at rest and therefore are predisposition to have an overall energy deficit. This doesn’t however mean that an ectomorph can’t get fat.
It might take a higher calorie surplus in order to put an ectomorph into an overall energy surplus, but once an ectomorph is in an energy surplus, they will gain weight and this includes body fat.
You should also factor in that as an ectomorph gets older, their metabolism will slow down and it will become much more likely that even a smaller calorie surplus will result in weight gain and ultimately fat gain.
Therefore, it’s a myth that ectomorphs can’t get fat.
Why Can’t Ectomorphs Gain Weight
Despite the fact that ectomorphs will get fat if they consume more calories than they burn, you find that the opposite is true and that most ectomorphs can’t actually gain weight. So, why is this?
Ectomorphs have a fast metabolism, small bone structure, and low body fat levels meaning they will find it hard to gain weight. For an ectomorph to gain weight, they will need to eat a significant calorie surplus, typically >500kcal, combined with heavy weight training with progressive overload.
Another reason ectomorphs struggle to gain weight is because they do not have a body type ideal for strength training.
Ectomorphs are naturally weaker than other body types because they have a smaller bone structure, less muscle mass, and a lower proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers (which are responsible for explosive strength).
This means that when starting out, it’s difficult for ecomorphs to lift enough weight, with enough intensity to get noticeable changes to their physique straight away. It’s like pushing a boulder, trying to get the initial momentum takes so much work and effort but once the boulder is rolling, it’s straightforward.
The same is true for an ectomorph. Initially, ectomorphs will struggle to gain weight and put on size due to the characteristics mentioned above but once they start to gain some weight and get stronger in the gym, they will gain size and strength at the same rate as any other body type.
Can Ectomorphs be Skinny Fat
One of the key characteristics and benefits of being an ectomorph is low body fat levels. Not only is having a low body fat percentage good from an aesthetic and body confidence viewpoint but it’s also ideal for performance and building muscle.
While there’s the assumption that ectomorphs won’t get fat, what’s a much more likely scenario for the bulking ectomorph is that you will end up skinny fat.
Related – How to get from skinny fat to lean
Skinny fat is a very undesirable body composition as it’s essentially a high body fat percentage with low levels of muscle mass. When you think of someone that is overweight, it’s typically noticeable as they look larger but some of this buffer is still a decent amount of muscle mass (like an endomorph).
With skinny fat, however, you look slim in regular clothes but have a disproportionately higher level of body fat than lean muscle mass. For untrained ectomorphs, being skinny fat is a very common thing, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle (office job with little exercise).
This is another reason why it’s a myth that ectomorphs don’t get fat.
A high body fat percentage combined with low levels of muscle mass will not look noticeable to an untrained eye and therefore it becomes easy to think that an ectomorph isn’t “fat”.
In reality, an ectomorph could be carrying around high levels of body fat, and before starting a bulking phase to build muscle, they’d still need to diet down to a lower body fat percentage first – which seems counterproductive.
See also – Ideal body fat percentage to start a bulk
As ectomorphs are naturally skinny and struggle to gain weight or build muscle, it’s easy to assume that ectomorphs don’t get fat or overweight. Unfortunately, this is not true and ectomorphs will get fat if they overeat and consume too high of a calorie surplus.
What’s deceiving is the fact that most ectomorphs that gain weight (without training) will tend to have a combination of low muscle mass and a higher percentage of body fat. This then leads to ectomorphs being “skinny fat”.
As a result, ectomorphs should still follow the same basic dieting principles that all other body types would follow and should still be carefully and diligently tracking their calorie intake and weight changes.