Gaining Weight

Cecil, I must disagree with you that one should emphasize upper body exercises over lower body. First, it is clear that the largest skeletal muscles are in your legs, therefore, working those muscles will not only offer the most potential for growth, but also will produce the most testosterone (which will further aid your muscle growth).

Everything else you said sounds on point, but, as an ectomorph myself, I just want to make it clear to R.E. from Washington that the most efficient way to put on size is this:

25%: weight training with emphasis on squats, deadlifts, bench, pullups (8-12 reps as you said)
75%: EAT (this is the biggest thing that I heard over and over again and did not listen to; when I finally did get with the program, sure enough, results!). If you are a skinny guy, aim for this calorie breakdown: 50% carbs, 25-30% protein, 20-25% fats

***in my years of trial and tribulation, I have to say that the solution to NOT being skinny is painstakingly simple: eat. And if you cant (as I cant) eat enough calories, drink it in shake form. Eventually, once you start putting on weight, your body will naturally begin to require more calories (because you weigh more), and thus your appetite will inevitably increase

this explains in some cases why fat people are fat - they start eating and they cant stop because the fatter they get, the more their body requires - if they are a habitual overeater, then the cycle will never stop.

but, i would assume that most ectomorphs are not in the habit of eating 3000+ calories a day, so as long as you work out 3-4 times a week (as you should anyway) you should have no worries about turning into the michelin man
So, in sum, find out your base metabolic rate (, add 500 calories a day (plus an extra 400 on days you go to the gym) and you will gain a pound on body tissue a week

Now that you know the basics, Google to your hearts content and form a plan that you can work with - just remember that putting on weight is all about nutrition, not the gym - the gym keeps you from getting fat and keeps you in shape…

but without eating, your body can’t grow

I can’t gain weight! Is my metabolism too fast?

It’s always helpful to add a link to the column you are referencing.

It’s a shame that the ability to gain fat goes along with the ability to gain muscle. I’ve had a weight problem most of my life. I also gain muscle at a nearly obscene rate when lifting. Fast enough to get stretch marks on my biceps. In the equivalent of one year lifting twice a week, I went from 200lbs to over 350lbs on my bench press. Those gains went with every other muscle area as well. If it wasn’t for the bodyfat, I’d have looked pretty buff!


This is why weightlifters, bodybuilders (yes, there’s a difference!), actors, models, and others who need to be muscular but lean, do something called “bulking and cutting”.

Basically, you cycle throughout the year between putting on muscle mass (lots of resistance training, plus plenty of protein and calories to build muscle; this is called “bulking”), followed by periodic bouts of trimming down the fat, through lots of cardio and a slightly diminished calorie intake (“cutting”).

The body cannot effectively both build muscle and cut fat, at least not for extended periods of time. Generally, one has to either build up tissue, or work it off.* Fortunately, most people burn fat more readily than they burn muscle, which is why the bulking and cutting cycle works. Invariably, though, some fat is gained in a bulk, and some muscle is lost in a cut. It’s just a balance that has to be struck.
*Doing strength training, btw, is advisable no matter what one’s goal is.


Kudos on a well-considered and carefully expressed set of comments.

Some of what you’ve stated I know to be true (b/c I’ve researched this issue many times in the biomed and sports physiology lit, to make sure I’m not wasting my time in the gym :)).

But a bit of what you’ve asserted here is not completely accurate, at least not for everyone. As a result of my research into sports medicine, and my years in the gym, I’ve learnt that there are very few hard and fast rules to anything in fitness. And I’m especially leery of specific numerical “rules”, such as

Not saying you’re wrong, mind you; just saying that I think you’re oversimplifying a bit. Not everything works for everyone. (Which is why hiring a competent, educated, certified personal trainer can be very helpful.)