I used to be a skinny dude. My father used to be a skinny dude, a large(er) skinny dude and then a marathon-running, karate smashing skinny dude again.
I was dealt the short end of the stick from the start. Being skinny was built into my genes. Somewhere along the way however, I found the cheat codes on how to become a muscular, athletically built manly man.
Growing up there were countless situations where I wished I was just a bit bigger, a big stronger, a bit better. Mainly throughout high school, and on the ice. Lining up next to a guy who’s 6ft 3 and two hundred-something pounds was pretty intimidating when you’re only 5ft10, 170lbs…with equipment on.
Being a natural ectomorph, it was tough to gain weight.
There were some days when I’d be at the gym lifting for two hours!
I hesitated to buy any supplements, but eventually gave in to the peer pressure and bought a ‘weight gainer’, and then muscle milk type protein powders. I soon discovered the weight gainer (..or the hundreds of additives, chemicals and preservatives) didn’t agree with my stomach.
Looking back I can blame my distressed gastrointestinal system on the 1000+ calories of artificial, processed garbage and their ‘proprietary protein blend’.
After ditching the weight gainer, I looked at people who were bigger than myself.
What are they doing that i’m not??
Training? – I’m doing that.
Long bouts of cardio? – Well, I see them going for long walks on the treadmill. But I want to be explosive and have carry over to real-life athletics. I want Show & Go. “I’m going to sprint instead of jog” I said to myself – This was, without me realizing, a great compliment to becoming muscular, lean and explosive.
Eating? – I’m eating. Could it be that they’re eating more?
And then it hit me: I need to eat more. I’m going to eat more to fuel my body so I can get bigger, stronger, and as I later found out,much leaner. I know that crappy food makes you fat, so i’m going to eat more good food.
As an Ectomorph, there are a few things happening in your body that limits facilitated muscle development:
1 – You’re thyroid dominant (meaning that you’re better at processing carbohydrates).
2 – You have a fast metabolic rate (AKA fast metabolism).
3 – You have high sympathetic nervous system activity.
4 – You have a high carbohydrate tolerance.
What does this mean for you?!
1) You should include a sugary carb/protein drink during each training session, and a protein shake afterwards. – If anyone should be drinking calories, it’s you.
2) There should be some starchy, whole-grain, unprocessed carbs eaten at every other meal, and especially post workout.
Think: Quinoa, Brown Rice, and Sweet potatoes over white bread.
*Carbohydrate tolerance is improved drastically after exercise. Therefore dietary carbs are better used during this period rather than any other time of the day.
3) Eating every 2-4 hours is a must. Since your metabolism is always racing, you need to fuel that fire. Just make sure there’s a protein, carb and fat source in every meal to keep the fire burning brighter for longer.
Cheat code #1: Eat boat-loads of quality nutrients. Carbs are your friend.
I trained, I ate, I played hockey, and I slept. That was my life for a few years, and slowly but surely I got bigger and stronger. But not until I came across something super.
Enter the SUPER SHAKE
What’s a SUPER SHAKE you ask? – A super shake is quite simply an compilation of the best tasting fruits, nuts, nut butters, protein powder, veggies and whatever else you can thing of, thrown into a blender. Intriguing isn’t it?!
The key here is to add foods with QUALITY to get an adequate QUANTITY of calories. It’s really easy to create smoothies with 1,000+ calories of quality nutrients.
The quality of said nutrients will depict the efficiency of your bodily functions. Choose properly and you can function like a well-oiled machine, or a rusted old pile of crap.
Choose wisely or look like this dude:
Using whole milk and including quality carbs and fats (natural peanut butter, milled flax seed, chia seeds, etc.) is a purposeful strategy to add quality calories to the super shake.
Here’s a favorite of mine:
Reese’s cup smoothie:
8-16 oz of 1% or whole milk
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
2-3 tbsp. of natural peanut butter
2-4 tbsp. of milled flax seed
1-2 tbsp. of chia seeds (I have both seeds pre-mixed in a bag)
1 handful of spinach
1 cup of frozen cherries (or mixed berries)
Cheat code #2: Drink your calories.
Combine Cheat code #1 (Eat boat-loads of quality nutrients. Carbs are your friend), and Cheat code #2 (Drink your calories) to unlock the magic glove to slap genetics in the face with!
The icing on the cake – A training program.
A wise man once said to me: “The best program is the one you’re not on”. To say it quite bluntly, stop program hopping!
Stick to a program for 4-6 weeks and then move on.
Cheat code #3: Find a solid training program, and stick to it.
If for some reason you’re still not gaining weight, it could be that you are either not training enough, or not eating enough.
Firstly, ask yourself if you are training for 5 hours/week? – If you are, try adding about 500 calories a day to your diet and see if your weight starts to increase.
Reduce your longer duration cardio–type activities.
If there’s still no budge on the scale, repeat step 1. – Increase your calories per day by ~500.
If you were an ectomorph-kid turned muscular-man, it’d be great to hear your strategy that took you from rookie skinny dude to seasoned pro.