During game time, you’re often the last one chosen and perhaps some people refer to you as the “skinny guy.” There are people who feel that they gain weight even looking at a picture of a pizza, and then there’s you, envied by these people as you can consume massive loads of food in front of your Xbox (or playstation), without gaining a single pound of weight. Yes, you are an ectomorph.. doomed to being the “string bean” of the group..
If this sounds relatable, you’re probably an ectomorph. Good news is, it’s hard for you to ever become overweight – but on the other side, it may feel like it’s difficult to gain any weight at all, although not entirely impossible, as we’ve detailed before.
Even world class athletes such as Michael Phelps were classified under the ectomorph category, due to their lean frames and long limbs. You just need to do what this guy does – find a diet and fitness plan designed for ectomorphs. If you check out Michael Phelps’ diet plan on the internet, you’ll notice that he eats a lot.
Eating is 80% of the game, that’s why the diet of an ectomorph needs to be spot on. So start chowing down on some lean proteins and carbohydrates to fuel your exercises. If you don’t have the time to consume a whole dump trucks worth of whole foods (or budget for at that) then check out this list of some of our favorite mass gainers to help expedite your mass building.
Also, winter is here so this is a great time to focus on eating more and getting your body in tip top shape for summer.
Why Back Workouts Are Essential
If you’re a beginner, chances are you want you want your front frame to look sexy. This means massive arms and legs and killer abs. However, what most gym goers don’t understand is that they’ll have a better chance achieving more effective gains if they train the back as well.
Sculpting the back comes with huge benefits. You’ll see an enormous improvement in your posture. You’ll stand taller and look confident – goodbye caveman hunch.
A stronger back also means that you can bench press heavier iron. Since the muscles located in your upper and middle back stabilize your shoulder joints, you’ll be able to lift weight with better form in just any upper-body exercise.
Back exercises do double duty by also working your arms. When a back workout requires you to bend your elbows and lift weights, such as during a pull-up, you’ll be working your biceps as well.
And last but not the least, it can help you get the ~ladies~. Studies show that women are most attracted to men who have bigger shoulders than their waist – about 1.6 times more, if you’re interested in exactly how much. And guess what, the only way you can widen your top is by performing some killer back movements and not just any killer back movements, we’re talking about the following amazing exercises!
Our top 5 exercises for a bulging back
#1 – Wide grip pull ups
Any overhead pulling movement in your back routine is going to be awesome in giving you a chiseled back. Pull-ups are one of the most widely performed exercises for the back because of one simple reason – they work.
While keeping a close grip may help you achieve a longer range of motion during your pull up, you’ll only be able to put maximum emphasis on your upper lats if you do a wide-grip pull up. Due to an enhanced starting joint position during a wide-grip pull up, it’s possible to load the exercise to a much greater extent.
If you find pull ups difficult, be sure to use the help of a good spotter or an assisted pull up machine. Alternatively, you can try the wide-grip pull down, which functions as an effective substitute for wide-grip pull ups.
Focus on your form, the gains will come automatically.
Most importantly, for pull ups, and any other exercise for that matter, good form is mandatory if you want results. On your starting position, make sure your scapula is retracted and just as you progress to your pull, pull your shoulder blades down together.
Pull ups require a long range of motion and they’re pretty intense, which is why you’ll have to perform some warm up exercises for your shoulder joint prior to the main exercise.
Since form is of essence here, try to do pull ups at the beginning of your workout to make sure you can maintain proper shoulder and joint positioning.
Think this is a boring method that doesn’t result in serious mass gaining? Well you’re wrong. Two titans of the Youtube fitness world, Omar Isuf (check out Omar’s “10,000 Pull Up Challenge“) and Igor Opeshansky (check out his “Progressive Overload with Pull Ups” video)
#2 – Close Grip Pull-Downs
We just talked about how wide-grip pull ups are awesome when it comes to shredding your back, the close-grip pull down is of the same nature. Research shows that a close neutral grip can help activate your lats just like a regular grip. In addition, as we mentioned earlier, a closed grip accommodates longer range of motion, which means an increased length of time for the lats to be under tension. This is a great way to build muscles at the back.
Be sure to slow the rep speed while doing close grip pull ups, and squeeze firmly at the bottom of each rep, making room for a great stretch at the top of the rep.
Close grip pull-downs, that is using that little V-shaped bar usually used for seated rows and T-bar rows, are one of Kai Greene’s favorite exercises and you see him doing them in his red DMAKs in pretty much every single back workout video he has done, like this one:
You can use a close-grip pull ups as a warm up exercise prior to your main shoulder routine. However, if you’re using it as a means of gaining mass, be sure to leave it to the end of your workout session.
#3 – Seated Cable Rows with Wide Grip
Most people like to stick to close-grip bar on rows but going for a wide grip can nicely shift the emphasis to your upper lats, giving you a more varied back workout.
Since wide grip rows function similar to most back machines, it’s essential that you don’t do both unless you make any grip or rep changes. You can play around with the grips as well with the cable row and go about shoulder width apart to target your lower lats as this pushes your elbows closer to your sides. You can also take the bar from the lat pull-down machine and hook it up to the seated row side.
Most machine workouts are best done at the end of a workout and cable rows are no different. Be sure to pick a reasonable weight that only allows around 8 to 12 reps. You’re looking to keep the bar high and pull across your back. Try to eliminate momentum and control the movement throughout the entire rep range.
#4 – One Arm Dumbbell Row
Unlike the previous exercises, a single arm dumbbell row is an excellent example of a unilateral exercise that works each side of your back independently. This allows you to handle a greater weight with a much larger range of motion. Furthermore, you won’t feel restrained just in case the weaker side of your body fails prematurely during the workout.
A one arm row also helps support your lower back as you place the other arm on the bench. As a bonus, you can allow a slight rotation of your trunk to engage your core as well.
The one arm dumbbell row is a great way to work your lower lats, unless you widen your elbows on purpose.
#5 – Dumbbell Pull-Overs on a Decline Bench
Yes, we’re bringing back pullovers, for all the good reasons. A decline bench pull-over is a single joint movement, which effectively fires up your lats. We’ve featured a decline because this makes room for a longer range of motion, which means greater lats’ tension, compared to a flat bench.
As a word of warning, be sure to keep the dumbbells away from your head and drop then behind you when you’re done.
Pullovers can be performed at the end of a workout for a nice pump and you can do a higher number of reps with them. Just be sure to practice good form.
As an ectomorph, muscle building will only be hard if you don’t follow the right diet and workout plan. With the right workout routine, you’ll be seeing your dream body quicker than you know it.
Your back is a huge muscle group and it needs to be treated like it is one. We’ve heard a lot of “don’t skip leg day”, well, it’s time you make back workouts a priority too. Remember, a bigger back is equivalent to much greater gains on your arms and other parts of your body. You’ll stand taller and achieve the winged look that makes you seem like you can fly away at any moment!
Demmy James is a fitness professional who helps people reach their fitness goals by sharing his expertise and knowledge about health and nutrition.