Doug's Mass Building Routine for Ectomorphs

Although this routine is designed for a person whose body type is described as Ectomorph; it can be also be used by all body types as a change from their current workout.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
10 weeks
60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

The ectomorph is the lucky body type that doesn’t carry much body fat, but are unlucky in that their body burns a lot of calories per day normally. In order to increase body weight, this type of person would need to increase calorie levels in stages until a pound in body weight is being added per week. The ectomorph's diet is crucial to increasing muscle tissue from their training. They should use a calorie level of 20-25 times their bodyweight in pounds as a starting position for calorie level. Example; a 140 lb lifter would use a starting calorie level of between 2800-3500 calories per day.

Meals should be split into 6-8 meals (including weight gainer drinks) per day, split into meals every 2.5 - 3 hours throughout the day. Protein intake should be 25%-30% of total calories; carbohydrates should be approx 50% of total calories; and fats at approx. 20%-25% of total calories. A meal or meal replacement shake should be taken before bed. Simple sugars should be limited or avoided totally.

Eat lower glycemic index foods such as brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain breads, yams, oats, sweet potatoes, whole grain foods. Supplement the diet with a good branded multivitamin and mineral. Essential fats should come from the following foods. Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils (safflower, corn, sunflower, cottonseed oil), fatty cold water fish (salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts.

Important Training Notes:

  • Aerobic activity should be kept to a minimum.
  • Warm up with a cardio session for 5-10 minutes.
  • Stretch the worked muscles at the end of the workout.
  • Cool down when finished training with 5-10 minutes of cardio.
  • Use a repetition timing of 2-1-2 seconds.
  • Keep rest time between sets at 2 minutes.
  • Keep rest time between exercises at 3 minutes.
  • Keep workout time as short as possible.
  • Get at least 8 hours sleep per night.
  • Perform abdominal exercises on Monday and Thursday, or Tuesday and Friday.

Workout Schedule:

  • Monday - Chest and Triceps
  • Tuesday - Back and Biceps
  • Wednesday - Rest
  • Thursday - Quads and Hamstrings
  • Friday - Shoulders and Calves
  • Saturday - Rest
  • Sunday - Rest

Mass Building Routine for Ectomorphs

Monday - Chest and Triceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press or Smith Machine Bench Press 4 6 to 8
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 6 to 8
Dumbbell Flys 3 10
Close Grip Bench Press 4 6 to 8
French Press 2 8 to 10
Tricep Dips 2 8 to 10

Tuesday - Back and Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Bent Over Dumbbell Row 4 6 to 8
Wide Grip Pull Up 4 To Failure **
Cable Reverse Grip Rows 4 8 to 10
Standing Barbell Curl 4 6 to 8
Alternate Seated Dumbbell Curl 2 8 to 10
Concentration Curl 2 8 to 10

** Note: Add weight if more than 10 reps can be performed in a set

Thursday - Quads and Hamstrings

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 4 8 to 10
45 Degree Leg Press 3 6 to 8
Hack Squat 3 8 to 10
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3 6 to 8
Leg Curl 3 8 to 10

Friday - Shoulders and Calves

Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 6 to 8
Seated Barbell Press 3 8 to 10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10 to 12
Barbell Shrug 4 8 to 10
Standing Calf Raise 3 12 to 15
Seated Calf Raise 3 6 to 8


782 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 11/16/2020 - 15:39

I have been training for around 4/5 years now but only properly for about 3 you could say. I think I found as an ectomorph that when I trained for 4 days I out on weight and it wasn’t as intense as I train now. The thing is I want to put in size and I find it very hard, I am putting on weight slowly but I feel drained all the time too. Basically for my experience and circumstances is this program good for me to gain mass or not?

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Posted Tue, 11/17/2020 - 09:13

Hey Yusuf - this workout will help but chances are you're not consuming enough calories. Check out this ectomorph muscle-building guide:

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Posted Tue, 02/20/2018 - 09:11
Jape Moke

Hello I am 17-year-old guy in high school and am an ectomorph and have been working out and eating a lot and started out at 57 kg and now am 60kg, but I haven't been seeing any gains or difference in my body. I just wanted to know if this program will help me actually build the muscle I want?

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Posted Sat, 02/03/2018 - 15:31

is there someone to answer our questions??? it is not a good work when you create a program without answer the questions about it what do you think??

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Posted Mon, 02/05/2018 - 09:51

Hi Miled,

We answer questions the majority of the time. Just noticed some of your unanswered ones below:

Somaotypes (ecto, endo, and mesomorph body types) are a dated theory. They have limited inclination to the amount of muscle you'll build, strength gains, fat gains, etc. Our good friend Mike Wines did a good job debunking this myth here:

In terms of selecting a weight to use, it's hard to tell you what you should start off with as everyone is different. For hypertrophy rep ranges, 75-85% of your working max works best. If you don't know how much that is, simply pick a weight you know you can perform the prescribed number of reps with. If it's too easy, move up. If it's too hard, move down.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:49

hi coach thx for your time this is verry helpful i was traking many programs from a year ago with a little weight gain about 4 kg i am 65kg now but my goal is to reach 70 kg i hope your workout program will be good for me .
your work is perfect thx

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Posted Mon, 02/05/2018 - 13:43

Hi Miled,

You're welcome!

To gain weight, you'll need to eat more calories than you consume.

Find your calorie needs here:

Then add about 500 calories to that number if you're a hardgainer and aim to eat that many calories each day.

You'll get there again! Just be consistent with your eating and your workouts!

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Posted Tue, 01/02/2018 - 22:15

Hey guys! :)

Will the 5-10 minutes cardio before and after work burn muscle though? Or will it burn fats at all?

I am an ectomorph trying to bulk up.

Thanks for your help!

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Posted Mon, 10/02/2017 - 01:57

and what about synergic/antagonist muscles group in ectomorph body type

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Posted Mon, 10/02/2017 - 01:56

hi, what about the weights ??? how to choose the right weight to start with ????

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Posted Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:47

so I've been doing some studies concerning ectomorph workouts and it turns out I should not work synergic muscles (chest + triceps) together in one workout but prefer working antagonists (chest + biceps). Yet this routine uses the first formula. Is it a big problem? Would I have better results the other way?

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Posted Sun, 05/29/2016 - 01:49

I been doing all your workouts they are GREAT but I been taking so long to see results and been eating healthy then ever.. I need your help thank you

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Posted Sat, 01/23/2016 - 23:27
Jesse Badillo

Hi Steve,

Thank you very much for this work out routine I'll begin to do it starting monday , but it may be difficult for me because for the moment I don't have a license yet or a car yet since im still in high school . The gym isn't far from me but my parents are protective but I understand. Hopefully this will work for me thank you very much. I'm trying to achieve my goal of having a built body for the summer haha . Well thank you and good bye.

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Posted Mon, 10/19/2015 - 01:16

Is it possible i can build muscle without protein shake or any other supplement?

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Posted Thu, 11/05/2015 - 19:59
Evan Transue

Yes, absolutely lol. Remember, it is generally accepted that results in your physique and health are 70% diet and 30% what you do in the gym. Some even say it's closer to 80/20! With supplements, again it is GENERALLY accepted that they will increase results 5% at best. This is of course assuming you are using all legal, store-bought supplements as anabolic steroids would yield much more than a 5% increase. Something that is not general, and i'm sure any fitness professional would agree on, is that supplements are a waste of money if you are not maximizing your diet. You are better off spending that money on food any day as opposed to 60 dollar protein tubs.

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Posted Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:47

Couldn't have said it better myself Evan, good stuff.

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Posted Tue, 09/15/2015 - 14:13
Jared Buttery

When should we change up this workout routine? I know people are concerned about their body adapting to a routine and not overcoming the plateaus.

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Posted Tue, 09/01/2015 - 21:37

so this workout is supposed to be performed with heavy weights?

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Posted Mon, 04/27/2015 - 04:15

My height is 5.5 ft and my weight is 106 lbs. I am going gym from two years and my weight gain is only 10 lbs plz tell me some best excercise routine and dietary plan.

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Posted Thu, 03/19/2015 - 18:03

Hi Steve, your advices really help to understand how to get good results. I've been doing this workout for 2 months now and made great results. i've modified it a bit into 3 days per week:

(All excercises i do 2x10 (without warmup))

chest (barbell bench press, decline press, incline dumbell press, dumbell flyes, pullover).
Triceps (bench dips, dumbell extension overhead, cable pull downs).

Back (lat pull down, seated cable row, t-bar pull, one arm dumbell row).
Biceps ( standing barbell curl, preacher curl).

Shoulder (military press, lateral raise, front dumbell raise, upright rows, shrugs)

Im eating a lot and getting great results, i also take protein shakes, bcaas, creatine. Im thinking to move to 3x10 on all excercises, but abit worried that it might be too much. What are your comments on this mate? Thanks, Sim.

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Posted Mon, 02/23/2015 - 17:08

Hi Steve,

If I did the math right, between time spent exercising and time spent resting, each day of this workout clocks in at around 75 minutes or more (not including ab work). Is this what you intended?

The total assumes: 33m 50s exercising (2-1-2 per rep plus 2 X 10 minutes of cardio); 26m resting (2 min between sets); and 15m between exercises (3m each). That's about 1 hour 15 minutes for each day in the workout (not including abs). Does that sound about right?

Thanks for your help


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Posted Mon, 01/26/2015 - 19:22

What's a proper warm up technique to do before these exercises?

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Posted Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:21

I don't have a Hack squat machine. IS there a substitute?

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Posted Tue, 12/30/2014 - 00:56

Hi Steve. I cannot do squats and deadlift. Is it possible to incorporate other exercises to pack on muscles. Many programs and advices are made for people with no back pain. However i would need the one without those 2 compound exercises. Thank you

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Posted Mon, 08/31/2015 - 18:23

Why can't you squat/deadlift? Those two are the best excercises for building a mass. It boosts your testosterone.

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Posted Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:42
John Maserati

Not very realistic to eat a meal every 3 hours like don't you people have jobs and or social lives?

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Posted Tue, 06/30/2015 - 23:25
glenn campson

Yes, and i also have 4 children (1 of which in the hospital for a while). All you have to do is spend an hour each morning prepping and packing your food. I have to budget right, yet still feed my body. Excuses are for people who dont get results.

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Posted Wed, 12/17/2014 - 01:14
Zohaib Hassan

Hi Brandon,
My age is 28, my weight is only 53kg, my height is 181cm and i am a male. i want to make my body looks like "HELL yeah that what i want" a perfect male models or fitness models. should i do the same workout as described in this blog or have to do isolate workout ??
i do not have pretty much time left. As we all know after 30 the muscle gaining is weak. i spoil my twenties :(.
Please help me out.

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Posted Mon, 12/15/2014 - 07:12

I'm starting this programe, but I have a question regarding keeping the aerobic exercise at a minimum. I usually like to end a trip to the gym on the treadmill. 5 min walking, then 9 min interval running (1 min sprint, 2 min run - x3) and cool down for 5-10 minutes. I'm 5'10, 150lb and my primary goal it to gain muscle, but I want to stay in good shape still. Would the running mess with the design of this programe?

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Posted Wed, 11/05/2014 - 14:39

what about abs? Don't see any workouts for it on here. Do we work those out on the weekend?

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Posted Tue, 11/04/2014 - 13:27

When a person is taking creatine going to the gym, if you were to stop training would you not shrink in size because does "creatine" not require you to stay hydrated most of the time because it absorbs the water in your body to make your muscles grow ? I know I shrunk when I was off it! I'm 23 and only 130lbs and have been 9 stone for 4 years it's depressing because I want get bigger than what I am but time hinders my success :(

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Posted Mon, 09/22/2014 - 23:28

Hi Steve,
I'm doing your 4-day-maximum-mass-workout split program, and I want you to tell me if it's good to move to this program or not to build my muscles better ?
Thank you

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Posted Tue, 09/16/2014 - 14:51

Hi Steve,
I am 23, 5'9" and about 146 pounds. I am thin all around but I have some belly fat that I want to get rid of in the process of building muscle. I have started this routine a couple days ago along with running on the treadmill for 10 mins at a speed of 6. I take ON whey protein of one scoop post workout. Am I doing the right thing?

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Posted Sun, 09/14/2014 - 16:05
james cabin

What you suggest I substitute for the alternating dumbbell curls, the dumbbell lateral raise and dumbbell shoulder press, I have a curling bar and a barbell, but no dumbbells.

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Posted Tue, 08/05/2014 - 01:39

Do you have to do all the exercise on those days or just choose one exercise?

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Posted Mon, 08/04/2014 - 10:44

For the sets, should you use a pyramid style or just lift the same amount for each set?

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Posted Wed, 07/30/2014 - 00:14

Hey Steve. In making this workout, what determined the amount of sets and reps you choose?

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Posted Wed, 07/23/2014 - 05:12

Hi Steve, I've bee following this workout for approx. 1 month and have gained about 10lbs. I'm 5'8" was 130 lbs now 140lbs. I gained that 10 pounds within the first 2 weeks and stopped at 140lbs. I started to use Serious Mass weight gainer along with my daily nutrition these past 2 work outs but i still havent gained. is it time for me to change this workout to another one, if so can you recommend one. Also, someone at the gym told me to get on a pyramid type (start higher reps lower weights and end with low reps high weigh) workout. what do you think?

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Posted Fri, 06/13/2014 - 18:36

I'm 6 foot 1 around 190 pounds. I have a skinny build but i want to rip up and get just a tad bigger. I have a great appetite as well. What are some suggestions to help me out?

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Posted Sat, 06/07/2014 - 17:22

Interesting article and comments!
I'd like to know if there is any harm in an ectomorph working out early morning on an empty stomach...

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Posted Fri, 06/06/2014 - 00:51

Hey, I was wondering, is there any way for me to gain muscle from home? I have literally no equipment or access to a gym. Can exercises using my own body help gain muscle?

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Posted Thu, 05/29/2014 - 12:16

hi, I don't have every machine for the legs
what can we remplace for 45 Degree Leg Press and Hack Squat ?

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Posted Thu, 05/22/2014 - 09:06

Hi Steve,

First of all I would like to thank you for this great workout schedule. I have been using it now for almost 5 weeks and I'm already getting a lot of results. I have not been paying much attention to my diet yet but in these 5 weeks I've already gained about 9 pounds of lean muscle. The results are also already visible and I'm currently lifting a lot more than in the first week. So thanks for that!

I have a few questions tho. I've been reading that you should change your schedule after about 2 months, what is your opinion on this? And should i change everything or keep the important exercises like bench press, squat, deadlifts etc? Also, I noticed that some exercises like the dips and closed grip bench press for triceps and the pullups for your back are much heavier than all the other exercises in the schedule, I have replaced them for now, should I get these back into my schedule? And my last question is, after all my workout days my muscles are sore for a few days except for my back, I have tried increasing the weights but than (i think) my form isn't very good anymore. Is there another approach I should take?

Thanks again for this awesome workout schedule!

Cheers, Robbert

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Posted Fri, 05/02/2014 - 17:55

Steve youre awesome for helping us all out!!!

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Posted Tue, 04/29/2014 - 02:28
Sumeet Gaikwad

Hey i m Sumeet.And i am already following the above program but still i cant got as much mass that i require

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Posted Fri, 04/25/2014 - 17:49

so where are the abs?

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Posted Thu, 04/10/2014 - 16:05

hey steve .. i am 18 height is 5'11 and i weigh 56 kg .. how much time will it take me to hit my goal of crossing 64 kgs ..

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Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 23:33

I'm very similar like you. I'm 18 and weigh around 57-58kg before. My height is 177 cm which is similar to yours. Now I'm 63kg and it's been tough to gain weigh for months. Eat 4x a day and 2 shakes. Lift 3x a week and you will see improvements!

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Posted Mon, 04/18/2016 - 23:25

when i was 21 i weighed 60-61kg with a height of 183cm. after following a similar program i put together myself - i put on 9kg in 6 months eating close to 6 times a day. 9eggs bowl of oats a tub of yogurt apple and a muesli bar for breakky, apple nuts and a can of tuna for snack before lunch. lunch was a bit random usually go get a big pasta from the food court and my snack before dinner/gym would be the same as before lunch. protein shake after gym and usually 500g of beef or chicken for dinner. I am now 28 and weigh 81kg (admittedly a little fat round the guy) but i have a more solid structure now and look to hit 90kg by the end of the year. just keep to routine and you should be fine :D

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Posted Tue, 04/08/2014 - 06:02

can beginners do this or is thr another programme for beginners