I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of training ecto’s.
It is immensely rewarding to take a blank canvas – a wiry, skinny body with the muscle mass of someone who has just been awakened in The Matrix – and to train it properly, and to watch it grow, develop strength and stability, and to see the immense self-satisfaction in the eyes of the guy (or girl) who originally came to me saying that they had ‘tried everything’ and it was impossible for them to gain any tangible amount of muscle. Gosh, I sound a bit like an Arts Major, don’t I… 😉
My first question to my ecto friends is this: “What have you tried?” …and invariably the response is some sort of training methodology completely unsuitable for ecto’s.
- 3 sets of 10 of everything
- The 5×5 program that everyone keeps saying is a beginners program (it isn’t)
- Cardio every day, because, you know, abs
- The latest program in any men’s body building mag that promises to also tell you the xxx secrets women wish you knew
- Any program that has a day set aside just for abs
There is a time and a place for all of the programs that I mentioned above, but if you are a card-carrying ecto, and you want to grow, these are not a great start point for you. You are better served with a program that combines volume with frequency. A start point that I use for anyone who fits into this category is a modification of a method popularised by Frank Zane. We hit the same body parts multiple times throughout the week, varying the sessions from higher intensity through to higher volume.
Yes, you CAN train legs more than once a week. The time-space continuum will not fracture. And what’s more, you will thank yourself for it when you’re ‘checking in’ your massive bicep selfie a couple of months from now.
Yes, you CAN train for strength. The extra weight you can lift with intention will do nothing but help you grow.
Yes, you CAN shorten your rest intervals. Stop using your text-book-recommended hypertrophy rest interval as a lame excuse because you don’t like getting out of breath.
An example of a way to program for this:
- MONDAY – legs
- TUESDAY – chest and back
- WEDNESAY – rest
- THURSDAY – legs
- FRIDAY – chest and back
- SATURDAY – shoulders and arms
- SUNDAY – rest
Monday and Tuesday’s focus should be on functional hypertrophy (think 6-8 reps), and compound movements (think deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench, military press, chin ups, rows). Thursday – Saturday the focus should be on higher reps (think 12 and above), and a combination of compound and isolated exercises.
After four weeks of working hard through this type of programming you will be seeing changes and you will have the necessary conditioning to be able to progress into something a little more advanced.
SAMPLE PROGRAM (complete 5 sets of the ‘a’s’, 4 sets of the ‘b’s’, and 3 sets of the ‘c’s’)
- a1 barbell front squat, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- a2 romanian deadlift, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b1 barbell split squat, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b2 dumbbell walking lunge, 12 paces, 3010, rest 45 sec
- c1 45 degree leg press, 8 reps, 3010, rest 60 sec
- a1 chin up, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- a2 barbell bench press, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b1 pull down, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b2 decline dumbbell chest press, 6 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- c1 wide grip seated row, 8 reps, 3010, rest 60 sec
wednesday – rest / active recovery day
- a1 barbell back squat, 12 reps, 3010, rest 10 sec
- a2 single leg lying hamstring curl, 6 reps per leg, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b1 45 degree leg press, 12 reps, 3010, rest 10 sec
- b2 dumbbell high step up, 6 reps per leg, 3010, rest 45 sec
- c1 hack squat, 15 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- a1 semi supinated pull down, 12 reps, 3010, rest 10 sec
- a2 incline dumbbell chest press, 12 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b1 45 degree bent over dumbbell row, 12 reps, 3010, rest 10 sec
- b2 standing cable flye, 12 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- c1 seated cable row, 15 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- a1 seated, unsupported, dumbbell shoulder press, 12 reps, 3010, rest 10 sec
- a2 seated, unsupported, dumbbell lateral raise, 12 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- b1 tricep dips, 12 reps, 3010, rest 10 sec
- b2 kneeling zottman curls, 12 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
- c1 push up (chest to deck and pelvis locked into posterior rotation), 15 reps, 3010, rest 45 sec
sunday – rest / active recovery day
For those of you who use this program, please email me and let me know your thoughts.