Eat right, Train some more, Sleep more: An Endomorph's guide to lean muscle
Two weeks ago I wrote an article for the Ectomorphs out there struggling to gain muscular size, read it here if you missed it, I reckon you’ll like it!
Today I want to share with you my thoughts on the best way to go about building muscle or a desirable physique for the Endomorphs at the other end of the spectrum.
Let me start though by saying that these ‘body type’ categories are generalisations and that the majority of us will fall somewhere in between two of these body types. Whichever category you place yourself into, you should never use it as an excuse or a crutch; It is more than possible for anybody, regardless of ‘body type’, to build a physique to be proud of and there thousands of examples out there to prove it.
Having said this I do believe that having an idea of your personal natural propensities to be a valuable tool when pursuing your goals; you see, everyone will take on nutrients differently, retain water to a different degree, process carbohydrate at different rates, burn calories at a different rate and lose/gain fat and or muscle at different speeds as well. Therefore if you have an idea of whereabouts you sit along the continuum, you stand a better chance at tailoring your nutrition and training to suit your individual needs.
Body Types (Somatotypes):
Before we continue we must have a basic understanding of the three body types that make up our diverse population; Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph, and that it’s possible (and highly probable) to be a mixture of two of these body types.
Ectomorph: Male or female who is generally; tall, thin, slim, struggles to gain weight, fast metabolism, small frame.
Mesomorph: Male or female who is generally; athletic, muscular, lean, naturally strong, gains muscle easily, broad, gains fat easier than Ectomorphs.
Endomorph: Male or female who is generally; short and stocky, gains muscle easily, gains fat easily, finds it hard to lose body fat, soft and round body.
Unfortunately for the endomorph this part isn’t going to be as fun as it would be for the ectomorphs out there. Generally speaking, an endomorph with either high levels of body fat, struggles to lose body fat or puts it on very easily might have a lower insulin sensitivity than that of a meso or ectomorph and a greater tendency to store carbohydrate as fat.
What does this mean?
When we consume carbohydrates they are broken down and moved into the bloodstream as Glucose; from there it must be removed and stored elsewhere (as glycogen in muscle tissue or the liver, or in our fat cells) because too much glucose in the bloodstream can be toxic. The amount of insulin needed to transport glucose and return blood sugar levels to normal is known as your insulin sensitivity (Insulin sensitivity differs among individuals due to diet, activity levels and genetics among other factors). The mobilisation and oxidisation (burning) of fat is halted during insulin secretion, therefore the more insensitive you become to insulin, the more insulin the body must secrete to transport glucose out of the bloodstream and the longer it will take in doing so, meaning that fat burning is halted for longer periods of time.
So, unlike our ectomorph and mesomorph friends we have to take a somewhat more measured approach to gaining muscle or carving out the physique we desire.
Calories; In order to build muscle you will have to enter into a caloric surplus; however if you want to minimise body fat accumulation you’ll need to consume the minimal extra amount of calories needed to grow stronger and more muscular. A good place to start is to calculate your BMR, (Basal metabolic rate calculators are ten a penny online) this is the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis just being alive. Take this number and multiply it by 1.15, this roughly takes into account all the other calorie burning factors throughout your day. This sum will be your baseline caloric intake on non-training days.
On your training days take your BMR and multiply it by 1.5 for your training day calorie target.
- Break up your daily calorie intake into 3-4 meals evenly spread throughout the day.
- Stick within a 9-12 hour eating window.
Note: As a rule of thumb if you are getting stronger, and getting results in the gym, you are eating the right amount of calories, if you are not gaining muscle or getting stronger then add an extra 200kcals onto your intake and continue from there.
Protein; at least 2g per kg of bodyweight.
- Lean beef
Fats; 0.7-1g per kg bodyweight.
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
Higher glycaemic, simple carbohydrates like sugar, cake, biscuits, white bread, pasta etc should be avoided so that you’re not overloading the bloodstream with glucose (Except for the occasional treat).
Complex starches such as sweet potato, brown rice and organic oats should be consumed during times of increased insulin sensitivity such as post workout or after long periods of fasting (5hrs+).
- Start with 2g per kg of bodyweight (increase if needed over time)
- 50% consumed post workout in the form of starches
- Remaining 50% consumed over subsequent meals in the form of more fibrous carbs such as green veggies, beans and lentils.
- Carbs on non training days should be limited to fibrous carbohydrates (examples above) to avoid over consumption of starches.
Note: The above prescription is for individuals wishing to gain weight in the form of lean muscle mass, it is also not infallible (Everyone’s different) and it is intended as a guide to play around with. If you are carrying an excess of body fat your main goal should be to eat in a manner that allows you to prioritise fat loss- this would entail tweaking overall calories to shift into a deficit and potentially lowering carbohydrate consumption.
Check out John’s last blog post about eating enough to lose weight, you’ll love it!
TRAIN SOME MORE:
When I say train some more, what I’m not suggesting is that you drill yourself into the ground, however if you have a tendency to store body fat quite easily you can afford to throw some extra volume into your training schedule as well as a decent amount of cardio.
Unlike our Ecto friends we don’t have to worry too much about burning up any of our lean tissue during our training sessions and so we can afford to do a little more.
Follow these guidelines to give your workouts a muscle building and fat burning kick.
- Train for up to 75min (weights and cardio) 4-5 times a week (depending on experience).
- Emphasise heavy compound strength work early on to target fast twitch muscle fibres.
- Use a mixture of repetition ranges and loading intensities throughout each session.
- Utilise supersets, trisets (more than one exercise, back to back with no rest) and circuits towards the end of your session to intensify your workouts.
- Throw in 15minutes of cardio on the end of each session (Bike or Rower intervals work great!)
If you don’t already have it, here is a link to my ebook ‘Lean Body Blueprint’
Inside you’ll discover exactly how to structure a resistance training programme that emphasises increases in strength and muscular size.
This is one thing we all have in common, our need for more sleep... it is during your rest time that your muscles will grow.
Follow these simple guidelines to maximise muscle growth while doing less work:
- A rest day means actual rest, as in, DO NOTHING except stretching/recovery exercises/ Cardio.
- Prioritise sleep, aiming for 8hrs+ per night
So there you have it, eat right, train some more, sleep more and you’ll be flying... And remember a body type is not an affliction or an excuse, but something to bear in mind and use to your advantage when pursuing your goals.
Till next week...
Go lift stuff,