Tough gainer? Want some muscle…Read here!

Happy monday!

If you have followed my blogging so far, then you know I touched on different body types such as the skinny, thick, and perfect people. If not, today I’m specifically addressing a certain body type that is actually more common than you think.

Today begins the discussion of the classic ectomorph or as I like to call them skinny bitches. The type that’s just naturally skinny. God what a hard life. I just can’t gain weight or muscle ugh. My life is so stressful.Stressed-Woman

All kidding aside ectomorphs have feelings too. I am actually a member of the ectomorph familia, so for those who have trouble putting on muscle or want to become more athletic looking this could be helpful. I don’t like the word tone, I mean what does it really mean?  I’m not saying I’ve got it figured out but I’ve found ways to gain muscle so you don’t look like a walking beam pole like I always struggled with.

First things first if you struggle putting on size and strength male or female we need to dive into the 3 areas that could be hindering your success. If you’re like me and thought I had a one in a million chance of looking strong…


Okay…so let’s do a little compare and contrast. When I begin with weight lifting as the starter, I feel like most (women in particular) associate it with looking like below…Which If thats the look you want by all means. #JudgeFreeZoneMuscular-Girls-12The body I am really preaching is that of Lolo Jones. She is my inspiration because she finds a balance of an athletic frame and a sense of femininity, and she does not shy away from weight lifting. See below:


Lolo is someone I look up to and aspire to look like. Plus the fact that she is 5’9 (relatively tall and similar to my height) which as a female can usually mean putting on muscle is hard because of the length of the actual muscles, so you get the point. Anyway.. back to Weight training:

Ectomorh females lets keep it real unless you start getting on something crazy we will never be huge. Ok.  So dont be afraid of what I’m about to say and for the fellas don’t get sucked into the dark side either. Building muscle takes a lot of time and patience, sure theres plenty of quick fixes and steroids that will do more harm than good, contrary to what these instagram fitness gurus claim. Which is nauseating by the way, but that’s a different conversation. Which leads me to what I’ve discovered that works for the hard gainers. Lifting heavy. That “light weight, more reps” theory is completely out the window. Kbyeseeya. If you want to put on some muscle, a rep range from anywhere of 2-8 is going to help build solid muscle. I watch girls who are muscular looking bench press 20s for 20 reps and I’m over here on the corner of strugglefest and help me I’m Dying trying to put up 55s for 6 reps just so I can look half as muscular. Why?

It always comes back to body types and what works best for your body. It is very rare to find two people who train the exact same and look exactly the same. Everyone’s body requires different things.  It’s taken me almost a year of steady weight lifting to put on about 3-4lbs of actual muscle. One year people. Patience. Although, my weight has not changed my body composition has because I switched to heavy lifting.  Squatting let’s say… 65lbs for 25 reps will do nothing for my legs or give me a backside. photoNow, If I throw 135lbs on there for 6-8 reps or a massive tire flying down on me, now that’s going to send your body into building a Kim K booty mode. It’s a different way to train, it’s less endurance and more power and strength. Now don’t get me wrong there are certainly times Its approprtate to incorporate lighter weight with higher reps with isolation lifts or drop setting, but the big compound movements need to be heavy. My motto is that when you reach your goal of reps, if you could have done 5 more you’re not lifting heavy enough. Meow. Add weight, don’t be shy. Think…”grumpy cat” as your spotter.

Skinny bitches could do nothing and they would be skinny. But if you’re like me I’m not going to eat a carrot for dinner, (whoops I just stereotyped sorry)  but rather I want a massive meal because I want to fill out the muscles I just depleted in the gym. So we have to eat. And more than most. No that does not mean go stock up on twinkies. Eating frequently is important, eating the proper food is more important. Eating enough calories is the jackpot. When you eat clean healthy foods they are not as high in calories as let’s say a stop at McDonalds. So two meals might get you to 600 -700 calories, so you have to eat more. If you don’t eat enough calories you could lose weight, that’s where it hurts men because they generally require a higher caloric intake and for women who maybe want to lose some fat and build muscle. Eating more does not always translate into weight gain. Eating the right food actually gives your body fuel and fills out muscles that you’re trying to develop. The weight lifting and cardio will help burn fat, nutrition is however 60% of this hole shin dig operation. So don’t take it lightly if you have serious fitness goals.

Here is a snap shot of me in college a few years ago vs me now…DIET has been the real adjustment. sbphoto-1

As you can see…my skinny ass has actually put on some muscle, (okay not like life changing ha) but some…and changing my diet was really the biggest difference.

I feel like there are two types of people out there: those who love cardio and those who hate cardio, and then there’s the rare exception: the disciplined folks that suck it up and do it anyway.

I’ve seen women never touch a weight at the gym and only do cardio. I’ve seen men lift for two hours and never step foot on a treadmill. It’s a common stereotype. Yet, these stereotypes are starting to fade and  now that there is so much more information out there everyone is learning how a combination of both weights and cardio can be beneficial for everyone. Women don’t have to “just do cardio” and men don’t have to” just lift.” So what I’m saying isn’t like ground breaking ok, it’s verbatim. But I’m specifically talking about ectomorphs here. I did research a few years back when I began my own fitness journey and the plan for ectomorphs is: eating a shit ton, lifting heavy and absolutely no cardio. So having been a former athlete I was supposed to just stop running to get a better physique *scratches head.  That was the secret to success according to some.

I have a slightly different approach. I used to think I had to do cardio everyday to stay lean. Does that sound familiar to anyone? We ran sometimes twice a day in my playing days, so that was my mindset. Thats what kept me skinny. As ectos we are naturally lean so let me help debunk that theory because it turns out I was hindering a lot of my own personal gains by those long distance runs. I would literally run mile after mile after my lift and burn my muscle away that I was desperately trying to pack on.

So about a year ago, I made the emphasis on lifting heavy 5-6 times a week (having a partner/spotter is important) and cardio was slated for 3 times a week, if that. I found that I have to do cardio to keep me sane, but I’m a strange individual. If I do cardio, I do some cardio!

Be Fearless

Be Fearless

It is focused on HIIT (high intensity interval) stuff, so I’m burning fat not walking for an hour on  a treadmill. That’s what helps keep your muscles chiseled and not soft. Thats my belief, keep in mind there will be naysayers that forbid HIIT cardio for hard gainers because they say it burns muscle. I think it breeds six packs’ just google “track bodies” they know about HIIT training.

Ultimately I’m speaking based off of personal experience and through clients I have worked with. I can’t spell out a generalized recipe, each persons body is different, each skinny person is different, but embrace the gift you have been given and turn your body into your dream body. Here are some final tips before my plane lands:

1. Lift before cardio (schedule permitting)
2. Have at least one day of rest. That whole “no days off thing” isn’t for you, resting can be tremendously positive for your body and recovery
3. Eat 1g of protein per pound of weight that you hold, ex: 150 grams for 150lb person
4. If crunched for time prioritize lifting over cardio, turn it into a fast paced circuit lift and then it’s killing two birds with one stone
5. Don’t be afraid to have cheat meals. They keep you sane, and keep things balanced and sometimes your body needs it.

it takes time to add muscle but be committed and dedicated and you will see results.

Train hard, be happy.

Steffi Sorensen Fitness

Steffi Sorensen Fitness


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