We all have different body types and builds. For some it is very easy to build muscles, while others have a larger frame and no muscle, and still others just appear to be string beans. For those of you out there with a wiry build, we understand how difficult it can be to pack on the muscle; this is why we have put together a workout routine specifically to help you put muscle onto your wiry body.
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Wiry Build Definition
- Thin-like “wiry” limbs
- Naturally low body fat percentage
- Lean composition and long muscle fibers
- Easier to achieve vascularity as wiry body type
These are just a few things that characterize someone as having a wiry build or body type. In the fitness industry, if you’re not interested in being a “mass monster”, it’s the 2nd most desirable look for aesthetics.
A few celebrities with a wiry build include:
- Kate Moss
- Gisele Bundchen
- Brad Pitt
- Zac Efron
They’re noticeably thinner than most celebrities, and even a little bit of muscle makes an impact on their physiques.
But since you’re doing the research, you should know that having a wiry build is better classified as being an ectomorph body type.
If you’re not familiar with the term, let’s discuss it now…
What Does It Meant to Be an Ectomorph?
When it comes to genetics and body structure, individuals often fall into one of three body types: mesomorphs, endomorphs, or ectomorphs.
Mesomorphs are the genetically gifted individuals that can produce muscle just from picking up their water bottles. Endomorphs tend to put on weight easily but can have trouble putting it on in the form of muscle. In most cases, endomorphs should focus on a fat loss workout for best results.
Ectomorphs tend to be the most challenged when it comes to building a muscular physique.
To get a full idea of all three body types check out our blog post on somatotype body classifications here, where we dive deep into each of the categories; for the sake of this post though we are going to focus solely on the ectomorphs.
Ectomorphs (Wiry Body Type)
Ectomorphs tend to have the following characteristics:
- Small boned
- Have long limbs
- Are lightly muscled and very lean
- Maintain low body fat (without the need for exercise)
- Have fast and efficient metabolisms
All of these things make it very difficult for an ectomorph to pack on the pounds. For this reason, they are often described as having a wiry build and body type. The long limbs, with very lean muscle, can present a false sense of health though. Even though ectomorphs tend to have lower body fat percentages, the difficulty they face with building muscle can mean a decrease in other health metrics.
Health metrics tied to exercise- such as cardiovascular health, insulin and hormonal regulation, decreased blood pressure, and so on- can be just as difficult for an ectomorph to maintain as any other body type. The problem becomes worse when ectomorphs are discouraged by the difficulty of building muscle on their wiry frame. This is where we step in, to provide the perfect workout routine for wiry body types to build muscle.
With a fast metabolism it’s no surprise that ectomorphs can get away with eating nearly anything. To promote muscle growth however, ectomorphs should focus on a good lean bulking plan by eating quality foods, such as starchy carbohydrate, vegetables and healthy fats, often. These foods should be calorically dense, should be consumed warmed if possible (for better digestion) should be nutrient dense (no fast food just because your body will burn it off), and don’t forget the protein as this is the build block of muscle tissue. To increase muscle, those with a wiry build should also be eating in excess of their metabolic needs; your body needs extra to stimulate muscle growth.
Supplement the diet and your workouts by drinking a carbohydrate loaded protein drink 30-60 minutes before your workout. This will keep energy high so you can hit these workout related tips.
The most important things you can do to build your body frame as an ectomorph are to train heavy, workout at least 4 times a week and focus on medium to high volume. Your body needs an increased stimulus to activate muscle growth. All three of these tips do just that.
As the weight increases, muscle recruitment and breakdown happens at a higher rate. Tissue breakdown is needed because as the body repairs the muscle it builds a stronger, denser, bigger muscle so as to handle the given stimulus. Increasing volume and training frequency will also aid in breaking down muscle tissue so that even as an ectomorph you are able to build muscle.
Training 4 days a week means you will hit each muscle group multiple times. This is necessary to further break down tissue and keep the muscle building process going. A good workout split for ectomorphs is as follows:
Day 1- Chest & Triceps
- Incline dumbbell press 12, 10, 10, 8
- Dumbbell flyes flat bench 3 x 12
- Overhead extensions 12, 10, 10, 8
- Dips 3×12
Day 2- Back & Biceps
- Wide-grip pull ups 12, 10, 10, 8
- Bent-over rows 12, 10, 10, 8
- Seated barbell curls 12, 10, 10, 8
- Alternated dumbbell curls 3 x 12
Day 3- Legs & Shoulders
- Leg press 12, 10, 10, 8
- Lying leg curls 12, 10, 10, 8
- Barbell back squats 3 x 12
- Deadlifts 3 x 12
- Walking lunges 3 x 12 each leg
- Military press 12, 10, 10, 8
- Rear delt flyes 3 x 12
- Lateral raise 3 x 12
Day 4- Rest
Day 5- Total Body Supersets
- Push ups 3x 12 superset with close grip lat. pulldown 3 x 12
- Skull crushers 3 x 12 superset with standing bicep curls 3 x 12
- Arnold shoulder press 3 x 12 superset with step-ups 3 x 12 each leg
Day 6- Rest or Steady-state Cardio
Day 7- Rest or Steady-state Cardio
Notice the high repetitions of each movement, don’t back off from the weight just because of the volume. The reps decrease as the workout progresses which means you should be able to maintain, or even increase the weight slightly after each set. Take note of how much weight you use, and each week try to add a little bit more. This linear progression will also be key to helping you build muscle despite a wiry frame.
Being an ectomorph presents many challenges for those who want to gain muscle mass. Building muscle on a wiry frame is difficult but not impossible. It will require focused attention and intentional habits. Keeping the diet filled with nutrient and calorically dense foods, while pushing the high weight and volume in the gym, will help wiry body types build muscle despite having an ectomorph frame.
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