I thought I would post a quick fitness update. I may have stumbled upon the secret sauce for ectomorphs trying to gain muscle. Well at least for me. Last August, I posted Is High Intensity Training Best for Ectomorphs? where I revisited the great book Body By Science and how ectomorphs might respond better to increase volume.
In order to increase the volume, I needed to decrease intensity. This turned out not to be a hard decision to make. My Glitter Gym keeps the temperature too damn high, so I’m unable to generate the intensity I am capable of doing the cool outdoors or in a real HIT gym. So I dropped the intensity and added some volume. Not too much, usually I’d just spread the intensity across 2 sets instead of one. Those looking for precise numbers, won’t get them from me. See the post Reps, Sets and the Weight Aren’t that Important for why I no longer track any metrics and just focus on intensity.
Although the volume is greater and intensity is decreased, I am still doing the same exercises. Machines based movements such as the leg press, chest press, row and pull down performed slowly with static holds. I also do chin-ups and a shoulder press. I don’t do any bench presses, squats, dead lifts or other compound movements. Machines allow me to really slow down the movement and take out the momentum in a safe manner.
A typical week will have 1 or 2 workouts of about 20 minutes each, with 2-3 minutes of rest of between exercises. No rest between 2 set exercises.
The Magic of Kefir
In January I started to believe that dairy kefir was anabolic. Now I am more convinced. On most days I drink a pint. On workout days, I might drink more. Sometimes I blend in frozen blueberries or I might drink it plain. I don’t know what is going on, but I estimate that I’ve gained 10 pounds of muscle in the past year. I started the quest using ice cream, but switched over to kefir in December. For an ectomorph that has been lifting since 1994, that is an impressive number.
Fellow experimenter Richard at FreeTheAnimal is using dairy kefir to both lean out and gain muscle. If it possible to both gain muscle and lean out on kefir, then maybe a calorie isn’t a calorie? Perhaps an anabolic score could be established? Kefir and ice cream at the top. Beer and tofu at the bottom.
The Secret Sauce So Far
Here are the elements that I think provide the greatest bang for muscle gain for ectomorphs.
- HIT with a slight increase in volume and decrease in intensity.
- Drink dairy kefir or eat ice cream. You need a caloric surplus to gain muscle. These foods are ideal. Those that don’t like dairy can use coconut milk or cream.
- Machine based movements done slowly with static holds. Those without a gym can do my Outdoor HIT or the HillFit workout.
- Slow walks are fine, however excess cardio will make it harder to gain size.
- Avoid injury at all costs. This means don’t engage in skill based fatiguing movements (bench, squat). Especially those performed quickly (CrossFit).
- Be patient.