I am a 23 year old, 5 foot 5 inches tall, 52 kg male. Judging by my BMI, I'm not underweight, but I still look skinny. I am not weak (I think) as I can do 60 push ups (20-20-20), 10-12 pulls ups and some basic exercises to a good extent.

I have tried gyming, but that only results in my body getting into good shape (great shape in fact). The gym results are visible on my body faster than any one of my friends. But only the shape, not the mass or bulk. Am I an ectomorph? Does that have anything to do with the metabolism of my body?

I want to ask how to add bulk to my body, don't tell me to eat a lot because I'm doing that and there is no visible effect of that on my body. Any help will be appreciated.

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    What have you actually done when going to the gym (in terms of exercises) and for how long?
    – Baarn
    Dec 21, 2012 at 7:43
  • Sounds like you're not eating enough to add bulk. Sort your diet out; maybe add in a mass gainer. And do more compound lifts. Dec 21, 2012 at 9:37
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    Since we don't know what your current routine looks like, nor what you're eating, this answer is the most specific I can get. Also note that BMI is generally not a useful metric for individuals; physique and performance goals are much more useful and productive. Dec 21, 2012 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if you are an ectomorph, but whether you are eating enough or not is the question. If you are not gaining any weight the answer is no. Do you eat 6 times a day? 3 major and minor meals? Even ectomorphs do well on a high calorie diet. To gain weight you should always be on a calorie surplus diet. Do you consume enough protein? If you are a vegetarian you will have to find ways to consume enough Protein to gain muscle mass.

Your question reveals a few things:

  1. You need to understand 60 push-ups doesn't necessarily mean you are strong at everything. You do have endurance for push-ups but how much can you dead-lift? Strength is a very relative term for many people some consider themselves strong when they can run 10 miles without puffing. Not all forms of strength mean that you will look big or have extra mass. Consider the marathon runners who are mostly skinny.

  2. What you mention as shape while gymming is nothing but temporary hardness of the muscles that most beginners experience. Given that you already mention that you are skinny what is great shape anyway? I am sure you lose this shape in few weeks if you miss going to the gym. The temporary hardness is a "pump" effect that occurs when muscles become engorged with blood and is felt by beginners and long-time lifters.

If you have never done any gymming before I suggest you to start with a strength training program first. This includes 3 days a week of full body workouts with 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise. There are a lot of good programs like Starting Strength, StrongLifts, etc. They will definitely help you bulk up. A full description of these programs and proper form of the exercises will be difficult to document in this answer. These program basically focus on getting stronger with a few basic moves; getting bigger is a side affect. I recommend you to search for these programs and follow them judiciously for a few months before you conclude that you eat enough or you are an ectomorph.

One more point I would like to make is, it is easy to feel that 3 days is way too less work out but please note muscle size is a function of exercise, nutrition, and rest. If you work out alone that will not increase size so please follow the program as Rippetoe says.

Good Luck!!

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    One of the more valid critiques against SL/SS is that they do not add much bulk, which is mostly a result of the fact they are designed for strength first and foremost. If mass is the primary concern, then an extended compound barbell program would be more advisable. That way you still get the base strength from squats/deadlifts, but you also get a lot more desired definition from the extra chest / arm exercises.
    – Moses
    Dec 21, 2012 at 6:43
  • @Moses : What would be the extended Program ? Any sources ?
    – Geek
    Dec 21, 2012 at 8:35
  • Basically just add volume to the workout. You could add shrugs, dips, chin/pull ups, cgbp, curls, or core exercises. The answer is essentially defined by what you feel you are lacking in and wish to supplement through the program.
    – Moses
    Dec 22, 2012 at 3:24
  • @Moses : Rippetoe himself suggests to do some supplementary stuff if you have to. however the premise is that additional exercises should not interfere with the basic ones in the program.
    – Geek
    Dec 22, 2012 at 7:03
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    @Geek Don't think in terms of absolutes. SS is not a bodybuilding program--that is a fact--but that fact doesn't mean you cannot gain mass from it, only that it is not the optimal program for such a goal.
    – Moses
    Dec 23, 2012 at 20:18

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