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a fitness beginner here. Hopefully someone can share some alternatives on cardio training for a skinny person?

For some background, I can commit to hit the gym at least 2-3 times a week. I have ectomorph body-type, which means I have high metabolism and lose weight very easily. My goal is having the stamina to play casual basketball game without panting too much, or running consistently on 5K. I have been jogging for about 4-5K once a week for 3 months, because I am afraid to lose too much calories if I ran too often. I do not really feel any improvement on my stamina, every jogging still feels as tiring as before.

Should I keep this pace? Or do jogging more often like 2x a week and increase my daily calorie intake? Thanks in advance!

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I have ectomorph body-type

The somatotypes is a very old theory, and one that has been under a lot of scrutiny in the actual scientific environments. It is deemed suggestive, but not conclusive.

But that said, I understand what you mean when you say you are ectomorph, so if nothing else, at least it serves as a starting point for this conversation.

which means I have high metabolism

That's the wrong interpretation. The reason why "ectomorphic" people have a hard time gaining weight, is not because they have a high metabolism, it's because they have a low appetite.

You're simply not eating enough.

And I know what you're going to say.

"Dude, when we have tacos I eat like 6 huge shells and chug a litre of coke. My appetite is huge!"

But this simply boils down to the fact that your appetite isn't measured by your largest meal of the week. It is measured by how much you eat overall during the course of a week. Hell, even that is too short.

Instead of looking at how much you eat in a day (which can vary by large percentages), you should be looking at how much you eat in a month. Because when you eat super-huge meals one day, you'll just be eating less the next couple days, and you're back where you started.

At the end of the day, if you want to gain weight, you have to eat more calories than you spend over any given period of time, preferably measured over a week or longer.

On the same coin, if you want to keep your current weight, you need to consume and spend equal amounts of calories.

and lose weight very easily

Yeah, that's fair enough. But don't blame your metabolism. Blame your appetite.

Remember, it's not supposed to be easy to gain/lose weight, when your body type dictates something else.

You know that fat people have a hard time losing weight because their appetite is big. Skinny people have the same, but opposite problem. And if it were easy to change it, we'd all be ripped.

To answer the question

How to improve stamina without burning too much calories?

You're asking the wrong question. Instead of being worried about burning too much calories, you should be worried about how little you're eating.

You should be doing all the cardio you can muster, and then you should be eating enough to sustain yourself. That's all there is to it.

And again, I know it's not simple because you don't have the appetite to keep eating, but that's simply the problem you're going to have to deal with.

For fat people to lose weight, they have to refrain from eating when they're hungry.

For skinny people to gain weight, they have to eat when they're not hungry.

And if you want to change your weight, or stay where you are, that's the problem you have to deal with.

  • Thanks for being on the point and keep things simple, Alec. You clearly pointed out the calories intake problem instead of the exercise, it really helps me to focus. I will take your advice to eat more and practice regularly! – Danny Aug 30 '16 at 1:25
  • I was in a same boat as Danny, being very skinny and never gaining any considerable weight. Last year I started lifting (lookup Starting Strength or SL5x5 programs) and trying to eat a lot more than I used to. In a year I gained 15kg of weight and a lot of strength. Basically heavy lifting increased my appetite, while also motivated me to eat more food to complete goals. – ionoy Aug 30 '16 at 8:25
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Adding to what Alec has said. You mention feeling same tired after running once a week.

To see the improvement in cardio you need to run at least 45 minutes (not the distance) for at least 3 times a week.

That of course in turn will increase your calorie burned weekly. Which you should cover by eating more.

But remember that just eating more may not be right statement. If you are looking to increase stamina all you are saying you want your muscles to be stronger and have more endurance (that includes your heart which is also a muscle). Saying that - eat more protein rich food - meat, eggs, milk etc.

UPD: Also just running with comfortable speed is not going to increase your stamina and show you good results. To actually see improvements you need to run above comfortable speed. In running, with pushing your limits and having sufficient nutrition (to restore what you burned and have enough material for muscles to recover from stress) you will see improvements in less than a month. But this comes with a big fat WARNING, you need to make sure that you have no heart issues before you try to push your limits.

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