Stay Within the Training Parameters

Q: “Thanks a million for your article Hypertrophy Training for the Ectomorph! And for your book, which I enjoyed. I’m a typical ectomorph (skinny, especially on the chest), and may I ask you some things about your latest article?

1. You suggest long rest periods of 3-5 minutes between sets, but I only have limited time in the mornings to train. Is 2 minutes enough, or could I use supersets with the pyramid program, e.g. superset squats with dumbell curls and superset bench press with v-bar pulldown? Or does that defeat the purpose (i.e. are we resting “the muscle” or “the body”)? Or perhaps I can just split the pyramid program e.g. upper day / lower day or push day / pull day?

2. There’s no overhead shoulder movements (e.g. military press, overhead dumbell press) in your pyramid program. I’m told these are critical to great shoulders. Was this intentional (a case of “walk before you can run”), or can I feel free to substitute them in for lateral raises? Likewise the “third” staple compound (deadlift) is not in the program, and nothing specific for abs (or calves / hams).

3. I don’t think I’m doing enough cardio, because my bodyfat % is going slightly up instead of down, despite a clean diet. I’m going to try the pyramid program (3 times a week), would you recommend to follow each workout with 20 minute cardio (which I haven’t been doing so far). If so, what do you think: HIIT or something less intense?

“Thanks as always for your wisdom and guidance, James!”


My Answer: Glad you like the book, Steve. With regards to rest periods, you can certainly follow any of those options you mentioned: 2 minute rest periods or supersetting or split routine. HOWEVER, my preference would be the supersetting, since that adheres to the Ectomorph Training parameters.

As far as the military press for the shoulders, you get enough anterior head stimulation from the bench press. You also get some stimulation of the posterior head from the V-bar pulldowns. So that just leaves the lateral head of the deltoid, which requires lateral raises. Military presses and overhead presses are great exercises, but they stress the anterior head and triceps. They don’t stimulate the lateral or posterior head at all. But if you feel like putting the military press in, then just substitute it for laterals every other workout.

Same thing goes for deadlifts. If you really feel like putting in everything and the kitchen sink, then do it smart. Once out of the week, substitute deadlifts for squats. As for cardio do it after you workout, but alternate HIIT and steady state cardio from workout to workout.

Q: “Hope all is well. I am wondering how do you feel about one lift a day for five days. I was planning to do incline bench, squat, pull-ups, deadlifts and clean and snatches on the last day. I am wondering if I could do high reps for my clean and snatches on the last day, and how many sets of 15-20 reps would be conducive for that day. What do you think?”


My Answer: One lift a day is only good for very advanced trainees who have a lot of muscle mass already. Give it a try, and see how you progress on it.

Comments are closed.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: