No Direct Ab Work for Ectomorphs

Q: Hello, I saw your workout on Being an ectomorph and working out for a few years with different routines and learning what to do and not to do, my question is how come there are no deadlifts in your routine or ab work? I have done Starting Strength and got very strong but looked fat.

Thanks for your time in answering. I’m also a Police Officer and bike trained, so I get cardio in through that. I know it works against me in the bodybuilding world.


My Answer: Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength is a good book on barbell strength. He analyzes the crap out of the squat, military press, deadlift, bench press and the power clean. So for pointers on how to do those exercises with good form and maximum leverage, Starting Strength is a good book.

But it’s not a bodybuilding book. It’s a barbell strength book. So if you just focused on strength without any regard for your diet or conditioning, then you’ll get strong but fat.

To answer you question, I did not include deadlifts in the Hypertrophy Training for the Ectomorph, because you should really just do one exercise for each muscle group. I chose squats over deadlifts, because squats build more lower body muscle than deadlifts, provided that you’re doing full squats. Deadlifts build a lot of muscle over your entire body, but I didn’t include them because it would be too much training redundancy. Doing squats and deadlifts in the same workout would be overkill.

For you to gain size, you have to have minimal training redundancy. In other words, one exercise for each muscle group. Any more might be OK for someone else, but it would be overtraining for an ectomorph.

You can still include deadlifts in the Hypertrophy Training for the Ectomorph program, but you should substitute deadlifts in place of squats once a week.

I also did not include ab work, because ab work is pretty traumatizing for the nervous system. There is a large network of nerves on your six-pack, so if you train your abs directly, then it’s a big drain on your nervous system. You’re more likely to overtrain from working your abs directly all the time, and this will hamper your gains in size.

If you’re an ectomorph then ab work is the least of your worries, because you should be skinny in the first place. You will work your abs indirectly on squats.

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