Hope for Hardgainers!


From day one, in whatever I did, I’ve always been the token tall, skinny girl—but that’s never stopped me from achieving my goals. My introduction to the weight room came in high school, as with so many of us, through organized sports. I would lift and lift and lift, but gains were hard to come by. That could be chalked up to many factors that often plague high schoolers, from poor technique and eating habits to high-intensity cardio, both of which were part of my training for track and swimming. Even so, the lack of results proved to be a continued theme throughout my life.

After successful careers in Hawaiian Tropics competitions and modeling, as well as print and runway modeling, I decided to make a full transition into NPC bikini competition. It was a new world to me and I had to admit, scary. Previously, I had been a regular at the gym, but my goals were mostly to maintain what I had, not necessarily to build. I had to learn the ins and outs of bodybuilding. I read many magazine articles and scoured the internet for tips and secrets, but although it provided a good foundation of knowledge, I still wasn’t making the progress that I needed.

I knew it would take time, so I wanted to spend my time at the gym with things that would help me reach my goals. I did not want to waste it. Admittedly, much of the bodybuilding journey involves finding out what DOESN’T work for you. For example, certain leg press machines do not provide me with the range of motion or the specific isolation of muscles I require. It was a revelation when I discovered that there are three different body types—ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph—and specifically that I am an ectomorph. Not a hybrid of multiple body types, but a skinny, low-body-fat, hardgainer ectomorph.

As you might imagine, ectomorphs are generally skinnier and have a small, light frame. They tend to favor lean tissue, a.k.a. muscle, over fat, and they have long, thin limbs and a fast metabolism, which makes ectomorphic bodies the most resistant to weight gain.

Ectomorphs are often able to overeat and gain little or no extra weight. As a result, they have little body fat, some lean muscle, and bone mass equivalent to that of a stick figure. To counteract those circumstances and gain weight, they need to take in a large number of calories. In addition, their workouts should be short and intense. Generally, ectomorphs lose fat very easily, so cutting back to lean muscle for, say, a contest or photo shoot, isn’t a problem.

That summarizes my body and my training in a nutshell. Once I learned about being an ectomorph, I found the key to maximizing my time at the gym and really focusing my workouts around what works for MY body type. I discovered when and how much cardio I need to do in a week and why cardio-based workouts may not be the best for my body type. I maximized rep ranges and rest periods to focus my time, energy, and effort to get the most of my body and my time. Those small changes in my workouts and nutritional plan have brought great benefits, along with the gains I was seeking. Over five years, I added 15 pounds of hard-earned muscle, and went from stage filler at the Flex Model Search to winning my first bikini overall title in January at the NPC Iron Man Naturally, in Los Angeles!

In making my discoveries, I realized that I was not the only one who was frustrated with magazine and internet articles that promised either extreme weight loss or crazy mass gains. That has led me to dedicating my life to my fellow ectomorphs—to helping you achieve your fitness goals and dreams—and this blog will, I hope, be your guide to ecto-perfection. You can do it, but it will take hard work, passion, dedication, and a lot of positive thinking. In future posts, I’ll share what I’ve learned about all aspects of training and nutrition for skinny hardgainers.

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A former Hawaiian Tropics bikini model, Evina Del Pizzo is a certified Master Trainer at Gym Life in Granada Hills, California. She holds a degree in social behavior with an emphasis in sports psychology from California State University, Northridge. Del Pizzo is sponsored by Pro Fight Sports and recently won her first NPC overall bikini title.