How to Overcome Genetics to Build Muscle

How to Overcome Genetics to Build Muscle

Genetics are responsible for most of your physical characteristics. From the color of your eyes to the type of your blood, all of these traits have been inherited. This also applies to your body type. The term Ectomorph is used to describe a person who genetically has a hard time gaining weight or building muscle. Are you doomed by your genes to never accomplish the physique you want?

Despite your genetic destiny, it is possible to break past these limitations but you must be dedicated. Let’s review how it’s possible to overcome your genes in order to build a muscular body.

Eating for Muscle

Nutrition makes up 70% of the results you see. Therefore, in order to build muscle, you will need to start eating a caloric surplus. Most importantly, you must be consistent with your eating habits. With your naturally high metabolism, you need to stick to eating every 2 to 3 hours.

Protein (25% to 30% of energy intake)

  • Creates new lean muscle tissue.
  • Supports muscle repair.
  • Protects against protein degradation.
  • 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day

Carbohydrates (50% to 55% of energy intake)

  • Provide muscles with fuel.
  • Low Glycemic carbohydrates break down at a slower rate, helping to maintain energy.
  • 2 to 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight per day

Fat (15% to 20% of energy intake)

  • Provides muscles with fuel.
  • Supports the development of growth hormones, which are needed for muscle mass.
  • 0.5 to 0.6 grams of fats per pound of bodyweight per day

The Workout Variables (for beginners)

If you want to break past your genetic limitations then it is important that you start increasing the amount of weight you are lifting. Keep in mind that proper posture and technique is still the most important element of weight lifting. If you are new to the weight room, then the following type of program will be ideal for you:

Days per Week

  • 3 to 4 days per week

Sets and Repetitions

  • 2 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions (1)


  • 4 seconds lifting the weight
  • 2 seconds pausing at the top of the exercise
  • 1 second lowering the weight (1)


  • 50% to 70% of your one-repetition maximum (1)

Exercise selection

  • Focus on multi-joint, compound exercises such as:
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Bench press (1)

The Workout Variables (for advanced)

Days per Week

  • 5 to 6 days per week

Sets and Repetitions

  • 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions (1)


  • 2 seconds lifting the weight
  • 0 seconds pausing at the top of the exercise
  • 2 seconds lowering the weight (1)


  • 75% to 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1)

Exercise selection

  • 4 days of compound exercises (squat, bench press, deadlift, etc)
  • 1 to 2 days of isolation exercises (bicep curl, tricep extension, calf press, etc) (1)

Train your mind

Attitude is essential when overcoming genetics. If you don’t believe that you’re able to break your limitations then you won’t. Stop setting yourself up for failure. Believe that you will accomplish this goal. You may even need to enlist the help of a lifting partner for the gym. Do what you need to motivate yourself.


What you have is a blue print for breaking through your genetic limitations. Use it as a foundation to improve yourself and your body. Stay dedicated, get results, then move on to another program that will help you continue your progress. Gains may not come easy but they will come if you stay dedicated to yourself.


1. Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., Sutton, B.G. (2012). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.