You’ll agree with me when I say that most advice for hardgainers are worthless.
They say eat, we eat. They say lift, we lift. Nothing happens…
And to make matters worse; the world of fitness makes us skinny guys look like the worst thing that can happen to anyone.
Supplement companies love to take advantage of this, they can sell you guys virtually anything!
I’m sick of the hype and BS that everyone promises skinny guys.
I remember when I first started out, I was highly enthusiastic but I would have no idea what I was doing.
I would get so excited about my workouts because it simply helped me get one step closer to my destination.
I had times when I almost lost complete faith though.
When progress seem to have hit a wall, it would be too easy to get discouraged.
Look at all of the transformations in the magazines and on the internet, they shove it in our faces and most of them are plain photoshopped.
There were tons of sources to get information and workouts, it was hard because most of them were designed for professional bodybuilders (easily using steroids, whatever else).
There was nothing for specifically for hardgainers who weren’t on gear and I knew I could get jacked “naturally”.
So here we are.
I’m far past the beginner phase and I’m confident that I can help you reach where I am easily or even further! I won’t tell you what’s best because everyone is different, I will do my very best to build your foundation for success.
Let’s get on with the rules.
Stress is easily one of the major problems that people, especially hardgainers have.
We worry about our calories, workouts, sets, rest, post and pre workout. The list goes on.
And it stops us from going skinny to muscular.
I found that stress caused me to lose focus on what really works and what doesn’t.
The smallest things would be the biggest for me, like conflicts and confrontations.
And what kills muscle gains more than anything in this world?
Well it’s not bunny rabbits and pink pony’s.
It’s catabolism and it can happen from stress.
Stress causes cortisol levels to rise which isn’t good for your muscles.
For hardgainers, cortisol is easily one of our weaknesses as we overproduce them.
I find that being stressed takes away my ability to focus on my mind to muscle connection.
I’m not saying you should completely get rid of your stress. Stress is a part of our psychology and it will never completely go away.
We need stress.
In fact stress will help you make gains by focusing on it.
But the keyword here is being in control.
If you’re in control of your emotions, you will be able to channel that dirty emotion into pure rage to push through your toughest sets and reps.
Take out your stress on your workouts and you will forget completely what you were stressed about in the first place.
2. Lift Big
Bicep curls are nice.
I won’t lie, they always have been one of my favorite exercises.
They just feel crazy nice especially when you’re lifting something that is considered to be heavy by the average person.
But from my own personal experience, they won’t get you very far in terms of muscle gains.
In order to get bigger, you have got to perform bigger.
Note that I didn’t say go heavy, because you still want to be in control.
This doesn’t mean you should go out and grab a barbell and curl it until you whirl it.
Perform exercises that are considered to be “hardcore”.
Go for compound exercises, multi- joint movements like deadlifts, bench press, pull ups, squats, back rows, and so on.
Incorpoate isolation exercises but they shouldn’t be the meat of your routine.
But get the best out of both worlds, and take advantage of the big exercises.
Compound exercises engage more muscles than any other type of lift and it increases strength like crazy.
The stronger you get, the more you’ll be able to handle more poundage and you’ll be likely to have better form for all exercises.
Hardgainers have poor recovery abilities, don’t make it worse. Seriously don’t take your sleep for granted.
Sleep at least 6 hours.
In this perfect world, you might not be able to get a full night of rest, but keep in mind that a single bad night of not sleeping properly could decrease testosterone levels.
To make matters worse, you’ll be more susceptible to cortisol, the evil stress hormone we talked about earlier.
Working out has a systemic effect, it doesn’t only effect your muscles but your entire central nervous system
If you feel like you could use an extra day off, take advantage of it.
I’ve gone days where I felt like I could take an extra day off. I would come back stronger and no I wouldn’t lose any gains.
I would only do this when I really do know I need the rest. If you’re planning to do back exercises but your lower back is still sore from before, then it’s wise to give it time to heal.
Your muscle grows while you recover, not during your workouts.
I know, you eat lots, but can’t gain weight to save your own life.
You may be eating lots of food, but remember that not all foods are created equal.
Eggs are the best source of protein, so if you’re not consuming it, you’re missing out.
A pre workout meal is ideal as you want to be fully prepared for a workout.
Ideally you should be having eggs, oatmeal and some fruit a few hours beforehand, but you can get away with something simple like a handful of almonds, and some fruit an hour or two before if you like.
Your stomach shouldn’t feel full before working out.
Having some food in your stomach will only make you sloppy and weaker during your workout.
This all comes down to the individual, but generally fats and protein take much longer to digest than carbs.
A meal like eggs and oatmeal needs at least 3 hours before I workout.
Don’t worry about eating for 2-3 hours or whatever you’ve heard. It just matters that you meet the requirements of your body for the entire day.
Frequency does not matter.
Show me a study that proves me wrong.
You should eat more calorie densed foods as you want to aim to gain muscle, not lose it.
Don’t overload on calories or you’ll get more fat. Duh!
I’ve been through the “See-food” diet, and it wasn’t pretty.
I didn’t get jacked, I got bloated.
Who wants to be seen as a bloated skinny dude? No, thank you!
Facebook isn’t going to make you any gains during workout.
So get off your phone.
Use your phone for music, but turn off the notifications.
This is your time and your gains. You have all the time in the world to check your phone after your workout.
Use every last drip of your focus and energy into your workouts, even while you rest between sets.
So checking out the chicks nearby won’t get you very far. And wondering what you’ll have for dinner later on isn’t going to help you get any closer to benching 225 for reps.
You should be visualizing between sets.
See that progress and demand that muscle to grow.
Own your body and just do it for that 45 to an hour you spend in the gym.
6. Get Stronger
You’re not very strong as with most of self-proclaimed hardgainers so strength training will do you wonders for gaining muscle.
In a nutshell, training for strength requires low reps, and full out force. Bodybuilding is more about weight training rather than lifting and is traditionally filled with sets of 6 to 12.
Incorporate a compound exercise while keeping the reps between 3 and 6. As you get stronger, drop the rep range but only after you get stronger. You should first perfect the form with a higher rep range.
Plus, you’ll be able to keep making progress by incorporating strength training because it’ll keep things fresh!
You don’t want to keep doing the same style of training or your body will not respond to growth.
I found myself making all kinds of gains after mixing in strength training.
If I didn’t, I don’t think I would be nearly as big as I am today.
Body is made up of 70% water, and muscles are mostly water.
Dehydrate yourself and you’re going throw yourself in a mess you don’t want to be in.
A slight decrease in hydration can result in a 10% loss in mental and physical abilities.
That’s huge! And NOT good news for you skinny guys.
You want to stay hydrated throughout the day, during your workout, and at most of the time.
Carry a water bottle everywhere and use it.
If you’re anything like how I was, I would always drink pop and all kinds of sugary drinks before I got serious into bodybuilding.
I found water to be so boring and tasteless.
I just wouldn’t be able to drink it all day.
So I slowly built up the habit of drinking water.
It didn’t happen overnight.
I would drink it whenever I could, but I wouldn’t overly obsess over it.
Overtime I would slowly crave it over anything else.
It became something that I had to have and now I notice how bad my performance can be if I don’t try to stay hydrated.
You’ve heard it before. But I’ll be the millionth person to tell you this..
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Like building a house, you should know what you’re going to do next.
Walk into a construction site without a plan, let’s see how much you get done without a plan.
When you walk in the gym with a plan, you won’t be lost. You will be able to visualize ahead of time and you’ll know EXACTLY what you should do.
Writing this stuff down helps a lot as you’ll know what you’ve done and what works.
You may not like having a “Diary” type thing, but at least know what you’re going to do for the next 4 weeks.
Keep it simple.
I’ve made the mistake of going to the gym without a plan.
I kept changing my mind on what exercises I should be doing.
I should have been going through my workout in my head, but since I didn’t know what I was going to do, I was lost until the very last minute!
Don’t fall for the same trap.
Do it now!
The beginning days of your hardgaining times will be memorable, but you won’t remember the details like the numbers of your lifts, you’ll know how far you went and came from.
I don’t even remember what I had for lunch yesterday; let alone what exactly I did for my workout last week.
It won’t work well for anyone that doesn’t know what they’ve been doing for the past few weeks! I have random journals all over the place.
I regret not having one in the beginning days of starting out. I do remember what I did wrong and what I did right, but I don’t remember the details.
This is also a better way to reduce risk of injury.
If you’ve been hurting from a specific exercise, you’ll write it down to remember it.
And if you ever hire a coach or a trainer, he’ll probably ask what you’ve been doing and a journal could tell them EXACTLY what you’re doing right and/or wrong.
Everything in life is a learning process, especially muscle building.
The human body is a sopihicasciated machine that is always surprising us.
Don’t stop learning.
As a hardgainer, you’ll be stubborn at gaining muscle, but you shouldn’t be stubborn at learning new things.
Take note of the history of bodybuilding and see what’s been working for decades rather than the trends and fad’s that tend to disappear after a while.
We all have some level of creatine in our msucles.
It’s the ATP energy that we use when we are lifting weights or performing high bursts of any activity. “…a compound formed in protein metabolism and present in much living tissue.
It is involved in the supply of energy for muscular contraction.” – Oxford Dictionaries It’s a combination of 3 amino acids: L-argiine, glycine, and L-methionine.
This is definitely one of the BEST supplements that hardgainers need to use.
It’s not going to you’re your muscles grow without training, but it will provide the best energy that your muscles could ever use.
Unless you’re one of those who don’t respond to creatine because you either eat red meat or you’re blessed with high creatine levels or you just don’t respond to it, you must look into investing some.
It’ll help you workout harder and better.
Remember though, like all supplements, it’s only a supplement, not a super power horsed must have for bodybuilders.
Motivation comes and goes.
It isn’t easy staying motivated, which is why you need to stay consistent with your workouts.
But it won’t work without making it a habit.
Make it a habit to go to the gym and lift the living crap out of it.
Build it into you so much that you don’t feel like yourself if you don’t workout.
It’s just like your cup of coffee, you can’t go on without it.
The first 30 days of working out is the hardest.
That’s why the gym is so packed in January, after they make their resolutions for new years, and empties by the end of the month.
Make it a habit to exercise.
Find a way to force yourself to work out for the next 30 days or so.
Find a buddy if you must.
I prefer to work out on my own, so when I was going, I was going no matter what or who.
Habit leads to great consistency and consistency leads to results.
Bro advice is inevitable.
You’re going to get told what to do because you seem like the perfect target for advice.
You’re a hardgainer and everyone likes to tell you what you can and can’t do.
Question everything; Don’t just do something because someone bigger told you to do it.
It doesn’t make sense.
You should value your time.
You definitely want to see progress.
Sometimes you just won’t find a straight answer, so experiment.
Try something for 30 days or so and see where it gets you.
Write it down in your journal so you don’t forget and make the same mistake of doing something that doesn’t work for you.
And just because someone wears a GNC uniform, doesn’t mean they are informed.
It means they are getting commission to push whatever products they are told to push.
I’ve received some of the worst information from GNC.
I was once told that regular creatine is useless, and that Cell-Tech was the way to go.
Well silly me, I didn’t know much at the time, but Cell-Tech was basically just creatine with sugar!
So even the people who seem to be an “authority” could be giving you the worst advice.
14. Minimize Workouts
You’re not Arnold Schwarznegger.
You’re not going to be able to workout for 6 hours UNLESS you’re truly genetically gifted.
Even with all the steroids in the world, 6 hours is a mighty long time to workout, that’s more like a marathon.
I don’t know how Arnold was successful working out for long hours!
45 minutes is all you need, especially as a hardgainer.
You’ve got average recovery abilities.
And you’ve got to keep in mind that workouts cause a systemic effect that drains not only from the muscles oyu’re working out, but from your entire body’s central nervous system.
Working out is not a marathon.
I once thought longer was better, more was superior.
But boy was I wrong.. I would work out for 2 hours and the day after, I would feel so drained.
I would need extra time to recover.
That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made.
You’ll want to see the 5 biggest mistakes you’ll make that stops you from gaining muscle.
Get in and get out.
15. Rest Between Sets
I know how it feels.
It’s exciting to get in the gym, destroy the world, and get out feeling like the hulk.
The pump, the energy, and the feeling, it was godly-like.
BUT the muscle gains were barely coming in.
I was so much ina hurry, that my workout was more like a circuit and I couldn’t recover enough to take advantage of my creatine levels.
Short bursts are like what sprinters do, they not only get shredded, but they are very muscular. Likethis picture that you’ve probably seen a million times already:
So my mistake was that I would take the shortest breaks, and it wouldn’t nearly be enough for my muscles to recover for the next set.
You may be taking 10 to 30 seconds to rest, but aim for at least 60 to 90 seconds.
If you’re doing squats, give yourself at least 90 seconds to recover.
Same with deadlifts and bench press (See how you can increase your bench press here)
See what you want, and know that you’ll get it.
“The body is very important, but the mind is more important than the body.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
No one gets any where without a vision.
You have to know what you’re aiming for and what you’re trying to achieve.
You can have the best program in the world, but without the vision, you just don’t have the passion to endure the intensity and difficulty of working out.
Don’t just go through the motions.
Use your emotions and BLAST through your workouts.
Remember your purpose and see what you want.
I would visualize every chance I had.
I would never go a day without seeing the body I wanted to have.
And as a hardgainer, it would be ultra-exciting knowing I could go for what I dreamt of.
Know what you’re going for and what you’re working out for.
17. Limit Cardio Sessions
Cardio is great for conditioning and fat loss, but you’re aiming for muscle gains so limit it.
I always found that weight training has a great effect on the cardiovascular system.
Even when I didn’t run for weeks, if I’ve been regularly lifting weights, I would find running across the field to be easy.
If you must do cardio, which I recommend you do, aim for at least one to two sessions a week.
It’ll help with the blood flow and recovery.
No need for 45 minute jogs though, try keeping it to 30 minutes or less.
Sprinting is superior for muscle growth and fat loss.
You should treat sprinting like a weight lifting workout. It demands energy and it will fatigue you much faster than regular jogging.
So if you do sprint, add it like an extra work out to the week
19. Leg Day
Don’t skip it.
For many months I would only workout my upper body, especially my arms and chest.
It was the only muscles that I could see and everyone could notice a guy with a big chest and arms.
But boy was I wrong….
A person with a fully balanced muscular body is much more noticeably than someone with a big chest and arms.
The legs are one of the biggest muscles in the body, the glutes come first.
The body won’t develop optimally if it has an imbalance or two.
The theory this is based on is called Neural inhibition.
According to it, the body inhibits optimal muscle growth in order to prevent further muscle imbalances.
This is only a theory but I personally have found it to be true.
Without a strong and thick back, I would not be able to bench as well as I do today.
Plus, glutes are a POWERFUL muscle.
Take advantage of your legs and don’t neglect any muscle especially those!
20. Supplements Are Not An Answer
They are nice and convenient, but are only supplements.
It’s easy to fall for the next best thing, throw some money on it and expect some amazing gains.
Not going to happen.
Supplements will never replace food, they are only meant to supplement your diet.
These days it’s hard to find a supplement that actually does what it claims.
In general, you should only be investing in the basics.
Anything that isn’t basic like fish oil, creatine, etc, might be a waste of money.
Creatine will always work, but something that claims to be the newest best thing might not.
In my opinion, pre workouts are an important supplement as they prepare the mental game.
My protein comes from food mostly so I don’t invest in the powders.
Plus I have the time to cook and prepare food.
21. It's A Lifestyle
You will never hear someone getting big ONLY from ONE program.
You will find that they continuously workout, maybe even long before the program they used.
While it’s important to design an optimal program, there is never the “best program ever”.
Everything works until it doesn’t.
There is always a summer coming up, do you only want to look good for one summer?
“Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” – Anonymous
Stay jacked, look for ways to keep things fresh and exciting, and stay consistent.
22. Fail And Succeed.
You will fall.
But it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter because you will need to fall.
If you want to try new things and keep pushing yourself to new limits, you’re going to need to fall and fail in order to come back stronger and bigger than ever before.
You need to dig deep and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Nothing comes easy, espcailyl muscle building.
You will not be hardgainer if you don’t want to be.
The key to success is to fail.
Keep experimenting with new things.
Don’t worry about standing out. You’re going to stand out no matter what as you want to stop being the average hardgainer, correct?
Try different rep ranges, sets, and exercises and see what you respond to.
Stick to a routine for at least 30 days before making any changes.
The reason why I stalled on progress sometimes is because I kept jumping from one thing to another thinking it was the next best shiny things.
Stick to the program, if you’re going to do something different, make sure it fits your plan and preference.
Take Home Message:
Building muscle is an ongoing process, not a quick overnight process.
Heck, if it was overnight, I would tell you! It took me at least 2 years before I was finally told “Oh wow, you’re getting bigger”.
That’s not when I made it, that’s when I knew I shouldn’t stop.
If I knew what I know now though it would have taken me way less time!
Because I had no idea what I was doing, it would have been dumb to just stop and give up after spending so many sessions in the gym.
You’re blessed as a hardgainer.
You have a small waist, narrow body that is just asking for bigger shoulders and back.
Remember though, everything works until it doesn’t.
Stay consistent and get support when you need it, you don’t want to waste time NOT working out!
Keep your workouts short.
Get in and get out.
I recommend that you check out the 5 hardgainer mistakes you must fix in order to gain muscle.