Mass Training Program and Best Bulking Foods For Hardgainers

By Nader Qudimat
Last Updated October 14, 2019
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If there’s one thing that no one has enough of it's routines.

They are everywhere.

Do a quick search on workout plans and you’ll be bombarded with hundreds of millions of choices.

Men, women, skinny, fat…

With different physiques and preferences, customization is a must.

For skinny guys, it’s not as easy as picking a plan.

When you’re not gaining weight, it’s always because you’re eating way less than you need to.
 
If your diet is off, and you’re not supplying your body with enough nutrients, your program will not work, no matter what.
 
And that’s why I want to bring up my transformation…
 
How I Gained And Transformed After Struggling as a Skinny Guy
 
When I first started, all I wanted was to have more weight to my frame.
 
I was small, and being as skinny as I was, it was embarrassing because I had no strength or size.
 
I went to the gym, although I didn’t do any compound exercises in the beginning, I was showing up.
 
I committed and I was persistent.
 
After learning what really worked, which was not only to lift heavy but to focus on compound lifts and eat more, I gained quite a bit of size within a few months, much more than what I gained over the 1-2 years.
 
If I didn’t show up and stick to it, which I did, I would’ve surely failed.

How I Gained And Transformed After Struggling as a Skinny Guy

When I first started, all I wanted was to have more weight to my frame.

I was small, and being as skinny as I was, it was embarrassing because I had no strength or size.
 
I went to the gym, although I didn’t do any compound exercises in the beginning, I was showing up.
 
I committed and I was persistent.
 
After learning what really worked, which was not only to lift heavy but to focus on compound lifts and eat more, I gained quite a bit of size within a few months, much more than what I gained over the 1-2 years.
 
If I didn’t show up and stick to it, which I did, I would’ve surely failed.

Diet

No matter how heavy or hard you train, you don’t gain muscle without eating enough.

You’re probably saying “I already eat too much!”
 
You probably don’t if you struggle to gain weight.
 
While it’s true that the first few months of lifting won’t have much to show for, you should still see a big difference if you’re eating enough.
 
And you can’t just eat junk food to add up the calorie count.
 
The foods you consume need to have nutrients and they should be as close to natural as possible.
 
When you eat healthy, whole foods, you’re not only maximizing your progress but you’re also ensuring healthy hormone production, some of which are responsible for muscle building like testosterone.

The Best Bulking Foods

There’s never one type of food that makes up the bulk of your diet. 

Consume a mix of foods so you’re making the most out of what you’re eating.
 
The best foods are always made up of a variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
 
There’s a few characteristics that the best foods have:
 
  • Calorie rich
  • Stimulates muscle growth
  • Healthy
  • Body uses it for energy and not stored for fat

Here’s a list of foods to include in your diet:

  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Krill / Fish oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Nuts
  • Protein shakes
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Full fat yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Ground meat
  • Eggs
There’s much more but this should give you an idea of what to choose when you’re planning your diet.
 
And you shouldn’t avoid vegetables because they are full of fiber, you’ll need lots of it for digestion.
Click the image to see an compiled a list of the best 30+ foods you can consume for healthy muscle growth.

Warm Up

The first common mistake made is jumping right to the first exercise without a proper warm up.

And it’s worse if you’re lifting near your working sets.
 
A warm up is crucial, no matter what your training level is.
 
And the stronger you get, warm up typically take a little longer, especially if you live in a cold climate.
 
Generally you should break a sweat before touching a weight, or if it’s too cold to sweat, then you should feel warmer than usual.
 
A good warm up involves 5-10 minutes of very light cardio and 5-10 minutes of mobility.
 
It might look like this:
 
  • 5 minutes of elliptical at a moderate pace
  • 5 minutes of arm circles, leg swings, planks, bodyweight exercises and dynamic stretches.
If you tend to sit more than you walk, you’ll want to involve some hip opening stretches.
 
Once you’re warmed up, your breathing should be much deeper, and you’ll feel ready to stimulate (not annihilate) your muscles.

Training

Commonly people think the best exercises are the ones that directly stimulate a targeted muscle group.
 
While yes, that is a great way to activate certain muscle groups, that isn’t necessarily the best way to build on size.
 
It’s a good way to struggle for years to put on size.
 
Compound lifts are not only the best way to build strength and size but it’s also the most effective.
 
Start your first few months of training with strength training.
 
You won’t get bigger if you don’t have a solid foundation of strength.
 
The greatest bodybuilders always have impressive numbers on their compound lifts.
 
This doesn’t mean you should lift like a strength lifter for every workout.
 
But by being able to build on your compound lifts (deadlifts, bench press, pull ups, squats, etc) you’ll be able to lift heavier weights for isolation exercises.
 
If you maximize your physique and put on as much muscle as possible, use a mix of compound and isolation exercises.
 
Start with the hardest exercise (this is always a compound lift) then use the other half of your workout to finish off with isolation exercises.
 
For example if you bench press, your triceps will be worked but it’s usually not enough to maximize tricep development.
 
The best way to start with compound lifts is with a simple 5×5 program for 6-12 weeks or longer.
 
A 5×5 program means 5 sets of 5 reps of one compound lift.
 
By doing this, you would have one lift for your workout, say deadlifts, then you would do 5 sets of 5 reps.
 
Usually this is done for deadlifts, squats and bench press.
 
Start your first day with bench press, then take a day off, and perform squats, then another day off, then squats, then take 1-2 days off, and start over from bench press.

Push Pull Program

My personal favorite program is a push pull legs program.
 
No matter what level you get to, this program is so flexible and customizable that it never gets boring.
 
After you perform your warm up, do the following workout:
 
Day 1
 
Bench press (5 sets of 5-6 reps)
Overhead shoulder press (3 sets of 5-8 reps)
Reverse flies (3 sets of 15 reps)
Tricep pull downs (3 sets of 8-10 reps)
 
Day 2
 
Deadlifts (4 sets of 5-8 reps)
Pull ups (3 sets of 6-8 reps)
Dumbbell rows (3 sets of 6-8 reps)
Face pulls  (3 sets of 10-12 reps)
 
Day 3
 
Squats (or front squats) (3 sets of 5-8 reps)
Hanging leg raises (3 sets of 8 reps)
Bulgarian squats  (3 sets of 8 reps)
Dips (3 sets of 8 reps)
After training properly with compound lifts and using a push pull style program, this is what I've been able to achieve in a year.

Exercises

You can substitute the compound exercises for any other compound lift.
 
If you can’t bench press with a barbell, you can use dumbbells.
 
However, you should avoid doing compound lifts on machines like smith machines.
 
The problem with machines is that they make the lift easier by taking balance out of the equation.
 
If you can lift 100lbs on a smith machine, you’ll still struggle lifting less than that in free weights.
 
Dumbbells and barbells should be the priority of your workouts.

Sets

When you’re new to the gym, you want to spend time learning the form of every exercise.
 
It takes months, sometimes years to master form on any exercise.
 
Factors like mobility and lifting history can determine how long you’ll need to practice lifts.
 
That being said, your first set of any workout should be with the lightest weight possible.
 
Then add on 25% of your working weight.
 
So if you can bench press 100lbs, start with the barbell by itself, then use the barbell again as it weighs 44lbs which is more than enough.
 
After your first exercise, you’ll won’t need any warm up for the rest of the workout.

Reps

The first set should always be higher in reps, around 10-15.
 
After that, anywhere from 3-5 reps is more than enough until you reach your working sets.

Final Words

The best bulking programs are always ones that focus on compound lifts.
 
Isolation exercises have their place, and they should be mixed in as finishers, but compound lifts will provide the majority of your gains.
 
Your workouts should consist of compound lifts with isolation exercises being the lowest priority.
 
No one will make tremendous gains and progress with isolation exercises as much as they would with compound lifts. 

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