If you are a skinny guy, bulking up might seem like the twelfth of never: impossible. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way- hard gainers can pack on slabs of muscle too. To do that, they should follow a workout routine and diet that is intended for efficiency gains.
Are you ready to bid your days of being known as the “skinny guy?” If so, let’s dive in. But first, let’s debunk lay ground rules for great results.
Hardgainer/ Skinny Guy Muscle Gaining Rules
1. Never use “hardgainer” as an excuse
You can build your dream physique even if your muscle gain genetics are somewhat worse than others. You need to be patient at first because the results take time to show. Once you start seeing results, your body will adapt to muscle gain, and you will have an easy time building bulk.
2. Work out frequently but for shorter periods
You do not have to spend two hours in the gym every day. It’s possible to gain muscle by merely lifting weights once or twice a week. However, if you wish to maximize your muscle gains, you should work out at least five days a week. The sessions should be short and intense, which means that you should split them up by day. That way, you will not be neglecting or overworking any muscle group. Day one could be abs; you can do back muscles on day two, shoulders on day three, legs for day four and the upper body on day four.
3. Make sure you eat enough calories
Some guys complain about gaining weight yet they do not eat enough food. Do not eat blindly without calculating your calories. As a beginner, this is one mistake that could make take you far from your body goals than you ever imagined. If you fail to eat more calories than you need to keep up your current weight, you will lower your ability to gain muscle. This doesn’t mean you go overboard as you can only obtain a certain amount of flesh at a time.
4. Do not neglect carbs
Most people emphasize protein when they are bodybuilding to the extent that they forget the importance of carbohydrates. Although a large part of the muscles is made of protein, carbs are essential in giving you the energy you require to work out.
As a hardgainer who is looking to build bulk, eating enough carbohydrates will ensure that protein in the muscles is not broken down to provide the much-required energy. The carbs that you partake should be complex and not simple like sugar. Brown rice is an example of an ideal source of complex carbohydrate that can help hardgainers to build bulk.
5. SARM supplements
Although still in research and test phase, it’s known that selective androgen receptor modulators or SARMs are one of the most effective supplements for gaining muscle mass. They bind to the androgen receptor that is the primary position of action of the testosterone hormone. The RAD140 and the SR9009 are some of the best SARMs in the market.
6. Bring the intensity
Hargainers should go hard on their workouts. You will benefit more by following a strength routine. Working sets should be performed consecutively with short breaks. For instance, you can do three or four sets and then rest for three minutes. When you are done working out, and you feel like taking another set of reps, it’s time to increase your load.
7. Focus on compound lifts
As a hardgainer, you should make your workout routine taxing. Practice exercises that can stimulate the maximum breakdown of muscle tissue and that can engage most of the muscle groups. If you work on light activities like sticking to machines only or doing bodyweight exercises only, it will not help you to build significant muscle strength and mass.
If you are not used to working out, it is advisable to start with light weights and simple exercises. However, you will have to hit the compound exercises eventually if you want to transform from the skinny guy to the bulky superhero. Nothing will pack as much muscle mass to your frame than heavy lifts like deadlifts, bench presses, pull-ups, barbell rows, and squats.
8. Don’t be cardio crazy
If you are a skinny guy, you have a high metabolism. This means that you should not do too many aerobic exercises such as going for long runs, jogs or rides because they are not helping your case. You are already having a hard time consuming the necessary calories to be in a calorific surplus that ensures success in your hardgainer workout. Beginners have a hard time gaining calorific excess especially because they are not used to eating so much before. Therefore, including unnecessary exercise will only make your bulking desires harder to achieve.
However, cardio is vital for general health, so keep some cardio activities in your daily workout routine, but to a minimum. Don’t take cardio exercises if you are serious about gaining weight. Make sure you consume the recommended number of calories to provide the necessary energy required to train.
9. Go light on isolation exercises
Too many biceps curls are not the answer when your primary goal is to gain mass. You can do the isolation exercises also, but they should only be a supplement to compound moves and not the primary tasks. Isolation moves are those that move one joint or joints in one direction.
10. Hardgainers should consider training less
While this might seem contradictory now that you aim at building mass, skinny guys should lift less than others. Going to the gym seven days a week will not do much favor to your bodybuilding escapade. While you need to train as heavy and hard as you can, with regards to training frequency, a typical hardgainer workout routine should include a lot of rest time to enable recovery. After all, this is the only way to grow. Muscle gains do not happen when you are working out; you gain bulk when you are resting, eating and sleeping. Going at it too hard without allowing your body sufficient time to rest will only take you further from your bulk building goals.
11. Believe that you can get big
Even if you were born skinny, know that it’s possible to change the situation. As long as you are willing to invest your time, energy and effort into bulk building, it’s going to happen. So, do not allow anybody or anything to deter you from getting the physique of your dreams.
12. Be patient
That body you desire so much will not come overnight. It’s going to take a while, and your patience is all you need to get there. If you want to see results immediately, it will not happen, and you are likely to get frustrated and give up eventually. Once your body gets used to attaching muscles on the skeleton, you will build bulk very fast.
The Eight-Week Hardgainer’s Transformation Plan
Practice every pair of the exercises as a superset. After doing one set of the training, rest for the indicated time and then move to the second set. Rest if noted and then repeat the sets. Keep doing this until you complete all the sets. Take rests between workouts and plan to do at least three training sessions in a week.
A1. Barbell back squat – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Place your feet further than shoulder width. The wide stance will enable you to do deep squats and involve your hamstrings and glutes.
- Position the weights across your upper back and hold it with your hands. Avoid placing it on your neck. Hold it in your traps to involve the upper back muscles.
- Squat slowly while holding the weight bar and with your back straight and head up. Go low until your hips are in line with your legs at 90 degrees. You should take deep squats, but make sure you have the flexibility and strength that’s required. Push your heels on the floor and push yourself back up.
A2. Chin up – As many reps as you can
Rest for a minute between the exercises and 90 seconds after completing a set
- Hold the pull-bar in your palms. The grip should be narrower than shoulder width
- Pull yourself upwards until your head is above the bar
- Slowly lower back to the starting position
Dumbbell bench press – 2 sets of 8 reps
- Lie flat on a bench while holding two dumbbells over your chest
- Push up until your hands are straight and then lower under control
- Dropping the dumbbells will stress on your rotator cuff. Place them on your thighs and kick to place your body upright and then put them down.
Dumbbell single arm row – 3 sets of 10 reps for each arm
Rest only when needed and take a 120-seconds break after completing the superset
- Position your right hand on a flat bench
- Position your right knee on the seat and place your left leg out to the side
- Grab a dumbbell from the floor using the free hand and lift it up to your side until your upper hand is in line with the floor
Barbell straight-leg deadlift – 3 sets of 12 reps
- Hold the weights in front of your body while bending your knees
- Lower the barbell to your ankles by going past your waist and keeping your back straight. You can then return to the initial point
Cable core rotation – 3 sets of 10 reps for each side
Rest when needed and break for 120 seconds when you complete the superset
- Hold a cable with both arms to the right side, such that your left hand is straight and stretched across the body
- Move your arms only as you pull the cable to the opposite side until your right hand is straight
- Put the cable to the starting position and repeat.
Dumbbell farmer’s walk – 3 sets of 40-yard walk
- Carry two dumbbells in your hands
- Walk in short, quick steps. Go for 40 yards and as fast as you can
A1. Bench press – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Lie back on a straight bench while holding a barbell above your chest
- Position yourself well by lifting your hips to create pressure on your upper back. Maintain the pressure as you lower your hips
- Place your feet on the floor to contact your glutes and quads. Press your shoulders together to shorten the weight’s path of travel. When you do this, you will increase the neural drive to your triceps, delts, and chest
- Lift the bar from the rack and place it over your chest with your hands fully extended
- Now, hold the bar as hard as you can and try breaking it in half. This will create a tension that will turn your upper arm externally, which places the shoulder in its strongest position. It also ensures you focus the effort on your chest and lat muscles to remove the pressure off your joints.
- Breathe in and lower the bar gradually until it glides on the middle of your chest
- Focus on activating your chest muscles and thrust the bar back upwards as you breathe out. This is one rep.
A2. Chin up – 2 sets of as many reps as possible
Rest for a minute between the reps. Take a 90-second break after completing a superset
- Lie back on a flat bench as you hold a barbell above your chest with an overhand grip
- Breathe in and lift the bar gradually until it glides at the middle of your chest
- Thrust the bar upwards as you breathe out explosively
Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Place your feet slightly wider than your shoulder width, while placing the barbell in front of you. Bend at the knees to lift the bar from the floor with an overhand grip.
- Straighten your legs slightly to place tension on the bar. With your head upwards and back straightened, tighten your shoulder and squeeze your glutes. Pull in your lower abs and stand
- The bar should remain near your body during the entire exercise and in close contact with your thighs when you are standing. Keep tension in your core muscles as you are lowering the bar to the ground. This does not have to follow a particular pattern, but ensure safety.
Sniff the floor press-up – 3 sets of 8 reps
Rest when needed and take a break of 120 seconds after completing the superset
- Lie down with your hands and feet resting on the floor
- Lift your hips and backside to form a V-shape
- Move your head towards the ground and shift your weight forward
- Keep moving your body weight forward until your chest is above your hands
- Push up and back into the initial V pose
Dumbbell goblet squat – sets of 12 reps
- Stand with your legs placed wider than your shoulder width. Grip a dumbbell in both hands and parallel to your thighs
- Push your backside out while bending your knees, and lower yourself into a squat until the dumbbell reaches the floor
- Go back up and repeat the set
Barbell bent-over row – 3 sets of 6 reps
- Hold for two seconds between sets and rest only when necessary. Take a 120-seconds break after winding up the superset
- Pick a barbell with an overhand grip and hold it slightly wider than shoulder width apart
- Arch your legs a little and keep your back straight then bend your upper body forward until it is perpendicular to the floor.
- You can now pull the weight upwards into the lower part of the chest. Pause and return to the initial position.
Dumbbell lunge – 2 sets of 8 reps
Rest for a minute between every set
- Stand straight with dumbbells at your side and palms facing your body
- Dive forwards as far as your right leg can go. Bend your trailing knee such that it brushes the floor
- Using the heel of your right foot, push your upper body back to the initial position. Repeat this using the opposite leg
A1. – deadlift – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Place your legs wider than shoulder width and squat to lift a barbell with your both arms
- Keep your chest up as you pull your shoulders back and look straight ahead whole raising the bar
- Let your heels to carry the weight and ensure that the bar remains close to your body at all times
- Lift it to the thigh level, stop for a while and return to the initial position
A2. One arm T-bar row – 2 sets of 8 reps for each arm
Rest for a minute between the sets and take a 90-minute break once you complete the superset
- Place weight to one side of the barbell. Bend forward until your torso is in line with the floor. Keep your knees in a bent position
- Lift the bar with one arm and behind the plates. Pull it straight up with your elbow until the plates are in contact with your chest then press your back muscles
- Return to the first position and repeat the sets without allowing the plates to contact the floor
Barbell front squat – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell on your upper chest. You can either bear the weight across your arms or with your fingers with the wrists stretched out
- Make sure you do not bow your back, and instead push your hips backward and fold your knees to lower your back until your thighs are in line with the floor
- Push your heels into the ground to drive yourself back to the initial position
Single-leg hip thrust with shoulders on the bench – 3 sets of 10 reps for each leg
Rest when needed and take a 120-minute break after completing the superset
- Lie on the bench with your legs placed firmly on the ground at shoulder-width apart
- Hold the barbell above your hips while keeping your body straight
- Bend the knees somewhat and lower your hips towards the floor then return to the initial position
Close-grip bench press – 2 sets of 12 reps
- Lie on a flat bench while holding a barbell with an overhand grip
- From the initial position, breathe in and lower the bar gradually until it reaches the middle of your chest
- Push the bar back upwards to the initial position as you breathe out
- Use your chest muscles to bear the bar
Barbell bent row – 3 sets of 10 reps
Rest for 120 seconds after completing a superset
- Pick up the barbell, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
- Bend your legs and keep your back up straight
- Lean your upper body forward until it is at right angles to the floor
- From there you can lift the weight upwards into the low side of the chest
- Pause and return to the initial position
Weeks 2 to 8 plan
Week 2: Add a set to A1 and A2 exercises for all days
Week 3: Add a set to A1 and A2 exercises for all days
Week 4: Add a set to A1 and A2 exercises for all days
Week 5: Follow week’s one superset but use a heavier load for A1 and A2
Week 6: Same as week 2
Week 7: Same as week 3
Week 8: Same as week 4
That’s a wrap of everything you should do to gain weight as a hardgainer. There are three vital ingredients to having a great physique. First, practice the right workout, secondly, eat the proper nutrition and lastly be focused on your goal. If you can do these three things for at least six months, you will be amazed by the results.