Hardgainers have tough time gaining and maintaining muscle mass, and being one is a really frustrating thing. Common belief is that these people have very fast metabolisms and their body burns everything they eat, but the reality is a bit different. Very often a real reason for the inability to build muscle is the lack of food, overtraining or lack of rest. Below is a list of 8 things every hardgainer should read and try to implement if their goal is to build muscle.
1. Make Eating Your New Favorite Hobby
People new to bodybuilding and weight training always over emphasize what they do in the gym rather than what they put into their bodies. Proper nutrition and diet is the successful weight lifters secret weapon. In order to gain muscle and put on weight it’s necessary to make eating a habit rather than eating when you are hungry. It should be one of your main priorities now. Calories are your fuel and your body is the furnace, without the right amount of food you will simply not gain weight. Of course in a lot of people’s cases they have a relatively fast metabolism, which makes getting into the habit of eating large amounts of food throughout the day even more necessary.
Even if you are eating 3 high calorie meals every day, your body may still be burning through those calories like they are nothing. So instead, a hardgainer diet plan would be eating 5 to 6 meals per day all evenly spaced out to be around 2 to 3 hours apart. This provides your body constant fuel to build muscle with and also keeps that fast metabolism at bay as well.
2. A Hardgainer workout should be limited to an Hour Or Less
It’s important to limit the length of your workout to under an hour. Remember that focusing on maintaining a high level of intensity during your workout is more beneficial than simply lengthening the time of your workout but not giving full effort. There have been numerous studies conducted that reaffirm the fact that a person’s hormonal state starts to be negatively affected by performing strenuous activity for over an hour. Additionally, when trying to bulk and gain mass, it’s better to workout harder but not longer.
3. Supplements Are Not Your Savior
So many people get caught up in using the newest supplement, or amassing a huge collection that they rarely even use. A supplement is exactly that, just a supplement. It is not a magic pill or powder that will transform you into Arnold overnight. In fact, most of the supplements that are clearly intended for hardgainers simply add more water weight rather than muscle. After you stop using the supplement, of course all of that “muscle and weight” (aka water) goes away. The only supplement that is truly necessary for most people (who don’t eat ten pounds of steak a day) is protein powder after working out and possibly at other times in the day, some fish oil to increase the calories from healthy fats and some multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement.
4. You got to eat over-maintenance
Skinny guys all over the world, continually use the excuse of “oh well I eat so much all the time, and still cannot put on any weight/muscle.” The majority of people think they eat a lot over the course of a day, but in reality they do not. The fact of the matter is that unless you are counting calories for all of your meals and snacks, you do not know how much you are really eating. Regardless, if you are not gaining you are simply not eating enough!
Guys always turn to blaming their workout or strength for not putting on muscle, instead of looking at their diet which is the largest factor in any successful weight lifting regime. It’s important to note though that sometimes someone just may not be eating the right kinds of foods. In that case it helps to switch to foods that are more calorie-dense. But in the end, you need to consume more calories if you are not increasing in strength, size, or weight.
Another important point to make is that sometimes you will have to force yourself to finish that 5th or 6th meal of the day. Yes it may be uncomfortable, but attaining muscle mass is not easy. It takes hard work and dedication both within the gym and out of it.
5. Progression Should Be a Priority
As already stated above, your daily workouts should optimally clock in at under an hour. Beyond that though, another main focus of any successful weight lifter is progression. It's that simple - become stronger to become bigger. It’s such an easy concept to grasp yet so many people make the mistake of not fully understanding it. Instead of increasing the amount of weight lifted or alternating the number of reps, they focus on increasing the length of their workouts. As was said in regards to forcing one’s self to consume more calories than they are used to, pushing yourself in the gym will also be uncomfortable at times. (This does NOT mean excruciatingly painful. Nothing should feel that bad when lifting, if it does you should STOP and take a few days rest).
6. Alter Rep Range After 4 to 5 weeks
It’s recommended that you alter the rep range of specific exercises every three to four weeks. It’s important to do this because it helps to avoid the dreaded “plateau.” Changing how long and how hard your body works on an exercise essentially makes it adapt to the newer forms of stress which in return, help to build more muscle. This is much more preferred than listlessly adding sets upon sets to your particular routine.
7. Learn To Relax
Hardgainers and guys who naturally have less weight than others need to conserve all of the energy they may use throughout the course of a day. Fidgeting and moving around a lot actually burns calories and wastes energy. Cardio, while of course good for you, should really be limited when trying to pack on mass. You can still do some low intensity cardio every few days, but no intense cardio workouts for now. You need all of the energy you can preserve for the gym.
8. Eat Hardcore One Day A Week
Keep in mind that this is for hard gainers, guys who have a particularly hard time putting on any kind of weight let alone muscle. I recommend to try and go to a buffet at least once per week. If you can make it so you go right after an intense workout, even better. In addition to the extra calories, this also trains the body to become used to processing more food which subsequently increases one’s appetite. Be sure to use this strategy to your advantage.
9. Drink Your Calories
Because hard gainers have real issue with eating, I recommend drinking the calories. Instead eating your snacks - drink them. An option would be to make your own shakes using protein powder and other ingredients (peanut butter, milk, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, etc). But, its vital that you eat at least three full meals of whole foods per day, and not more than three mass gaining shakes.
If you use all of properly use all of these tips you should start gaining weight and putting on muscle in no time.