For those who have been hardgainers all of their lives, the gym can be a place of ultimate satisfaction and outright frustration all at the same time. A place of satisfaction because the metal you use can help you carve out a spectacular body, the body of your dreams.
However, the gym can also be a place of terrible anxiety and frustration if you have trained very hard for so many years and yet you are nowhere near your ideal physique.
This is why we are here to help you out and offer some valuable tips on how to overcome training mediocrity and step into greatness:
1. Go to the gym more often, but shorten your workouts
Training to get huge doesn’t mean you should be in the gym for 4 hours every day. Try limiting your training days to 3 or 4 and start training on a consistent basis and don’t skip the workouts. Three or four training days are enough to stimulate strength and muscle building.
However, if you think you are really up to the arduous task of achieving a great body, the training of four or five days weekly is the more optimal regimen since it will allow you to have a lot shorter and harder training sessions and get enough training volume per week for each of the bigger muscle groups.
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2. Make big compound movements your focus
Try to make big compound movements the focus of your workouts. You can add only one or you can add multiple. These movements stimulate multiple muscle groups at the same time, or ones using multiple joints, like deadlifts, presses or squats. Here is a sample abs and chest program:
– Do a warm up of 4 sets x 8-10 reps with 60% of your one rep max and rest one to two minutes between each set:
Incline Barbell Bench Press – 4 x 8 (warm up sets)
– Afterward, do 2-4 sets of 4-6 reps at 80% of your one rep max, resting 2 to 3 minutes between each set:
Incline Barbell Bench Press – 2 x 5 (at 80% of 1RM)
Barbell Bench Press – 2 x 6 (80% od 1 RM)
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 2 x 10 (70% 1RM)
– Afterward, do 2 circuits with 2 minutes of rest between each set:
Cable Crunches – 10-12 reps
Hanging Leg Raise – 10-12 reps
Air Bicycles – 15-20 seconds
3. Isolation exercises should be used only as assistance
Doing hundreds of curls are not what you are supposed to be doing if gaining lots of muscle mass is your goal.
They should be done, of course, however they should not take the place of big compound movements and should only aid you in correcting weak links so you become stronger in the compounds. Isolation exercises are those involving a single muscle group or use one joint only moving in one direction.
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4. You must train harder
Training intensely is the way to go and ectomorphs generally fair better on a routine involving fewer reps, which is what most strength training programs are based on.
Your main sets should be within the 3-5 rep range done with more than 80% of 1RM.
Rest intervals should be from three to five minutes, which may sound a lot, but remember this is strength training, not bodybuilding, so you will need to give your body ample time to recover.
When you get strong enough and you can do five reps easily and feel you can do more, then it is time to up the weight.
5. Reduce cardio a lot
Hardgainers which have struggled to put on weight all of their lives should not be too concerned about doing cardio. They seem to expend calories just by laying on the couch and doing nothing.
If you are already skinny and have lean muscle mass, but want to gain a lot of muscle mass and do it fast, you will want to avoid doing too much cardio. When you are in a muscle-building phase, the hardest cardio should be a simple walk or jog in the park.
6. Eat a lot more, you need more calories
The key thing here is that you must ensure that you eat more calories than you actually expend throughout the day. The caloric goal you should aim for is 15 to 17 calories per pound of bodyweight as a starting point, after which you are free to tweak it any way you want to see how the body will respond.
7. Put a priority on protein
The daily protein consumption goal is in the range of 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
That gets you at approximately 160-190 grams if you happen to weigh 160 lbs, which is pretty hard to ingest on a daily basis, especially for someone who is not used to eating big amounts of food.
If you want to succeed stuffing it in, you should opt for smaller meals throughout the day with protein being the biggest component. The best protein sources are chicken, fish, red meat, milk, yogurt etc. Here are the 10 highest protein foods.
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8. You should not ignore carbohydrates though
There are several reasons for this. First, they are a big calorie source and second they provide energy to our bodies, which is something we need to endure the intense training sessions.
Eating a diet that is low in carbs will drastically decrease physical and mental performance as well as how much muscle mass you can build. Every diet should be composed of 30-35% of protein, followed by healthy fats at 20%, which leaves the rest – 50-60% of daily calories from carbs.
Opt for complex carbs and avoid the white products like white rice, sugar, and flour and experience the carb’s full benefits.
9. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Have patience.
You shouldn’t think of your fitness journey as something that only needs to be done only for a few months. It is a lifelong dedication. Getting results takes time and you should remain disciplined and patient.
If you eat a healthy and balanced diet and following a good training program you will be able to see noticeable results pretty fast.
10. Know you can do it
Putting on muscle mass is a very logical and natural process. Everyone can do it. Some people get bigger a lot faster than others because they have good genetics, however the point is that everyone can gain a significant amount of muscle mass if they have a good plan and are consistent.