4 Essential Mass Building Tips for The Hardgainer
How can a hardgainer build serious mass? It is possible, but it requires a much different approach than your typical lifter requires. Use these essential tips to start putting on real mass.
If you’re reading this then likely you’re a hardgainer and didn’t win the genetic lottery. Most guys don’t. The fact of the matter is that 90% will never be able to build awe-inspiring muscle. The lucky few who come out of the womb looking like Ray Lewis with wide shoulders, wide hips, thick bones and dense muscle are few and far between.
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Guys built like this can walk into the gym, look at the weights and grow. You unfortunately can not. The key to building muscle as a hardgainer is that you can’t eat and train like the Ray Lewises of the world.
However, if you follow the tips in this article you might just have a chance at tipping the scale in your favor.
4 Muscle Building Tips for Hardgainers
Hardgainer Tip #1. Understand Your Limitations
Like I stated above, most guys don’t have the genetic capacity to build crazy amounts of muscle without the use of “Performance Enhancing” drugs. It’s important to accept this at the beginning so that you won’t get disappointed with your results and quit.
As a hardgainer putting on 10 to 15 pounds of muscle is very attainable if you are disciplined; however, putting on 25-30 pounds and moving up to light heavyweight probably isn’t going to happen.
I’m not saying it won’t happen for you, because I know very little about your personal genetics, but I am saying that you typically shouldn’t expect those type of numbers without needles and shrunken testicles.
Hardgainer Tip #2. Avoid Isolation Exercises
Hardgainers can’t train like everyone else. Let me repeat that. YOU CAN NOT TRAIN LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Muscle magazines are full of mass building routines packed full of chest flys, lateral raises, leg extensions, etc. These programs are for the monsters on the juice and those looking simply to get into shape. They are not written with the hardgainer in mind.
If you want to pack on serious muscle you have to focus on stimulating as much muscle as possible on every rep. This means sticking to full body workouts like kettlebell workouts and avoid body part splits. It also means sticking to compound lifts like squats, leg presses, farmers carries, pull-ups, heavy presses, Olympic lifts, etc.
“Train more like a strongman, not like a figure model.”
If you train in a traditional gym, your hardgainer program might look something like this: Leg Presses, Pull-ups, Deadlifts, Push-ups, Compound Row, Dips, and overhead press. In an unconventional gym you might have double kettlebell squats, swings, clean and presses, etc.
Notice what’s missing? Curls, Calf Raises, Tricep Presses, Leg Curls, Lateral Raises, Chest Flys, etc. These are great for polishing the beach muscles, but they work a very small amount of muscle.
Hardgainer Tips #3. Slow Down
One of the greatest changes I ever made in my training was to switch from traditional reps to SUPER-SLOW reps. What do I mean by super-slow reps? A super-slow rep is one where you use a lighter weight and slowly move the weight through the range of motion. For example: 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down.
Using this type of rep scheme will keep your muscles under constant tension and cause an incredible amount of fatigue. The other thing about using super-slow reps is that your goal is to work for a set period of time, not a defined number of reps. Shoot for one continuous set for a minute to a minute and a half.
If you can go beyond that, the weight is too light. Do two sets of these on each lift and you’ll be amazed and just how much more trashed your muscles feel. For more information, I encourage you to look up Body by Science by Dr. Doug Mcguff on Youtube. He is one of the primary researchers who helped develop this type of training.
Hardgainer Tip #4. Avoid Crossfit, HIIT Workouts and Too Much Cardio
Now, before anyone shoots me let me clarify what I mean here. I’m not saying Crossfit is bad or anything like that. I’m just saying that high intensity programs like these are kryptonite to the hardgainer. Doing Crossfit type METCONS simply burns too many calories. The same goes for long distance cardio.
I can’t tell you how many guys I know say they want to put on muscle and strength and think they can train for a marathon or triathlon at the same time. Those two things simply do not go together.
Hardgainers naturally tend to have higher metabolic rates and have the unique problem of eating enough simply to maintain their natural weight. Mesomorphic and Endomorphic body types have slower metabolisms and usually put weight on easily.
HIIT workouts and Crossfit are excellent programs for those type of people because it helps burn the extra calories they are storing as fat. Hardgainers on the other hand need those calories and want to avoid burning them.
As a hardgainer, the occasional set of sprints will usually provide an adequate amount of cardio without sacrificing too many precious calories. The other thing is that if you use the super-slow rep system described above, you really won’t need to do any extra cardio.
The continuous nature of using super-slow reps causes a significant spike in heart rate and forces your body to move large amounts of blood in order to saturate the muscles with oxygen. Try it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Incorporate these hardgainer tips and you’ll be on your way to being bigger in no time.
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