Hardgainer To Gainster

Gaining muscle is hard. How to gain muscle.

Gaining muscle is hard. How to gain muscle.

There are people out there that are described as hard gainers.  If you are one of them, you don’t have to accept that label.  You can build an impressive physique if you apply good work ethic, sound training protocols, and good nutrition.  You can be a “Gainster!”

Work Ethic

Work ethic is probably one of the first barriers you will have to overcome. Be aware that the amount of work required to build muscle mass is not truly depicted on the media and the fitness industry gives false hope and quick fixes.  The truth is it takes time and commitment to change your physique, which could span a minimum of one year.  Instill in yourself motivation and a desire to train 4-5 times per week.  Believe in the work you are doing.  Without total confidence in your training, results will not be realized.  

Sound Training Protocol

Building muscle mass is not simply being a “meat head”,  lifting heavy weights everyday mindlessly.  To gain quality muscle mass you must apply 3 physiological stresses:

  • Muscle Tension
  • Muscle Damage
  • Metabolic Stress

Muscle Tension

You want to gain muscle mass?  You need to lift some “Heavy Ass Weight.”  Stress your body with loads greater that what your body is adapted to.  You do this by progressively increasing weight over time.  The progressive change in load causes changes in the chemistry of your muscles, stimulating growth.  

Muscle Damage

You’ve got to produce muscle damage to grow.  This does not mean injure yourself. What this means is when you exercise, muscles are damaged at a cellular level.  This microscopic damage causes muscles fibers to fuse together and form new proteins.  Your muscles will adapt to overcome this damaging stress by becoming bigger and stronger.  

Metabolic Stress

Feel the burn!  That burning sensation you feel when you are exercising is metabolic stress.  Another indicator of metabolic stress is the “PUMP”, which is an increase of blood flow into the working muscles. During metabolic stress, lactic acid is produced in the working muscles.  Lactic acid by itself has been demonstrated to produce muscle growth.  

We know the three stressors needed to produce muscle growth. How does this look in application when designing your training program?  The table below breaks it down with examples of acceptable exercises and their respectable sets and repetitions.

Muscle Tension Muscle Damage Metabolic Stress
3-5 Sets of 2-8 Reps at 80-95% of your 1 rep max.  2-3 minutes rest between sets. 3-4 Sets of 10-15 Reps, using moderate weights. 45s-60s rest between sets. 3-4 Sets of 15-20 Reps, using light weights. 30s-45 seconds rest between sets.
Only Compound Exercises:

Squats

Deadlifts

Pullups

Bench Press

Dips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Compound and Isolating Exercises and are not limited to:
Compound ExercisesSquatsDeadlifts

Pull ups

Bench Press

Dips

Isolating Exercises:

Leg Extensions

Bicep Curls

Leg Curls

Shoulder Raises

Tricep Extensions

 

 

All Compound and Isolating Exercises and are not limited to:
Compound Exercises

Squats

Deadlifts

Pull ups

Bench Press

Dips

Isolating Exercises:

Leg Extensions

Bicep Curls

Leg Curls

Shoulder Raises

Tricep Extensions

 

 

Nutrition

Last but not least, you need excellent nutrition to build a rock solid body.   You can not build muscle mass without a surplus of calories.   Avoid consuming empty calories.  Consume foods that are rich in nutrients and create meals that have all the macros, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  The most important time to eat is before and after training.   Carbohydrates and fats are protein sparing.  This means your body will use carbohydrates and fats as its main source of energy during training, thus allowing proteins synthesis.  Protein synthesis is the building or muscle cells.  As mentioned in a  Meagan Hovendick’s previous article (Post-Workout Nutrition), post workout meals are most efficiently utilized by the body within 45 minutes after completing a workout.  

Conclusion

Do not be discouraged!  You can build a rock solid body.   As mentioned earlier, you will need good work ethic.  You might need to hire a trainer to help keep you accountable, so be it. You will need good training protocols. Do your research and believe in your program.  “A body without a mind is formless.”  Eat, Eat Eat, and Eat!  You can not grow without feeding your body the nutrients it needs. Protein is not the only thing your body needs to grow.  Make sure your meals are balanced and packed full of nutrients.  Take all these things into account and build your body.