Ah hardgainers, our favorite groups of whiners in the bodybuilding community. Rather than blame themselves for their inability to put on any muscle they attribute their lack of gains to genetics. While we aren’t about to say some guys don’t have it easier than others, the simple truth is that anyone can put on muscle if they follow the proper steps. If you are a hardgainer check out the article below to find out the real reasons that you aren’t getting bigger.
1 – You Aren’t Training
There’s a difference between working out and training. Most guys do the former, but if you want to get bigger you need to be training. Working out means going to the gym and doing some aerobic and/or anaerobic activity to get your heart rate up and burn some calories. While working out is definitely good for your health (and the average person needs way more of it) it’s not necessarily going to build muscle.
Training on the other hand involves doing specific exercises for a certain number of sets/reps in order to progressively overload the muscles. That means coming to the gym prepared, with a solid weight training program in place. It means tracking your progress on all your lifts and ensuring that you are constantly increasing the weight. Over time you should notice that you are getting much stronger on all your lifts. Guys who work out, on the other hand, make far less progress in terms of strength and in some cases their strength doesn’t go up at all.
A great way to visualize this is to look at a guy who does 15 minutes of abs exercises in a row, compared with another guy who does 3 sets of 10 reps of squats. The first guy is definitely burning lots of calories, but he isn’t necessarily building any muscle. The second guy, on the other hand, is training his leg muscles which will lead to muscle growth down the road.
The key to training is simple – you should be progressively overloading the muscles. There are a number of ways you can do this, such as increasing the number of reps, increasing the weight, shortening the rest period, performing each rep at a slower tempo, etc. Just because you can’t increase the weight each week doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to make it more challenging.
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2 – Get Off The Treadmill
Whenever we see a skinny guy running on the treadmill for half an hour we laugh. Unless the guy is training for a marathon or some other sport he’s really just wasting his time. If you are a hardgainer you are already probably razor thin, so you can keep the cardio sessions to a minimum. 3 cardio sessions lasting 20-30 minutes is plenty for maintaining your cardiovascular health. The rest of the time should be focused on lifting weights, eating the right foods and getting plenty of rest.
When you do cardio, try and keep it to days where you aren’t lifting weights. Doing cardio before lifting weights can tire you out and compromise your ability to overload the muscles properly. If performing cardio on off-days is not possible for you, do it on the opposite side of the day from your weight training. For example, if you lift weights in the morning, save your cardio for the evening.
3 – Your Diet Isn’t Strong Enough
When it comes to hardgainers, making sure you get enough calories – and protein in particularly – is crucial. Most guys simply don’t track the number of calories they consume and wonder why they aren’t growing. As you should know by now, in order to grow you need to be consuming a calorie surplus. If you aren’t growing, chances are you aren’t eating enough – it’s as simple as that.
Write down the calorie content of everything you eat. Tally up the calories each day and weigh yourself at the end of the week. If your weight stays the same for three weeks then you are eating at maintenance calories and need to consume more. If your weight goes up by 0.5-1 pounds then you know you are in the right range. As for protein, make sure you are getting at least your weight in grams of protein. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you should be consuming at least 150 grams per day. If you find it difficult to consume this much food we recommend making some protein shakes as liquid calories are easier to eat than whole foods.
4 – You Don’t Take a Testosterone Booster
A lot of hardgainers struggle to put on mass simply because their hormone levels are not ideal for bodybuilding. When it comes to putting on muscle men have a much easier time than women because we have far more testosterone in our bodies. However, not all men have the same t-levels – some guys have more, others less. As a result, guys with more favorable hormone levels tend to put on mass a lot easier than their low-t counterparts.
Obviously it sucks to put in a ton of hard work at the gym and make no gains due to something you perceive as being outside of your control. As it turns out, tons of new research is showing that there are ways we can naturally increase our testosterone production. These include lifting weights, eating a clean diet, getting plenty of sleep and taking a natural testosterone booster.
Natural testosterone boosters are becoming increasingly popular as more guys wake up to the benefits of these supplements. They use natural ingredients that individually boost testosterone production for men. However, by taking them all together you get a powerful synergistic effect that will ensure your t-levels are as high as they can be around the clock. Click here to check out our testosterone booster page. We break down the most important ingredients and even list out our favorite products currently on the market.
5 – Forget About Abs
We always find it funny when skinny guys obsess over abs. In a way it makes sense – if the rest of your body is so weak and frail obviously you want to preserve the one area that you have an advantage in. However, what these guys don’t realize is that they will simply look way better if they put on some muscle even if it means losing their six pack abs for a while.
In addition to having a more complete, desirable physique, more muscle will make it easier to burn fat. You’ve probably heard that muscle burns a lot of calories, so when you do add that crucial 10-15 pounds of muscle you will not only look better but you will have an easier time staying lean when you do decide to cut again. If you are serious about putting on muscle you need to stop worrying about your abs for a while.