Just because You’re a Hardgainer Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Gain Muscle!
In the fitness and bodybuilding field a “hardgainer” is what we call a person who has a hard time putting on muscle no matter how diligently he visits the gym. Six weeks of working out can produce no significant changes in muscle size other than some minor improvements in muscle tone.
To some extent (as adults anyway) most of us are “hardgainers” — which means that for the most part putting on muscle is not an easy endeavor for us. The easiest period in your life to put on muscle is right after puberty. Later in your life, gaining muscle becomes progressively harder for you due because hormonal production begins to decline between the ages of 25 and 30…
The hardgainer is an Ectomorphic Somatype
My definition of a hardgainer is the sort of naturally skinny person, who no matter what he or she eats always seem to remain right around the same body weight all their life. This is what Dr. William Sheldon referred to as being an “ectomorph” somatotype when he came up with his theory of genetic body-types in the 1940’s. Sheldon’s theory placed human bodies into three main somatotypes: the ectomorph, the endomorph and the mesomorph.
As mentioned, the ectomorphic body style is a naturally thin person who has trouble gaining weight — either in the form of muscle or fat. The endomorph on the other hand has just the opposite problem, it’s too EASY for this person to gain weight because they tend to store a lot of fat. And while endomorphs are potentially easy muscle gainers, provided they diet and train correctly, they are cursed with a slow metabolism which makes it imperative for them remain on a strict diet year round — especially if they desire to have any abdominal definition.
Now the mesomorph is the naturally muscular person, one who also has a higher metabolism than the endomorph. Mesomorphs make excellent bodybuilders as you would expect. For them, gains in muscle and reduction in body fat come rather easily provided they maintain a reasonable training and nutrition program. Life is certainly not fair.
Now having said this, is the hardgainer doomed to look the same way forever? Not at all. Basically, all the hardgainer has to do is modify the training and nutrition program to suit his/her unique metabolism. For instance, while most people will do best on a diet consisting of 40% carbohydrates, 40% proteins and 20% fats, the hardgainer will benefit most from a diet consisting of 50% carbs, 25 % proteins and 25% good fats.
While the meso-endomorph will do best on a caloric intake that equals their lean body mass times 12, the hardgainer is better served by taking in as much as 24 calories per pound of total bodyweight (as opposed to lean body mass). For example, if you are a hardgainer and weigh 150 lbs, your daily caloric intake should be around 3600 calories (150 x 24). Your total limit of carbohydrates per day will be on the order of 450 grams of carbs, your protein will be 225 grams and your fats will be 100 grams of GOOD fats per day.
You can take all of this in 6, 7 or even 8 meals. The key thing for a hardgainer to be successful is to minimize their caloric expenditures and maximize their caloric intake. This is necessary because the hardgainer’s metabolism is a furnace that burns calories at all times, and if not enough are supplied at one time or the other then muscle will be consumed by the body for energy purposes. This metabolic issue is what makes the person a hardgainer in the first place.
Recommended Hardgainer Training Program
Three to four sessions per week of periodized weight training, lasting for 60 minutes at the most, is all a hardgainer can get away with. Cardiovascular exercise should be limited to a couple of light walks on the days off lasting no more than 20 minutes. Remember that the hardgainer needs to limit caloric expenditure. Because of this, he or she needs to get in the gym, stimulate the muscles, and get out!
If you are a hardgainer it isn’t the end of your bodybuilding dreams. Determined hardgainers can attain their fitness goals through determination and by sticking with the type of balanced hard work that suits them. One of the benefits of being a hardgainer is that, because it’s so difficult for this person to acquire body fat, whatever muscle gains they DO make are highly visible because there is so little fat beneath the skin to ruin their definition!
If you are a hardgainer, plan your meals ahead of time, pack them in a cooler and ensure that you never run out of food. When in the gym, get in, and get out. If you follow this type of routine day in and day out… then get ready to grow!
Another important aspect of any guy’s training regimen has to do with maintaining his testosterone levels. Testosterone is the muscle building juice that your body needs to pack on the mass, hardgainer or not. Watch this short video about raising your testosterone by Sean as he explains how to improve your own supply of this important hormone without the need for any supplements. You’ll learn how to improve your testosterone levels using only natural food sources and by paying attention to a few other significant elements of your life.
Hugo Rivera, CFT – SPN – BSCE, is an internationally known best selling fitness author with a successful franchise of books called The Body Sculpting Bibles, which collectively have sold over a million copies. Hugo is author of the very popular Body Re-Engineering e-book: Lose fat and Gain Muscle Fast!, which teaches you how to steadily grow lean muscle mass without drugs or expensive supplements. Especially if you’re a hardgainer, you need to take a look at Bodybuilding Champion Hugo Rivera’s Body Re-Engeneering right here