Gaining muscle is hard as it is, but some guys are naturally skinny and can’t seem to gain any weight at all, no matter what they eat or how much they train. If you are one, then these tips are for you. You see, as a hardgainer you have a great metabolism that burns everything you put into your body but at the same time, your body has a low capacity for recovery. This means that you have to consume much more calories and you can’t train too hard before overtraining. So this brings us to tips that you can use in order to improve your workout performance and dieting to finally see some muscle gains.
Focus on Calorie Dense Food
As a hardgainer you have to eat much more to ensure there’s a surplus of calories in your body for muscle growth. You will not achieve this by eating a lot of low-calorie food like veggies and fruit (unless you keep stuffing yourself throughout the day). Eat more lean meat, whole eggs, rice, and other calorie-dense foods instead. As a general rule, you need at least 20 calories per pound of your body weight, 2 grams of carbs, 1 gram of protein, and 0.4 grams of healthy fats a day.
So if you can’t seem to gain a single pound, see if you can amp up your calorie intake, even if you don’t feel hungry. If you have a really hard time doing it, consider a shake of supplements.
Lift Heavier in Lower Rep Range
There are benefits to light and midweight training but as a hardgainer you should really focus on heavy lifting. The reason behind that is that you need to recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers as much as possible. These are the fibers that get activated during explosive power activities and are the biggest fibers of your muscles. By lifting heavy you also promote the increase in levels of muscle growth hormones. So pick up those heavy weights and make sure you can only do 6-8 reps in a set before failing.
Focus on the Form
You should lift heavy, but you should not lift too heavy. Too many guys think that by using weights that they can barely lift is going to result in better results. Far from it. Actually, by lifting too heavy you’re overloading your joints and other muscles trying to compensate while doing minimal work on the muscles you’re trying to work, to begin with. Choose lower weights but make sure you exercise correctly. As a hardgainer, you have to really aim for the perfect form and understand that lifting heavy doesn’t mean as big weights as possible but rather overloading the muscles correctly in a low rep range.
Prolong Your Rest
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, your body’s capacity for recovery is lower than that of easy gainers. That means you have to keep your workouts shorter and recovery longer. Spend no more than 30 minutes at the gym (but make it intense) and try to sleep at least 8 or 9 hours at night.
Focus on Compound Exercises
Isolation exercises are great to overload specific muscles but as a hardgainer you need to focus on covering as much ground as possible rather than pounding on one muscle. This relates to muscle recovery too, as it’s much easier to overtrain for you. So choose compound exercises over isolation moves to hit more muscles at a time.
Go Easy on Cardio
For hardgainers, 2-3 easy cardio sessions of 20-30 minutes per week are more than enough. Keep in mind that you have a monster of metabolism, and you need to keep that calorie surplus. So while you do need to keep your cardiovascular system healthy like everyone else, going too heavy on cardio exercising can work against you.
Don’t Care What Others Think
This one’s more about the mindset but it’s just as important. A gym is as much a social venue as a place to workout so it’s always full of people. And it’s natural to care about what others think about you. However, don’t let this work against you and ignore what others think. Don’t be inclined to kill more time than you need at the gym because you think you’ll seem like a wimp by leaving earlier.
Don’t pick up weights that you can’t lift in the correct form to show off. Don’t be afraid to use low weights if that’s what it takes to overload your muscles correctly. Focus on what matters, don’t fake it, be real. So there you have it, 7 tips to help you break the hardgainer spell. Use them and you will see that even the skinny guys can gain muscles if they put their mind to it.