A ‘hard gainer’ is typically somebody with an ectomorph type body who generally finds it hard to gain weight/muscle. The 5 tips below will help you break past that skinny phase and pack on some quality size!
- EAT MORE FOOD! Every time I have someone come to me and say they can’t gain weight I ask them to track their food intake for a week. 95% of the time they aren’t eating enough. The key to gaining weight is to be eating in a calorie surplus. Meaning you are taking in more calories than you are burning. My best advice is to track your food for a week and get a daily average, if you aren’t gaining weight then add more food for a week and repeat the process until you eventually find an intake of food that has you gaining weight as a steady rate (I’ve found 0.5kg per week to be optimal). Another thing I will say is become familiar with macronutrients and figure out what macro split works best for you. Also I have to mention, supplements. Supplements are there to supplement your diet. Stop wasting your money on products that promise to build muscle in a short period of time blah blah blah. If you aren’t eating right then supplements won’t do anything for you. In my experience creatine is the number 1 supplement that is proven to work and is cost efficient. Outside of that, most others are just a luxury.
- Focus on compound movements: Far too often I see people coming into the gym and spending 80% of their time performing isolation movements such as bicep curls or leg extensions and putting very little emphasis on the big lifts (Bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead presses, rows, chin ups). Start progressively overloading your big lifts in the way of more weight/reps/sets and leaving the isolation movements for the end of the workout and watch your body transform before you eyes. Compound movements utilise multiple muscle groups meaning you can push or pull more weight, which means more gains!
- Ditch the bodybuilding split! Unless you are an enhanced athlete (presuming you aren’t otherwise you wouldn’t have trouble gaining size lol) then the chances are you aren’t causing your muscle fibres enough stress for them to need a whole week to recover! The typical bodybuilding split where you train each muscle group once per week is not an optimal program for a natural athlete. Start stimulating your muscles multiple times per week and give them a reason to grow. An example of a split I’ve found to be effective is: Monday: Lower body Tuesday: Upper body push Wednesday: Upper body pull Thursday: Off Friday: Lower body Saturday: Upper body Sunday: Off
- Take your recovery seriously: Remember you don’t grow in the gym, you grow outside of it. This means you don’t have to be in the gym 24/7 trying to make gains. Get in, get your work done and then get out! The recovery process begins as soon as you finish your workout. Foam roll, stretch, hydrate, eat and most importantly SLEEP. Sleep is the best form of recovery so you should be aiming to get 6-8 hours per night if your lifestyle permits.
- Stick to one program: How many times have to started a new program and 2 weeks in you decide it’s time to try something else? Progress is made over an extended period of time, not 1-3 weeks. Find a program that will be suited to you and your lifestyle and give it at least 12 weeks before you assess whether it’s working or not. Then feel free to change it up but chopping and changing programs every 2-3 weeks will not lead to any long term gains. And in the end of the day progressive overload is what will lead to you making progress on your physique and building muscle/gaining weight.
Special mention: Consistency! Consistency with your nutrition, your training, your hydration, your sleep, your recovery.. It won’t happen over night but the accumulation of weeks, months, years of hard work and consistency is what will help you build the physique you’ve always dreamed of.
Time to make some gains!