Have you ever felt that no matter what you do, you can’t seem to gain quality body weight, muscle size or even strength. What should you do? Well, the building blocks of your foundation that is your physique, are your nutrition, training, rest, supplementation and attitude. Take a good look at all these areas and see what you need to improve on. If you’re using the same training program and not getting results, its obvious you need to change it. If you’re not gaining any quality body weight, you are more than likely not eating enough of the right foods to make good gains.
First, start by getting a physical and a clean bill of health so that you know you are good to go as far as exercising. Once you have done that, take photos and measurements of your body. You will take photos and measurements once every 6 weeks. Always use the same room with the same lighting along with the same clothing and poses so you can compare with the previous information you have. This will be your guide to see how you’re doing. Many times, we don’t notice small changes but if we have photos and measurements to compare over the course of weeks, many times we can see the changes we are in fact making.
I have spoken with young men that think they are eating right but they are unable to gain weight. After speaking with them, it usually turns out that they are not eating right at all. For example, I had a young man who weighed 130 pounds at about 5’8″, who could not gain weight at all. I asked what he would eat in a day. His reply was a bowl of sugar pops for breakfast, some chips and a soda for a snack and for lunch he would have a burger and a soda and then for dinner he had a couple of pieces of pizza and a soda. Then I asked about his training program. He was training each muscle group three times a week, doing two hour workouts and training his muscles with fifteen sets per muscle group. It was easy to see his problem. He was overtraining big time and eating a very bad diet. Since then, we have changed his training program and eating plan and his body weight has improved to 144 pounds in only two months and his strength has also improved.
The first thing I notice with most hard gainers is that they pick up a muscle magazine and think if they should do the program that Mr. U.S.A. or Mr. Olympia is doing. If they just do those workouts, they think they will get big and look like that. Wrong! They will be overtraining big time. Many people do not realize what some athletes choose to do to enhance their physiques with illegal substances like anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, insulin and many other drugs. So remember, when you look at some athletes in magazines, their gains may not have been achieved just through hard training and smart nutrition. I personally do not believe in using any illegal substances and I choose to compete as a drug free athlete.
No matter what happens, do not get discouraged. I have been down your path as a hard gainer myself back in the early days. You can and will make good gains, it will just take some time. You will have to find what works best for your body and which exercises, sets and reps to use. I know when I started, I would have told people they were crazy if they had asked me if I thought I could be a world champion one day. You see at that time, I was just starting and I had no confidence or knowledge about how to train or how to eat. I had no specific goals. I just wanted to get rid of my scrawny body and I wanted to pack on some serious size.
If you have a hard time getting enough quality protein in your daily life, purchase a quality protein supplement. I would suggest a multi blend of proteins in one product with amino acids. Remember, supplements are just that, they are to supplement our eating not replace it. As a hard gainer, your nutrition is very important to pack on quality muscle. Eating 5 or 6 smaller meals through the day to give your body a continued amount of quality protein and carbohydrates will be essential in getting results. We are not talking a bag of chips and a soda either. Some suggestions would be a turkey breast sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce along with a glass of low-fat milk and piece of fruit. A second suggestion would be a protein drink and a banana. Third suggestion would be spaghetti and a salad. Fourth suggestion would be 12 ounces of baked cod, a baked potato and some mixed vegetables. Fifth suggestion would be an omelet with one whole egg and 4 egg whites with some vegetables and you can also add a bowl of oatmeal with that along with a piece of fruit. Sixth suggestion would be a lean 8 ounce steak, mashed potatoes, a vegetable and some low-fat milk. These are all healthy foods that will give you energy and quality protein.
We all need to learn what works for our body. We need to know the amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats to reach our goals if we want to gain muscle and pack on overall body weight. We are the ones in control and its simple to do with some hard work and discipline.
If you don’t have lots of time to make a meal, pick up a blender and a George Foreman grill. They will go a long way with helping make your life easier. You can prepare meals quickly and easily. Always have fresh fruit and vegetables on hand and quality drinking water to add to your meal
Remember to mix up your training program also. You have many options to choose from. Some consist of pyramiding sets which is loading more weight on the bar after a warm up. Start with 10 rep sets and then lower your reps and use heavier weights. An example would be 135 pounds on the bench press for 2 sets of 10 reps for a few warmup sets. Then, depending on your strength level, maybe take 50 pound jumps while lowering the reps and go for 185 pounds for 1 set of 8 reps, 235 pounds for 1 set of 5 reps and then 285 pounds for 3 sets of 3 reps.
You may also choose “super sets” to shock your muscles. To do this, you will pick two exercises that work the same muscle group and do them back to back without rest, which equals one total set. You may also choose to do “drop sets”. For example, choose the triceps press downs exercise with 14 plates then when you can’t do any more, you will lower the weight and do a second set. These are just a few examples of things you can do to mix things up. These training principles should not be done on a regular basis. Also, make sure you never sacrifice form to use heavier weight. Strict form is critical, not only for safety but for overall growth!
The bottom line is if you’re not making gains in muscular size or strength, take a serious look at your training, lifting form, nutrition, mindset and rest to see where to make adjustments.