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Hard Gainer Defined

A "Hardgainer" is the description given to people who struggle to gain both muscle and mass.  Dr. William H. Sheldon, trained in psychology and medicine, in the 1940s developed a theory which states that human bodies are divided into three main somatotypes; the ectomorph, the endomorph and the mesomorph. The ectomorph is a naturally slim person who has trouble gaining weight, either in the form of muscle or fat. The endomorph struggles to keep their weight down, while the blessed mesomorph gains muscle quickly provided they adhere to a good training program and diet. Struggling month after month to gain muscle can be frustraing. In response, many Hardgainers frequently change their training programme when they fail to see any progress. This in turn leads to staggered training and further failure. The good news is Hardgainers can build both muscle and mass, all that is required is a different approach to training and diet.

Tips For Hardgainers

  • In terms of diet, while most people will get results by adhering to a diet which consists 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. In tems of carbohydrates, the Hardgainer will also benefit from taking in as much as 24 calories per pound of total body weight, rather than the typical 12. In order to maintain such high energy intake, it is important to choose non bulky, less fibrous items to ensure that you are not full before getting the calories you need.

  • Compound (or multi-joint) exercises are what you need to focus on as a Hardgainer. Exercises like the military press are ideal because it works a number of muscles all at once. The squat and deadlift are also popular compound exercises (Check our workout section to find more examples). Lifting close to maximum weight is also important as the stress will cause slight muscle tears which repair to form new muscle. Hardgainers should also aim to complete a full-body work out each time they go to the gym instead of focusing only on one part. Giving your body time to recover is also important and over-training should be avoided. Aim to stick to a workout program for 6-8 weeks rather than switching frequently.

  • Even the best Olympians take time to relax. Don’t just focus on taking time off – take time out to do things you enjoy. Consider activities such as massage and acupuncture as these can actually help you grow faster. Even try different types of massage, you may even discover one that could become your favourite type.

  • Think positive and plan a structured training and eating programme to help you achieve your aims. Chances are, that if you take a methodological approach, and take time out to relax outside of training, you will make progress beyond what you had ever considered possible.

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