Thursday, 17 January 2013

Hardgainer's Guide To Building Muscle And Gaining Weight

Hardgainer's Guide To Building Muscle And Gaining Weight


What Is A Hardgainer?

A hardgainer is someone who has difficulty building muscle. If you've been exercising regularly and eating properly and you're still not gaining muscle and weight, you might be a hardgainer.

Muscle Building Basics

Calories in vs calories out - To build muscle and weight you'll need a caloric surplus, which means you'll need to eat more than your body burns.

Protein - You'll find varying amounts that different people use, your protein consumption should be anywhere between 0.8 grams to 4 grams per kilogram of body weight. Protein can be consumed in the form of food like meat, eggs, beans or protein powders.

Carbohydrates - Carbohydrates are protein sparing which means your body will burn carbs before protein. Carbohydrates like rice, bread and potatoes give you energy which you'll need for your strenuous exercise sessions and to reach that caloric surplus.

Muscle stimulation - Muscle growth occurs when the muscles are stimulated. Stimulation in this case is in the form of exercise.

Workout intensity - The intensity of your workout is how strenuous it is. There are many different ways of increasing your workout intensity. Here are a few variations to increase your workout intensity:
  • Increasing the weight that is moved
  • Increasing the time it takes to lift a weight
  • Increasing the number of times a weight is lifted
  • Increasing the speed the weight is moved
Looking at these options shows you that no matter which method you use, there must be an increase in difficulty. Your workouts should always be progressing with the level of your physical fitness and should always be challenging.

Rest - It might seem counterproductive to have days off your exercise programme, but without rest, muscle growth will be hindered. A good exercise plan will always include days where you'll take a break from your workout. Sleep is also important, always have 8 to 10 hours of rest every night.

How Much Do You Exercise?

As a hardgainer you're already having problems keeping the calories that you eat, exercising too much will actually work against you. If you've been exercising 5 days or more a week, you might be exercising too much. I've found that exercising 3 to 4 times a week alternating between exercise days and days for active recovery to be the best for me.

How Intense Is Your Workout?

Workout intensity is very important for hardgainers, if you're exercising too hard, you may lose the precious calories that you need to gain weight and muscle, but if you're not exercising hard enough, you won't be challenging your muscles enough for them to grow.

Here's a simple way to gauge if your workout is challenging enough, if you can chat while exercising your workout isn't challenging enough.

If you're gasping for breath and you can't even say one word, your workout may be too strenuous. There is a place for workouts like these but they're not necessary if you're trying to gain weight and muscle.

How Much Do You Eat?

Eating enough calories is the foundation to gaining weight and building muscle, you'll have to have a minimum of 3 meals a day. A handy trick that I have that's really easy and inexpensive is to get an instant whole grain cereal that you can make in under a minute.

After eating as much whole food as you can, drink a mug of the instant whole grain cereal (4-5 tablespoons of instant cereal). If you have that mug of instant cereal after every meal, I'm pretty sure you'll see results fast. If squeezing that mug of cereal in after you're stuffed from your meal is uncomfortable, you can have the instant cereal in between your 3 proper meals. The additional calories from the instant cereal will help you maintain the caloric surplus you need to gain weight and muscle.

The more muscle and weight you gain, the more you'll have to eat to maintain the gains you've made, and you'll have to eat even more than that to continuously gain weight and muscle.

"With all the exercise you'll be doing, remember to stay hydrated!
Are you a hardgainer? We'd love to hear your experiences!" ~ Nick

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