If you classify yourself as a hardgainer, this workout is for you. It’s main goal is to build muscle on your entire body, using only barbells, dumbbells and your bodyweight. This workout schedule lasts 14 weeks with three workouts per week, lasting 20 to 30 minutes each. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a gal, or if you’re a beginner or not, you can still use all the techniques described.
Anyway, everyone’s saying it these days – “I’m a hardgainer, I can’t put on muscle like other people” which is simply not true for most of the people saying that. Hardgainers do exist, but there are actual biological reasons they have a hard time gaining muscle, and one of them is the size of their bones. If you have smaller bones, you will have less muscle mass than if you were to have bigger bones. However, there is a thin line between a hardgainer and a no-gainer.
Most people who claim they are highgainers are no-gainers because you should at least be making some progress. If you haven’t done so, you are doing one out of two things wrong – you are either not eating right or you’re not training enough. I know what’s going through your mind – “I’m doing both of those things and I still can’t get any tangible results!”. Well, believe it or not, it’s the truth and as painful as it can be, it’s still the truth. If you’re a hardgainer, try this workout approach. It won’t cost you anything and it’s perfect for hardgainers. See if you don’t put on any muscle – I bet you will!
There are a few rules to this workout schedule. First, you have to stay consistent and stubborn – no skipping sessions! Second, keep to the previously formulated plan and add weight to the bars whenever the plan says you should. Third, make sure that you don’t have more than three 20-30 minute sessions of cardio per week. Note that this isn’t for people who have never trained before, even if beginners won’t have a hard time performing the exercises. You still need to know how to execute the exercises with good form so if you’re just starting right now, take a few weeks and learn about proper form – your body will thank you for it. Anyway, since you will be training three times a week, you will need to find a series of non-consecutive days to do it. You can either do Monday, Wednesday and Friday or you can do Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. You can even go crazy and add Sunday into the mix as well, somewhere, but make sure to always have a day’s rest before the next session.
Every exercise has its own demands in terms of sets, so you will attempt to do as many reps as possible before stopping and completing a set. You shouldn’t train to muscle failure, so whenever you feel like you won’t be able to do the next rep, just stop. Do a few warm up sets before you get started – don’t just dive into the heavy lifting, warm up and then train to stay healthy and uninjured. Also, every exercise has its own rep goal as well. This is the number of all the reps you want to do in those three sets. If the rep goal is 20, you shouldn’t do 20 reps per set – instead, you should do those 20 reps over three sets. When you are capable of achieving this rep goal, you will put on more weight when the next session comes. If you can, feel free to do more reps after achieving the rep goal of the given exercise. Here’s a list of all the exercises in this workout routine and their rep goals as well as weight changes.
- SQUATS have a rep goal of 25. When you can do 25 reps over the course of three sets, add 10 pounds to the barbell for the next session.
- DEADLIFTS have a rep goal of 15. When you can do 15 reps over the course of three sets, add 10 pounds to the barbell for the next session.
- BENCH PRESSES have a rep goal of 25. When you can achieve this, add five pounds to the bar.
- DUMBBELL ROWS have a rep goal of 25, and when you can achieve this, add five pounds to the bar.
- OVERHEAD PRESSES have a rep goal of 25, and when you can achieve this, add five pounds to the bar.
- BARBELL CURLS have a rep goal of 25, and when you can achieve this, add five pounds to the bar.
- BARBELL ROWS have a rep goal of 25, and when you can achieve this, add 10 pounds to the bar.
- DUMBBELL BENCH PRESSES have a rep goal of 25, and when you can achieve this, add five pounds to the bar.
- DUMBBELL CURLS have a rep goal of 25, and when you can achieve this, add five pounds to the bar.
- WEIGHTED SIT-UPS have a rep goal of 45. When you can get through 45 of them, add five pounds of weight. These are your regular sit ups, but you’re holding a dumbbell or a plat on your pecs.
- 20 REP SQUATS have a rep goal of – you guessed it – 20 reps. When you can do this, add 10 pounds to the bar for next time.
- CALF RAISES have a 45 rep goal. When you can do this over three sets, add 10 pounds of weight for next time. You can use whichever variation of calf raises you see fit. Just make sure your form is correct.
- SIDE BENDS have a rep goal of 30. When you can do those 30 over three sets, add 5 pounds of weight for next session.
Don’t swap any exercises! These are here for a reason, don’t make exceptions.
When you want to learn how much weight you should be lifting on your first time, estimate how much would it take to allow you to reach the rep goal, and then go for 70 to 80 percent of that number. This exercise regimen is hard and will require some adaptation, but don’t throw all the weight you can find on that bar yet – you will still need to get your eating habits up to par. Here is the complete workout schedule:
- 3 sets of squats, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of bench presses, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of dumbbell rows, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of barbell curls, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of weighted sit ups, 45 reps total.
- 3 sets of deadlifts, 15 reps total.
- 3 sets of overhead presses, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of dips, as many reps as you can do.
- 3 sets of barbell calf raises, 45 reps total.
- 3 sets of side bends, 30 reps total.
- 1 set of squats, 20 reps total.
- 3 sets of dumbbell bench presses, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of barbell rows, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of dumbbell curls, 25 reps total.
- 3 sets of weighted sit ups, 45 reps total.
Over the course of the next 90 days of this program, you have just one target to hit daily: 4000 calories or more. When you eat that many calories per day, coupled with the steep weight upping, your body will have no choice but to pack on as much muscle mass on your body as humanly possible. Training is important, but eating right is important as well. If you don’t have your diet in check, it doesn’t matter how much you work out – you won’t be able to put on any muscle or become stronger. I’ve seen a lot of self-proclaimed “hardgainers” not eating as much food as they need, and with them having incredibly quick metabolisms, their quests for more muscles mostly end up as failures. If you’re a hardgainer, you have to know how to eat a lot, but you have to train as well. If you don’t, eating a lot will just make you fat, and you don’t want that. If you’re really a highgainer like you claim to be, you won’t have any reason to get worried – your metabolism is probably supersonic so you shouldn’t gain much fat, if any. Instead, you’ll get bigger and stronger. If you’ve thought about skipping this part, don’t – the training routine is useless without eating right. Here’s how to get to 4000 calories per day.
- Eat 30 to 40 grams of protein every 150 to 180 minutes. You should be eating at least 180 grams of protein daily.
- 30 percent of all of your calories should come from fat. Keep an eye on this since it’s going to be impossible to achieve if you’re focusing on protein and carbs instead.
- You will need at least three servings of carbohydrates per day. These need to be quality carbs such as rice, whole grain cereal and bread, oatmeal and quinoa, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Since eating 4000 calories per day might be a pain in the neck, here are some high-calorie foods that will help you reach your desired number.
- Almonds. An ounce of them has a lot of healthy fats, calcium and 160 calories.
- Sour cream or cheese. Put it in your dinner – it has a lot of calories and can provide a flavor boost.
- Whole milk. A cup of it has 150 calories and has a lot of protein which you so desperately need, as well as vitamins and minerals. Sip it throughout the day.
- Butter or olive oil. Cook your meat in it, put it in your vegetables. It has a lot of fat and calories that you’re going to need.
- Weight gainer. These give you a lot of calories per serving and are a great to-go option for when you’re too busy to cook.
For those of you that can’t be bothered to make up your own, here’s a ready-to-go meal plan that will give your body 4300 calories.
Meal 1 – Breakfast
- 4 large eggs with a quarter-cup cheddar cheese.
- 12 ounces of whole milk.
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal.
- 1 large banana.
Total calories: 889
Meal 2 – Snack
- 8 ounces of whole milk with a scoop of whey protein powder.
- 3 ounces of Greek yogurt with 3 diced strawberries inside.
Total calories: 519
Meal 3 – Lunch
- A double cheeseburger.
- 12 ounces of whole milk.
- Spinach, cooked in butter or olive oil.
- Medium-sized baked sweet potato with butter.
Total calories: 1020
Meal 4 – Snack #2
- 8 ounces of whole milk with 1 scoop of whey protein powder.
- 1 ounce of dry roasted almonds.
- 1 large banana.
Total calories: 557
Meal 5 – Dinner
- 8 ounces of chicken with salsa topping.
- 2 ounces of sour cream.
- 1 ounce of shredded pepper jack cheese.
- Some peas and carrots cooked in a little butter.
- 1 cup of cooked rice.
Total calories: 915
Meal 6: Snack #3
- 8 ounces of whole milk with a scoop of casein protein powder.
- A handful of almonds.
Total calories: 400.