7 Hardgainer Muscle Building Secrets for Skinny guys to pack on Muscle Fast

Are you a hardgainer? An ectomorph? Then discover the best hardgainer muscle building training, nutrition and workout strategies to build muscle mass and get rid of your skinny body forever.

Hardgainers Unleash the Muscular guy Within!

We hardgainers have been called by a lot of names. From insulting ones like bones, skinny, lanky, scrawny, malnourished, to more scientific ones like ectomorphs, genetically challenged and hypertrophy challenged.

But in essence its all the same - Hardgainer is someone who finds it hard to gain weight.

If you are a hardgainer and find muscle gain difficult, then this might be the most important {and complete} article you will ever read. 

In this article you will discover the truth about hardgainers. You will:

  • discover the true definition of a hardgainer,
  • determine if you are a hardgainer & why you are one and
  • 7 hardgainer muscle building secrets

You already know my story. How I built 24 lbs of muscle mass in 15 short weeks after years of failure and went from a 98lb weakling to 175 pound solid muscle mass in 3 years.

Building on my experience and from other skinny guys who went on to build solid muscle mass, I will share 7 things every hardgainer should know before starting their muscle building journey.

So grab a cup of coffee and lets get started…You are about to learn a lot about yourself.

Inside this Article:

Who is a Hardgainer and how to determine if you are a hardgainer?

Who is a Hardgainer?

I am sure you have seen them. They joined gym at the same time you did but within few weeks they have bigger arms, legs and a muscular body to show off. They are the EASY-GAINERS.

But after weeks of blood, sweat and tears people still ask "Do you workout? Doesn't look like it"!

Now thats a hardgainer. Simply stated, 

"A hardgainer is someone who finds it HARD to GAIN muscle mass".

Hence the name. 

If tall, lanky or skinny describe you, then you are an ectomorph {body type}. And ectomorphs are a typical hardgainers and have a hard time gaining weight.

Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and endomorphs are the fatty muscular ones. {You can read the Body types primer here}.

Since I was a true ectomorph and found it extremely difficult to gain muscle mass, I know what it takes to pack on mass.
But before that a quick recap:

You are a hardgainer if you: 

  • Are tall and skinny, with narrow shoulders/hips - hardgainers usually have good height but little bulk
  • Have low levels of muscle mass - big bones, small muscle bellies, long tendons
  • Have very low body fat levels - bones like ribs, easily visible
  • Cannot put on weight no matter how much you eat and 
  • Are usually good at studies, introverted, very good at mental tasks and even good at athletics like running

In simpler words, you are skinny with metabolism of a Mercedes and cannot put on weight even if you eat all day long.

Related Article: How to Dump the Hardgainer Title

But why are you a hardgainer?
Is it Your fault?

Genes are the main cause for Hardgainer problem!

Being skinny is not your fault alone. You can blame your genetics, hormones, metabolism and environment for that. Although genetics play a big role, some environmental factors play a role too. I have covered them in the Why Are You Skinny article.

Hyperplasia {increase in muscle fiber number} occurs in infancy and poor nutrition, diseases, etc can affect muscle fiber number, hence muscle mass in growing up.

Apart from that, hardgainers may also have:

  • Suboptimal hormonal makeup {Low testosterone and High levels of T3 Thyroid hormone}
  • Physical challenges in building muscle as they have long tendons and small muscle bellies
  • Low exercise threshold
  • Muscle fibers built for endurance activities: hence e to morphs excel at sports like running 
  • Low appetite, especially for protein rich foods
  • High Myostatin {hormone that decides how much muscle mass you can have} levels

As you can see most of the factors are beyond your control. That is why there is a saying, "the best thing in bodybuilding  is to select the right parents". 

And that is beyond your control too. So let's concentrate on things you can do, shall we?

Do the above facts depress you. Don't be! I just wanted to highlight some challenges you will face along your journey and bring real enemy to your notice. Only if you know why you are skinny, you can overcome them and turn curse into blessing.

Does the above characteristics describe you? Then you are a typical hardgainer ectomorph and conventional bodybuilding methods will not work for you. They are aimed at already big professional bodybuilders on steroids who want to get bigger.

And such strategies will leave you thin, weak and frustrated without results and a hole in your pocket.

Trust me, thats not a great place to be!

Its time to find what works for you. Its time to discover the best muscle gain strategies that are specifically aimed at you - the typical hardgainer!

Ready? I bet you are...

1. No.1 Hardgainer Muscle Building Secret:
Weight Training is The Best Weight Gain Strategy

Weight Training combined with nutritious foods is the best weight gain strategy as it creates healthy muscle mass.

What is the best strategy to gain weight fast?

Being a skinny hardgainer can be depressing. I should know.
Most of us skinny guys will resort to anything to gain weight.

  • Eat like a horse? Check. 
  • Take supplements and weight gain powders? Check.
  • Steroids? no, not that far.

But sadly none of these work {except steroids but they come with boatload of side effects}.

Hardgainers can eat a ton of calories yet gain nothing. Blame it on our superfast metabolism.

At best these options make you chubby and at worst they make you fat, sick and anything but sexy and muscular!

So what is the best strategy?

The best way to gain weight is to gain muscle mass using resistance training exercises with free weights and eat nutrient and caloric rich foods that builds muscle.

There is nothing like lean, big muscles. Muscles give the sexy body you always dream of. Muscle is healthy, its a sign of fitness and your key to high energy body. And high energy people are very attractive. Ask any girl and she will tell you how contagious energy can be!

Your Training Options? 
Bodyweight training, kettlebell training or weight training with free weights like barbells and dumbbells.

All have their place in the muscle building toolbox but for fastest muscle gains I urge you to train with heavy barbells and dumbbells. I call them skeletal loading exercises for hardgainers.

You can use bodyweight exercises for beginner conditioning or while busy or travelling but for fastest results progressive resistance training with total body compound exercises should be your number one choice.

Thousands of hardgainers have build their dream muscular bodies using free weights and total body exercises. And now its your turn. 

So have you decided to give weight training a serious chance? Great, it time to plan your workout.

2. Hardgainer Workout Secret:
Create a 6 Month Hardgainer Workout Plan

Ok. You have decided to train with free weights. You can’t wait to pound those heavy dumbbells and barbells. Wait spartan!

Its time to answer a key question.

What is your goal? What does your dream body look like?

Are you looking to gain 20-25 lbs of solid muscle and completely change your physique or you are happy with a 5 pound weight gain?

I ask this because to change your physique dramatically you need a long term perspective. 

For a big turnaround I urge you to make a 6 month hardgainer workout plan and stick to it no matter what.

Why? For two reasons.
Reason One: Because it takes that long.

We hardgainers have it real hard. Our bodies resists change. Our metabolism is too fast to hold on weight. We can shed calories in a jiffy but weight gain is a different story.

It is very difficult for us to see weekly changes, no matter what the magazine or supplement companies promise. Take it from a ex-skinnyguy. 

But 6 months! Don’t be discouraged. Work in 6 week mini cycles and make noticeable changes every 4-6 weeks. Its called the 6 week training effect. 

You will not change completely but a few such cycles and your friends will not recognise you…in a good way.

Physiologically speaking it will take 6 months for your muscles to completely replace their proteins and build bigger, rock hard muscles changing your looks completely. But it doesn't have to take 6 months to make noticeable difference. 6 weeks are enough.

So plan a 6 month program, create 4 cycles of 6 weeks each, ride the first 6 week wave, build muscle and ride the next. Stay focussed on your 6 week mini-goal and great things will happen.  

Reason Two: Another reason why 6 month programs work is because they give you enough flexibility in case a few weeks are lost. 

If you follow a 90 day plan and lose 4 weeks due to college or work, the entire plan fails. But if you lose 3-4 weeks, you can get back to plan easily without worrying about restarting the whole thing again.

Click here to read more on how to create your 6 month workout plan and create 6 week mini-cycles of muscle growth.

3. Hardgainer Training and Exercise Secret:
Select Best Exercises That Target High Threshold Muscle Building Fibers

High threshold muscle building exercises are the best exercises for hardgainers.

When it comes to training you have two distinct disadvantages - long limbs and short muscles. These two factors limit muscle performance. Hence muscle expert Mike Mejia calls hard gainers "inefficiency experts"

Also since you have a large number of type 1 low threshold endurance fibers and less type 2 high threshold power fibers, you might find heavy training difficult. 

At this point you might resort to isolation moves with machines as you can lift more weights. But for hardgainers, typical isolation exercises like biceps curls, leg press and triceps extensions do little to add mass.

They simply do not stimulate muscles enough to release anabolic hormones like total body, compound exercises can.

Most professional bodybuilders recommend isolation exercises but they are meant for big guys to get bigger in specific areas like arms or chest. But as a skinny guy you need overall muscle development not just bigger triceps or biceps.

So which are the best hardgainer muscle building exercises?

Multi-joint, compound moves with free weights like dumbbells and barbells work like magic for total muscular development.

Since they work on more joints simultaneous, they stimulate the largest muscle groups.

They release large amounts of anabolic hormones {all natural} like growth hormone, testosterone and insulin like growth factors {IGF-1} among others. These hormones increase protein synthesis in targeted muscles, making them bigger and stronger.

My results skyrocketed once I selected the best exercises and trained the hell out of them. 

That brings me to intensity. Hardgainers perform best with training intensities 65 to 85% of One rep max. I will help you calculate that later. But attempt to lift weights that fail you between the perfect muscle building rep range of 6 to 12 reps.

Your training goal should be similar.

Select the best hardgainer exercises and do heavy weights and high reps with them. Focus on using exercises that stimulate the largest amount of muscle mass possible.

Best moves? Deadlifts, squats, pulls, presses, pull-ups, dips and rows. 

Max them out. Work those reps and mass will follow.

Remember muscle success depends as much on stopping useless things as much as doing useful things. Enough of Frankenstein like isolation moves. No more pink dumbbells. Time to lift heavy. Lift heavy or go home as they say.

Remember you are not a collection of body parts but one whole organism. 

So ready to train with the best moves? Then here are the absolute best muscle building exercises of all time.

4. Hardgainer Diet and Meal Planning Secret:
Eat High Calorie, Nutrient Rich Foods at Right times with Right Meal Plans

"It is the quality of Nutrients, not the quantity that determines muscle growth".

Conventional bodybuilding methods suck. The same goes for conventional eating.

Hardgainers has two problems with eating:

1. Low Appetite: I was a big eater. But big eater of high carbohydrates foods like bread, rice, burgers and pizzas. But hardgainers like me simply do no have the appetite to eat large protein rich meals every 2-3 hours as suggested by pro bodybuilders. 

Advice like eat, eat and then eat some more sounds great but in reality is very difficult to manage especially in our busy lifestyles. and remember is quality nutrients that counts not just quantity

2. Superfast Metabolism: Hardgainers have mercedes like metabolism and can suck up calories in a jiffy without anything to show for on the weighing scale. Many a times I wondered where all those calories go away. Down the toilet drain I guess!

So what’s the solution: Eat caloric dense, nutrient rich foods to offset the appetite and metabolism problems and use supplements wisely to bump up calories.

Substitute foods low in calories with caloric and nutrient rich foods.

Here are few examples :

High calorie muscle building foods

Use figs and raisins as fruits - They pack more calories than their fresh fruit variants.

Eggs and butter - they got the best muscle building fats and calories.

Red Meats more than white meats: They are caloric dense, creatinine gives muscle power and saturated fats boost testosterone. All are cool for muscle building.

Protein bars and shakes: greta tasting, caloric dense snacks to have at times when appetite is down or you are busy.

By selecting such foods and meal plans you can drastically increase your caloric intake and meet your daily caloric requirements.

I cover plenty more foods and meal plans in the Muscle building nutrition section.

5. Hardgainer Supplements Secret:
Use Proven Supplements to Recover and Grow Faster

Whey proteins, olive oil and multivitamins should be the first choice supplements for hardgainers

When gaining mass, supplements can be the biggest life saver.

Who has the time to eat 6 meals a day? None I know of. But yes, that’s what it takes to gain muscle mass. And in today’s busy life its next to impossible.

Enter proven muscle gain supplements for hardgainers.

Without enough high quality proteins and fats, I would have never gained even half of my 24 pounds of muscle in 15 weeks.

I made the best use of them at times when I could not get solid foods.

Before you run for the supplement store remember not all supplements work.

Few are great but most leave you with empty pocket and no muscles to show for.

My recommendations? The 3 best supplements for hardgainers are whey protein powder, essential oils like Udo’s choice/Olive oil and multivitamins. Add creatine and branch chain amino acids if your wallet allows, especially before/after workout.

But thats it. No more. No less.

I cover the best supplement tricks, places to buy and how to incorporate them into your muscle eating plan here.

Related article: The 80/20 rule for Muscle Building Supplement Selection.

6. Hardgainer Muscle Building Program Secret:
Use the Best Muscle Building Programs to Pack Mass like other skinny guys

What is the shortest way to reach your goal? Model someone who has already reached your goal.

But make sure you have the right role model. They should have the same starting point as you. Pro bodybuilders are out!

If someone with similar genetics, circumstances and difficulties has crossed to the muscle success side, then learn from him.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead follow them.

This technique is called modelling.

If someone models the exact serve of Roger Federer, then he will get similar results. Ditto for Usain Bolt or even Maradona.

That’s the technique by elite sportsmen and it will work for you too.

But not all skinny-to-muscular guys have the style, the willingness or the time to teach you in ways you can follow.

I have found two such mentors. Vince Delmonte and Sean Nalewanyj. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

I have reviewed their programs here.

7. Hardgainer Motivation Secret:
Master the Twin Qualities of Consistency and Patience

Consistency + Patience = Muscle Success!

The above quote of Calvin Coolidge is the secret to muscle building, and life in general. Print it and paste near your workplace.

Just like you, I want my dream body in the next minute, before my next breathe. But that’s not how life works. Brain tracy says that life or your goal demands that you pay the price in full and in advance.

Rome wasn’t built in a  day and neither will be your body.

But if you follow the program consistently and patiently, you will be rewarded. Just like brick by brick, muscle fiber by fiber your body will grow to a new awe-aspiring muscular one.

Each step will take you more closer to your awe-aspiring physique.

Although it takes time to add muscle mass to skinny frames but the rewards are worth the wait. I promise that.

Be Consistent. Without consistency your results will be gone forever.

And be patient. Patience is the highest virtue. It will show in other areas of your life too. Remember bodybuilding is a great educator.

Master consistency and show the world that you have what it takes.

If you do that you will turn from hardgainer to easy gainer because your efforts will bring consistent muscle gains. And your dream body and dream life will be yours to live.

Summary and Action Plan Points

If muscle mass eludes you even after intense training and eating, then you are a hardgainer. You never see easy gainer mesomorphs complaining.

  1. Resistance or Weight Training is the best strategy for lean muscle gain which is best weight gain strategy
  2. Plan a killer 6 month muscle gain plan but work in 6 week cycles.
  3. Select high threshold muscle building exercises and perform them with heavy weights and high reps.
  4. Consume high calorie, high nutrient foods and quality supplements to overcome appetite and convenience problems and meet your daily caloric intake.
  5. NEVER GIVE UP. Remain patient and consistent and results will make you proud.

To your dream, muscular body

Mateen Sidd

› Hardgainer Muscle Building

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