So, you have been working harder than all of your friends for years. You follow all the recommended diet plans, and you never miss a workout.
By all rights, you should look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by now but that’s now the case.
What is happening? Why aren’t you gaining like everyone else? I have some bad news for you. You’re what is known as a “hard gainer”.
That means that the usual routine will not work for you. You’re going to have to eat more calories, and work a little harder than everybody else.
This might seem unfair, but it doesn’t have to be all that difficult. In fact, once you’re done reading this, you will be well on your way to becoming the next Sylvester Stallone.
With the right diet and workout plan, and by fixing a few simple mistakes, you’ll fix any and all problems with your gaining. Are you ready to ditch the hard gaining and reach all your bodybuilding goals?
Let us begin. Why you’re not gaining?…
The answer to why you aren’t gaining might be as simple as a small mistake, or it might be something that you can’t change, like having a fast metabolism, for example.
So, before we try tackling the bigger issues, we can focus on a few basic mistakes that you might be making.
You aren’t eating enough
Put simply, you probably aren’t eating enough.
You can’t expect to build a house if you only have a few planks lying around.
Now, you don’t have to stuff yourself with all sorts of food to put on mass, all you need to do is eat correctly.
Plan your meals, and remember that muscles need an abundance of nutrients, so no pizza and ice cream. Your muscles need protein, carbs and fat.
Plan what you need to eat, and include a small surplus.
You don’t want to gain too much, because you might end up in a different shape than you originally planned, and believe us, that’s a whole other nightmare to deal with. See our diet guide here.
You don’t eat enough protein
The biggest mistake people make when trying to gain body mass is usually not eating enough protein. Protein is the building blocks of muscle, so without protein, your muscles will not grow.
A good tip is to eat about 1.3-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The more stress you put on your body, the more you need to compensate.
Keep in mind that each source of protein has a different type of amino acid that your body needs. Try varying your sources of protein for optimal results. Help yourself with these top protein supplements.
You’re lacking intensity
If you don’t challenge your body, nothing will change. You need to go harder, train better to see better results.
Going through the motions and sticking to the same workout plan of a year or two ago will not do you any favors. Push yourself, go all out and really challenge your body.
That is when the real change takes place and you will reap the benefits.
You’re not getting enough rest or sleep
You do the work at the gym, but your body does the work while you sleep. While you’re asleep, your body gets a chance to take stock and increase muscle mass.
But when you don’t sleep, your brain experiences heightened levels or cortisol, which breaks down muscle mass- which is exactly what you don’t need. Go to bed, and let your body do its job.
When trying to build muscle mass, you need to be consistent with your training and your diet.
If you give your all at the gym, but don’t pay attention to your diet, you will notice difficulty gaining mass. Being consistent is the difference between gaining, and not gaining.
You’re doing too much cardio
Cardio is very important.
It is essential to building mass and losing body fat at the same time, but remember that only the right types of cardio.
You need to be focusing on resistance training with some cardio sessions thrown in here and there.
You’re not focusing on building mass
If you’re not challenging your body, then you aren’t going to gain any mass. If you’re still lifting the same amount as when you started, or not varying your reps, you will not improve.
You need to aim higher and focus on your technique. More reps will rarely achieve what you think it will, and you should be focusing on how you lift before you focus on how much you lift.
You’re supplementing incorrectly
Worry about supplements when you have fixed all the above mistakes. Remember that supplements will not build your muscle for you. That is solely based on what you do.
Once your nutrition, workout plan and everything else is sorted, then you can start supplementing.
Start off with a multivitamin, to compensate for what you aren’t getting in your diet. Then use fish oil, to reduce inflammation and to help your heart, brain and joints.
After that, you can use whey protein powder, which will give you good nutrients and a bunch of amino acids.
Add a weight gainer if you struggle with calories, and creatine monohydrate to add strength and lean mass gains.
How to Build Solid Muscle Mass
Unless you have the genetics of a demi-god, you’re a hard gainer.
Thankfully, this is a relatively common problem to overcome, and there are many people out there who have been where you are, and managed to overcome it.
- Set Realistic Goals
You will probably never be as muscled as the men you see on the covers of body magazines, and you might never win hundreds of awards for your chiselled physique, but you can build solid, healthy and defined muscle mass. The key is to not expect too much from yourself.
If you set high, unattainable goals, you will fail.
Not only will you feel discouraged when you don’t achieve them, but you will feel stressed as you try your utmost to reach the level you aspire to attain.
Look at your body, be honest about the genetic restraints, accept them and move forward from there. Set smaller goals that are easy to reach, and these will boost your morale.
Think of them as little stepping stones.
You will be so focused on attaining these little goals, that by the time you look up, you will have smashed your goal.
- Do Research
Since hard gaining is such a common problem, this step should not be a problem for you.
There are hundreds of trainers out there who chronicle their successes and triumphs. You need to find he bets diet plan for hard gainers, and try to find your best mass gaining workout routine.
Instead of jumping into the gym with the vague goal of “getting big”, sit down and plan your routine. Research what will be the best way for you to work out, and decide what food you need to eat to get to your goals.
This might be tedious and time consuming, but once you know what you’re doing, the gains should come a lot more easily.
But there are a lot of fitness frauds out there. Websites that promise the world, but whose practical knowledge is very limited.
The internet is a marvellous place, but unfortunately, not all information is accurate.
Be sure to check the qualifications of the blogger whose information you’re reading. Reviews about a website are also a very good place to check credibility.
Usually the credible information comes from big companies who have been in the game for a long time.
- The Best Exercises
Now that you have done your research and set some reasonable goals, you’re going to have to choose the right exercises to do. Focus on free weights.
Free weight exercises should cause a high level of neuromuscular activation.
This just means that exercises should involve more than one joint action.
Multi-jointed, compound exercises that use more than one or two muscle groups will stimulate the major muscle groups.
Squats or heavy leg presses should involve the quadriceps, gluteus maximus and hip flexors. Deadlifts involve the quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors and lower back.
Bent over rows involves the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rear deltoids and biceps.
Military Presses involve the shoulder muscles and triceps.
There will also be space for resistance training as well as isolation exercises, but to reach your goal the focus should be these compound exercises. See more workout plans here.
- When Should You Go to The Gym
Muscles don’t grow while you are at the gym, there they only react to the stimulus you are providing.
The real growth happens during recovery. Most people are under the misconception that the more you go to the gym, the better, but this is more harmful than good when building muscle mass.
You need to find a good balance.
Most people find that going to the gym three times a week is a good routine, since that gives your four rest days for your muscles to grow.
You’re wrong if you think this is too much.
You are not a pro bodybuilder or an insane mutant gainer like the Wolverine, you are a normal guy.
If you go to the gym too much, you will lose the balance between working out and your ordinary life. You have a job, family and friends to be around.
It is understandable that you have other obligations, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you think that three times a week is too much, then you might need to re-evaluate your commitment to your goals.
While you can’t spend all your time in the gym, you do need to show a certain amount of dedication to reach your goals.
- How Long Should Your Workout Be?
Not more than an hour, and that hour should include your warm ups, stretches, warm downs and a short session of cardio.
Don’t complain about the warming up and stretches, since this makes your muscles more susceptible to the exercise you’re about to do, they also prevent painful injuries.
- Nutrition, Nutrition and Nutrition
There is a direct link between your gains and your diet.
To get big, you need to eat big.
You’re going to need a whole lot of nutrients, amino acids and protein to get to your end goal of building muscle.
Your nutrition will also aid in your recovery and build those muscles to gigantic heights.
Don’t try and eat giant meals all at once, since this will leave you bloated and your digestive system will be overloaded with more than it can handle.
Try eating smaller meals a few times a day to build up enough calories.
- Ditch the Name
This is the most important thing you can do to gain muscle mass. If you believe you are a hard gainer, you will accept the title and all that comes with it.
The truth is that genetics do play a major role in building muscle mass, but so does training, diet and determination.
If you ditch the title and try your utmost, your brain will kick into gear and your body will follow suit. Don’t just accept that you are a hard gainer.
Kick the title to the curb and give your 110%.
Only when you have overcome the wrong mindset will you be able to move forward and achieve your goals.
If you work hard at the gym but don’t get the gains, you are a hard gainer. But this is dependent on a whole lot of factors.
You could be making a few mistakes, or you can just adjust the way you approach a workout.
The point is that you don’t have to be a hard gainer forever, and if you follow this guide, you will be smashing through your goals in not time!