T Nation

Getting Bigger

What are some good workouts for getting bigger (especially for harder gainers like me. I know I’m supposed to be careful with the ‘hard gainer’ term but I am a hard gainer. I eat and do all the things but I have a hard time gaining weight). There are so many out there its getting confusing. I’ve gotten stronger but not bigger.

[quote]softballhead wrote:
What are some good workouts for getting bigger (especially for harder gainers like me. I know I’m supposed to be careful with the ‘hard gainer’ term but I am a hard gainer. I eat and do all the things but I have a hard time gaining weight). There are so many out there its getting confusing. I’ve gotten stronger but not bigger.[/quote]

You do realize there is more on this site than just a message board, right? Like 8 years of training, diet, and other topics of information relating to all things muscle?

Don’t expect us to do your work for you.
I guarantee you’re not eating enough, but you’ll probably argue with me saying you “eat like a horse” so whatever.

Look at some workout programs by Christian Thibaudeau, Chad Waterbury, hell any author, and make sure its hypertrophy oriented.

Or, go to the gym, train heavy, eat enough to facilitate size and strength gains and get bigger and stronger.

[quote]softballhead wrote:
What are some good workouts for getting bigger (especially for harder gainers like me. I know I’m supposed to be careful with the ‘hard gainer’ term but I am a hard gainer. I eat and do all the things but I have a hard time gaining weight). There are so many out there its getting confusing. I’ve gotten stronger but not bigger.[/quote]

What makes you think you are a hardgainer? Needing more food than usual to gain weight does not make you a “hardgainer”. You say you eat. Uh, then what happens? If you don’t gain weight, do you increase the calories until you do? This isn’t magic. To gain weight, you need more calories than it takes to maintain your weight. Therefore, if you eat and don’t gain weight…YOU AREN’T EATING ENOUGH. You may want to try actually adhering to eating several times a day consistantly. Some may recommend a food log. Regardless, most people who claim to eat a lot rarely actually eat that much when every calorie is tracked for several days. What usually happens is, the person eats well one day, eats one or two meals the next which all adds up to inconsistency in the kitchen.

sognificanly oferload protein.

I was looking for suggestions of what works for people on this site. I have read many of the articles and there are so many it gets confusing sometimes. Not all programs work like they say they do. I’ve tried some of the programs and I feel they are not working. I am just looking for what worked for people.

I would probably say I am a hard gainer. I eat 7-8 meals a day and intake about 3200-3500 calories a day (I do also keep track of what I eat. I eat almost the same thing every day) I have gained strength, and a little weight but I am still skinny. I do not look like my weight.

Then eat 4000. If that doesn’t work . . . 5000.

[quote]softballhead wrote:
I would probably say I am a hard gainer. I eat 7-8 meals a day and intake about 3200-3500 calories a day.[/quote]

[quote]NateN wrote:
Then eat 4000. If that doesn’t work . . . 5000.
[/quote]

Exactly. Why would you eat 3,200 cals, not gain weight and continue to eat only 3,200 cals? For the record, with cardio I can LOSE weight on that much. That is not a lot of food.

You can start complaining about the amount of food you eat when 4000 is around maintenance for you. Until then, just keep tossing it in there.

Actually, i’m a hardgainer too and its really no fun being one. I know that a lot of ppl do not ingest enough calories or protein and immediately whine abt not being able to gain weight but guys, you gotta understand that some of us really have sucky genetics.

The main problem with us is not just weight gain, its gaining MUSCLE MASS. I could moniture my food intake to a T and still gain mostly fat even while gaining only 1/2 a pound per week and its taken me 6 years to reach a 180 pound bench.I really wish someone from T-Nation would write an article about weightlifting and nutrition for hard gainers.

Softballhead, i’m assuming you are a real hardgainer and my advise would be to use an Accumulation/Intensification type of program often used by the brilliant Christian Thibaudeau. Also, go really high on the protein with at least 2g/pound of bodyweight.

[quote]softballhead wrote:
What are some good workouts for getting bigger (especially for harder gainers like me. I know I’m supposed to be careful with the ‘hard gainer’ term but I am a hard gainer. I eat and do all the things but I have a hard time gaining weight). There are so many out there its getting confusing. I’ve gotten stronger but not bigger.[/quote]

Back in college, me and a few of my buddies all worked together at a full service kitchen located in a health club. It was a great atmosphere, you had about 6 guys who were all T-mag readers working and lifting together constantly. Anyway those that had trouble gaining weight would do the following. After they would train and drink their post workout shake, they would clock in to work and eat 1 double cheeseburger w/ a carbo force every hour after consumption of said shake. Keep in mind that a shift only lasted 5-6 hours, but they would consume a shitload of calories in that time frame. I know that this is not feasible, but the idea would be to consume an “EXTREME” amount of calories for a least 4 hours after you workout.

Recent T-Nation articles and such have been suggesting similar methods with the right macro nutrient ratios. I would just make sure that you get a lot of protein and a lot of carbs for now. What everybody else said is also correct, choose a workout with hypertrophy parameters and put your heart into it. Do not mind fuck yourself by thinking that you cannot gain weight, or lift heavy weight, YOU CAN.

[quote]george79 wrote:
its taken me 6 years to reach a 180 pound bench.
[/quote]

george,

You weren’t kidding when you said that you were a hard gainer.

[quote]basementD wrote:
george79 wrote:
its taken me 6 years to reach a 180 pound bench.

george,

You weren’t kidding when you said that you were a hard gainer. [/quote]

I have never met anyone like that…and I have worked with people with fairly meager genetics. That is his one and only post though. It makes me wonder more about his stats and why he is convinced that a gain of .5lbs a week leads to nothing but fat gain. Many people like that mistake a distended stomach from being full for fat gains.

Prof X et al have given you some good points on the eating. But the problem you have is bigger. IMHO, the real difference between many “hardgainers” and everyone else is that the HG needs to be more exacting in his approach. No room for sloppy errors. Food is easily 3/4 of your success. Almost all weight training will stimulate enough of an anabolic response to put some meat on your bones IF you find your “trigger point” as I call it. That point where everything fires on all cylinders. If you’re at 3,200 cals,then starting tomorrow, bump this by 200 cals per day. Keep a food log to keep yourself honest. Every hardgainer in the world swears he eats enough for Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman together. This is conservative, but it is SYSTEMATIC. Stay here for 2 weeks. Assess your weight/strength. If necessary bump another 200 cals and so on until you find your trigger. Then you won’t be haphazardly jumping around the number scale trying to find a magic formula. It will be found with a systematic plan within 6 weeks. Most people I’ve worked with find it sooner. Once you start to gain, then you’ll be confident that you aren’t overdoing the calories and worrying about fat gain too much.

Also you sound like a prime candidate for a program that Pavel Tsatsouline came up with that is awesome. It is simple, effective, and combined with a systematic increase in food, you’ll gain more than ever.

Do ONLY Bench press and Deadlifts. NO OTHER MOVES, PERIOD. This is vital for a hardgainer. Now find your 10RM for each move, and if you’re mathematically impaired, get a calculator too.

You will not be going to failure as you’ll see and yes you’ll be doing each bodypart until it has completed it’s series before going on.

Because you work up to using your full 10 rep max for only 5 reps, you’ll think this is too easy at first. Don’t think, just do!

Week 1: Monday (Bench first, Dead next)
50% or your 10RM x 5 reps
rest about 30 seconds
75% of your 10RM x 5 reps
rest about 30 seconds
100% of your 10RM x 5 reps.

This is ONE SERIES.
Take a 3 minute rest now.
Do a SECOND series with same weights.
Take a 3 minute rest now.
Do a THIRD series with same weights.

Rest 5 minutes.

Do this same progression with your deadlifts.

WEDNESDAY: (Light/lower volume)
Do only 50% of your 10RM x 5 reps
rest 30 secs
Do same weight/reps (set #2)
rest 30 secs
Do same weight/reps (set #3)

Move to deads as above.

FRIDAY: (Moderate day)
Do 50% of your 10RM x 5 reps
rest 30 secs
Do 75% of your 10RM x 5 reps

This is one series.
Rest 3 mins.
Do SECOND series.
Rest 3 mins.
Do THIRD series
------------------------------------Week 2: all stays the same but add one series each day for 4 total.

Monday: “Heavy”
(50% of 10RM x5, 75% of 10RM x 5,
100% of 10RM x 5) X 4 TOTAL SERIES

Wednesday: “Light”
(50% of 10RM x 5) x 4 TOTAL SETS

Friday: “Moderate”
(50% of 10RM x 5, 75% of 10RM x 5)X
4 TOTAL SERIES.


Week3:
all stays the same but add one series each day for 5 total

Monday: “Heavy”
(50% of 10RM x5, 75% of 10RM x 5,
100% of 10RM x 5) X 5 TOTAL SERIES

Wednesday: “Light”
(50% of 10RM x 5) x 5 TOTAL SETS

Friday: “Moderate”
(50% of 10RM x 5, 75% of 10RM x 5)X
5 TOTAL SERIES.


Week 4:
Add 10 pounds to your old 10 rep max numbers and then recalculate everything again. For example, if your 10RM max on the bench was initially 200lbs then you used
100lbs x 5, 150lbs x 5, 200lbs x 5 during the first few weeks on mondays
On Wednesdays you used 100lbs x 5
On Fridays you used 100lbs x 5, 150lbs x 5.

For weeks 4-6 you will up this 10 rep max to 210lbs. So then week 4 would look like this, using our example:

Monday:
(110x5, 155 or 160 x 5, 210 x 5.)
Do this again for ONLY 3 series.
Do the 110,
rest 30 secs,
Do the 155/160,
rest 30 secs,
Do the 210,
rest 3 minutes. This is one series.

Do this all again for 3 series. You will have done 45 reps for the bench once you complete all 3 series. Then do the same with deadlifts.

Wednesday:
(110 x 5) x 3 total sets. Rest 30 secs in between.

Friday:
110 x 5, 155/160 x 5) x 3 total series
Rest 30 secs between the sets and 3 minutes between series


Week 5: We do the same as week 4 but we add one series to each day.

Monday:
(110x5, 155/160x5, 210x5) x 4 series

Wednesday:
(110x5) x 4 sets

Friday:
(110x5, 155/160x5) x 4 series

Week 6: Do the same as week 5 but add one final series to each day

Monday:
(110x5, 155/160x5, 210x5) x 5 series

Wednesday:
(110x5) x 5 sets

Friday:
(110x5, 155/160x5) x 5 series


Do it exactly. This is a ladder progression mixed with Bill Star’s heavy, light, medium concepts.

Don’t do any shoulder or arm work, or any calf work either. Do some low rep ab work on off days. Like 2-3sets of 3-5 reps. NOTHING MORE. If you are a hardgainer, you must focus on mass only.

Disc Hoss

And I swear I will hunt you down and eat you if you don’t do this exactly as laid out OR you don’t use systematic progression in your calorie increases.

I’ll do you a solid, here and if you shoot me your 10 rep maxes in the bench press and deadlift then I’ll fill in all the numbers for you. NOW if I do this I will eat YOU and all your relatives if you don’t do this right! I’ll supply the steering wheel, but you supply the gas.

[quote]george79 wrote:
Actually, i’m a hardgainer too and its really no fun being one. I know that a lot of ppl do not ingest enough calories or protein and immediately whine abt not being able to gain weight but guys, you gotta understand that some of us really have sucky genetics. [/quote]

I still think the same basic premise of muscular overload coupled with the correct calorie/macronutrient surplus will lead to muscle and strength gains.

[quote]

The main problem with us is not just weight gain, its gaining MUSCLE MASS. I could moniture my food intake to a T and still gain mostly fat even while gaining only 1/2 a pound per week and its taken me 6 years to reach a 180 pound bench.I really wish someone from T-Nation would write an article about weightlifting and nutrition for hard gainers. [/quote]

Well, I’m starting to doubt how adequately you track your food intake. Why don’t you post a sample diet, every meal, for a day for you, and let us critique it. Also, make sure you are not over/under estimating calories using food labels. When it comes to protein, weigh your source raw and calculate the calories/macronutrient breakdown and cook it.

Make sure you’re eating the right types of carbs, and individual amounts of each macronutrient at the most suitable times during the day to minimize fat gain and maximize muscle gain.

As far as taking six years to reach a 180lb bench, I find it hard to believe, but I’ll take your word for it. I don’t know whether or not you’re leaving out some details regarding training and eating but you have been doing many a thing wrong to have made so little progress in such a long time.

In regards to T-Nation doing an article about hardgainers, I’m pretty sure there have been a few and I think they dealt with not only ways to remedy this “condition” but also correcting the requirements to be a “hard gainer.”

I think Christian wrote an article called “Easy-Hard Gainers” that would probably help out a bit, do a search for some others. However I think trying to specify yourself into some sort of metabolic category takes less precedence to eating at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight , preferably more, and an adequate caloric surplus of combined fats and carbs. Adjust this surplus level up or down according to body fat gains you acquire.

Use Berardi’s outcome based scheme. I think this is pretty common sense and people do it subconciously but some people don’t even think about it. Basically, eat a certain number of calories, protein, carbs, fat per day, in accordance with the training program of your choice. Weigh yourself at the beginning and two weeks later. Have you gained weight? If yes, did you gain fat? If yes, readjust calories slightly, work on meal timing, macronutrient ratios and try again. If you did not gain weight add additional calories and try agian. If you gained weight and it seems to be mostly muscle, keep going until you stop progress. Constant result/method evaluation and compensation.

Another issue that made need to be addressed is the type of training you’ve used the majority of the time you’ve been in the gym. Are you intense enough? Do you truly attempt to recruit all your strength, every rep, every set? Do you motionless go through your routine or are you an active participant in a concentrated onslaught on the weights? One of the things that comes with time in the gym is to get a feel for your body and your ability to control it and recruit your muscle.

Anyways, provide some more details, stats, diet, routines, and let’s go from there.

I realize I did not quote the original poster but this can be applied to both of you guys.

softballhead, most of my points were directed at you, but george, if you wish to respond to this, you may as well. I sure as hell ain’t stopping anyone.

[quote]Disc Hoss wrote:
Prof X et al have…

supply the gas.[/quote]

Geez, Hoss! I go and spend this time writing a response, only to post it and see this beauty of a post from you!

Nice job.

:wink: Thanks, NewDamage,

Every problem has a solution and it usually lies in the details. The simpler the approach, the fewer the details, the less of a chance there is to mess it up or confuse a newbie, or in this case hardgainer.

Dan John’s article is on the same order of thinking. There are basic strategies that work and they always will. Everybody worries about the Golgi tendon reflex, muscle spindles, etc…

Simple and effective. But unless you keep track and document your attempts, you living in the dark.

[quote]Disc Hoss wrote:
Prof X et al have given you some good points on the eating. But the problem you have is bigger. IMHO, the real difference between many “hardgainers” and everyone else is that the HG needs to be more exacting in his approach. No room for sloppy errors. Food is easily 3/4 of your success. Almost all weight training will stimulate enough of an anabolic response to put some meat on your bones IF you find your “trigger point” as I call it. That point where everything fires on all cylinders. If you’re at 3,200 cals,then starting tomorrow, bump this by 200 cals per day. Keep a food log to keep yourself honest. Every hardgainer in the world swears he eats enough for Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman together. This is conservative, but it is SYSTEMATIC. Stay here for 2 weeks. Assess your weight/strength. If necessary bump another 200 cals and so on until you find your trigger. Then you won’t be haphazardly jumping around the number scale trying to find a magic formula. It will be found with a systematic plan within 6 weeks. Most people I’ve worked with find it sooner. Once you start to gain, then you’ll be confident that you aren’t overdoing the calories and worrying about fat gain too much.

Also you sound like a prime candidate for a program that Pavel Tsatsouline came up with that is awesome. It is simple, effective, and combined with a systematic increase in food, you’ll gain more than ever.

Do ONLY Bench press and Deadlifts. NO OTHER MOVES, PERIOD. This is vital for a hardgainer. Now find your 10RM for each move, and if you’re mathematically impaired, get a calculator too.

You will not be going to failure as you’ll see and yes you’ll be doing each bodypart until it has completed it’s series before going on.

Because you work up to using your full 10 rep max for only 5 reps, you’ll think this is too easy at first. Don’t think, just do!

Week 1: Monday (Bench first, Dead next)
50% or your 10RM x 5 reps
rest about 30 seconds
75% of your 10RM x 5 reps
rest about 30 seconds
100% of your 10RM x 5 reps.

This is ONE SERIES.
Take a 3 minute rest now.
Do a SECOND series with same weights.
Take a 3 minute rest now.
Do a THIRD series with same weights.

Rest 5 minutes.

Do this same progression with your deadlifts.

WEDNESDAY: (Light/lower volume)
Do only 50% of your 10RM x 5 reps
rest 30 secs
Do same weight/reps (set #2)
rest 30 secs
Do same weight/reps (set #3)

Move to deads as above.

FRIDAY: (Moderate day)
Do 50% of your 10RM x 5 reps
rest 30 secs
Do 75% of your 10RM x 5 reps

This is one series.
Rest 3 mins.
Do SECOND series.
Rest 3 mins.
Do THIRD series
--------------------------- Week 2: all stays the same but add one series each day for 4 total.

Monday: “Heavy”
(50% of 10RM x5, 75% of 10RM x 5,
100% of 10RM x 5) X 4 TOTAL SERIES

Wednesday: “Light”
(50% of 10RM x 5) x 4 TOTAL SETS

Friday: “Moderate”
(50% of 10RM x 5, 75% of 10RM x 5)X
4 TOTAL SERIES.


Week3:
all stays the same but add one series each day for 5 total

Monday: “Heavy”
(50% of 10RM x5, 75% of 10RM x 5,
100% of 10RM x 5) X 5 TOTAL SERIES

Wednesday: “Light”
(50% of 10RM x 5) x 5 TOTAL SETS

Friday: “Moderate”
(50% of 10RM x 5, 75% of 10RM x 5)X
5 TOTAL SERIES.


Week 4:
Add 10 pounds to your old 10 rep max numbers and then recalculate everything again. For example, if your 10RM max on the bench was initially 200lbs then you used
100lbs x 5, 150lbs x 5, 200lbs x 5 during the first few weeks on mondays
On Wednesdays you used 100lbs x 5
On Fridays you used 100lbs x 5, 150lbs x 5.

For weeks 4-6 you will up this 10 rep max to 210lbs. So then week 4 would look like this, using our example:

Monday:
(110x5, 155 or 160 x 5, 210 x 5.)
Do this again for ONLY 3 series.
Do the 110,
rest 30 secs,
Do the 155/160,
rest 30 secs,
Do the 210,
rest 3 minutes. This is one series.

Do this all again for 3 series. You will have done 45 reps for the bench once you complete all 3 series. Then do the same with deadlifts.

Wednesday:
(110 x 5) x 3 total sets. Rest 30 secs in between.

Friday:
110 x 5, 155/160 x 5) x 3 total series
Rest 30 secs between the sets and 3 minutes between series


Week 5: We do the same as week 4 but we add one series to each day.

Monday:
(110x5, 155/160x5, 210x5) x 4 series

Wednesday:
(110x5) x 4 sets

Friday:
(110x5, 155/160x5) x 4 series

Week 6: Do the same as week 5 but add one final series to each day

Monday:
(110x5, 155/160x5, 210x5) x 5 series

Wednesday:
(110x5) x 5 sets

Friday:
(110x5, 155/160x5) x 5 series


Do it exactly. This is a ladder progression mixed with Bill Star’s heavy, light, medium concepts.

Don’t do any shoulder or arm work, or any calf work either. Do some low rep ab work on off days. Like 2-3sets of 3-5 reps. NOTHING MORE. If you are a hardgainer, you must focus on mass only.

Disc Hoss

And I swear I will hunt you down and eat you if you don’t do this exactly as laid out OR you don’t use systematic progression in your calorie increases.

I’ll do you a solid, here and if you shoot me your 10 rep maxes in the bench press and deadlift then I’ll fill in all the numbers for you. NOW if I do this I will eat YOU and all your relatives if you don’t do this right! I’ll supply the steering wheel, but you supply the gas.[/quote]

Huh…Interesting. I just finished TBT and had pretty good results. I may try this before I head into ABBH as my chest is really lacking and I love to deadlift.

Quick question - Any particular grip for the bench presses? And…can you use straight leg deadlifts?

I wont even ask about tempo.

Thanks,
Andy

Aschy,
Use conventional or sumo deads. Both are good. Keep your from crisp toward the last sets of the last series as a bit of fatigue sets in.

On the bench, you can do whatever you like. I like about a 20-24" grip between index fingers. Using even 16" or so, which could be considered a close grip bench, will stimulate enough pec work for most people. But since you suggest that you may have need of some pec focus, I’d go with a bit wider as I mentioned above. Also avoid a full lockout, going to maybe what you would consider 95% lockout, so that the stress will stay on the pecs a bit more. I’ve personally found that for me, a slight incline of about 20 degrees or so is good for getting the pecs to come out and have better shape instead of the sagging tit look from flat’s and declines. But again, this is an individual thing that depends on your personal structure. Just keep great form on the bench. Traps dug into the bench, feet flat and planted on the ground, nice back arch (a couple inches is good) and keep your elbows from going out to the 90 degree style used by many bodybuilders. I think the best is keeping the elbows at about 45 degrees to the side of the body and try to bend the like an old bullworker. (I believe that was the bar that one would bend and get a great pec pump from.)

Disc Hoss

Guys, i am grateful for your interest and replies and my apologies to softballhead for having hijacked the thread a bit.

You can take my word that it took 6 years of training for my bench to hit 180. The first time i lifted i couldn’t even bench the bar. I weighed 115lbs at that time. Now, at 164lbs, i’ve started training for strength using Christian Thibaudeau’s Pendulum Powerlifting.

You can stunt your growth. Seems the most muscular physiques are those of midgets. Compressed muscles :wink:

I’m 6’3, I am never going to be huge, mostly because I don’t want to be :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s quite simple that if you’re not gaining weight from proper training and eating, it means you’re definitely not eating enough.

If you don’t gain weight at 6000 calories, then you have to raise it!

And you have to get those calories from good sources. And good sources are not very calorically dense, so you’ll puke trying to stuff all the food into yourself. But that’s the reality of it. I have an over active thyroid, so I have to stuff myself till i feel like puking in order to gain any weight.