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How Often Should Hardgainers Lift


Assuming a proper diet, how often should a "hardgainer" lift to gain size?

I remember reading somewhere that a 2 times a week and no more was good for hardgainers. I don't remember the reason why.

What do you all think?


There is No such thing as a "hardgainer"

It's a term made up by people commonly referred to as "hard learners" to find an excuse for their own inability to do a proper research, accept that they don't know enough and start learning and thus don't make progress.

If you still refer to yourself as a "hardgainer", you are in fact a beginner (which is ok everyone was at some point)

Beginners should lift 3-4 times per week, i would suggest either TWB or a basic upper/lower split.

lifting 2 times per week is not enough.

IMHO, Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" aka "Guide to Novice Barbell Training" is a very good Beginner Program


Also, try to learn as much as possible, especially on diet, since your diet will ultimately make or break your progress and has a bigger impact on size gains than the lifting itself.


Nutrition for Newbies, Part 1 & 2
by Christian Thibaudeau




Most "hardgainers" are ectomorphs and are not naturally prone to gaining large amounts of muscle easily. So there are "hardgainers" and in fact everyone is different. However everyone can improve upon what God gave them.

That said, do the "Starting strength" program. It will get you strong the quickest. The reason to train 3-4 times a week is that your body needs some time to recover but as a beginner, and probably relatively weak, you don't need more than 2 days. Waiting longer will work against you as you lose conditioning quickly. As you get stronger and start getting close to your genetic limit you will need to rest longer and you will have to go to a body part split or even better, a heavy light medium rotation.

While you are able, go heavy whole body exercises. Start light, building conditioning, and most importantly, progress steadily using increasing more intense workouts.

As you progress you may need to do double progression. That is increase reps within a range before increasing weight. Hardgainers tend to have better endurance than easy gainers and will do better than easy gainers with this type of progression. Easy gainers do better with very low reps. This is more of an Intermediate technique. Keep on the steady weight increase for now.



True, but I think that the point that Petrichor was trying to make was that anyone can build muscle, not that it isn't easier or harder for certain people.

Agreed. Another good reason for beginners to train 3 times per week (I personally like starting beginners on 3 total body workouts per week) is because it gives them a lot of practice at the lifts. Remember that lifting weights has a skill component and the more you practice the skill, the quicker you will get better at it. It is also crucial that you acquire the correct biomechanics for the lifts to prevent injury in the future when you are lifting appreciable poundages.

I'd also agree with this advice.

Also, to second Petrichor's advice above, you need to EAT, EAT, and then EAT some more! Ectomorphs (which I would consider myself) need to eat a lot of food to put on muscle. The sooner you realize that it's probably going to be diet that is your true challenge, the better off you'll be.

Here is a calculator for you to figure out how many calories you need to eat each day:


Next, do a log (record) of all the food that you eat in a week. I know this can be a little time consuming and a pain in the ass at first, but it'll be a great help in both showing you how much you actually eat and in the future to track your caloric intake.

There are several sites online where you can then find out the calorie content of the foods that you eat/ate. Here is the one that I happen to have bookmarked, if anyone else feels they have a better one, please don't hesitate to post it.


Most ecto's ("hardgainers" as they often refer to themselves) think that they eat a ton of food. Yet, when they actually do a food log and figure out how much they actually eat, they're often surprised to find out that they aren't eating nearly enough to gain weight/build muscle.

My advice is to stop worrying about what is the optimal number of times to hit the gym, or what are the "best" exercises for "hardgainers" and instead just worry about lifting progressively heavier poundages on all of your lifts, eating enough food to allow for growth (sticking to your diet at least 90% of the time), and getting enough rest (whether or not you are able to progress in either weight, or number of reps with the same weight by the next workout should tell you if you're getting enough rest).

Hope this helps.

Good training,



Of course anyone can gain muscle. But some people have a harder time gaining muscle (and fat) than others. That's what the term hardgainer means. So no, there is such a thing as a hardgainer.

Anyway WSFSB is a 2 days lifting a week program isn't it?


It's a 3 day a week program but there ia a 2 day a week option for atheletes doing GPP the other days.

WSFSB is a great intermediate program but a beginner can make faster gains on Starting Strength. The big difference is WSFSB is 1 day a week with max effort. Beginners recover faster than that. That's why it's an intermediate program. If you can make gains on Starting Strength, keep at it. WSFSB is a good program to go to after.



2 or 3 times a week is ok if you are lifting seiously and focussed on solid compound exercises, 1-3 working sets each. You could exercise the whole body 2-3 times a week an choose a different key exercise per session, e.g. for your upper body 'push' do bench on day 1, military on day 2 and dips on day 3.

An abbreviated program of compound exercises would probably suit you, you wont know until you try it though.

'hardgainer' as a term is much maligned on these boards but infact is reasonable to use when comparing different rates of muscular gain between different poeple. Some people simply gain muscle weight more readily than others.

However all can gain muscle. Also often advised is 'eat, eat, eat' but beware of simply choking down food until you hate it and getting fat. They key to it is eating frequently rather than massively and aiming over the day for a calorie surpluss.