Success for the Hardgainer
By Critical Mass
I am of the opinion that the majority of what you read in the mainstream muscle
magazines is not very helpful to the hardgainer. I've stopped buying them. Many
hardgainers get frustrated with their lack of progress and result to steroids to
get their coveted muscle mass. There is nothing wrong with this, if someone does
plenty of research. By "plenty" of research, I mean a couple of years of
studying, along with a foundation of sound training and nutrition.
As we know, many people who are new to this game often ask simple and uneducated
questions about their "steroid cycle" that they want to start. It seems a
trusted friend of theirs who is "really knowledgeable" about steroids has
advised them to do a d-bol only, or maybe a deca only cycle for 4 or 5 weeks.
Against all of our better advice, they will go ahead, and gain their 15lbs. and
then lose it.
What many hardgainers need is to understand training volume, training intensity,
workout frequency, and nutritional intake. Overtraining is doing more intense
exercise than your body can recover from. Overtraining will slow, or even stop
your muscle weight gains. It will also stop and slow your strength gains. Many
hardgainers do way too much exercise. They go to the gym to "rep" and "pump" out
the weight. They stay in the gym for an hour and a half, go home, and have a
friggi'n low-carb protein shake! Guess what my good friend........ You will
This is the Critical Mass recommendation if you are a self-proclaimed
1. Increase your weight lifted.
If you are doing 3 sets of 10 for pull ups, hang a 45 lb. plate and do 3 all-out
sets of 5. Do the same thing with dips.
If you are doing bench presses, make them sets of no more than 5 reps. Make it
2. Let it make you work. Don't choose a weight that you can halfway do. Choose a
weight that will cause you to really lift hard, but still be able to keep proper
form. I do dips for reps and sets while hanging a 100 lb. dumbell. I worked up
to it, but when I decided to do it, I did a 20 lb. jump from 80 lbs to 100 lbs.
I was actually scared! I was more scared than the first time I squatted 405. My
fear, coupled with my determination to lift the weight caused me to really have
to focus and force my muscles to work!
3. Decrease your volume.
My body burns 3,500 calories a day just sitting there doing nothing. Suffice it
to say, I have a fast metabolism. Imagine how much I burn when I work out? My
goal is to stress the muscle by lifting heavy weight, and then leaving the gym.
If I worked out any longer than I need to, I would be trying to chase my calorie
deficit all day. I would have to eat an in-human amount of food to catch up the
the deficit, and turn it into a calorie surplus. Read that statement again. I
pick two or three exercises, go crazy, and then leave the gym.
4. Stick to compound movements.
Bench Press, Deadlift, Military Press, Dips, Close Grip Bench Press, Dumbell &
Barbell Row, Pull-up, Barbell Curl, Barbell Shrug, and yes.... the Squat. I
don't care if you like that exercise or not. Do you want to develop massive leg
and total body strength? Just to be sure, Yes, I understand that these are not
"fun" exercises. But they work. What seems better to you? Doing cable crossovers
in front of the mirror "feeling the pump" and seeing your temporary swole in the
mirror, or lifting some heavy ass weight in a compound exercise and growing some
muscle? Tell you what; you "feel the pump," and I'll do some compound exercises,
and we'll see who gets stronger and bigger.
5. Go for strength, not mass.
From strength comes size. If you want to be big, you need to become strong. If
you aim to get stronger every week in any prospective exercise, it will
translate into a bigger muscle group IF your eating is in tact. It's really that
simple. Ditch the pyramid scheme starting with 12 reps and ending up doing 8 on
your last set. Stick with 5 sets of 3, or 3 sets of 5. Keep it heavy. Keep it
simple. Your ability to increase strength gains consistently is your first sign
that you are probably not overtraining; and that you will soon see some growth.
6. Eat, Slim! Why do skinny boys try to eat lean and buy low-carb shakes? If you
are a hardgainer, stay the hell away from low carb! Buy a weight gainer shake,
have one and a half times the serving size, and drink 2 a day in between your
other meals! People tell me at work all the time, "Wow CMass, everytime I see
you, you're eating!" Don't shy away from eating some serious man-sized portions
Please understand that this is not to say anybody else's routine will not work.
Everybody is different. I have lined out some basic guidelines that work for the
overwhelming majority for hardgainers. It's basic exercise and nutritional
science. I hope somebody will be helped with this information. I know it has
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