From bony to buff; tips for the hard-gainer

Genetics can be a major stumbling block to achieving our ideal bodies. Two people doing the same set of exercises, and on the same diet, can have varying results.  The reason being one has the superior genetics, and the other one is a so-called hard-gainer.

Sans superior genetics, we may have to push a lot harder.  But despite the hard work, remember that our natural genetic makeup still sets a cap on what our bodies can achieve.  Working with it and recognizing its limits will prime us for achieving more realistic goals.

For people who are naturally skinny, gaining muscle mass in proportions that will significantly alter their physique is a particularly tough challenge. Indeed, hard-gainers have their work cut out for them.

Here are some ways for the active hard-gainer on a weight training program to bulk up and pack on the beef despite the limitations set by their own genetics.

  1. Eat more. This is definitely a must for the hard-gainer. Calories in the form of protein, carbohydrates and fat must be imbibed over and above what they normally consume. Much better if meals can be taken every two to three hours in order to provide a steady stream of nourishment for hungry muscles.  The pre and post-workout meals are of utmost importance.  Eating protein and fast absorbing carbohydrates before a workout primes our muscles for growth and gives the needed energy to perform that tough-as-nails workout. The post-workout meal will literally feed our hungry muscles, thus promoting growth.  Remember, when size is all that matters, carbohydrates are your friend.  Depending on protein alone will not provide the needed amount of calories hard-gainer needs for freaky growth.
  2. Lift large. As for the weight training component, exercises should concentrate on large muscle groups to develop size. Compound exercise such as bench presses, leg squats, dead lifts and pull-ups are the way to go for mass.  These should be done at least thrice a week with weights that provide enough difficulty such that we snarl and grunt through the final two repetitions.  Weight can be increased incrementally once we feel the need for increased resistance.
  3. Avoid excessive cardio. Too much cardiovascular exercises, such as running may also stymie muscle growth. When in growth mode, cardio activities can be limited to around 20 minutes two to three times a week at a slow, steady pace. While cardio is good for the heart and helps build endurance, too much of it may lead to muscle cannibalization—a situation where the body starts feeding off muscles for fuel.
  4. Night time snacking.

Last, a light snack before bedtime,such as a protein shake or glass of milk  with a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter  may do you good as it prevents muscle breakdown while you sleep.  Think about it, you’re growing muscle while your eyes are shut.

Going from scrawny to brawny is a tough task to tackle.  But with proper nutrition, diligence and hard work in the gym, it’s a possibility that looms in the horizon.