‘Hard gainer’ struggling to add bulk? Follow these four tips . . .
Heavy, basic workouts
Priority number one: focus on strength — and strength comes from getting really good at basic, heavy, compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and benchpresses. Stick to short and intense workouts with a few sets of these heavy movements to build muscle — it might sound like a boring routine, but that consistency trains your body to progressively handle heavier loads and add serious muscle over time.
Your Usain Bolt-fast metabolism is the main reason you’re a string bean, so don’t be too concerned to shovel down plate loads of food. That’s not a license to gorge on McDonald’s, but an encouragement to feast on meat, veggies, grains, and good carbs and fats — so tuck into a massive steak with broccoli and sweet potato, then go back for seconds, and help yourself to thirds. Hard gainers need to eat, and eat, then eat some more to start seeing real results — as much bulk is added in the kitchen as it is in the gym.
Save your calories for the muscle building process rather than long runs that strip the weight away. You don’t need to cut out cardio altogether, but instead of long jogs, opt for dynamic sprint sessions for one or two sessions a week on your non-lifting days. Feel free to take off those rest days completely — again, save your energy for the heavy workouts that will whack on slabs of weight, which is what you’re trying to achieve.
Rest and recover
Muscles need 48 hours to recover from a workout so break up your weekly routine between different groups of muscles — Monday for shoulders, Tuesday for legs, rest day Wednesday, Thursday for chest, Friday for arms, Saturday for back, then another rest day Sunday, for example. And make sure you get enough sleep — it refreshes the mind and is crucial to the muscle-building process. A solid eight to 10 hours catalyses muscle growth the night after a massive deadlifting session.