Quick disclaimer. This is meant only for people looking to gain weight at all costs. If that isn’t your goal, you won’t get much out of this. Also, this is pretty much a rant. Enjoy.
I was thinking about this the other day and decided I’d may as well put my two cents into what I feel about ‘hardgainers.’ For those of you who don’t know what a hardgainer is, it’s an individual who apparently can’t gain weight even though they eat like a sumo wrestler. It’s complete and utter nonsense propagated by skinny boys who need something to blame for the fact that their girlfriends are more jacked than they are despite the fact they’ve been busting their asses in the gym for the past three years.
That’s me on the left from 2004. Looking incredibly small after a few months of hard training and pounding food. I’d made a pretty good amount of progress, but I was still ridiculously small. I was smaller than this to begin with, which is saying something… Mainly that I was your pretty typical “hardgainer.” I looked like the small kid in your gym who can never seem to grow and only does bicep curls and bench press 3 times per week.
Fast forward to today, 9 years later and all my work has paid off. Training is obviously a huge reason for my transformation, but this article will deal with the nutrition side of thing. Believe me, if I still ate like I did before I started training, I would look nothing like I do now.
The old saying is true “you can’t out train a shitty diet.” Which basically means you can have the most incredible training regime known to man, but if you are eating 1500 calories a day, you probably aren’t going to reap the benefits from the training. Conversely, if you pounded back 4-5000 calories a day and had a sub-par training program you found in the latest Muscle & Fitness, you’d make some pretty decent progress.
Many self-proclaimed hardgainers are usually teenage boys and young guys. I find it funny how they label themselves a hardgainer after a lack of results. Here is a little known fact: everyone you see who is big, at some point had the same muscularity as you (some may have appeared larger, because they had some more bodyfat). No one comes out of the womb looking like Ronnie Coleman. EVERYONE is un-muscular at some point in their life. Just because you added a scoop of protein to your diet of a sandwich and an apple 2x/day doesn’t mean you are going to turn a genetic anomaly.
My best friend and I were shopping the other day and this young man came up to us and asked us how we got so big. We asked him about his diet and he said he has a scoop of protein everyday. Guys, a scoop of protein is literally ~ 150 calories. This won’t do anything to help you if you are 150 pounds. I told him to take 2-3 scoops, with milk, olive oil, and peanut butter. Depending on your serving size of each, you can easily make this shake over 1000 calories. Hopefully I’ll see him down the line and he’ll be bigger and not claiming that suffers the dreaded hardgainer disease.
I honestly don’t consider myself by any means to be that big. However, when you compare me to how I looked when I started lifting at 18, I have definitely put on some size. I would say I looked like a hardgainer when I was 18. I put in that work and gained a lot of weight. I ate 6 meals per day religiously. If you are 150 pounds now and think you are eating enough, you aren’t. Plain and simple. Try doubling what you currently eat and tell me that you can’t gain any weight. It won’t happen.
If you really want to gain size and have had trouble in the past you need to do two things. First, keep doing what you’re doing in the gym, because it’s not your training that is causing you to stay the same weight. Two, eat disgusting quantities of food. You can do this in innumerable ways:
- Eat a cup or two of trail mix everyday
- Get in 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight everyday
- Add a few table spoons of olive oil to every meal and shake you consume
- Increase feeding frequency drastically
- Eat a few tablespoons of peanut butter at every meal
- Eat all you can eat and don’t leave until you could not put another piece of food in your mouth if your life depended on it
These are just a few things I’ve done to help me and other people I’ve helped gain weight. Believe me when I say you are not a hardgainer. You just need to eat more food. Some people may appear to gain easier than you because they have their diet in check, and you’re still eating a cold cut sandwich and a pear for lunch and dinner everyday.