As someone with a super fast metabolism, when ever you tell someone that you struggle to gain weight, its always guaranteed that the follow up response is going to be, “well damn, I wish I had that problem.” But in your head your think, the hell you do! Trust me I know the narrative. I think all of us hardgainers share this same experience. For me breaking through gaining that first 20 pounds changed my perspective on my ability to grow. It really made me realize that I wasn’t as hard a gainer as I thought I was.
I gained my first 20 pounds when I started doing 3 things. Thing 1, eating more. Thing 2, working out with intention. Thing 3, tracking my progress.
Eat more by all means necessary
I think this is the thing that everyone will always tell you. “EAT MORE”. But most of you probably think that you already eat a lot. Well I’m here to tell you that you don’t. As much as you think you eat a lot the reality is that you are still not eating enough. Before even getting into the challenge of macro tracking, I think getting into the habit of just eating several times a day is more important.
My first suggestion is that if you think you are eating a lot and still not gaining, start track your calories with BULK for a week. See if you are eating a consistent about within that week. If you are and you still aren’t making any gains, then go ahead and bump those calories up by another 700 calories. Check if you made any weight changes. Still nothing? Lets bump it up by another 700 calories. Eventually you are going to start gaining and once you do you have found a good number to start with.
The key to hitting that calorie amount that we set is to eat frequently. Buy lots of snacks! For real snacks are your best friend. This can be fruit cups, granola bars, greek yogurt, pb&js, peanuts, sun flower seeds, crackers, etc. Just gather as much food as you can and eat and something every 2 hours. Training your self to eat frequently will get you in the habit of being hungry. After you do it for a while trust me you will be hungry EVERY 2 HOURS. Once you master this we can start getting into macro counting which is a whole different beast but this will get you disciplined enough to take that next step on.
Don’t just workout, workout with intention.
About 4 years ago, I use to workout with no intention. Don’t get me wrong, I had a solid goal in mind which was to gain about 30 pounds from where I was at. But you can think of this as a high level goal. To really be successful in anything you need low level goals that you can attain that will lead you to that high level goal. These come in the form of monthly, weekly, and daily, and sometimes even within the hour goals. In this case gaining 30 pounds would be your high level goal, so we need the low level goals to help us get there. If you are trying to gain 20 pounds you are not going to get there without eating enough, trust me!
When I talk about working out with intention I mean at the lowest level. I am talking about your session. Every time you go to the gym you should have a low level goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish with your workout today. Do you want to get better at a particular exercise? Do you want to think about your muscle flexion more intentionally while you workout today? Or maybe you just want to practice taking the correct amount of rest in-between each set. What ever it is, this is extremely important in getting better because if you have something to focus on specifically in each session you can really create a habit if you focus on those things enough. It’s these little habits that are going to take your workouts to the next level.
Some low level goals that I have made for my sessions have includes really squeezing the muscle at the top of my exercise, taking less rest in-between sets, make a conscious effort to write down all the weights that I’ve lifted during the session, and going an extra set after I feel like I can’t go anymore. Think about your last exercise session. Think of something you think you could have improved upon, something you didn’t do, or something that you have seen other bodybuilder role models do that you don’t do. Now set that as a goal for your next session. In fact set it as a goal fo the next two or three weeks. Make that the priority so you can work on other things, but as long as you achieve that goal in your session for the next three weeks you can consider your day a success!
Track your workout habits, then change them
This part seems like such an obvious solution, But I honestly cannot stress enough how important this last piece is. Tracking your progress in the gym is just as important as working out all together. Now going back to our goal to gain 20 pounds. Even if we make it to that goal without tracking, eventually you will hit a plateu(body doesn’t progress after it gets use to your same stale workout). And if you didn’t track what you did, how will you know what to change in order to break your plateu. If you aren’t tracking your progress, you can consider most of your workouts useless. Our bodies are adaptable vessels. You only have 3-4 sessions on that body part before your body will change to meet that intensity.
So lets think this through.
You start working out. You workout for three weeks and you gain 10 pounds. You are super shocked at how quickly you are seeing results. Everyone that sees you is like, damn have you been working out? And you feel like the champ. But then 2 weeks later…nothing. Why is it that you saw changes in the first three weeks of working out, but then after that its like your body just froze in time? This is because your body has adapted.
People have termed this stage as the plateau. This happened because in the first three weeks that you worked out, your body was like whoaaa…wtf is going on?! It goes into panic mode and basically tell your muscles they need to grow or you are a dead man! Maybe not this dramatic but somewhere along the lines of this. Because of this panic, your muscles are forced to grow to accommodate this new found stress that your body is going through. Once your body adapts to this routine will no longer feel panic, because your body has already adapted enough to manage what ever your doing. This is where people usually get stuck. They continue to either do the same workout, or they don’t change their workouts enough to put your body into that same shock it felt the first three weeks. This is why tracking what your doing is so important.
Tracking your progress means..
- What exercises you are doing?
- Tracking how much weight your lifting
- How many sets you did.
- How many reps you did.
- How much rest in-between sets your taking
- How many times a week you are hitting each body part.
- How much time are you taking in-between hitting that body part again.
All these things matter! and if you don’t know the answers to these, then you can’t really change enough about your workouts so that your body can be shocked again. Going in the gym, wondering around to what ever machine you feel like doing that day is a good first step because at least you have committed to going to the gym, but after the first three weeks, this isn’t going to cut it if you want to see results.
The Wrap up
Just like anything else, in order to be successful in gaining weight, you have to implement some strategy. Winging it is totally an option, but its not an effective one, and it will only take you so far. These 3 concepts I think are pretty easy to digest for a beginner but yet they are extremely effective. By just eating more, setting goals for each session, and tracking and frequently changing my workout habits, I was able to gain 20 pounds pretty quickly. If you can’t implement all three right away, try one of them, master it, and move on to the next.
If you are looking for help gaining weight, download our App! It will create a workout program for you,, as well as a meal plan that is specifically for bulking. You can do things like swap out exercies for alternative ones that might be more comfortable for you to perform, or simply becasue you may not have the equiptment needed to perform the exercise. But the the app ensures that swapping does not put you off track from your program as it makes sure any exercise swapped is of the same body part. A meal plan is also generated for you that fits your exact macronurients needed for you to gain the weight you want. You can also swap meals for other meals that will help satisfy your calorie needs giving you variety.
Be sure to follow your friends, and check into your gym to qualify for up coming challenges and give aways!