What if I told you that by this time next month, you could have nearly 10 more pounds of solid muscle mass?
If you're a hardgainer currently struggling against a speedy metabolism and a training program that's falling flat, you might be a little skeptical—and I wouldn't blame you. Unless you're one of those genetically blessed bodybuilding unicorns who can forge muscle as if by magic, packing on 10 lean pounds is very difficult to do naturally. And just to be clear, doing it naturally is the only way I'm interested in.
On some of those more frustrating days, it might seem damn near impossible. But you can do it. I say that because I've done it myself.
Here's your plan.
With Focus, You Can Change Your Physique
These days, I'm competing as a pro bodybuilder in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation, tipping the scale at 190 pounds. But not a single pound I've added came easy.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was lucky if I weighed 145 pounds after a particularly heavy meal. I wanted to be bigger, but didn't know how to get there. Once I discovered the weight room, though, and I was on my way. My body responded immediately to weight training, and pretty soon I was up to 160. By the time I graduated, I had reached 200 pounds, then tacked on another 15 pounds during my first year of college.
But here's the thing: I was constantly focused on bulking during this time. I knew my only chance to grow was to remain in a near-constant anabolic state. Hardgainers have no other choice! You truly must go hard, or go home.
Personally, I was all about mass gain for five years straight before I even thought about shedding anything. Then I started to think about becoming a pro bodybuilder, and everything changed again as I started to lean out. At 18, I did my first fitness photo shoot, took aim at my first bodybuilding contest, and competed at a ripped 175 pounds. I earned my WNBF pro card a year later, and entered my third show at about 185 pounds.
Learn from My Mistakes
I was able to outpace my metabolism and add weight through those years, but I made my share of errors along the way. I wish I had known then what I know now, instead of having to struggle through so much trial and error. Today, as a competitive pro and AFPA-certified nutritionist, I've learned how to take the best training, nutrition, and supplementation strategies and put together any kind of plan I want. The plan of attack I've put together here is perfect for anyone who dreams of getting bigger.
The following six-days-per-week workout plan, coupled with the serious nutrition tweaks I've outline in the nutrition plan, is designed to help you put on 1-2 pounds per week, or 8-10 pounds in four months. I'm not having you shoot for any more gains than that because anything above 8-10 pounds would probably not be the type of lean mass you're aiming for.
Here's a walk-through of your next four weeks.
Churn & Burn
The first thing you'll notice about these workouts is their specificity. Instead of simply working your overall chest, back, or other body part, you'll be focusing on specific muscles and muscle groups within each area. After all, if your goal is to look like a bodybuilder, you'll need to develop each muscle of your body to its utmost potential.
With the carefully selected movements I've laid out, you'll be able to isolate and exhaust each target area, then blast the muscle with my trademark 35-rep burnout to root out and torch every last stubborn muscle fiber.
For the regular sets, you'll follow a traditional pyramid scheme, bumping up the weight as you progress from set to set. I recommend always picking a weight that will result in failure at around 8 reps, with every set done until complete muscle fatigue. If you end up anywhere between 6-10 reps, you've chosen your resistance well.
I'm also a big fan of dropsets. To perform a dropset, lift a heavy weight to failure, then decrease the load 15-30 percent and rep out. Rest one minute, then repeat that sequence one more time.
The last exercise for each muscle group is when the total burnout happens. Start by choosing a weight that allows you to get about 35 reps but not much more. Get going, and push through the reps without rest. At this point, you'll be physically exhausted and the exercise becomes an extreme mental test. You must summon the will to just keep moving, knocking out those reps one by one. I can't promise you that doing this many reps will get much easier over the four weeks, but I can say you may very well find yourself meeting the challenge head-on as you gain confidence and experience.
One exception to the 35-rep burnout is the side delt routine. To torch your delts you'll do 100 reps straight with no rest, as listed in the workout chart. I've been using this strategy for years to hit the type 1 muscle fibers that make up much of the middle head of the delt muscle.
Each week, you'll do a training session every day but Thursday. On Saturday you'll do what I call the "Double Gainz" day. For that workout, you'll choose a body part that you consider lagging, and hit it for a second time.
You can add 3-4 cardio sessions per week to improve your cardiovascular health and stamina, but keep them short, such as 10 minutes at a low to moderate intensity. Save the hardcore sprinting and interval work for your fat-loss efforts farther down the road. For now, you'll want to conserve your calories to maximize recovery and growth.
For all of your workouts, strive to increase the amount of weight you lift from week to week. Track what you're doing in a notebook so you don't have to keep all those numbers in your head.
Make no mistake, these are brutal workouts. So if you've never tried a pre-workout supplement, this would be the perfect time to start!
How to Earn the Next 10, 20, or 30 Pounds
Four weeks is a great start, but as I said, I followed my own mass-gain program for five years. This program can be continued much longer than a month, so if you haven't met your weight goal by the end of this program, keep going!
If you do decide to continue, you'll probably want to keep things interesting so you don't get bored and stop. Once you're a few months in, switch out exercises, flop the order of the daily split, or change the order in which you work your body parts.
As long as you remain consistent and committed, and stay true to your nutritional strategy, you can be flexible with your workout and keep making gains over the long haul, just as I did.