Diary Of A Hardgainer – Part 2/2
by Matt Hodges
28 June 2012
I hope that those of you who read Diary Of A Hardgainer Part 1 can sympathise with some of the issues presented in the article. Part 2 is here to try to re-assure all those who find it hard to gain muscle and answer some of the questions that I see a lot of muscle building forums. Most of the questions all have a common answer, so before we go into each individual question I think it only appropriate that we tackle this little meany first………
Oh yes that little chestnut. It rears its ugly head for us every single bleedin’ day. I’ve heard it so many times now, even by my own doctor, that you cannot get any bigger, your genetics won’t allow it, you’ve reached your maximum size etc. This is as much truth as it is arguable. Yes we cannot change our genetics, we all have a make up and we all have to do the best we can with that make up. Where most of us Ectomorphs fall down is that they AREN’T doing the best they can with their genetics. The hardest bit of this is knowing where you fall down. We all know that we should be doing things that work for us and this takes time and energy to evaluate these and often we miss them anyway. Over the course of this article I will revert back to the questions asked in Part 1 and try and answer these with some personal solutions as best I can.
“Why is it that when I wake up in the morning I look half the size I was when I went to bed?”
I am one of these people. I wake up every morning looking taller and visually skinnier. My girlfriend has also noticed this so I know that I’m not being overly critical. I searched for years for the answer to this and never really came up with anything concrete. You do have to understand that during an average 8 hour sleep you consume close to 750 calories. Anyone who follows a 2-3 hour meal window knows that this is a long time to go without nutrition. You also have to be aware that sleep patterns can drastically affect your endocrine system, mainly your Growth Hormone, Melatonin and Cortisol levels. If these are fluctuating through deprived sleep then its no wonder you’ll look different in the morning! However, for those of you still searching for a solution I did find these things that help!
I found that for a more ‘fuller’ physique in the morning I should follow this regime the previous evening:
- 30 mins pre bed: 4 egg whites, snap peas and 2 scoops casein blend, 2 scoops BCAA powder
- Pre bed: 2 tabs USN Anabol Testo, 2 tabs EFX Kre Alkalyn
“Why can I build some of the areas of my body but not the others?”
This is one of those questions that are easily answered! I see this with many of my clients and athletes. This is common for every somatype group, not just Ectomorphs. Physical strength and symmetry is key to a good physique and time and time again I’m seeing people with huge structural and aesthetic imbalances. Genetics aside, there are two obvious reasons why you can’t build certain muscles. The most prevalent is what I like to call ‘The Friday Night Lifters Syndrome’. The ‘Friday Night Lifter’ (FNL) is someone who has spent years of training the same muscle group’s day in day out. These muscles are often attributed to the aesthetic rather than the functional – yes ladies and gentlemen we are talking about chest, shoulders and arms! Most of these people will have underactive back/postural muscles, a huge dominance through the arms and more than likely useless cores. A common problem is an FNL trying to build up their back muscles. Most of the pulling movements will now be dominated by the arms; the underactive mid back muscles won’t engage so no scapula stabilisation will occur so therefore the deltoids play a higher role. It’s a vicious circle and difficult to break out of. The second reason, and more apt for people who are starting out is that you probably aren’t working the muscles as efficiently and as hard as you should. Recruiting certain muscles takes a lot of brain to muscle action and people tend to miss this and go for the heaviest weights they can (and often with bad form).
For years I’ve perfected my yearly periodisation plan. This is as follows:
- 12 weeks strict strength program. 4 times per week.
- 2 weeks deload.
- 10 weeks simple Hypertrophy. 4 times per week
- 1 week deload
- 12 weeks strict strength program. 4 times per week.
- 1 week deload
- 8 weeks FST-7. 4 times per week.
- 1 week deload.
- 4 weeks Bodyweighted conditioning.
- 1 week deload.
“I eat over 4000 calories a day of good quality protein, carbs and fats and yet I don’t seem to be putting on any size?”
Calorie consumption all depends on calorie output. Be aware of how much you are expending as well as how much you are consuming. Know your Somatype group (Ecto,Meso,Endo) and know how much you should consume to gain muscle. They say a good ratio is 2kg of protein per kilo of bodyweight. Be aware that you may also have an intolerance to certain foods which will set you back.
Organise a food intolerance test and a metabolic typing test. This is money well spent!
“Why is it so hard to maintain, let alone build?
“I train 5 times a week, why don’t I look like I lift weights?”
These two questions go together. This does tend to fall under the genetic umbrella but it’s also about lifestyle. If you are one of these lucky ones who can go out and party and still look great then………… screw you, most of us cant. The body works well to repetition and a good physique often takes years of rigidity and patience. If you are fluctuating weight/muscle then it’s probably more down to you missing meals, or not having the discipline to train properly at regular times.
Try 6 weeks of being anal about eating and training. Get your nutrition and your training schedule planned out and follow it. Take a measurement at the beginning and at the end and I very much doubt you’ll have lost anything.
“Why can’t I build bulky abs?”
“I always look so thin from the side!”
This IS a genetic factor and we can’t get away from it. Everyone has a good set of abs, it’s either out there beaming to the world or it’s covered under a layer of fat. ‘Bulky’ abs is one of two things: Luck of the draw or steroid use. Some people have very deep Linea Alba resulting in good separation between the ab muscles (see below).
Those of us who don’t have bulky abs can still look great but will also fall into the ‘thin from the side’. This is more than likely down to spine length and diaphragm depth – again, genetics. I hear different opinions about abdominal growth from friends. Some train them some don’t. Let’s use Tom & Rob from Part 1. Rob hammers his abs on a weekly basis; Tom only trains them about once a month, if that. The same can be said for the lower obliques. Some people have prominent ones and some people don’t. I often do hip rotations and oblique movements and never seem to hit them. I’ve come to learn that it’s just one of those things.
Unfortunately there isn’t one really. All you can do is keep lean and think about your core when doing your compound movements. Strong core tends to lead to good abs!
“I am over 6ft and have long levers; will I ever look like I train?”
I am not going to deny it. Being tall is a distinct disadvantage when it comes to lifting. If you don’t have the predisposition to be broad shouldered and stocky you’ll always look long and lean. As you will see from my stats in Part 1, I am 6ft 2 and used to be skinny. I’ve packed on a fair amount of muscles so I know it can be done. I will never; however be a power lifter or a bodybuilding competitor. My natural genetics won’t allow that sort of muscle. My lever length will always determine that I don’t have huge peaks on my biceps or massive calves. I do however; still look big and look like I train and you can too. Just remember you can have a lot of strength and power in long feline muscles!
“I eat and train so much but get limited results, I must have low test or something, my genetics are busted!”
I think the answer to this is probably the conclusion to the whole article.
You are just a hardgainer. Unless your bloods come out with low testosterone, you can’t really argue this point. Your motivation has to be above the rest, your dedication has to be 200%. You can’t leave any stone left unturned. If you are hitting at 90% all round you won’t get anywhere, you need to be on you’re A game every second of every day of every year. Get the picture yet? Ok, you didn’t get dealt a Royal Flush, but then again….who did?