Do you struggle to build muscle? Are you known as what’s called a HARDGAINER – basically a skinny guy who finds it difficult to put on muscle size?
Have you tried to build muscle in the past, BUT failed?
Perhaps you’ve tried numerous workout programs from the likes of Men’s Health and Muscle & Fitness magazine BUT haven’t seen the results you want?
If you said YES, to any of the above, then please don’t despair!
I’m here to tell you that EVERYONE CAN BUILD MUSCLE (caps intended!). There’s no such thing as a hard gainer in my eyes! You’ve probably been given incorrect advice, or have yet to find the right program!
It’s My Mission To Help You Slap On Some Head-Turning Muscle Mass…
If you’re a skinny guy who wants to bulk up and look great, then stay tuned because I’m going to share with you a musclebuilding workout regime and a meal plan, that if followed, is guaranteed to help you gain some impressive muscle mass over the next 12 weeks!
I’ve used this strategy with lots of guys over the years, and it 100% works. The best result I’ve ever had is with a client who gained 22lbs in just 12 weeks!
What Can You Expect To Get From This Article?
I’m going to teach you:
The Science Of Muscle Building & How It All Works! I’ll speak to you in Layman’s terms (no fancy science jargon, I promise!)
I’ll also be giving you a:
#1 FREE 12 Week Muscle Building Training Regime – With full exercise video demonstrations!
#2 FREE 12 Week Muscle Building Diet Plan – To Boost Strength & Muscle Mass!
Let’s dive in…
The Science Of Muscle Building
Building muscle is pretty straightforward: EAT MORE, LIFT MORE! It’s that simple!
#1 Eating More
If you’re struggling to gain weight, it simply means that you’re not eating enough calories, so the first thing you need to do is EAT MORE.
Do you know how many calories you consume each day? If not, then it’s worth using the app MyFitnessPal to log all your food.
Where To Start?
For most hard gainer guys, I’d recommend starting at 2,500 calories each day. Take your weight at the beginning of the week, then take your weight the following week to see your results.
If your weight has gone up, fantastic, Stick with 2,500. If, however, your weight has stayed the same or dropped, then increase your calories by 100-200 calories per day.
Keep following this method until you establish the point in which you are gaining weight.
The KEY is to add more and more calories each week very slowly; for example, let’s say:
- Week 1 – 2,500 calories per day
- Week 2 – 2,600 calories per day
- Week 3 – 2,700 calories per day
- Week 4 – 2,800 calories per day
- Week 5 – 2,900 calories per day
- Week 6 – 3,000 calories per day
- Week 7 – 3,100 calories per day
- Week 8 – 3,200 calories per day
- Week 9 – 3,300 calories per day
- Week 10 – 3,400 calories per day
- Week 11 – 3,500 calories per day
- Week 12 – 3,600 calories per day
Most hard gainers, if they apply this strategy, alongside progressive lifting, will gain a bunch of muscle mass!
Let’s take a look at the progressive lifting side:
#2 Lifting More
The second part of the equation is getting stronger and lifting more weight.
For your body to get stronger and grow bigger, you need to place it under stress and force it to grow muscle. You can do this through resistance training and progressive overload (adding more weight, sets, reps, etc).
If you want to pack on some serious size, you’ve got to keep getting stronger, i.e., lifting more and more weight.
There are two main styles of training to help you do this:
#1 Strength Training
Which involves low reps (typically 1-5 reps) the aim is to lift as much weight as possible and to keep adding weight to the bar each week, or every couple of weeks. Strength exercises include deadlifts, bench press, and squats – to name but a few popular exercises.
#2 Hypertrophy Training
Is what bodybuilders do, alongside some strength training. Hypertrophy training is all about keeping your muscles under constant tension for a set period of time (typically 40-60s per set).
This training method is all about creating what’s known as ‘THE PUMP‘. The Pump is where your muscles swell up with blood and expand!
This method of training is the most effective way to increase the overall size of your muscles – hence why bodybuilders do it.
The Main Difference Between Strength & Hypertrophy Training
Strength training is all about lifting as much weight as efficiently possible, and sets are often short (5-20s).
Compare this to hypertrophy training, which is about slowing down your reps, and keeping strict form. It’s about keeping your muscles under constant tension for a much more extended period of time (40-60s per set)
For example, let’s take a chin up, rather than just going up and down fast, and swinging about like Tarzan! Instead, you would take 2 seconds, pulling yourself up with control, and then 3 seconds slowly lowering yourself back down.
Each rep, therefore, takes 5 seconds, and you would aim to complete anything from 8-12 reps. The 3:2 tempo is just a generic tempo; you can play about with the speeds depending on the exercise, and your specific goals.
To summarise, Strength Training is about how much weight you can put on the bar and lift!
Whereas Hypertrophy training is about how much you can make your muscles contract, and burn like crazy!
Combining Strength With Hypertrophy Training
To get the best results, you need to combine both ‘strength training’ and ‘hypertrophy training’ each week.
You can do this by either separating your sessions i.e.
- Monday – Strength Training
- Tuesday – Hypertrophy Training
- Wednesday – Cardio
- Thursday – Strength Training (2)
- Friday – Hypertrophy Training (2)
- Saturday – Cardio
- Sunday – REST
Or you can combine both strength and hypertrophy work all in one session, for example:
- Exercise 1 – 3 sets of deadlifts (3-5 reps) – strength training
- Exercise 2 – 3 sets of wide-grip pull-ups (8-12 reps) – hypertrophy training
- Exercise 3 – 3 sets of bent over barbell rows (8-12 reps) – hypertrophy training
The above are just two basic examples.
I prefer to keep strength and hypertrophy days separate, for the simple reason that I want longer to recover in between strength sessions (at least 72 hours rest).
12 Week Muscle Building Training Regime
Ok, so now we’ve gone over the basic scienc stuff, it’s time to delve into your 12 Week Muscle Building Training Program!
Below is your weekly schedule (Monday-Sunday). There’s a video demonstration for each workout/ exercise, and I have stated the reps and sets below each workout video.
Warm-Up – Before starting your main workout, I’d recommend warming up for 5 mins on a cross-trainer, or rowing machine. Then I would recommend spending 5 mins doing some foam rolling, and then finally 5 mins mobilising your body.
Monday – Strength Training
- Deadlift – 3 sets x 3-5 reps
- Squats – 3 sets x 3-5 reps
- Bench Press – 3 sets x 3-5 reps
Rest for 3 minutes in between each set.
Tuesday – Core Training
- Oblique BB Thruster – 3 sets x 20 reps (each side)
- Slam Ball – 3 sets x 20 reps (go as fast as possible)
- Plank – 3 sets x 45-60s
- Oblique Landmine BB Twist – 3 sets x 20-30 reps
- Side Plank Pull Through – 3 sets x 10-20 reps (each side)
- Slam Ball Wood Choppers – 3 sets x 20 reps (go as fast as possible)
Rest for 1 minute in between each set.
Wednesday – Bodybuilding Arm Workout
- Barbell Curl – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- DB Arnold Concentration Curl – 3 sets x 10-15 reps (each arm)
- DB Curl – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- Barbell Clean & Press – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- DB Charles Raises Combined With A Round The World – 3 sets x 10 reps
- DB Bent Over Rear Raises – 3 sets x 20-30 reps
- Close Grip Push Ups – 3 sets x 10-15 reps
- One Arm Overhead DB Extension – 3 sets x 10-15 reps (each arm)
- Resistance Band (or cable) Push Down – 3 sets x 20-30 reps
Rest for 45 seconds in between each set.
Thursday – REST DAY
Friday – TRX Full Body Hypertrophy
- TRX Row – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- TRX Fly – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- TRX Rear Fly – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- TRX Tricep Push Down – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- TRX Bicep Curl – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- TRX Split Squat – 3 sets x 15-20 reps (each leg)
- TRX Leg Raises – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
Rest for 1 minute in between each set.
Saturday – Shoulder Workout
Do the following three exercises in a circuit fashion, one after the other.
- Kettlebell Upright Row – 15-20 reps
- Cross-Legged Floor Side Raises – 15-20 reps
- DB Arnold Press – 6-10 reps
Rest for 1 minute in between each circuit and complete 5 total rounds!
Sunday – Ab Workout
- Side Plank Pull Through – 3 sets x 15-20 reps (each side)
- Mountain Climbers – 3 sets x 20-30 reps
- Sit-Ups – 3 sets x 20-30 reps
- Side Plank Lifts – 3 sets x 20 reps (each side)
- Side Crunch – 3 sets x 20 reps (each side)
- Floor Leg Raises – 3 sets x 20-30 reps
- V-Up Sit ups – 3 sets x 10-20 reps
- Reverse Crunches – 3 sets x 10-20 reps
Workout Tips (How To Get The Best Results!):
You will complete the above program for the next 12 weeks.
Gym Diary – I would recommend getting a gym diary and tracking all of your weights lifted and reps completed.
Progress – The aim each week is to get a little bit better, whether that’s increasing the weight lifted, or the reps completed.
Strict Technique – Make-sure your form is super strict and consistent; it’s no use adding an extra 10kg on the bar and thinking you’ve progressed if your form is shocking! Be uber strict with technique every session.
Hire A Personal Trainer – If you have any uncertainties with the technique, then my advice would be to hire a fully qualified personal trainer to show you how to do the exercises which you are struggling with.
12 Week Muscle Building Diet Plan
Now we’ve covered the workout regime, let’s look at the nutrition side!
In short, we are going to do what’s called Carb Cycling; this is where your intake of carbs fluctuates daily to optimise performance and muscle building capacity.
The idea of Carb Cycling is to improve your body’s ability to handle carbs, using them for energy and muscle building, rather than excessively consuming them and leading to potential fat gain and sluggishness!
Protein-rich foods are also going to feature heavily in your 12 Week Muscle Building Diet. Protein is KEY when it comes to adding muscle.
Here’s your 12 Week Muscle Building Diet:
Monday & Thursday – High Fat/Medium Protein Day
Breakfast – 250g sirloin or rump steak, cooked in 20g of organic butter, served with 2 fried eggs.
Lunch – 250g grilled chicken, served with 20g of pine nuts, and a large handful of salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, anything you like!)
Dinner – 250g Salmon, cooked in 15g coconut oil, served with a green veg of your choice.
Post Workout – 60g whey protein mixed with 250ml water and a side portion of almond nuts (30g)
Tuesday & Saturday – High Protein/Medium Carb Day
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs – 4 large eggs, cooked in 20g butter, served with chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach.
Lunch – 1 x can of tuna, served with 250g pack of microwave rice and 70g of sweetcorn.
Dinner – 250g lean mince (10% fat), fry in 10g organic butter, add in chopped onions, peppers, spinach, carrots, and any veg you like for extra flavour and health benefits.
Post Workout – 60g of whey protein mixed with 250ml water. Also, consume 1 x banana or apple.
Wednesday & Friday – High Protein/High Carbs
Breakfast – 100g of porridge oats, cooked in 350ml of unsweetened almond milk. Once cooked, add in 1 x chopped up banana and drizzle 20g of honey on top. Serve with a 50g whey protein shake.
Lunch – 250g grilled chicken, served with 250g pack of microwave rice and a portion of broccoli.
Dinner – 250g cod, cooked in 10g olive oil, served with 250g potatoes (cut into chips), drizzle 25g of olive oil onto chips. Serve with green peas.
Intra Workout (consumed during workout) – 1 x Lucozade Sport Energy Drink
Post Workout – 60g of whey protein mixed with 250ml water. Also, consume a 100g bowl of cereal of your choice with 300ml unsweetened almond milk.
Sunday – Pull Back On Calories By Fasting + Meal Of Your Choice.
Breakfast – FASTING (to give your digestive system a break)
Lunch – 250g grilled chicken, served with green vegetables.
Dinner – Meal Of Your Choice (1,500-2,000 calories)
Intra Workout (consumed during workout) – 1 x Lucozade Sport Energy Drink
Adding Extra Calories Each Week:
Do you remember earlier in the post me explaining how important it is to keep raising your calories? Especially when you’re a Hardgainer.
Each week I want you to add 100-200 calories each day; the amount you add will depend on what your weight is doing each week.
If your weight is going up, then stick to the same number of calories until it stalls.
If it’s going down, then add 200 calories each day for a week and reassess.
If you maintain, then add 100 calories each day for a week.
Keep doing this throughout the process. If you get stuck, then please drop me a message, and I’ll help.
Can I Change Certain Exercises?
Unless you have an injury, I wouldn’t recommend changing the program. The more you change the plan, the more your results will vary.
How Do I Know I’m Performing The Exercises Correctly?
Hopefully, the videos give you a good idea of each exercise. If, however, you are not fully confident, I’d recommend hiring a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to show you.
What if I can’t do a particular exercise?
Great question, for example, if you can’t do full push-ups, then do them on your knees. If there’s an exercise you struggle with, please drop me an email, and I’d be happy to help by giving you an alternative.
There’s Not Much Leg Training In The Program?
You’re right! This 12-week program focuses on improving the upper body (arms, chest, back, shoulders, core). If you want to work more on your legs, I would recommend adding extra sets on the split squat (in your Friday workout). You could also use your rest day (Thursday) to train your legs. I would recommend single-leg exercises like split squats, lunges, and single-leg extensions/curls.
The Foods Are Expensive To Buy: What Else Can I Do?
Eating good quality food is expensive, BUT it’s worth it (in my opinion!). It’s going to help you get results and perform at your best.
The first thing I say when somebody mentions this, is, “are there other areas of your life that you can pull back on?”. For example, can you spend less on nights out, takeouts, clothes, magazine subscriptions, etc.?
If you value you something, you’ll make it happen. If you are genuinely struggling to afford the food, then how about ordering in bulk or looking at ways to save money i.e., by going to your local butchers or fishmonger? You could also use places like Muscle Food – to buy your meat in bulk and get good deals.
Do I Have To Eat Organic Meat?
Of course, you don’t have too! BUT it’s much better for your health, BUT Do what suits you best!
Can I Add Herbs And Spices To Meals?
Yes, the taste is KEY. Feel free to add condiments that enrich your food and make your 12 Week Muscle Building Program much more enjoyable!