5 Ways To Build More Muscle As A Hardgainer

When you’re tall, lengthy, or have a metabolism that stops for nothing, it can be hard to gain the weight you need to build more muscle. Eating more food, and making the right nutritional choices is always important in achieving your goals and improving overall health and wellness. However, sometimes, it requires more than just chicken and rice five times per day, to get the bulk that you need.

What Is A Hardgainer 

A hardgainer is someone who is trying to build more muscle, but finds it extremely challenging to put on any weight or gains, regardless of the effort they may be attributing. The most common reasons why hardgainers have a difficult time achieving their goals, include not eating enough, lack of recovery time, and not engaging in the right type of physical activity or bodybuilding program.  

Often times, the issues that effect a true hardgainer may go deeper than just the required elements for building more muscle mass, such as nutrition protocol and training regimen. Those issues may be rooted in biological difficulties affecting muscles and muscle protein synthesis.

How To Build More Muscle As A Hardgainer

1. Consume More Calories

I know, it’s not that simple. But consuming more calories, is not the same thing necessarily as eating more food. Although, yes you do also need to eat more food.

More calories will translate into more added energy and weight gain overtime. Making small adjustments to your nutrition plan, will help make the biggest changes and gains, in order to build more muscle mass.  

  • Add Sauces And Spreads to Your Meals (I.e. BBQ, Mayo, Jam, Nutella, Peanut Butter, Syrup etc.)
  • Drink More Juice
  • Add Protein and Carb Shakes Between Meals

Implementing small changes to your diet, in addition to volume, will increase your caloric intake and get you where you need to be faster.

2. Log Your Food

Part of the challenge is knowing exactly how much food you’re really eating. As a hardgainer, you might think you’re constantly eating a high volume of food, but until you track it, you won’t be entirely sure if you’re getting the quality calories you need to stack on more gains. The best and most efficient way to gain more size, is to know your food intake. Use an app, like myfitnesspal, or hire a nutrition coach from The Swole Kitchen and use a customized approach to tracking your food intake.

Once you start tracking your food, a good way to measure your gains is by increasing your carb intake by 40g per week, until you start noticing a change. Once you start adding more weight, you’ve found a good threshold or carb goal to stick with to stack on more size.

3. Be Consistent

If the goal is to build more muscle, then you have to be consistent especially when the work you put in can evaporate quickly with a fast-moving metabolism. Consistently eating at your recommended caloric goal, hitting your macros, supplementation, and following your training program, is the key to ultimately reaching your goals.

4. Supplementation

With the right supplements added to your training and nutrition program, you’ll be able to incrementally increase your gains. Several studies haves shown that athletes who participate in resistance training programs, or high intensity functional training, combined with muscle building supplements can substantially increase muscle mass, body weight, strength, and overall performance.  

Research has shown that there are several supplements proven to help increase muscle mass, such as Kre-Alkalyn Creatine, Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Whey Protein Isolate, and Clean Carbs.

RELATED ARTICLE The Best Supplements To Build More Muscle Mass And Strength

That being said, supplements can be tricky. Most supplement brands will under dose the proven ingredients you need to improve your performance, by including proprietary blends. A proprietary blend, includes several ingredients, and does not list the amounts of each ingredient, but only a lump sum, therefore you don't really know how much of each ingredient you're consuming. 

For example, if you’re using a pre-workout product and it only has 1-2g of Beta-Alanine or Citrulline Malate, you really need 3.2g and 5-6g in order to derive any real strength or performance benefit. When you're considering a supplement to purchase in order to help with your goals, pay attention to the label and make sure that it's proprietary blend free, made with proven ingredients, and has the correct clinical dose to ensure you get the results you want, like Swolverine

5. Pick The Right Training Program

Hardgainers will need to put more effort into training, than the average person. While heavy weight is necessary to stimulate muscle growth and increase size, volume is crucial in order to stack on more mass.

Gradually increasing work volume through a linear progression and periodization will help improve strength gains and add more size over time.

Bodybuilding is systematically designed to increase gains through periodization, ensuring progressive overload, performed with traditional split training isolating specific muscle groups, designated to certain days (i.e. back and biceps, chest and triceps, legs and shoulders). Like I said before, hardgainers need more volume. The specific training modality and program I would recommend is High-Intensity Functional Bodybuilding (HIFB).

HIFB incorporates this same type of training split, but with higher volume, increased intensity, shorter rest intervals, and added supersets with accelerated functional movements.

HIFB is performed at 80-90% intensity, 3-5 sets, 10-16 reps with .30-1-minute rest intervals. Fundamentally bodybuilding and HIFB are very similar, the only difference is the training objective. Instead of just aesthetics, we’re adding an aspect of athleticism and performance. 

RECOMMENDED PROGRAM High Intensity Functional Bodybuilding VL II

Hardgainer Foods List

Often times as a hardgainer, it can be frustrating when you’re not gaining the weight you want, but eating the high quality carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats you need. If your clean bulk  isn’t working and you’re still not making progress, you may need to consider eating foods which are less clean so you can achieve your caloric surplus goals. Adding in high caloric, dense starchy and simple carbs, and fattier proteins could be entirely necessary to increase weight gain and results. Those foods may include 

  • Pasta (any type)
  • Cereals 
  • Pop Tarts
  • Pastries
  • Muffins
  • Bagels
  • French Fries
  • Mass Gainers
  • Chicken Thighs (instead of chicken breast)
  • 85/15 Ground Beef (instead of 93/7) 

How To Build More Muscle As A Hardgainer: Takeaway

Volume, in terms of eating, calories, and training, is going to be the root element that will lead to your ultimate success. Getting more calories in from making small changes, with fattier proteins, starchier carbs, and adding a protein and carbs shake between meals, will be crucial to getting the results you want. If you're not sure where to start, or you're having a hard time gaining weight, hire a nutrition coach. A certified nutrition coach from The Swole Kitchen will take the guess work and frustration out of your journey, helping you get the results you want more effectively and efficiently. 

Need Help With Optimizing Your Diet And Nutrition Plan To Finally Get The Results You've Been Waiting For?

The Swole Kitchen is an exclusive membership opportunity for those who are looking to pursue a performance-driven lifestyle. By combining wellness consulting, nutritional lifestyle improvement and 1:1 customized nutrition plans to our members, our programs aim to optimize human potential. In each of our programs, you’ll receive guidance to reclaim your health, fuel your lifestyle and pursue performance ambitions, all while learning how to make nutritional decisions from a place of self-trust and intuition. All of our coaches are committed to providing the highest level of results-driven wellness to our members.

We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle. 


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