The Hardgainer Workout – How to Gain Muscle Without Supplements

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Whether you are looking to gain 10, 20, or more pounds of muscle, here are the workout strategies that have helped MANY pro athletes from the NFL, NHL, MLB, gain large amounts of muscle WITHOUT drugs or supplements.

By following this advice, you can too!

First, we will look at why the best exercises for gaining muscle weight are compound movements that force you to move serious weight.

Next, we will look at a sample week program that implements these movements in a systematic way.

Finally, we will touch on proper nutrition for gaining muscle.

How to Gain Muscle – The Best Exercises

Ever see a bodybuilder doing set after set of concentration curls and then try this approach yourself?

Why didn’t you get those ‘guns’ that the gym rat had? Well, isolation exercises are great for maximizing muscle gain ONCE you have a solid foundation of strength and basic muscle mass. But before you have that foundation, these exercises are NOT the best way to spend your time at the gym.

And how do you make those first strength and size gains?

Compound exercises are the solution (combined with ample calories and protein, of course).

Doing heavy deadlifts, squats, military press, weighted pullups/rows, bench press/weighted pushups are all EXCELLENT examples of compound exercises that will pack on muscle mass and functional strength.

Doing these exercises causes a ‘neuroendocrine’ response – basically, your body improves and increases the brain/muscle connection while also releasing ample amounts of testosterone. Together these two factors serve to increase strength and muscle size.

To stay safe, make sure to get proper instruction on the key form elements of these exercises (youtube has several excellent videos detailing these exercises’ finer points).

A Sample Beginner Routine

Before each workout, warm up with around 10 minutes of calisthenics – jumping jacks, easy pushups, pullups, bodyweight squats, etc. to get your blood pumping and muscles activated.

For each exercise, do a few sets building up to your ‘working weight’ – a weight that you can lift between 4 and 8 times with good form for 4 sets.

Day 1

  • warm up
  • Deadlift – 4 sets of between 4-8 reps
  • Military Press (Dumbbells ok) – 4 sets 4-8 reps
  • Weighted (or unweighted if necessary) – Pullups 4 sets 4-8 reps

Rest a couple days. Remember, DON’T overdo it! Your muscles grow while you are RECOVERING, not while you are working out!

Day 2

  • warm up
  • Squat – 4 sets of between 4-8 reps
  • Incline Bench Press (dumbbells ok) – 4 sets of 4-8
  • Weighted (or unweighted if necessary) rows (hang on to a bar at around waist height, put your feet on an object around waist height, use a plate on your stomach if you need to) – 4 sets, 4-8 reps

Rest a couple more days, then go again with day 1’s workout. Try this for a couple months and see how you do.

Every 5th week or so, back off on the intensity of the workout, lifting less weight. And then, every couple months, take a week off from training to let your body regenerate, coming back stronger than ever.

A Couple Details

Don’t go to failure on each set – finish the set with one rep left ‘in the tank.’ This will help prevent excessive muscle soreness post-workout, allowing you to train more often and avoid overtraining and burnout.

For this hardgainer workout, each day includes a complete leg/total body exercise (squat and deadlift) to release testosterone and improve the brain/muscle connection/innervation, and then a pushing motion followed by a pulling motion.

As you can see, it is best to combine an overhead pushing motion (overhead press) with a complementary overhead pulling motion (pullups), or a more horizontal pushing motion (incline press) with a more horizontal pull (row). This will help to prevent any muscle imbalances that could result from, say, focusing too much on one particular motion, like the bench press.

Don’t spend more than 45 min on any workout, don’t work out more than 3-4 times per week. Remember- your body grows while recovering, NOT while you are working out.

How To Gain Muscle – Nutrition

Oh yeah, you will need to eat a lot, too. Eat throughout the day so that your muscles have a constant supply of the raw materials needed to create more muscle.

One famous powerlifting coach would force his students to drink at least one gallon of milk EACH DAY to insure that they were eating enough.

Keeping a diet journal will help you to dial in your nutrition and see exactly where you are at.

Wrapping it up…

Now you have a good idea on the best workouts to build muscle. Now get out there and get busy!


write by Joshua Underwood

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