You work hard in the gym, lifting heavy, doing the same exercises, the same routine as all the massive guys.

But you just don’t get any bigger.

Why can’t you put on muscle mass?

So you work harder, adding an extra session per week and doing even more reps every time you step inside the gym.

Instead of getting bigger, you just feel exhausted and wiped out.

If you’re at the end of your tether, don’t give up. The truth is, you may just be a hard gainer.

What is a ‘hard gainer’?

The term ‘hard gainer’ refers to those of you with a naturally slim, athletic build, who struggle to pack on the slabs of lean muscle you’re hankering after.

It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the genetic hand you’ve been dealt.

Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to build muscle size, shape and strength. Just because you’re a hard gainer, it doesn’t mean you can’t put on muscle.

Are you eating enough?

The last thing a hard gainer needs to do is worry about eating too much so the first thing to consider is whether you’re eating enough to support the muscle growth you want.

The body has to work hard in order to build muscle, and it needs calories.

You need to be exceeding your daily caloric needs if you want to see bigger biceps, chest and lats.

Are you training smart?

Training smart doesn’t mean training more

It’s natural to assume that you need to work harder if you’re not seeing gains in the gym. But, for hard gainers, the opposite is true.

Try backing off on the frequency of training, but make sure you maintain the intensity on days you do train.

Keep sessions relatively short but very intense – 45 minutes spent weight training four times a week is optimal.

Lift really heavy, with fewer sets and reps rather than more.

Use eccentric and concentric movements to challenge your muscles from every angle, and don’t forget technique: breathe in on the eccentric movement and out on the concentric phase.

A lean man in gym gear, working hard with dumbbells. He may be a hard gainer.

Consider your use of supplements

You can make it easier by taking a good look at what and how you consume sports supplements.

The correct supplement intake can certainly give your body a boost in overcoming the challenges of being a hard gainer.

Firstly, before a weights session pre-load your muscles with a nitric oxide pre-cursor to ensure you can lift at 100% intensity right through to the end of every session.

Consider a muscle gain ‘all-in-one’ as these help even the hardest of hard gainers pack on size.

An ‘all-in-one’ will contain the most effective muscle building ingredients known to sports science, and will also provide calories in a balanced form of protein and carbohydrates – designed specifically to support intensive muscle building.

USN’s Muscle Fuel, for example, contains 55g of protein per serving as well as Creatine, Glutamine, BCAA’s and Tolerase and is considered to be an excellent muscle gain formula.

Rugby players use it to bulk up before the start of a new season as well as body builders looking to pack on size.

Pertinently for hard gainers, boxers and MMA fighters use ‘all-in-ones’ to help them go up a weight division.

Rest up

Finally, get your rest. Muscle growth occurs when you’re resting, not when you’re training.

So, train hard when you do train, but rest hard too.

Take recovery and eating as seriously as you take your training, and you can overcome the curse of the hard gainer.

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