Genetics can be the nightmare of a “hardgainer” looking to pack on muscle mass. The classic ectomorph body type is infamous for staying thin and lean to the point of being skinny despite attempts at proper diet and resistance training. While genetics does play a primary role in what your body composition should look like, it by no means has the final say of what your results can be. Many hardgainers blame their genetics when all along it’s been the nutrition and exercise program they so dearly cling to. To get the size you want, putting on mass comes down to eating enough of the right foods, taking the right science-based supplements, and lifting heavy. It's really that simple. There are no secrets, just hard and smart work.
Hypertrophy is stimulated by lifting heavy weight. You don’t want to sacrifice your form, but you should be training with heavy loads. Stick with heavy weight and 6 reps or less for 80% of your training!
The traditional 10-15 rep bodybuilding programs you've seen in your favorite muscle mag can be put on the back-burner for now, focus on lifting heavy.
Certain exercises work better than others do when it comes to building muscle mass. Compound movements such as the squat and deadlift are the key to packing on muscle. Don't waste your time with too much isolation work, it won't get the job done for you. 90% of your effort and time should be spent on compound movements.
Muscle growth happens with progressive overload. Adding more plates to the barbell over time will maximize muscular hypertrophy. You may not be hitting 12-15 reps, but your muscles will actually grow, not just get a temporary pump.The specifics of the program are less important than you may think, and you can customize it as you please. Just keep these key principles in mind:
That's it: train heavy, eat enough calories, get your protein in, and increase training volume over time.
Make no mistake about it, machines are not going to be your key to growth. If you haven’t already, you need to get familiar with free weights: barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells. If it ends in "bells," you are on the right track.
References:1.) Adams K, Cafarelli E, Dudley GA, Dooly C, Feigenbaum MS, Fleck SJ, Franklin B, Fry AC, Hoffman JR, Newton RU, Potteiger J, Stone MH, Ratamess NA, Triplett-McBride T; American College of Sports Medicine. “American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.February 2002. Web. 2.) Alvar BA, Burkett LN, Ball SD. “A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.March 2003. Web. 3.) Campos GE, Luecke TJ, Wendeln HK, Toma K, Hagerman FC, Murray TF, Ragg KE, Ratamess NA, Kraemer WJ, Staron RS. “Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.November 2002. Web. 4.) Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., Sutton, B.G. (2012). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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