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The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat-Head

The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat-Head

PinExt The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat Head

What if I told you that almost everything you have been taught about how to build muscle mass is completely wrong? You see, most hardgainers make their way into bodybuilding sites or mainstream fitness magazines looking for tips to increase mass in the shortest time possible. Unfortunately, the common advice will bombard you with supplements, some kind of bodybuilding hardgainer workout, muscle building meals, etc…but in the end it will ultimately ruin your look. Don’t make this mistake.

James Bond QOS 1024x768 The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat Head(Daniel Craig is a good example of having a decent amount of mass without looking cheesy. Building the right amount of muscle in all the right areas will help you look great in a suit. Not the other way around )

The Best Advice Is Not Mainstream

I have come across many young guys over the years who have experienced a tough time adding muscle mass. They lift weights regularly but don’t seem to be able to increase in size. Now if they do get bigger, it is usually from excess body fat because they have been sucked in to thinking that they can increase muscle gains by eating more. The problem…gaining mass has nothing to do with nutrition and excess calories but has everything to do with training. I know that it’s going to upset a lot of people but it’s true. Don’t worry about what magazines and supplement companies are telling you. This is why you will see a lot of big guys in the gym with little to no definition.

Understanding The Difference Of Lifting For Mass And Lifting For Strength

When you are strictly training for mass, stay away from low reps. Lifting in the lower rep range (2-4) with heavy weight is useful for creating great muscle tone and density. However, mass is achieved in the high rep range(8-12) but with a lower weight and lifting to failure. Lifting in this range will create a pump. I’m sure you are familiar with this term. This is where your muscles swell and become fuller during your training. The increase in muscle size during high reps in the is due to the increase in volume of the cellular fluid in the muscle. This is what is commonly known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This fluid can account for almost 1/3 of the muscle size when training in this fashion. It is almost a faux muscle growth because the size can increase and decrease very quickly.

Hardgainer Workout: Typical Mass Building Routine Done Strategically

There are plenty of workouts and approaches to building muscle mass so I am not saying that this is the only one that works well. There are 3 and 5 day splits, pyramids, reverse pyramids, and many more. The problem with most of these workouts is that they are designed to pack on a lot of mass no matter where it ends up. I don’t want to do this to you. I want to strategically add the right amount of mass in all the right places to create a visually appealing physique.

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

1)      3 Exercises for each body part (chest, shoulders, triceps)

2)      Rep range of 8-15

3)      4 Sets per lift

4)      Pyramid Set & Rep for incline bench, standing military press, lying tricep extension (12,10,8,6,12-15)

5)      Train to failure, use the same weight (except for the pyramid)

Note:  Exercises for Day 1

           Chest: Incline barbell bench press, dumbbell flyes, incline dumbbell press

Shoulders: Standing military press, dumbbell lateral raise, seated shoulder press machine

Triceps: Lying tricep extension, cable pressdowns, dips/dip machine

Day 2: Back, Biceps, Forearms

1)      Rep range of 8-15

2)      4 sets per lift

3)      Pyramid set & rep for seated cable rows, straight barbell curls

4)      Train to failure, use the same weight (except for the pyramid)

Note: Exercises for Day 2

Back: Chin ups (may have to  be weighted), seated cable rows, nautilus pullovers

Biceps: Straight barbell curls, seated incline dumbbell curls, standing dumbbell curls

Forearms: Reverse barbell curls, wrist curls

Nutrition: Eating More Food For Bigger Muscles??

It is a common misconception that “if you want to get big you have to eat big.” What people don’t realize is that the push to consume more protein, supplements, shakes, etc is merely hardcore advertising to sell you more….everything I just listed. Like I mentioned before, eating more food to increase muscle gains simply doesn’t happen. The added weight is almost always from excess fat and not muscle. The faster you understand how to build muscle mass with the right training, the less you will stress over nutrition. Even though mainstream fitness will have you think otherwise, trust me on this. Your waistline will thank you too! Don’t believe me? I highly recommend you read “How Much Protein.”

How Much Protein 300x274 The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat Head

What To Keep In Mind So You Don’t Overdo It

A lot of young guys will want to put on a lot of mass in a hurry but end up getting carried away with it. Don’t make the mistake in thinking that you have to keep training for mass because you just don’t feel big enough. Mass building for too long will make your muscles look soft and bloated and not hard and angular.Your physique will have a more visually stunning appearance with  a combination of low body fat levels with toned and dense muscles. Woman prefer this look over the massive bodybuilder look any day.

Bonus: Perfect Addition To A Hardgainer Workout

videobanner2 The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat Head
(This technique works very well for hardgainers)

PinExt The Hardgainer Workout:How To Build Muscle Mass Without Looking Like A Meat Head


  1. Michael- The Underwear Bodyh says:

    This post would have done me a lot of good a few years ago! Avoiding eating for mass and focusing on the right kind of workouts will keep a lot of guys on track to a better body I think. Nice job.


    • thefitnesschronicle says:

      I’m just glad that I learned the “strategic” mass building so it didn’t ultimately ruin my look.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned the proper rep range for building muscle mass. Often people who are trying to put on mass stick to lower rep ranges but don’t see gains. Maybe a beginner gets to see some gains but they are short lived. A higher rep range is definitely the way to go.

    A second problem I see so often is people doing long workouts. There is this belief in many gyms that a 2 hour weight training session 5 or 6 days a week is going to give results. Unfortunately they will see their body looking the same as in day one.

    A hardgainer, and anyone looking to put on mass really needs to focus on proper rest, shorter workouts (I usually keep my training at 30 to 45 minutes) and a focus on multi joint movements.

    Combining these together will give anyone faster results than expected.


    • thefitnesschronicle says:

      @ Sam
      When building mass, I try to make sure I’m done within the 45 min range. This keeps me on target to only allow just the right amount of time in between sets. Rest…definitely. I’m always sore for a few days when I do high rep training.

  3. Definitely the higher rep ranges are the best for size and the low rep ranges ( which I prefer most of the time) is great for density. I can look really hard and defined with the lower stuff but I don’t really grow since seldom go into the higher reps.
    Good looking workout routine you go there.
    I do believe you need to eat ( calorie surplus to grow muscle) but not over eat, general sense I have never seen anything grow on this planet when calories are restrictive but eat too much and the fat pours on.

    • thefitnesschronicle says:

      @ Raymond
      I highly prefer lifting for density because it makes me feel like a beast! ahhah Overeating is so easy to do when switching over to mass building. You just have to watch yourself so excess fat doesn’t blur your hard earned work!

  4. Great outline of a hardgainer workout. There’s a wealth of knowledge in here from how to lift to how much protein you need. All great advice for someone who wants to strategically add muscle in the right places without overdoing it.

  5. Hmm; my personal viewpoint is that this is too much volume for most hardgainers. And training to failure every set will soon result in a plateau. Maybe stop one or two reps short of failure on all but the last set. Also do you not do leg training?

    Interesting notes on diet. I have made the mistake of overeating in the past and just got fat. But I do think it’s important to eat a nutrient dense diet though – not junk.

    • admin says:

      Training to failure on every set is based on the principles of cumulative fatigue which is crucial for hardgainers that want some mass. It is a lot of volume on purpose. You just have to monitor your size/growth. Once you get to your ideal size (mass) then you will quickly move on to the next phase which is training for strength (this is usually about the time where you would “plateau”…meaning that you pretty much won’t gain any more mass). Training for strength is much different than training for mass. After you have reached your ideal mass training for strength will harden up the muscles and give them the dense and slightly flexed look.
      I didn’t list leg training on this post because I just wanted to give a summary. If you want the full package I always recommend Visual Impact. However, my thoughts on leg training?…. If you have seriously skinny legs then I would recommend the foundational moves of squats, deadlifts, and leg press. There simply isn’t a better lift to increase mass in the lower body. Hardgainers will just have to monitor their lower body because it can be very easy to “over do it” because of the large growth potential in the legs and butt. A large lower body will ruin your look and make it extremely difficult to fit in normal clothes and suits.
      For regular people I recommend intense cardio for their leg training. Why? It creates a much leaner and better looking lower body that magnifies the upper body. Thanks for replying. I appreciate your input.

      • Thanks for explaining that. Perhaps training to failure never worked for me because I have chronic fatigue syndrome and I easily over train. Although I take your point about doing it in phases to avoid plateaus. So do you do the intense cardio during a mass phase or only during your strength phase?

        • admin says:

          Hey man I would get on an antifungal diet (like the phase one diet) to take care of your chronic fatigue syndrome. I do my HIIT right after my workout for both the mass phase and the strength phase. The only difference is that HIIT is much shorter (like 10-15 min) and less taxing on the body during the mass phase.

  6. Also I was just wondering why the links back to people’s website’s aren’t working. Is there a problem that needs to be fixed? Hope everything is ok; I notice you haven’t moderated any comments for a while.

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