I’ve been getting a lot of emails from guys asking me to post a hardgainer workout program.

So guess what…? Here it is!

I’m going to outline some of the best exercises you can use to gain weight and pack on some serious muscle mass. Each exercise will have a description and a video demo so you know how it’s done.

Alright let’s get into it…

First of all I want to distinguish the 2 types of exercises most guys are doing in the gym to try and gain muscle weight:

  • Isolation exercises
  • Compound exercises

So what’s the difference? Well isolation exercises only work 1 muscle group, and compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at once.

A true hardgainer workout focuses on compound lifts instead of messing around with isolation lifts.

Why?

Because in order to gain weight fast you need to stimulate the largest amount of muscle fibers possible. And the best way to do that is through the use of compound movements.

Alright let’s talk about the specific exercises you’ll be using.

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Pull-Ups
  • Barbell Rows
  • Bench Press
  • Military Press
  • Bar Dips

Those are some of the BEST exercises¬† for packing on a serious amount of muscle mass in no time. Seriously, if you did nothing but those exercises right there you’d be alright.

You might be asking, “What about the bicep curls, and the leg extensions, and the tricep pushdowns?”

Those are ISOLATION exercises!

Listen, you can incorporate those into your workout routine, yes. However, the exercises I just mentioned above will work all those muscles. Yes, even your biceps… (Especially the barbell rows and pull-ups)

Anyway, let’s talk about how these exercises are done:

Deadlifts

Load up the barbell and have it setting on the ground. Without hunching over (with a straight back) bend at the waist and grasp the barbell. You can use an alternating over/under grip or an overhand grip.

Next, stand up straight. But move your legs and your back simultaneously. Don’t let your back do all the work. It should be one fluid motion. Keep the barbell close to your body as you bring it up past your knees and back up to your waist.

Then lower the bar in the same fashion.

Squats

Load up the bar on the squat rack a little lower than shoulder height. Duck your head under the bar and place the bar onto your lower traps. Do not balance the bar on your upper neck. You should feel the bar on your trapezius muscle.

Use your legs to lift the bar up off the rack and back up. (If you don’t have a spotter it’s best to use a squat cage and adjust the saftey bars in case you get stuck at the bottom. This way you can go to failure without fear.)

Keeping your back straight, stick your butt out and bend your knees as if you were going to sit back in a chair. Go all the way down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. (Don’t stop half way, that’s cheating and only pussies do that.)

Once you hit parallel, raise yourself back up.

Pull-Ups

You can use multiple different grips when you perform pull ups. Choose one and stick with it for a few weeks until you can no longer make progress. Each week you should do more reps, or you should add more weight via a “dip belt.” My preferred methods are underhand close-grip and overhand wide-grip.

For a wide-grip pull-up, grip the bar with your hands slightly further than shoulder width apart. Concentrating on your back muscles, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Then slowly lower yourself back down all the way getting a full stretch.

Like squats, it’s easy to cheat and only go halfway. Don’t cheat. Bring yourself all the way down on the negative motion, then pull yourself back up.

Barbell Rows

The bent over barbell row is great for building the thickness of your back and will be an important part of your overall workout routine for gaining mass.

Load the barbell and either place it on the floor in front of you, or you can place it on the hooks on the font of a squat rack if you’ve got that setup available at your gym.

This is an exercise where you’ve got many options as far as grip. The video explains each variation well so I won’t go into all the different combination here.

Bend your knees slightly and bend at the waist so your upper body is close to parallel with the floor. Take your grip on the bar and pull it up towards yourself as you contract your back muscles.

if you’re using an overhand grip the bar will come up around your sternum, and if you’re using an underhand grip the bar will tend to go towards your waist. When you pull the bar up, let it go where it will naturally. Don’t try and force the bar up to any specific location.

Then lower the weight back down in a slow and controlled manor.

Bench Press

You’ll make the quickest progress with this exercise if you can get a spotter. This way you can go to failure on each set. I always get a spotter, for my bench press.

Before you even start the lift… When you lie down on the bench make sure your shoulder blades are retracted and your chest is out. The video does a great job of explaining this.

Start with a grip a little further than shoulder width apart. Un-rack the bar and get it into position over your chest. Make an elbow correction, pointing your elbows at a 45 degree angle. Make sure your elbows aren’t flared out because this leads to extra strain on your shoulders and sets you up for a rotator cuff injury.

Bring the bar down to your chest and when your arms are parallel with the floor, press the bar back up.

Military Press

The military press (also known as the barbell shoulder press) is the best exercise for building muscle mass in your shoulders. Do these the right way and it will slap the hardgainer out of you. You’ll have a broader appearance with bigger shoulders.

Load up a barbell with the desired weight. Grip the barbell with an overhand grip, and bring your arms in front of you with the barbell under your chin. Move your head back out of the way as you press the barbell up above your head. Then bring it back down to the starting position.

Bar Dips

WARNING: This video gets a little “weird” towards the end… But pay attention to the beginning part where he shows you the proper bar dip technique.

Start by grasping the bars and pushing yourself up so your arms are straight. Keeping your elbows close to your body, slowly lower yourself down until your arms are parallel with the floor.

Once you get strong enough you can add weight to this exercise by using a dip belt.

hardgainer workout information

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Recently I posted a video on YouTube that gave my top 3 tips for creating the most effective hardgainer workout.

I received tremendous feedback so I decided to make a blog about it so I can help other hardgainers gain weight and build muscle.

Hardgainer Workout Tip #1: Use Compound Lifts

I can’t tell you how many guys I see in the gym who are screwing around with isolation exercises like dumbbell flys, leg extensions, hammer curls, skull crushers, etc.

I get what they’re doing… They’re trying to really “blast their muscles” …But the truth is these exercises will only get a fraction of the results that could be achieved by focusing on compound lifts.

Compound lifts are often HARDER to do than isolation exercises. So newbies often shy away from them. But the fact is they work.

What are compound exercises?

They are exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once. For instance the bench press is a compound lift. It doesn’t just target the chest. Your shoulders and triceps are also heavily involved in the lift.¬† Therefore you get more growth all over your upper body by doing the bench press than using a silly-ass machine like a pec deck.

Besides the bench press, a few other good compound lifts you should use in your workout routine are:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bar Dips
  • Pull-Ups
  • Barbell Rows
  • Military Press

If you aren’t doing the above exercises every week then I know why you’re not growing. But if you decide to use these then be prepared for a nice growth spurt.

Hardgainer Workout Tip #2: Lift In The 2 – 10 Rep Range

Listen, I don’t give a shit if you can do 100 pushups. If you can do 100 pushups then you need to man up and go lift something HEAVY.

Fact is you shouldn’t be able to do more than 10 reps of any given exercise. Why? Because you get the biggest growth response in the 2 – 10 rep range.

Let me break it down for you…

In order to add muscle you need to continuously lift heavier weights each week. Therefore you need to be getting stronger each week. Lifting in the 2-4 rep range will have the biggest impact on strength gains. So that takes care of that.

Now, you’ll also want to lift in the 6 – 10 rep range to build actual muscle size. If you only lift in the 2-4 rep range you’ll get much stronger but not much bigger. Your body responds to the 6-10 rep range by adding muscle mass.

Hardgainer Workout Tip #3: Don’t Train For More Than 45 – 60 Minutes

Out of all the advice I give hardgainers about working out this is the one I catch the most heat from. Some guys just can’t beleive that working out for just 45 – 6o minutes is actually MORE effective than a 2 hour workout.

Let me explain…

Your muscles only need to be stimulated enough to elicit a growth response that tells your body to manufacture new muscle tissue. One you achieve this goal you’re done. PERIOD. Any more lifting is just overkill and is actually counter productive at this point.

So what happens when you lift for more than 60 minutes?

Well your body releases a catabolic hormone called cortisol (this is basically the OPPOSITE of an anabolic hormone) which begins to break down your muscle tissue for energy.

Towards the end of your workout your body’s glycogen stores are depleted and your body is desperately searching for a source of energy. Well you don’t REALLY need all that pesky muscle so your body decides to eat away at your hard-earned muscle tissue.

…Are you starting to see why training more than 60 minutes is counter-productive?

So next time you’re at the gym remember this and plan your workout ahead of time to ensure that you get in and out of the gym in time.

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