Hope for the "Hardgainers"
I was about fourteen years old when I really started getting into lifting weights. I bought a handful of books on the subject, started reading all the bodybuilding magazines and assembled my own makeshift home gym down in the basement. I was seriously skinny and desperately wanted to put on muscle, get bigger and look just like the guys did in the pictures. I was working out pretty consistently and even taking a bunch of different store-bought supplements.
Yet it didn't happen.
Why not? Four basic reasons:
- I had unrealistic expectations.
I wanted to get as big and as defined as the bodybuilders in the magazines, not realizing that the overwhelming majority of them took pharmaceutical drugs to achieve those physiques.
- I expected immediate results.
While I didn't expect to change my body overnight, like most people I did expect to see pretty big changes in a short amount of time. That's not how it works, especially for someone just beginning a program. It takes consistency and it takes time.
- My program was flawed.
I was just learning about how to work out: what exercises to do, how much weight to lift, how many repetitions and sets to do, and how frequently I should work each body part. I was following workout advice that wasn't necessarily what I needed to be doing, and that seriously affected my results.
- I wasn't taking in enough protein.
I was eating a typical teenager's diet, one that was heavy on the junk and light on the healthy foods, especially when it came to protein. Muscles need adequate protein to undergo "hypertrophy," a fancy term for "get bigger.” One simple way to get the protein your muscles need is through protein shakes.
Know that there are three basic body types: "Ectomorphs," people who are on the skinnier side and have a difficult time putting on muscle (think runway models and long-distance runners), "Mesomorphs," athletic-builds, people who have an easier time building muscle (think gymnasts) and "Endomorphs," people with bigger frames who have an easier time putting on weight (think football lineman and Olympic weightlifters.
While we cannot escape our genetics, all three body types can in fact attain great physiques, even the hardgainers. While this group will never look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, they can add quality lean muscle to their physiques by avoiding the aforementioned four mistakes I made. By following an intelligently-designed full body strength training plan and consuming adequate protein, even the hardgainer can make major changes to their physiques. I am living proof of that.