A lot of people have been asking what kind of routine a Hardgainer
should be following. A good rule of thumb to be successful in any
pursuit is to observe what the masses are doing...and do the opposite.
I'm not the author or originator of these ideas. I'm just passing
on, expounding upon, developing, etc. the ideas and methods of people
such as Stuart McRobert, J.C. Hise, Brooks Kubik, John McCallum,
Randall Strossen, Arthur Jones, and others. Also, the specific
routines are not necessarily to be used exactly as written. What do I
mean by that? They are only ideas of how a routine can be put
together. They CAN be used exactly as presented, but they could also
be reviewed and individualized to meet your specific needs and goals.
The Hardgainer requires abbreviation in routines. He cannot tolerate
exercise well. He must build the tolerance to exercise. He must start
with the minimum of exercise to grow in ability to add exercise and
intensity. This is not a reason to "pump and tone" instead of work
hard. It just means one must be judicious in developing and
Hardgainers should work out no more than 2 times every 7-10 days.
Exercises like the squat or deadlift are best worked only once every
8-10 days. Compound movements are all that's required for the
Hardgainer. Time and recovery energy must not be wasted on
"finishing" exercises like cable work, leg extensions, concentration
curls, laterals, calf work, etc. The body must be strengthened and
trained as a unit.
Stabilizing muscles and attachments must be toughened and
strengthened to allow for increasing loads. A set of legs trained on
leg press or extensions will not develop the hip and low back
strength necessary to support a heavy overhead press. The Hardgainer
will be required to work very hard to achieve strength. He will have
to do the lifts the pumpers hate to do. He will have to breathe hard
An abbreviated routine presented in Super Squats looks like this:
Bench Press 2 x 12
Squat 1 x 20 (these would be the dreaded "breathing squats", not a
low weight/high rep move)
Pullover 1 x 20
5 minute rest
Bent over rows 2 x 15
The goal would be to adjust the weights for each exercises, so that
you had to fight for the last reps. Terminate each set only when you
cannot do another rep in good form. In other words, train to
positive failure. You would want to add weight or reps each workout.
You could alternate these two (as presented in Brawn)
Seated shoulder press
Deadlift or stiff deadlift
You could use a 2 x 8 (set x rep scheme), a 1 x 12, or a 3 x 3.
These routines might be done every 6-8 days. If you just did the 20
rep squats, you might wait 8 days till you workout again. If you do
bench press and stiff deadlifts, you might be good to go in 5-6 days.
You would have to keep a training log to keep track of the various
poundage you use from routine to routine. You could vary the rep
schemes, but it might be easier to keep them all relatively the same
from routine to routine. That way you could keep track of progress and
up intensity as required.
It's probably best to avoid advanced high intensity techniques. If
you do them, do them very sparingly. High intensity can sap gains if
not monitored closely. This includes high intensity techniques such
as negatives, super slow, rest pause, etc.
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