Hardgainer’s Guide to Training

When it comes to training, HardGainer’s have to abide by one simple rule.

Hard and Heavy!

What I mean by this is a varying rep training program that has you pushing as much weight as humanly possible. I’m talking about a rep range as high as 12, and as low as 6. Using this rep training protocol, you will successfully activate both the slow twitch and fast twitch fibers in the muscle. This translates into size and volume gains while in the 10-12 rep range, and strength and power gains in the 6-8 rep range.

For each exercise you will perform 4 sets in pyramiding fashion. By pyramiding, I mean that the first set will be for 12 reps, then you will increase the weight and do 10 reps for the next set and so on. You will continue this increase in weight and decrease in reps until you finish off that exercise with your heaviest weight possible for 6 reps.

When it comes to number of exercises per bodypart, more is not always better. A good rule of thumb is that the number of exercises per bodypart should be proportional to the size of the muscle group being training.

Here is a sample HardGainer training program that further illustrates the points above:

Bodypart Rep range # of Exercises
Forearms 12 to 6 2
Biceps 12 to 6 3
Triceps 12 to 6 3
Shoulders 12 to 6 4
Chest 12 to 6 4
Back 12 to 6 4
Legs 12 to 6 4

Stay tuned for specific training guides on each bodypart!


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10 Responses to Hardgainer’s Guide to Training

  1. Rees August 10, 2008 at 9:35 am #

    Is there anywhere I can find a routine, using the pyramid you talk about? I would like to work out 3 days a week.

  2. Clayton September 8, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Are you just starting this website? Because the information here seems a bit vague. I came here looking for a complete weekly workout plan that I could follow. Instead I get forearms: 12 to 6 reps, biceps: 12 to 6 reps, chest: 12 to 6 reps, legs: 12 to 6 reps. I’m going to need more than that. Also, 6 to 12 reps seems pretty high for a hardgainer. How are you supposed to lift heavy at 12 reps? Everything else I’ve read tells me to stick to 5X5 for the big muscles. I also didn’t like how your “complete chest workout” doesn’t include a single bench press. Again, how are you supposed to lift heavy using only dumbells? Please reply.


  3. James December 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    Shut up!

    First of all pyramiding IS good for hardgainers. If you didn’t have your head up your a$$ you would have noticed it didnt say to lift heavy at 12 reps. It said lift heavy at 6 reps on the last set you do. So if the most you can bench is 200 lbs then you would do, 12 reps at 170 lbs, 10 reps at 180 lbs, 8 reps at 190 lbs and 6 reps at 200lbs. For what it is he is exactly right, he stated it works both the slow twitch and the fast twitch fibers and that’s exactly what it does.

    Go be negative some where else! Maybe you should start your own website if your such knowledgable.

  4. Brandon January 19, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    really helpful mate atlhough a few more detailed plans for other muscle grops ont the site would be nice…other than that the site really helped thanks!

  5. Victor May 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Hey I’m a hardgainer that’s pretty leaned out so far in my process. Since I’ve been gaining by changing my diet patterns, I’ve noticed that my easy-to-manage abs are getting thin slabs of fat on top.

    Summer is coming and I know the purpose for gaining is increasing caloric gain vs. caloric loss. Is there any type of diet/workout plan to lose the bad fat and gain muscle mass at the same time? Or do the two have to be completely independent?

  6. Tom November 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    I’m an ectomorph in body type. How many days a week do you recommend weight training? How often for each body part? How often for aerobics?

  7. dayton March 10, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    you cant gain and stay thin guy, thats what a cut cycle is for,

  8. Demond August 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    i agree with u rees..im lookin for one now..that has a step by step training plan..if u find one..hmu..@ demiah.smith@yahoo.com

  9. Patrick January 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    I have the dreaded “love handles” that i cant seem to get rid of. I am 6’1″ and 186. i workout 5 days a week and eat pretty well. Any suggestions?

  10. James February 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    the hard gainers simplified guide to actually track your results:

    1.)Lift as though you going to get in 12-16 reps, this that you have put on enough weight that it would physically impossible for you to do anymore than 16 reps in any case.

    2.)do anywhere from 2 to 3 sets of each but most importantly take a break of about 1 and a half minutes and be very strict about this as it applies to the next part.

    3.) until you put of some actual weight dont bother with isolation workouts like biceps, stick to complex ONLY! this will retain that tiny amount of stamina you have to the workouts that matter to eventually get you to isolation workouts.

    4.) Stay away from all mechines as you need to built up your stabilizer muscles so strictly free weights. (I am talking about that awkward shaky look you do when lifting)

    5.)right down your progress in a new way that actually makes more sense at the end of the day. To do it this what you need to be strict on how much break you take between sets; consistency in other words.

    This example applies to each workout you do but I will just discuss bench press to simplify the procedure:
    Lets say you have two 50lb dumbbells that your going to do a flat bench press with. together they equal 100lbs and one rep would equal 100lbs of lifting power right? Well now we will say for example your set will include 10 reps of that 100lbs. since 10 x 100lbs = 1000lbs you will right it down like this but instead of just 10×100 per set you want to write it down with the combined total of all reps in those sets. So 100lb x 10reps x 3sets = 3000lbs combined.

    Each time you return you should be able to increase that total number and if you can then that means you are going back to soon and you body has not fully recovered. If this is the case then tack on another day of rest then rinse and repeat.

    years ago when I started this I calculated by that method above that my body recovery took an entire week. Once i figured that out my body acclimated extremely quickly building up my energy stores and eventually allowing me within 6 months to go to the gym twice a week, within a year 3 times ect.

    The biggest problem the so called hard gainer has is understanding that working on a depleted body will not only get you anywhere but will ruin you immune system and at this pace your headed for the brick wall as mental fatigue will set in (burnout).

    Recovery is not just about the physical (pain is gone) it is actually about three things. Physical, immune system, Mental. without all three fully recovered you accomplish nothing.

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