Easy Gains for the Hardgainer

How an ectomorph packs on body mass.

WHAT IS A HARDGAINER?

An individual who has a naturally “smaller” frame and lighter bone structure, and carries little body fat and muscle. Beginning your bodybuilding journey with this somatotype isn’t exactly ideal, but you could be in a less favorable position— as in, the polar opposite body type. Keep in mind, people’s somatotypes—ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph—are not cut and dry, meaning certain individuals can fall somewhere in the middle of a somatotype. First, a quick overview of the three somatotypes and their accompanying characteristics.

ECTOMORPH

Thinner, long limbs and narrow clavicle structure. Has dif culty gaining muscle or fat.

ENDOMORPH

Naturally heavier frame, with a propensity to accumulate body fat and muscle easily. Has wider hips and shoulders.

MESOMORPH

The natural athlete. The natural bodybuilder. Has a wide clavicle structure and smaller hip structure, revealing an innate X-frame. This individual gains muscle easily, and can burn body fat easily, too.

HOW AN ECTOMORPH PACKS ON BODY MASS

The answer is actually rather obvious: Eat big and lif big weights!

But the task is far from easy. The hardgainer will typically have a poor appetite and be naturally “weaker” in regard to muscle strength. This means diligent, planned eating will take priority and daily appointments with heavy iron will need to be habitual. As the hardgainer slowly but surely gets meals down and masters the mechanics of old-school Olympic lifts, his/ her muscle mass and muscle strength will inevitably increase.

As time passes, progress will stall due to an inability to fathom more food consumption and lifting heavier weights without risking injury. Frustration sets in, and unnecessary cortisol floods your system from the stress of a plummeted appetite and stagnant lifts.

Yes, dedicated bodybuilders often stress and panic over the inability to eat and train optimally for their goal, and actually make things worse with constant worrying and fretting. Note that this continual stress can increase cortisol production and impair glucose tolerance and glycogen levels, which further compounds the issue of mass gain.

Please stop stressing, take a deep breath, and relax—everything will be OK, I promise.

I’ve been in this position more often than I like to remember, and I know the rigors and constant annoyance of having difficulty packing on mass. I have some ideas that may help you keep cortisol levels down and boost your spirits.

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