ADVICE FOR HARDGAINERS

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If you've been having difficulty putting on size or getting stubborn bodyparts to grow, run through this checklist of 20 common-sense rules for hardgainers. The tried-and-true basics are the most effective way to build muscle mass.

Written by The FLEX staff

May 30, 2008

FLEXONLINE.COM

Top 20 Tips

1) GO HEAVIER Even though it's a relative term, continually push your muscles with progressively greater resistance. Regularly increase reps, weight or intensity.

2) USE MODERATE REPS Sets of five reps or less tend to build more strength than mass, and if you train to failure, more than 10 reps make that difficult. Keep most working sets in the 6- to 10-rep range, with higher reps for calves, abs and forearms.

3) EMPHASIZE BASIC TRAINING Use free-weight compound lifts, such as squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, shoulder presses and bench presses.

4) EAT PROTEIN FREQUENTLY A longtime FLEX guideline has been to consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. Divide the total between at least five meals.

5) AVOID SHORTCUTS Too much work without enough rest can leave you in an overtrained state. Consuming too many calories boosts fat, not muscle. Using too-heavy weights can put you at risk of injury. A sensible consistent approach is the best route for making gains and maintaining health.

6) ENHANCE YOUR STRUCTURE Alter your training program if you need to grow more in some areas and less in others. Strive for a balanced physique and a V-shaped torso.

7) REST TO GROW Experienced trainers realize that you grow when you are not training. Except for calves and abdominals, you should rest at least four days between workouts for a particular bodypart. Get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

8) ENHANCE INTENSITY Go to failure on most sets. Go beyond full-rep failure on some sets with techniques like forced reps, partials and descending sets.

9) EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY Although compound free-weight basics should form the core of your workouts, utilize the equipment in your gym to stimulate muscle growth from different angles and in unique ways.

10) CHANGE IT UP Vary your exercises, the order, and amounts of sets and reps to keep your muscles guessing and growing.

If you've been having difficulty putting on size or getting stubborn bodyparts to grow, run through this checklist of 20 common-sense rules for hardgainers. The tried-and-true basics are the most effective way to build muscle mass.

Written by The FLEX staff

May 30, 2008

FLEXONLINE.COM

11) KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS Understand what your body can achieve. Adjust your expectations and workloads if you are following a champion bodybuilder's program. Hardgainers will not thrive maximally on a pro's training scheme or diet.

12) SUPPLEMENT YOUR DIET Whey protein can help you maintain a high protein intake. Creatine, glutamine and a multivitamin/multimineral are also highly recommended.

13) AVOID INJURIES Getting hurt can rob you of size and strength as well as blocking your physical potential. Warm up and stretch thoroughly. Pyramid up in weight for max sets. Line up a spotter for your heaviest sets.

14) TURN DOWN THE VOLUME Limit the number of working sets per bodypart. Do no more than 15 sets.

15) EMPHASIZE YOUR WEAKEST AREAS Train them first in a workout. If it suits your physique, increase volume for weak areas and decrease the amount for those you are most satisfied with.

16) NEGLECT NOTHING Don't shortchange any muscle. Work each bodypart regularly and intensely.

17) MASTER YOUR MUSCLES Connect your mind with your muscles. Flex them frequently. Practice the compulsory poses.

18) TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS After a year of training, you should have a good sense of which exercises and techniques work best.

19) SET REALISTIC GOALS Don't train and eat like a pro bodybuilder if you are not experienced like one. Set both short-range and longer-range targets. Make them challenging yet attainable.

20) STAY POSITIVE Muscle gains may not come easily, but continually strive to better your physique. Hard work, proper nutrition and adequate rest will lead to improvement. Maintain enthusiasm with patience.

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