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Out of the Box Muscle Building

Change is hard. But you can do it with some out of the box thinking.

You CAN change yourself.

When I first started weight training at 12, I was a fanatical football fan. I'd watch all day, gorge myself on protein shakes and snacks, and workout between games and during halftime breaks.

Crazy.

When I finally stopped training like a madman, I started making gains.

Huge gains.

The less I trained, the more strength and size I added.

Life is a big conflicting and confusing and counter-intuitive thing, right?

When I was a skinny hardgainer, I was lifting every day, doing many sets of many exercises. I ate all damned day long.

After all, that's what all the bodybuilding mags said to do. Hell, “hardgainer” wasn't even a thing back then – you were just an ectomorph.

After years of frustration, I took a different approach.

  • I cut out cardio.
  • I lifted 3x a week.
  • Heavy.
  • Few sets.
  • Low reps (3-6) for upper body.
  • High reps and HEAVY weights for legs (15-25), like Tom Platz.

That year I did that, I gained 60 pounds and was still under 6 percent body fat.

Don't ever let anybody tell you that's impossible. I did it. I know you can, too.

No steroids, either.

If you want to – but you must think out of the box.

Like I did.

If it ain't working, stop doing it. Try something else.

After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

Beginning Muscle Building. What Should I Eat?

skinny-boy-1198045_1280

Skinny? Can't gain weight? Read up.

will k asked: I'm planning to start working out again at the gym. I'm 14, around 6 foot and I weigh about 145 lbs. I'm skinny, so I'm mostly muscle and no fat. I'm very athletic so I can't really gain weight. Before or after my workouts, what should I eat or drink? Should I buy muscle building supplements?

My answer: You have to begin eating a lot. You have to create a positive caloric balance – which simply means eat more than you expend.

And it's hard. It really is. Believe me when I say I used to be like you – all muscle, no fat, but the muscle I had was little. I was skinny.

It felt like I was going to eat until I exploded. I'd go periods of time where I just wasn't hungry, followed by times where I couldn't get enough to eat.

My metabolism was on a roller coaster. I couldn't gain a pound.

And if I gained a pound, I'd lose it just as quickly as I'd gained it.

It sucks.

So I began eating 8 times a day, about 30-40 grams of protein at each feeding. I stopped running. I stopped moving almost entirely. I had to stop worrying.

I thought more training was better. It's not. I cut my training down a lot – down to 3 times a week on a split routine, so in any given week the MOST I trained any bodypart was twice.

But I lifted heavy. Few sets, low reps, high weights.

Focus on getting stronger. Once you're stronger, you can lift heavier weights in your bodybuilding routines.

But the key is eating a lot. Supplements are your friend.

But don't eat weight gainers – they fuck up your metabolism. The sugar kills your gains. Use something like MetRx instead. Trader Joe's carries it and it's not terribly expensive.

Mix one scoop with 8 ounces of whole milk. Drink one before and after your workout.

And eat all damned day long! Try GOMAD.

Consider eating right before going to sleep, too. Doing that will usually make you hungry in the morning, so you can eat more.

The name of the game is calories, and protein is your friend. Sugar is your foe.

FYI – Lou Ferrigno was 6'5, about 140 pounds when he started bodybuilding 🙂

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Ultra extreme hardgainer

frustrated weight trainer

Are you frustrated by your lack of progress? Read this.

by Frustrated lifter

Question: Besides saying “quit training,” what would you say to someone who has been training for 10 years and made NO progress whatsoever, and during those ten years they've used super abbreviated routines to volume, from low volume high frequency to higher volume less frequency, and any other combination of training methods using compound movements? Oh, and did I mention I've used steroids and had many hormone tests with no indication anything is abnormal? Interested to hear your thoughts.

Answer: Yikes, quit training immediately and turn to skateboarding!

Seriously, you've touched on a lot here and I'll try to address the overall concern: No progress after 10 years.

Believe it or not, I didn't make much progress for over 20 years! Everybody's different, so what worked for me may not work for you. But it could get you on the right track.

It's all about bio-feedback. If something worked, tweak it a bit to improve. If something didn't work, change things up a bit and see if you can't make some progress.

It sounds like you're doing all the typical “hardgainer” things – short workouts, compound movements, varying your volume and frequency…

I will say this: If you're not gaining weight, which I assume you haven't, you simply aren't eating enough. Add 500 calories to your day. You can do this quite easily by adding a glass of whole milk to each of your 3 “main” meals.

If after adding 500 calories to your diet, you don't see any weight gain, double up.

I suggest that you stick to any program you try for 6 weeks, then evaluate progress.

I know for much of my 20+ years of horrible “progress” that I jumped from one system to another.

I'd suggest you take a look at a guide I wrote, Hardgainer's Manifesto.

One last thing I'd suggest is to try to find a copy of the book co-written by Robert Kennedy and Vince Gironda, called Unleashing the Wild Physique.

It's out of print and if you can find it for sale, you'll find it at a very high price, so I suggest you find a friend you can borrow it from. There are a LOT of awesome tips in there that are specifically productive for hardgainers.

I borrowed many of the tips and techniques in that book to build what eventually became Hardgainer's Manifesto.

Hope this helps!

4

The Hardgainer Solution

The Hardgainer Solution

Featured Amazon Kindle

Check it out – The Hardgainer Solution on Amazon's Kindle is on sale right now for 99 cents. I don't know how long the sale will last but this looks like a bargain while it lasts!

Topics covered:

  • The background and history behind this program, including its roots in Scott’s training sessions with Bill Pearl in the 80s
  • Explanations and introduction to the program’s methodology
  • Guidelines for not just “what” to do when you workout, but HOW to workout effectively
  • A complete breakdown of over 80 individual workouts (plus links to get formatted, printable versions of the workouts)
  • How to “keep it alive” and stay fresh while staying consistent on the same program
  • Guidelines and formulas for determining your nutritional needs
  • A list of meal plans for different calorie levels
  • The importance of UNDERtraining

See that last one? It's the most important of all. Many hardgainers are high-strung, full of energy, and never know when to stop moving. They often are worriers, and you can find them tapping their toes even when “relaxing.”

If you are finding it difficult to add lean muscle mass, this is probably your biggest hurdle. You have to shift your entire mindset away from “doing more” to “doing less”. It's hard. I know. I've been there myself and wrote my own book about it, The Hardgainer Manifesto.

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Gallon of Milk a Day

Got milk?

Got milk?

Aspiring weight trainers and bodybuilders want to get big fast, and one of the best programs for doing so is the “Gallon of Milk a Day” plan, coupled with some heavy lifting.

When you want to get big really fast, there is no substitute for lots of calories. In fact, you need to add 500-1,000 calories per day if you want to gain weight. And really, the more the better. If you find yourself getting fat (it will show up in the belly first), you can back off a little or do some cardio work.

The GOMAD diet, as it's commonly called, has been around for decades. It continues to be used because it works!

It's very simple to follow, too.

  1. Go to the store
  2. Buy a gallon of milk
  3. Drink it in one day, preferably over the entire course of the day!

That's it!

Lots of folks who have used the Gallon of Milk a Day program have reported that they've achieved great success with it. It is recommended that you ease into the program; start off by drinking 1/8 to a 1/4 of a gallon a day at first to see how your body responds to it.

Obviously, if you're allergic to milk or dairy products, this is NOT the system for you. Additionally, if you're lactose-intolerant, tread lightly here.

Remember, the whole idea about bodybuilding is to achieve a heightened fitness and health level. Don't destroy your health by eating food that doesn't agree with you.

By the way, this eating program works great with the hardgainer program I put together.

It's also a great start if you're a beginning bodybuilder.

bodybuilder guy

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