To Top

Hardgainer: The Wimp Factor

Hardgainers are “normal gainers” who need the hard-gaining perspective to succeed.

Some people say hardgainers are whiners and underachievers and that they’re wimps for avoiding specific exercises. They also say we’re too conservative, exaggerate the significance of overtraining, have goals that are too low and have a limiting belief system. It’s amazing how they come out with such statements, yet they’ve never read my books or Hardgainer magazine, or they’ve just read a few snippets and taken statements out of context. Some who criticize the goals I recommend are short of having achieved those targets themselves.

Most trainees are hardgainers, though in truth hardgainers are really normal gainers. They need the hard-gaining perspective if they’re to have a good chance of making decent gains.

Hardgainers have much less room for error than gifted trainees. There’s less room for form indiscretions, so form must be tight, always. There’s less room for liberties with exercise selection, which is why I advise avoiding high-risk exercises. There’s a much reduced capacity for coping with exercise volume and frequency, which is why hardgainers need to pare back training load to avoid overtraining. There’s much less room for cutting corners on the nutrition and sleep fronts, which is why they must give great importance to eating and sleeping very well every day, without fail.

Serious hardgainers are every bit as keen as other types of gainers. Hardgainers have to respect their limitations if they’re to devise training programs that will help them. Otherwise, they’ll go the same route that millions have already traveled’and fail in their training.

It’s not that hardgainers want to be different in their training habits and related factors. They just want good results, and to get them they have to swim against the tide of popular training. It’s progress you’re after, not following the crowd in order to feel comfortable. Good results will make you feel very comfortable.

There’s nothing wrong with having a very responsive physique’i.e., being an easy gainer. It’s a blessing. Nor does the fact that someone is an easy gainer mean that he or she didn’t work hard. It’s simply that relative to the lot of a legitimate hardgainer, an easy gainer will grow larger and stronger faster, with any level of effort and dedication. Some easy gainers get all uppity and aggressive when you suggest that they found it a lot less difficult to make progress than the average hardgainer. It doesn’t mean, however, that easy gainers don’t work hard and aren’t dedicated; they simply have more responsive bodies. We’re all different in the way we respond to food, medicine and sleep’why not recognize that we’re all different in the way we respond to exercise?

There’s no harm in recognizing that if you don’t get just about everything right, year after year, you’re not even going to get close to achieving your potential. An easy gainer can break at least some of the rules and still gain, but not the hardgainer.

If you train as a hardgainer should, and if you fine-tune the basic instruction to suit you and you plug away for several years, you probably won’t be a match for a dedicated, hard-training easy gainer, but you will be a darn sight more impressive than more than 95 percent of all experienced trainees (of your age group) in almost all gyms worldwide. When you think about it, that’s awesome. So much for a so-called limiting belief system.

The goals I’ve given aren’t limits. They’re targets. The effect of age, insufficient dedication and know-how or some other limiting factor means that most trainees won’t reach the 150-, 200- and 250-percent-of-bodyweight targets for the bench press, squat and deadlift’about 300, 400 and 500 pounds for the typical 190-pound successful trainee. But most willing, dedicated, savvy and able hardgainers can make one or more of the goals, and superdetermined hardgainers may exceed them.

Take a good look around at the drug-free trainees you see at the gym. How many can handle the 150, 200 and 250 percent poundages? Hardly any. For serious, dedicated drug-free trainees those weights (and the development that accompanies them) take some doing. Once you’ve made it to that level of achievement, plug away at the next 5 percent, and so on. I don’t set ceilings.

Sure, I’m conservative on exercise form and selection, because it’s necessary to be conservative to minimize the risk of injury. That isn’t wimpy. It’s being sensible. What on earth is wrong with minimizing the risk of injury? If you get injured, you can’t train for a while, and you can’t make progress. When that happens, you’ll know what it means to feel like a wimp. Plus, when you come back, you’ll be handling low poundages (for you), and then you’ll feel even wimpier. Conservatism isn’t wimpy.

Over 25 years of training and observation, over 10 years of publishing a training magazine and dealing with its readers’and years of working with coaches who have extensive experience on the gym floor’I have found that everything points to the critical importance of ‘conservatism.’ If you can’t get big, strong and impressive by doing things the conservative way, you have little or no chance of getting big, strong and impressive. The nonconservative approaches greatly increase your risk of incurring injuries, setbacks, frustration and failure. How’s all that going to help? Abbreviated training and conservatism have enabled many ‘no hopers’ to get big, strong and very impressive’though perhaps not the pro-bodybuilding interpretation of impressive.

I’ll finish with something I’ve repeated for the past three months because it bears even further repetition. It will apply next month, next year, next decade and next century. The rules of successful bodybuilding don’t change.

Be brutally honest with yourself. Are you really following an abbreviated training routine? Are you really weight training only twice a week? Are you really focusing on the big compound movements? Are you really using good form and a controlled rep cadence? Are you really training hard? Are you really consuming five or six meals daily and enough calories and nutrients to grow on? Are you really sleeping well for at least eight hours every night? Are you really keeping records of your workouts and recording that you’re adding a tad of iron to each big exercise every week or two? If you can’t answer yes to all of those questions, you only have yourself to hold responsible for slow or no progress. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but that’s the grim reality.

Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s latest book, Further Brawn, is available from Home Gym Warehouse, 1-800-447-0008, or visit His other books, Brawn and Beyond Brawn, are available as well. McRobert also publishes Hardgainer magazine. For information write to CS Publishing Ltd., P.O. Box 20390, CY-2151 Nicosia, Cyprus, or visit IM

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in