Hardgainers flock to bodybuilding for one big reason: They're sick and tired of being skinny. When you're skinny, you're weak, and when you're weak, you're a sand magnet'the puny guy at the beach who gets the gritty stuff kicked in his face and inevitably loses his girl to the beach bully. At least that's what we subconsciously believe, thanks to Charles Atlas. Weight training, with its awesome ability to produce size and strength gains, is the instant answer to a hardgainer's prayers'or is it?
Unfortunately for hardgainers, weight training is one more stress added to an already overstressed system. If you're a hardgainer, you're probably high-strung'you stress out over even the smallest conflicts and confrontations. That means the larger life stresses can put you over the edge, kicking in extreme catabolism that melts muscle like nobody's business. Why does stress cause muscle to disintegrate like a piece of toilet paper in a bonfire? Scientists have discovered that it's due to a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol production is a primitive physiological mechanism that's triggered when you invoke your fight-or-flight response. If you're under a lot of stress during the day, it can cause your body to burn muscle tissue as nervous energy at an alarming rate. Most hardgainers are cortisol overproducers, so even the slightest stress causes a cortisol tidal wave and makes muscle harder, if not impossible, to hold.
It's not just work, relationship or family stresses that trigger cortisol surges, however. The body also perceives intense workouts as a threat and, therefore, pumps cortisol into your system during and after every hard training session. So while you took up weight training to overcome your skinniness, you may be adding to your cortisol overload every time you go to the gym. It's a cruel trick of nature. To compound the problem, the body also shoots more cortisol into your bloodstream when it perceives hunger because as far as the body is concerned, hunger is stress. More of nature's cruelty: Ultra-hardgainer types often forget to eat. Now you've got a double-cortisol whammy, turning muscle into energy substrates faster than you can say catabolic time bomb. Oh, and cortisol can also stifle key muscle-building hormones like testosterone and GH. Is it a no-win, maybe-I-should-just-take-up-distance-running situation? Not so fast, O ye of little faith and lithe bone structure.
Fortunately, there's a compound that can control cortisol so hardgainers get optimal muscle-building effects from weight training and bolster their output of anabolic hormones as well. It's phosphatidylserine, the superstress reducer. In two Italian studies PS showed impressive anticatabolic properties in endurance athletes, suppressing cortisol by more than 30 percent. In another study by Thomas Fahey, a professor at California State University, Chico, soy-based PS reduced blood cortisol during and after bodybuilding-type workouts by almost 30 percent. Imagine kicking up your gains in the gym by a third or perhaps even doubling them if you're an ultrahardgainer. We're talking easy-gainer territory, and the supplement that can do it for you is Cort-Bloc.
Of course, controlling cortisol is but one piece of the hardgainer puzzle. You also have to eat and eat often. Remember, the body perceives hunger as a stress, which can trigger cortisol and send you back to the hardgainer bench with your skinny tail between your legs even if you're loading up on PS. Plus, not eating can deprive your muscles of the building blocks they need to explode with eye-popping growth. Whatever you do, don't forget to eat! Get at least six meals a day and make sure each feeding includes about 40 grams of quality protein.
To make it easier, you need a good meal replacement, preferably one that's designed with the hardgainer's needs in mind. A 300-calorie, protein-enriched liquid shooter between solid-food meals will accelerate the hardgainer's growth and ensure that he or she gets the requisite calories and nutrients to build rather than crash and burn. One of the best meal replacements around is Muscle-Link's Muscle Meals.
First, it gives you micellar-casein protein along with whey. Casein slows digestion and produces a trickle-feed effect that's very important for building muscle without any catabolic backlash.1 It slowly pulses into your bloodstream, giving the muscles long-term amino coverage.2 It's an anabolic/anticatabolic combination that every hardgainer should put into full-force action immediately if maximum growth is the goal.
With protein fusion you get a continuous supply of aminos circulating in your bloodstream throughout the day, and when you have aminos available, your body rarely feeds on muscle tissue for energy, since you haven't triggered the starvation mechanism'and less catabolism means more muscle size for you. It's the reason mother's milk contains almost equal amounts of casein and whey'fast and slow proteins make it one of the most growth-positive substances on earth.3 As far as we're concerned, Muscle Meals should be the mother's milk all hardgainers feed on. Muscle Meals also contains 10 grams of glutamine peptides, an important muscle- and health-building amino acid; anticatabolic fats, which can increase anabolic hormone secretion as well as help reduce muscle breakdown; potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help increase muscle mass, according to scientific studies4,5,6,7; and a number of other vitamins and minerals, including calcium, that contribute to the body's anabolic processes.
You can see why meal replacements like Muscle Meals are essential for hardgainers and how you need to control cortisol if you want to exit the hardgainer merry-go-round. But supplements can be expensive. Heck, you gotta be able to buy real food too!
Don't worry, however. We're here to help. Our Hardgainer Terminator Special will get you on the on-ramp to easy-gainer street. It includes the following:
Muscle Meals, two 20-packet boxes, 40 grams of protein-fusion power in each. Mix one up and drink it down between solid-food meals to keep aminos circulating for maximum anabolic reactions and minimum cortisol surges. That's about a $100 value. Cort-Bloc, two 60-capsule bottles. A four-capsule dose contains 400 milligrams of PS, so you can take a serving right before bed on workout days. That's a $100 value.
Add it up and it comes to $200 for a one-to-two-month supply of these quality supplements, but if you call (800) 447-0008 and ask for the Hardgainer Terminator Special, you can get it all for only $99.95. That's half price! Call now. We'll deliver everything right to your door. It's time to get motivated and put the pedal to the metal and plow over that hardgainer tag you're stuck with. Start training hard, use Muscle Meals and Cort-Bloc, and you can stop worrying about getting sand kicked in your face.
1 Litvinova, V.N. (1976). Vliianie kratnosti pitaniia na obmen belkov v skeletnykh myshtskh i pecheni belykh krys. Vopr Pitan. 4:36.
2 Boirie, Y. (1997). Dietary protein quality influences postprandial protein utilization. Reprod Nutr Dev. 37:337.
3 Vigi, V. (1994). Milk formulae for normal infant. II. Recommendations, energy, physical characteristics and protein composition. Acta Paediat. 402 (suppl):18.
4 Klesges, R.C. (1996). Changes in bone mineral content in male athletes. Mechanisms of action and intervention effects. JAMA. 276:226.
5 Brilla, L.R. (1992). Effects of magnesium supplementation on strength training in humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 11:326.
6 Brilla, L.R. (1997). Effect of magnesium-fortified sports drink on strength in collegiate football players. J Am Coll Nutr. 29 (suppl):250.
7 Helbig, J. (1989). Vergleichende untersuchungen zur wirkung einer magnesiumsubstitution bei laufern und kraftsportlern. Magnesium Bull. 11:34. IM