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How to Get Bigger (Even if You’re a Skinny-Fat Hardgainer)

by Dejan Antic | Follow Dejan on Twitter

rainI still remember that day.

It was a cold and rainy autumn morning, when the doorbell rang.

I opened the door and there he was. The postman, all drenched with water, has delivered me the long-awaited book, that would finally give me the know-how on how to get bigger.

Stoked as hell, I read the whole thing in a single afternoon.

But little did I know, the training philosophy described within the book, was flawed to its core. So flawed in fact, that I only started to get bigger and stronger once I broke the main rules.

And what’s even worse, this seems to be the fitness industry’s go-to advice for struggling hardgainers.

But now, I think I got the question of how to get bigger figured out. And in this post, I want to let you know how to do just that.

The Myth of Overtraining

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of how to get bigger, we first need to bust a big training myth, and that’s the overtraining myth.

The book I got from the postman was titled Brawn, written by the enigmatic Stuart McRobert. If you’ve been dabbling with strength training for some time, chances are you’ve probably heard of this man.

He has literally coined the term hardgainer.

Anyway, the main premise of the book is that you don’t want to have more than three intense workouts per week, because you don’t want to risk overtraining. He’s so worried about overtraining, that he literally mentions the word almost on every page.

And what’s even worse, most reputable individuals in the fitness blogosphere see his book as go-to advice for struggling hardgainers.

Here’s what I don’t like about this approach.

First things first, the whole training philosophy of the book is centered around fear – fear of overtraining, fear of dangerous exercises, fear of this, fear of that, etc. Second, the author vastly underestimates the adaptive and recovery capabilities of the drug-free athlete’s body. This makes gullible gym newbies believe that frequent training is bad for them, when quite the opposite is true.

Matt Perryman, who wrote an awesome book titled Squat Every Day, debunks the myth of overtraining by saying that you need to train as heavy as possible and as often as possible while staying as fresh as possible. That’s because you want to find a balance point between all three of those variables and to encourage your body’s adaptability.

And another important point he makes, is that what most people feel as of overtraining, is actually just a transition period, where your body gets accustomed to the training load. Even when you’re feeling the symptoms of overtraining, you’re most likely not even close to being in a true state of overtraining.

In the book, he gives a complete and detailed explanation backed by science, as to why frequent heavy training is the way to go for struggling hardgainers, so I highly encourage you to get the book in order to learn more about the topic of overtraining.

Therefore, if you want to get bigger and stronger fast, a totally different approach to strength training is required. One that goes completely against the grain.

barbellHow to Get Bigger (A Better Way of Doing Things)

So hopefully I managed to dispel the myth of overtraining in the previous point.

What you’re about to read now, are the three most important rules in weight training. Think of them as the main pillars of every effective workout routine. Just by knowing the main pillars, you’ll be well equipped to design the best workout routine, which will finally allow you to get bigger.

You rarely see the experts talk about this. The sad truth is that most beginners, are not interested in hearing about foundations. They’d much rather like to hear about that one secret tactic, that will help them pack on slabs of rock-hard muscles.

By having a solid foundation set in place, you’ll gain those slabs of muscles in record time.

So without further ado, here are the three main pillars of a successful workout routine (in ascending order of importance).

1. Size follows strength.

People would want you to believe that training for strength and training for muscles are two completely different worlds, but the truth is, they’re one and the same thing.

And in order to get big, you need to get strong first. There’s no way around it.

Strive to add weight to the bar when performing your main compound lifts. It’s these lifts which will be the prime drivers of your muscular development. Just to name a few of those lifts – deadlift, squat, bench press, pull-up, military press, etc.

You simply won’t be able to build muscle if you’re weak as a baby. A lot of beginners stay in the hardgainer purgatory for life, simply because they keep on lifting the same puny weights year in, year out.

To give you an example, just look at professional bodybuilders, who are the epitome of people who are training for muscle size. All of them are freakishly strong in major compound movements like deadlift, squat and bench press.

Focus on gaining strength in key compound movements and size is sure to follow.

2. Strength is a skill.

Strength is a skill – teaching your brain how to handle both a movement and a maximum weight.

Have you ever wondered how Olympic lifters are able to lift 150kg over their heads, without breaking a sweat?

The answer is practice. Putting genetics and their lifestyle (which is geared towards the sport) aside, all Olympic weight lifters have been practicing their lifts since they were small kids. We’re talking about 10,000+ hours of practice.

This insane amount of practice has allowed them to master all of the intricacies of the lift. And by being so in tune with the movement, they’re able to squeeze every ounce of muscle power they’ve got to lift the bar over their heads.

Now let’s take a look on how this applies to you. When you’ll first step under a bar, to do some squats, you’ll feel overpowered. The weight will feel very heavy and the movement will feel awkward.

But once you’ve spent some time doing the lift, the same weight won’t even be a challenge to you. You’ll get a good feel for the lift and this in turn will allow you to lift more weight with more ease.

The more you practice a skill, the better you become at that skill. Practice enough and the skill hardwires itself into your brain.

3. Skill comes from diligence.

The only way you’ll ever get big and strong, is if you’ll practice your lifts for a long time.

The problem with most beginners is they never have an element of stability in their training. They keep on hopping from routine to routine, never focusing on milking a routine dry of its gains.

In order to stick to your routine over the long-run, your routine needs to have an element of stability (your core) yet it must be flexible enough in order to account for experimentation and fun.

The Nutrition Part

Eating for muscle mass is no rocket science.

As long as do your best to eat as much nutritious and wholesome foods as possible, you’ll be on a fast track towards getting bigger and stronger. As a great starting point, make sure you eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

And to keep things simple, here are the three big mistakes people make when they’re eating for muscle mass.

1. Poor food choices

Not all calories are created equal.

Junk foods are jam-packed with calories, but they’re of little to no use for strength athletes, because they don’t come equipped the vitamins and minerals, which are necessary to break down those calories into the building blocks for your muscles.

The bulk of your calories must come from nutritious foods, which contain all of the necessary nutrients and micronutrients for sustained muscle growth.

To see which foods are best for gaining muscle mass, check out this neat little guide I created just for you guys – Download The Best Muscle Building Foods.

2. Not eating enough

There’s a simple equation to get the amount of calories you need to get bigger. Simply multiply your body weight in pounds with the number 14. This is a great starting point from which to build upon.

But how do you make sure you’re eating that much calories?

Technology is your friend here. Get yourself a digital kitchen scale, weigh all of the food that you’ll eat and log that stuff into a food tracker (like LoseIt!) in order to see how many calories you’re eating. Do this for a couple of weeks and you’ll slowly get the feel of how much you need to eat in order to get bigger.

3. Putting too much emphasis on supplements

There’s really no need for supplements.

A nutritious diet, that’s made out of healthy foods should supply you with everything you need in order to build muscle mass.

Actually the only supplement I’d recommend you take, that’s guaranteed to give you great strength and power is micronized creatine monohydrate. A slew of research studies have been done on creatine and it was proven that it simply works.

Putting it All Together

To help you put the advice in this post into practice, I’m happy to announce the arrival of the long-awaited Ultimate Muscle Building Blueprint.

Simply put, The Ultimate Muscle Building Blueprint is the only guide you’ll ever need for packing on slabs of rock-hard muscles and build the body of their dreams in record time.

Everything you need to know about gaining muscle mass, in one complete resource – the best workout routine, practical nutrition tips, mental hacks to stick to your new habits, recovery tips and much, much more. This is literally the result of more than seven years’ worth of muscle building experience, all in one product.

The Ultimate Muscle Building Blueprint is Out! You can get the blueprint for a special early bird price by clicking on this link – Click Here!

Here’s what people have to say about The Ultimate Muscle Building Blueprint:
mihael-how-to-get-stronger

I can’t thank my brother enough for showing me how to lift weights the right way. Within just a couple of months of following the advice in The Ultimate Muscle Building Routine, I was able to go from weak to beast-mode.

I went from being able to bench press only 100lbs for a couple of reps to benching 230lbs for three reps, without even breaking a sweat. I can also do dips and pull-ups for reps with an additional 88lbs strapped on my dipping belt. I achieved all of this in less than 4 months of consistent training.

But what I like most about Dejan, is that he’s able to give you clear-cut advice on how to actually start a diet. He has also an arsenal of muscle building nutrition tips, which helped me triple my appetite and stick to my diet when I was strapped for cash.

Thanks bro!

Hop on to the email list, by entering your email in the field below, in order to get instantly notified of when The Ultimate Muscle Building Blueprint is out. Enter your email now!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ludvig Sunström

This is very well-written Dejan!

This part had me laughing a bit:
“You simply won’t be able to build muscle if you’re weak as a baby.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how things go for you in 6+ months. Be sure to put up some pics.

Reply

Dejan

Thank you Ludvig!

I was actually in a kind of rush to get this article done (due to the product launch), so it’s great to hear that it’s well-written and amusing :)

I’ll definitely keep track of my progress, since in the last couple of weeks I’ve completely transformed my approach to weight training. I’m no longer scared of the overtraining myth :) Bring on them weightz!

Reply

George

Hi, in this article you call overtraining a myth. Yet in a previous article you talk about overtraining as a real danger. I would like to know which one you believe.

Reply

Dejan

Hey George,

Recently I’ve been really experimenting with higher training volumes and intensities and I found out, that overtraining is not so easily reached. Overtraining certainly exists, but most people working out won’t reach the state of true overtraining, unless you do really stupid shit (bad diet, shitty sleeping habits, stupid workout plan, etc.).

Hope I answered your question :)

Reply

Arturo

Hello,

I’ve probably read 5 articles today, they’re all so interesting and informative. Very simple approach.

A little background. I started seriously working out Jan of the year, a resolutioner if you will. Glad to say I’m still at it now in July! However, I wasted my time with machines and wandering aimlessly around the gym until the end of May. (I know, dumb)

Since the beginning of June, I’ve finally discovered the compound lifts. I knew of them, but didn’t dare try. I can say that I’ve made small gains. Ex:
Squat from 125×10 to 140×10, Bench 125×10…thats actually stayed the same ugh! Deadlift 115×10 to 135×10.

I do 3 sets, 10 reps. I’ve read alot recently stating that 5-8 reps might be better, but I’m not sure. I guess I like the round number of 10.

My question is, should I go for more? Should I be a little more liberal in adding weights? Maybe add weights and cut the reps?

Also, after reading all the diet stuff, time to get that part of my life in order as well. I’ll do good, but then..ugh haha! It’s weird, and I shouldn’t do it, but I’ll weigh myself a couple of times a week. Beginning of the year I was at 220 lbs. I’ve been as low as 208 but then back up to 212…is this just water probably?

Thanks!

Reply

Dejan

Hey Arturo,

What I’d recommend you do for starters is to focus on compound lifts and keep your rep range between 4 to 8. Once you reach 8 reps with a certain weight, increase the weight for the next workout by 10%. Repeat this with all of the main exercises.

The main goal for you atm would be to build a soild foundation of strength.

And as for wandering around the gym aimlessly … it’s not stupid. This helped you keep the momentum of exercising going so now that you’ve found the right information, you won’t have issues sticking to your training routine :)

And as for the diet, I think that those weight fluctuations were most probably caused by the water retention.

Reply

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