Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"There's no such thing as a hard gainer."

Sorry, this guy doesn't have the 'gifts' - small joints, short muscle bellies (at least in the biceps), low starting muscle mass, etc. Sure, he can build up his physique/strength, but competing with the "big boys" will be a tough battle for him.

Recently, on discussion boards I monitor, some people have been proclaiming that there's no such thing as a hard gainer. According to them, the term "hard gainer" was invented and used by bodybuilding magazines to sell supplements to people who think they aren't gaining as quickly as everybody else. Sounds like sound logic. Here's one of the posts, grammatical errors included...
"there's no such thing as a hardgainer, its just summat the bloodsucking fiends from various companies thought up, to make people who aint getting the benefits they want from the gym quick enough, part with the hard earned cash for a "new solution" for all you hardgainers!

here's a solution, eat loads, because them muscles have to be repaired somehow!!

i do believe its easier for some people to gain muscle than others, but its hard to gain muscle for everybody, not just the skinny guy! its just he has to swallow his pride and start the weights low and keep at it, of course its frustrating and demoralising at first, but if you keep at it and eat enough food you'll gain without these magic muscle gain for hardgainers theorys!

it just had to be said!!!"
I actually don't really disagree with this guy. It is easier for some people to gain muscle than others, and the supplement companies will say or do just about anything to get your money. But, anybody with even the slightest experience training other individuals will know, quite assuredly, that some people gain much faster than others. On the flipside, some gain much slower. There has been some confirmation of this in the scientific literature, where at least one published study has found that body build does indeed influence the rate at which the body adapts to weight training - with individuals of heavy build gaining much faster than those of slighter builds (L.M. Van Etten, F.T. Verstappen, K.R. Westerterp, “Effect of Body Build on Weighttraining-induced Adaptations in Body Composition and Muscular Strength”, Med Sci Sports Exerc, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 515-21, 1994.). However, after 20 years involvement in the "Iron Game" I don't need research to tell me what I've seen countless times in flesh and blood - even if training, diet and lifestyle is the same, people will gain at drastically different rates.

Some people have much less potential for building muscle mass and strength than others. Those types tend to have shorter than average muscle belly lengths, small bone structures and 'delicate' joints, and/or testosterone levels on the low side of average. They don't necessarily have to be skinny, they can be fat as well - with the curse of being a fat hard gainer one of the hardest of all to overcome. These people simply cannot tolerate high training loads, possibly combined with high training frequencies, to nearly the same degree as more gifted trainees. They are, perhaps, "slow gainers" as much as "hard gainers". Yes, they usually have to eat very well to gain any muscle at all. Yes, they have to train and rest nearly perfectly to make even miniscule progress. But no, in the end, no matter what they do, they will never compete with the genetically gifted of the physical culture and lifting worlds. Sorry, that's just reality and it doesn't matter if you like it or accept it or not - you will never change it.


  1. Puppyfat said...
    Hi There, It was me that asked the question on said forum, and recieved the usual replies. It's the same attitude i've heard over and over, that if you aren't gaining muscle as quick as others then i must be lazy or not eating enough... i made the mistake of trying to eat more, and have ended up a fat hardgainer! from this and having read the articles here I feel a great relief knowing that i'm not missing out on some 'secret' and i'm not lazy, i just have to stay in it for the long haul and be patient!

  2. "...i just have to stay in it for the long haul and be patient!"

    That's one of the 'real' secrets of training success. Regardless of what your ultimate potential is, you'll never fulfill it unless you stick to it.


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