9 Hardgainer Training Myths: Part III

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

If you missed Part I click HERE.

If you missed Part II click HERE.

When we last left off I was telling Chris about how we needed to fix his hormonal issues that many hardgainers struggle with…

“Okay, good. Let’s please do that.  I can’t live like this anymore. It’s getting so frustrating and depressing,” Chris told me.

“Hey man, no one understands that more than I do (see the picture of me at 17 years old, after four years of training, to the left).

But if you do what I say you will totally transform yourself. I’ve been doing it with thousands of people since 1994.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m just at my wits end. Okay, so I’m gonna train four days per week, do some high intensity conditioning and clean up the diet. I like it.

Now, for the workouts, should they be full body? I know that’s usually the typical hardgainer program.”

Myth #7: Hardgainers Should Always Do Full Body Workouts

“Ya know, I used to think that. But for a few reasons I’ve changed my stance. Firstly, as we already discussed, I think you should be training four times per week; not two or three. That means that you’d have to do four full body workouts.

Some genetically gifted guys can get away with that. But one of the things that makes someone a hardgainer is that they’re injury prone. If you weren’t, gaining size would be a hell of a lot easier.

So a little less frequency is usually a better idea for those who get banged up easily.

Plus, I like to set long term habits from day one. That means you’ll be training four times per week on some type of split. Everyone who starts out with full body workouts need to move to splits eventually either because their joints can’t take it or the workouts take too long, or both.”

“What do you mean the workouts take too long,” Chris interjected.

“I mean that when you get strong it takes much more time to work up to your top end sets so doing that on a big upper body push, pull and a lower body lift can take forever. Plus you have to do a full body warm up instead of just a lower or upper body focused warm up. All that can really add up. “

“Oh yeah, true. Makes sense.”

“Not to mention the fact it does get boring after a while. It’s mentally draining to go into the gym and always have to train the same body parts or movement patterns.

“Yeah, I couldn’t take another day of nothing but squats, presses and rows.”

“Right, and you shouldn’t even be doing that, as we discussed before. A program of just the big lifts will beat you up too much. And even when you do them I’d recommend variations like a slight incline press and a trap bar deadlift.”

“Ok, and what about sticking with the same exercises forever like so many guys write about?”

Myth #8: Hardgainers Should Always Stick with the Same Exercises

“No, that’s definitely a mistake. One of the main reasons, again, goes back to getting injured.

The most common overuse injury in the world is probably tennis elbow. That occurs from doing the same thing over and over with an implement that weighs less than a pound.

So what do you think happens when you do the same movement over and over with a few hundred pounds? I’ll tell you what, you get banged up.”

“Oh wow, that makes a lot of sense. I never thought of it like that,” Chris noted.

“The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, always used to say that the number one thing you could do to stay healthy and avoid injury was to include a lot variety in your training.

Vince Gironda said,

The ectomorph needs variety, both in nutrition and exercise. You should change your routine frequently, adopting a new exercise every few workouts.”

With all my coaching clients we make some changes on a weekly basis. With newbie hardgainers or just guys who have never really gotten anywhere with their training I like to have them stick with a few big exercises for no more than twelve weeks.

But all the other dumbbell and bodyweight exercises change each month. And there are weekly volume changes. This is how I structured the Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 workouts.

And that’s one of the reasons the program works so well.

So here you go,” I said as I handed Chris an early advanced copy. “I had about a couple dozen printed up for some people to try out before we release it to the public.

Do the program exactly as written and let’s meet up again in a 90 days.”

“Awesome. Thanks so much, Jay. I really appreciate this. I won’t let you down.”

Myth #9: Hardgainers Will Never Make Any Real Size & Strength Gains No Matter How Hard They Try

Six months later I got an email from Chris. He asked if he could buy me lunch and we set a date to meet up.

I got caught behind a school bus on the way over and thought to myself, “They’re still doing half days? These punks don’t deserve that! They have iPods and the internet. We had it HARD back in the 80’s! Damn it, we earned those half days!”

After arriving a few minutes late I looked around for Chris but couldn’t find him. Then I noticed someone with his back to me wearing the same Hurley hat Chris had on when we first met. But his upper back was too wide and traps far too high to be Chris.

Then he reached up to signal the waitress over and I noticed the tattoos. Only they were now covering significantly bigger arms and his sleeves were skintight.

I came up from behind and slapped his right shoulder. Six months ago that shot would have broken him in half. He just smiled as my hand made a loud thud against his beefed up frame.

“Damn dude! Unbelievable job. I’m blown away right now. You’re hardly recognizable. How much weight did you gain?”

“Sixteen pounds. Arms are up almost two inches, strength is off the charts.”

“That’s awesome, man. I’m so happy for you.”

“Hey Krystal, can you bring us both a water and grab a menu for Jay?” Chris confidently asked our waitress.

“Sure thing,” Krystal replied.

Chris gave her a confident smile.

I smiled too. Seeing someone who gets it, commits and makes progress like Chris did always makes my day.

Anyone can do it if they just put in the effort.


Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 is an awesome program for skinny dudes who’ve been stuck. Check it out.