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How To Hip Hinge For Ultimate Performance!

Name: Todd Bumgardner, MS, CSCS

I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard Ronnie Coleman’s classic line echo around the weight room: “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weight.” I’d say the over/under is around a thousand. And the reason is because he’s pretty much right.

Ronnie shouted out the quote when he was about to step under a loaded bar for the squat, but for me, the line especially rings true for the deadlift. This is why I created my twist on Ronnie’s famous line: “Everybody wants to deadlift, but nobody wants to hip hinge correctly.” I find that saying that in my Ronnie voice helps it resonate more powerfully with clients.

Here’s the thing: The deadlift gets overanalyzed by most lifters, which leads to butchered execution. The answer isn’t to memorize every cue that ever helped a pro powerlifter and then try to remember them all when you stand on the platform. The answer, quite simply, is to master the hip hinge first, and then build your deadlift around that strength.

Spend some quality time fortifying your hip hinge—both when you’re starting out and when you’re more advanced—and you’ll spare your back and build a powerful set of hips and legs that will help you in every other lower-body movement. And you’d better believe it’ll help you lift some heavy-ass weight, too.

The Hip Hinge:

It sounds like something your grandma wears to get out of the bath tub, but the hip hinge is actually an important fundamental human movement that everyone should master. The squat may be the so-called “king of lifts,” but the hinge is perhaps more important in the long-term performance and functionality of everyone from elite athletes to physical therapy patients, elderly people seeking more functionality, and every gym-goer in between.

 

Barbell Deadlift

In actual practice, hip hinging means moving the hips through a complete flexion (closing) to extension (opening) cycle, while limiting movement at other joints. It’s a precursor to all lower-body movements, but specifically the deadlift, squat, and most Olympic lifts. Hip hinge mastery isn’t optional to move well with heavy loads—it’s necessary.

Nevertheless, while most people can picture a squat, many have trouble imagining a hip hinge in their mind. So to start, picture a door hinge. The joint in the middle rotates while the side brackets remain rigid. This, in a nutshell, is how hip hinging works. The torso is braced and held rigid on the north side of the hips. Below the border, there’s a relatively stiff lower-body guided by hamstring tension. The only dramatic movement is at the hips.

Hammering Home the Hinge

There are a number of problems that can get in the way of a good hip hinge. Some folks simply have poor hip mobility, which can be caused by a congregation of factors including poor core stability and inflexible hamstrings. Hip capsules can also suffer from excessive tightness.

Meager hip mobility reduces the ability to solidify the hinge and causes the spine and knees to compensate for the lack of movement, which is inefficient and potentially injurious. If your immobility is the real hurdle, a solution beyond the scope of this article is necessary.

However, apart from the raw material issues just mentioned, most trainees are simply never taught how to hinge and need instruction with sound cues. They fail to hinge properly because they can’t understand how to separate movement in the spine from movement in the hips. If that’s the case for you, try these drills to teach spinal awareness; send your butt in the right direction.

1 Cat-camel drill

The cat-camel drill, as taught by Dr. Andreo Spina and his Functional Range Conditioning system, is your starting point.

The key of the drill is to move each spinal segment separately, creating a strong connection between your brain and the peripheral nerves that create spatial awareness. It’s the most effective technique I use to teach the difference between the spine and hips.

Any trainee, regardless of how advanced they are, can benefit from the cat-camel drill.

Cat-Camel Drill
Watch The Video – 00:26

2 Kneeling hip hinge with PVC

After building basic spine and hip awareness, it’s time to begin building the hinge from the ground up with the kneeling hip hinge. Kneeling reduces the amount of moving parts, allowing for an increased focus on torso rigidity and hip movement. The PVC pipe teaches what a neutral spine feels like and how to maintain it.

Kneeling Hip Hinge
Watch The Video – 00:31

3 Standing hip hinge with PVC

Once you’ve got the floor version down, take the kneeling hip hinge to your feet. The wall gives you a marker to hit and measures progress. When you master driving the hips back, step away from the wall and do it in free space. When you master the hip hinge in free space, remove the PVC and maintain a neutral spine.

Standing Hip Hinge
Watch The Video – 00:25

4 Belly swing

Now it’s time to add tension. This exercise comes from legendary strength and track coach Dan John, who calls it the “Bulgarian goat belly swing,” a noble name for an honorable exercise.

You can perform it with a kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, or weight plate. Start by taking a deep belly breath, and follow that by bracing your abdominals tightly. When you’re tight, pull the weight firmly into your braced abs. The result is a strong upper back and lat contraction teeming with deadlift power. Then push the hips back like in the butt-to-wall.

Belly Swing
Watch The Video – 00:18

Hip Hinge Programming

All lifters, from steadfast iron devotees to people newly baptized by barbells, can benefit from remedial hinge work. An advanced lifter might not need the same proportion of drill work, but they ignore it at their peril.

This basic template will help you formulate proper hinge form and will get you moving in the right direction with solid back tension, grace, and power. Weight room vets can do well by using this as part of a warm-up or as an off-day recovery method. Newbies should use this in the place of deadlift training until their hinge is strong and confident.

Just remember: Happy hinge, happy deadlift, and happy back.

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About The Author

Todd Bumgardner works as a strength and conditioning coach and manual therapist at Ranfone Training Systems in Hamden, Connecticut.

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How To Hip Hinge For Ultimate Performance!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Training Methods, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on How To Hip Hinge For Ultimate Performance!

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Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

Sam Wells is one lucky girl. The aspiring women’s physique competitor not only met the first-ever women’s physique Olympia winner, Dana Linn Bailey, she trained with her too. Sam won MHP’s 2013 “Train With Dana” contest, and her prize was spending the day at City Athletic Club in Las Vegas trading reps with her idol.

“When I got the call that I had won, I honestly didn’t know what to do—I just ran around the house crying like a total spaz,” recalls Sam. The day after DLB won the Olympia, Sam was there to meet her. Among flashing cameras and surprise visits from other notable Olympia athletes, such as Kai Greene, the two women got right down to business by crushing a back workout. “Getting to do what I love to do most alongside the person I most look up to was a remarkable experience,” says Sam.

Train With Dana
Watch The Video – 11:09

Although she was depleted and tired from the day before, DLB challenged Sam to do her best. “The thing about Dana is that she is so inspiring,” says Sam. “She makes you feel like you can do it too. There are some people who are discouraging and have a cocky attitude. She’s not like that at all. She’s really uplifting, inspiring, and motivating.”

“I was speechless the whole day—I just tried to take it all in. This day changed my life.”

Follow the workout these two inspiring ladies did together!

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Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, NutritionComments Off on Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

<div id="DPG" webReader="242.58359023"><div class="side-bar" webReader="-18.7883211679"><div class="c11"><img src="images/2013/james-grage-vital-stats.jpg"/></div><h3 class="article-title c12">Vital Stats</h3><p><strong>Name:</strong> James Grage<br /><strong>BodySpace:</strong> <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/JamesGrage/">JamesGrage</a><br /><strong>Height:</strong> 5-foot-10<br /><strong>Weight:</strong> 175 lbs<br /><strong>Occupation:</strong> Co-Founder and Vice President of <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bpisports/bpisports.htm" target="_blank">BPI Sports</a></p></div><p>Hardgainers around the world! Unite and listen up: Putting on muscle and getting stronger isn't as elusive or impossible as you might think. It's not something you have to overanalyze. With a little diligence and consistency, anyone can pack on excellent size. Trust me, I've been there. The key is to have a well-laid foundation before you jump into the gym.</p><p>It's easy to want to lift first and learn later, but if you want to avoid common mistakes and train to gain, you need to understand certain lifting logistics before flinging dumbbells around like your life depends on it. Follow these five simple steps and you'll be on the path to big gains!</p><h3 class="article-title">Step 1 </h3><p>No matter how great your genetics, gaining new muscle mass requires a lot of hard work and discipline. If you're a hardgainer, it's an even more formidable task. Putting on weight may start to feel like an uphill battle that you just can't win, but that's because you're probably trying to sprint the hill when you should be jogging. If you want to get big, you need to have the patience and tenacity to tackle your goals.</p><p>Sticking to the right nutrition, training, and supplement regimen for an extended period of time requires intense focus. It's easy to fall off the plan when one of life's many distractions hits—and they always hit. Your level of motivation is the only thing that can keep you on track. A meaningful goal and clear focus is the drive used to fuel that motivation.</p><p>Find a goal that gets you excited. Maybe you're looking to put on three pounds of lean mass over the next few months, maybe you're eager to grow your quads to fill out your newest pair of jeans, or maybe you're looking to gain the majority of your new muscle in your upper body. Whatever your personal vision is, you've got to set a goal and stick to it.</p><h3 class="article-title">Step 2 </h3><p>Looking at the numbers might seem scary, but it's a necessary step in the right direction. In order to see how far you've come, you need to know where you started. Break your goal into smaller mini-goals that are measurable and achievable.</p><img src="images/2014/scrawny-to-brawny-bpi-1.jpg" width="560" height="362" border="0"/><p>Here are three easy ways to measure and track your progress:</p><h5>Strength Goals</h5><p>Strength goals are measurable and simple to track. Write down or track online the weights you use for each workout and each exercise. Do this for weeks, months, and even years. On days when you aren't seeing progress in the mirror, seeing your back squat, power cleans, or Arnold press numbers climb will remind you that you're making headway and will keep you motivated.</p><h5>Tape Measurements</h5><p>Do circumference measurements for your chest, arms, shoulders, quads, and calves. Set a realistic goal for growth. Don't listen to the ridiculous cover lines on some of the magazines. You aren't always going to gain three inches on your arms. If that were the case, everyone would have 21-inch arms. Just set small, doable goals.</p><h5>Body Fat Analysis</h5><p>Lean muscle mass is a great indicator of growth. It's an easy number to track and a number that, if you train and eat right, will go up. Have your weight and body fat measured so you can track every pound of lean mass gained.</p><h3 class="article-title">Step 3 </h3><img src="images/2014/scrawny-to-brawny-bpi-2.jpg" width="196" height="182" border="0" class="float-right c13"/><p>Before I even talk about training, we need to address nutrition. This is the biggest stumbling block for most people and it's going to separate you from other guys struggling to gain size. Believe me when I say that food is the most anabolic substance you can ever take. There's nothing else you can put in your body that's going to help you put on more muscle than proper food intake.</p><p>Let's eliminate all the fancy nutrition jargon and dissect it into the basic nuts and bolts. It's crucial to ingest adequate calories to grow, but counting calories can become tiresome. I prefer the backward approach: I track my protein and carbohydrates each day and let the calories fall into place from there.</p><p>My good friend—and four-time Mr. Olympia—Jay Cutler follows the same method. Jay may be huge but, if you ask him, he still describes himself as a hardgainer. His fast metabolism is great for staying lean, but it also requires him to consume a lot of food to maintain muscle. Each day Jay consumes about 1.25 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrates for every pound of total bodyweight. This split leaves him with roughly 55 percent of his calories from carbohydrates, 35 percent of his calories from protein, and the remaining 10 percent from fats.</p><div class="left-side-stripe" webReader="-10"><h4>Jay Knows Best</h4><p>If you want to gain size, you have to make sure you get enough carbs at the right times. The three most calorie-dense, carbohydrate-rich meals should be your breakfast, pre-workout, and post-workout meals. Here's an example of what Jay Cutler eats at these times.<br /><img src="images/2014/scrawny-to-brawny-bpi-3.jpg" width="218" height="190" border="0" class="float-right c13"/><br /><strong>Breakfast:</strong><br />3 cups of oatmeal<br />2 slices of Ezekiel bread<br />20 egg whites + 2 whole eggs<br />1 scoop of protein mixed with ice and water<br />1 avocado sliced<br />120+ grams of carbohydrates<br />68 grams of protein</p><p><strong>Pre-Workout:</strong><br />2 heaping cups of White Basmati Rice<br />2 large Chicken Breasts (about 10 oz total)<br />Handful of walnuts<br />1 scoop of protein mixed with ice and water<br />80+ grams of carbs<br />85 grams of protein</p><p><strong>Post-workout:</strong><br />50 grams of whey protein immediately after workout<br />70+ grams of simple carbs from Gatorade (roughly 40 oz) 15 minutes later</p></div><p>Now, I know what you're thinking. Isn't protein the most important building block for muscle growth? Yes, protein is necessary but, at 35 percent of your total daily calories, you're getting more than enough. My macronutrient breakdown is slightly higher in carbs than your average "gaining program," but, as Jay will tell you, correctly timed carbs are the key to growth for a hardgainer.</p><p>Your three most carbohydrate-rich meals should be your breakfast, pre-training meal, and post-workout meal. Post workout, your glycogen levels are depleted, making it the perfect time to reload. This is also the point at which I take my creatine and load up on simple sugars. I typically drink Gatorade, not the reduced-calorie G2. I actually want the sugars.</p><p>As for fats, go for essential, healthy sources like fish, avocados, and almonds. Proper good fats are essential for testosterone production, which is critical to getting bigger and stronger. Remember that you have to be just as structured and diligent with your eating as you are your training. I can't emphasize this enough. Eat to grow.</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bpi-sports/whey-hd.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/bpi-sports_whey-hd_ratingbanner_01.jpg" width="401" height="167" class="c14"/></a><a href="http://reviews.bodybuilding.com/BPI_Sports/WheyHD"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/bpi-sports_whey-hd_ratingbanner_02.jpg" width="159" height="96"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bpi-sports/whey-hd.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/bpi-sports_whey-hd_ratingbanner_03.jpg" width="159" height="71"/></a><h3 class="article-title">Step 4 </h3><p>People aren't exactly the same, and we don't all respond to resistance training the same way. What makes one guy big might leave another with a torn tendon or ligament. Some guys can practically walk into the weight room, smell the weights, and gain size. There's no one-size-fits-all plan, but the approach I follow is broad enough that it will work for all types of hardgainers. It all boils down to a variety of rep ranges.</p><p>Generally speaking, the ideal rep range for hypertrophy is 6-12 reps. For strength, the perfect range is roughly 1-6 reps, and more than 12 reps per set typically trains muscular endurance. Most people looking to build muscle train only in the 6-12 rep range, hoping for maximum muscle hypertrophy, but they miss out on the benefit other rep ranges offer.</p><p>If you can move heavier weights with proper form, it makes it easier to get bigger. For this reason, I like to focus on building strength with 4-6 reps per set one week out every the month. The following week, I switch to 8-12 reps. Then, on the third week, I lift in the 12-18 rep range using strict form and going for maximum muscle pump.</p><img src="images/2014/scrawny-to-brawny-bpi-4.jpg" width="560" height="349" border="0"/><p>"Generally speaking, the ideal rep range for hypertrophy is 6-12 reps."</p><p>When I train with slightly lighter weights and high reps, I get the best pumps—the kind that make your muscles and skin feel like they're going to rip. This "muscle pump" or swelling of the muscle cells, can result in greater protein synthesis and overall greater muscle size. I also believe a big pump helps you grow because it can stretch your muscle fascia. The fascia is a thin layer of tissue that holds your muscle together. The more you stretch that layer, the more room there is for your muscle to expand and grow.</p><p>Think of a balloon. If you blow it up and let the air out, it's easier to blow up the second time because you've already stretched it. Just like a lot of air in a balloon, a big muscle pump stretches the fascia and makes room for future growth.</p><p>I think stretching is grossly underestimated because, in addition to helping prevent injury, it can also help you grow! I used to train with an old hardcore bodybuilder who would use a rubber mallet and a wood rolling pin to massage his muscles between sets. Try this yourself with a rolling pin or foam roll. You can't even imagine the insane pumps you'll get training this way!</p><h4>Sample 3-Week Rep Rotation For Biceps</h4><div id="meal-plan-table"><ul><li class="c10">
<h6>Warm up, stretch, and focus on form. Don't lift with your ego!</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBgColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_1.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_2.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')">Barbell Curl</a></strong><br />1 warm-up set of 12-15 reps; 3 sets of 4-5 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/223/Male/t/223_1.jpg" alt="Dumbbell Bicep Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/223/Male/t/223_2.jpg" alt="Dumbbell Bicep Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')">Dumbbell Bicep Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 4-5 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/180/Male/t/180_1.jpg" alt="Preacher Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/180/Male/t/180_2.jpg" alt="Preacher Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')">Preacher Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 4-5 reps</span></li>
</ul><ul><li class="c10">
<h6>Select a weight that makes you want to quit each set at 8-10 reps, but push for 10-12.</h6>
</li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_1.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_2.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')">Barbell Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 8-10 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/223/Male/t/223_1.jpg" alt="Dumbbell Bicep Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/223/Male/t/223_2.jpg" alt="Dumbbell Bicep Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')">Dumbbell Bicep Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 8-10 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/180/Male/t/180_1.jpg" alt="Preacher Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/180/Male/t/180_2.jpg" alt="Preacher Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')">Preacher Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 10-12 reps</span></li>
</ul><h6>Go heavy enough to make your sets really burn. This isn't an easy week.</h6><ul><li class="rowBgColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_1.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/169/Male/t/169_2.jpg" alt="Barbell Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('barbell-curl')">Barbell Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 12-14 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBorderColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/223/Male/t/223_1.jpg" alt="Dumbbell Bicep Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/223/Male/t/223_2.jpg" alt="Dumbbell Bicep Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('dumbbell-bicep-curl')">Dumbbell Bicep Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 15-20 reps</span></li>
<li class="rowBgColor c15"><span class="mpt-images"><a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/180/Male/t/180_1.jpg" alt="Preacher Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a> <a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/exerciseImages/sequences/180/Male/t/180_2.jpg" alt="Preacher Curl" width="53" height="53"/></a></span> <span class="mpt-content content"><strong><a href="javascript:pop('preacher-curl')">Preacher Curl</a></strong><br />3 sets of 15-20 reps</span></li>
</ul></div><img src="images/2014/scrawny-to-brawny-bpi-5.jpg" width="250" height="409" border="0" class="float-right c13"/><p>"Think of your supplement regimen as the icing on your gains cake."</p><h3 class="article-title">Step 5 </h3><p>Think of your supplement regimen as the icing on your gains cake. It will help you increase and accelerate your results. Notice that I listed supplements last. While they're an extremely important part of the equation, they don't belong at the forefront of your weight-gain strategy. Supplements exist to support your diet and help you take things to the next level. There's no magic bullet for getting big.</p><p>3 Basic Mass-Building Blocks:</p><h5>Protein Powder</h5><p>I drink at least two protein shakes every day, each with 30 grams of whey protein. This helps me get 60 grams out of the 218 grams that I need on a daily basis. There's always a debate as to what type of protein builds muscle better—whey isolate, whey blends, casein, egg, etc. I prefer a high-quality whey blend which tastes great. Since you'll be drinking it every day, taste is an important factor—you want something that you enjoy drinking, otherwise you won't do it consistently.</p><h5>Creatine</h5><p>Creatine is the most studied and scientifically sound muscle builder in the world of sports supplementation. In simple terms, it helps improve volume, strength, and recovery. I've tried various types of creatine through the years, but the one I prefer is a capsule of creatine monohydrate and creatine hydrochloride. I get the benefits of creatine mono, the king of all creatines, plus the absorption benefits of the HCL. The capsules make for a convenient and easily dosed delivery system.</p><h5>Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)</h5><p>BCAAs support muscle protein synthesis and decreased protein catabolism. In short, they are great for recovery after a hard workout and help build lean tissue. The version I take utilizes peptide-linked aminos, or oligopeptides, as well as agmatine.</p><h3 class="article-title">BIG FINISH</h3><p>When it comes to getting big, one of the most important things to remember is that you have to make every workout count. Each and every time you step foot in the gym, you have to get your head in the game. You need the proper mindset to push past your comfort zone and do battle. I like to take a pre-workout before my workouts for that very reason. A pre-workout product delivers the extra energy and intensity I need to get the absolute best results from my training.</p><p>Remember that, when it comes to getting bigger, it's the sum of the parts. Nutrition, training, and supplementation all play a role, but a successful plan requires the discipline and fortitude to execute it. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither are the best physiques in the world.</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bpi-sports/1mr-vortex.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/bpr-1mr-vortex_01.jpg" width="402" height="167" class="c14"/></a><a href="http://reviews.bodybuilding.com/BPI_Sports/1MR_Vortex"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/bpr-1mr-vortex_02.jpg" width="158" height="97"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bpi-sports/1mr-vortex.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/bpr-1mr-vortex_03.jpg" width="158" height="70"/></a><br class="c17"/><h3 class="article-title">Recommended For You</h3><div class="c20" webReader="7.17117117117"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fitness-360-james-grage-define-your-own-destiny.html"><img src="images/2013/fit-360-james-grage-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="9.86036036036"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fitness-360-james-grage-define-your-own-destiny.html">DEFINE YOUR OWN DESTINY</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
He asked for a Jack LaLanne weight set at age 15, stepped on stage at 25, and built himself back up after a devastating car accident that very same year. At age 39, James Grage refuses to slow down.</p></div></div><div class="c20" webReader="4.76229508197"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-master-motivator-how-can-i-motivate-significant-other.html"><img src="images/2014/ask-the-master-motivator-james-grage-smallbox-bpi.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="6.12295081967"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-master-motivator-how-can-i-motivate-significant-other.html">ASK THE MASTER MOTIVATOR: HOW CAN I MOTIVATE MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER TO WORK OUT?</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
All too often, life partners don't commit to being gym buddies. It doesn't have to be that way. Learn how to motivate your spouse to spot you in life and in the gym.</p></div></div><div class="c20" webReader="5.32738095238"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-master-motivator-how-can-i-stay-pumped-for-late-workout.html"><img src="images/2014/ask-the-master-motivator-james-grage-smallbox-bpi.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="7.10317460317"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-master-motivator-how-can-i-stay-pumped-for-late-workout.html">ASK THE MASTER MOTIVATOR: HOW CAN I STAY PUMPED FOR A LATE-NIGHT WORKOUT?</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
With all the things that come up in a day, evening workouts can sometimes get lost in the mix. Learn how to stay on track and push through any workout, no matter the time of day.</p></div></div></div>

Scrawny To Brawny: 5 Steps To Big Gains

Hardgainers around the world! Unite and listen up: Putting on muscle and getting stronger isn’t as elusive or impossible as you might think. It’s not something you have to overanalyze. With a little diligence and consistency, anyone can pack on excellent size. Trust me, I’ve been there. The key is to have a well-laid foundation before you jump into the gym.

It’s easy to want to lift first and learn later, but if you want to avoid common mistakes and train to gain, you need to understand certain lifting logistics before flinging dumbbells around like your life depends on it. Follow these five simple steps and you’ll be on the path to big gains!

Step 1

No matter how great your genetics, gaining new muscle mass requires a lot of hard work and discipline. If you’re a hardgainer, it’s an even more formidable task. Putting on weight may start to feel like an uphill battle that you just can’t win, but that’s because you’re probably trying to sprint the hill when you should be jogging. If you want to get big, you need to have the patience and tenacity to tackle your goals.

Sticking to the right nutrition, training, and supplement regimen for an extended period of time requires intense focus. It’s easy to fall off the plan when one of life’s many distractions hits—and they always hit. Your level of motivation is the only thing that can keep you on track. A meaningful goal and clear focus is the drive used to fuel that motivation.

Find a goal that gets you excited. Maybe you’re looking to put on three pounds of lean mass over the next few months, maybe you’re eager to grow your quads to fill out your newest pair of jeans, or maybe you’re looking to gain the majority of your new muscle in your upper body. Whatever your personal vision is, you’ve got to set a goal and stick to it.

Step 2

Looking at the numbers might seem scary, but it’s a necessary step in the right direction. In order to see how far you’ve come, you need to know where you started. Break your goal into smaller mini-goals that are measurable and achievable.

Here are three easy ways to measure and track your progress:

Strength Goals

Strength goals are measurable and simple to track. Write down or track online the weights you use for each workout and each exercise. Do this for weeks, months, and even years. On days when you aren’t seeing progress in the mirror, seeing your back squat, power cleans, or Arnold press numbers climb will remind you that you’re making headway and will keep you motivated.

Tape Measurements

Do circumference measurements for your chest, arms, shoulders, quads, and calves. Set a realistic goal for growth. Don’t listen to the ridiculous cover lines on some of the magazines. You aren’t always going to gain three inches on your arms. If that were the case, everyone would have 21-inch arms. Just set small, doable goals.

Body Fat Analysis

Lean muscle mass is a great indicator of growth. It’s an easy number to track and a number that, if you train and eat right, will go up. Have your weight and body fat measured so you can track every pound of lean mass gained.

Step 3

Before I even talk about training, we need to address nutrition. This is the biggest stumbling block for most people and it’s going to separate you from other guys struggling to gain size. Believe me when I say that food is the most anabolic substance you can ever take. There’s nothing else you can put in your body that’s going to help you put on more muscle than proper food intake.

Let’s eliminate all the fancy nutrition jargon and dissect it into the basic nuts and bolts. It’s crucial to ingest adequate calories to grow, but counting calories can become tiresome. I prefer the backward approach: I track my protein and carbohydrates each day and let the calories fall into place from there.

My good friend—and four-time Mr. Olympia—Jay Cutler follows the same method. Jay may be huge but, if you ask him, he still describes himself as a hardgainer. His fast metabolism is great for staying lean, but it also requires him to consume a lot of food to maintain muscle. Each day Jay consumes about 1.25 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrates for every pound of total bodyweight. This split leaves him with roughly 55 percent of his calories from carbohydrates, 35 percent of his calories from protein, and the remaining 10 percent from fats.

Jay Knows Best

If you want to gain size, you have to make sure you get enough carbs at the right times. The three most calorie-dense, carbohydrate-rich meals should be your breakfast, pre-workout, and post-workout meals. Here’s an example of what Jay Cutler eats at these times.

Breakfast:
3 cups of oatmeal
2 slices of Ezekiel bread
20 egg whites + 2 whole eggs
1 scoop of protein mixed with ice and water
1 avocado sliced
120+ grams of carbohydrates
68 grams of protein

Pre-Workout:
2 heaping cups of White Basmati Rice
2 large Chicken Breasts (about 10 oz total)
Handful of walnuts
1 scoop of protein mixed with ice and water
80+ grams of carbs
85 grams of protein

Post-workout:
50 grams of whey protein immediately after workout
70+ grams of simple carbs from Gatorade (roughly 40 oz) 15 minutes later

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t protein the most important building block for muscle growth? Yes, protein is necessary but, at 35 percent of your total daily calories, you’re getting more than enough. My macronutrient breakdown is slightly higher in carbs than your average “gaining program,” but, as Jay will tell you, correctly timed carbs are the key to growth for a hardgainer.

Your three most carbohydrate-rich meals should be your breakfast, pre-training meal, and post-workout meal. Post workout, your glycogen levels are depleted, making it the perfect time to reload. This is also the point at which I take my creatine and load up on simple sugars. I typically drink Gatorade, not the reduced-calorie G2. I actually want the sugars.

As for fats, go for essential, healthy sources like fish, avocados, and almonds. Proper good fats are essential for testosterone production, which is critical to getting bigger and stronger. Remember that you have to be just as structured and diligent with your eating as you are your training. I can’t emphasize this enough. Eat to grow.

Step 4

People aren’t exactly the same, and we don’t all respond to resistance training the same way. What makes one guy big might leave another with a torn tendon or ligament. Some guys can practically walk into the weight room, smell the weights, and gain size. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan, but the approach I follow is broad enough that it will work for all types of hardgainers. It all boils down to a variety of rep ranges.

Generally speaking, the ideal rep range for hypertrophy is 6-12 reps. For strength, the perfect range is roughly 1-6 reps, and more than 12 reps per set typically trains muscular endurance. Most people looking to build muscle train only in the 6-12 rep range, hoping for maximum muscle hypertrophy, but they miss out on the benefit other rep ranges offer.

If you can move heavier weights with proper form, it makes it easier to get bigger. For this reason, I like to focus on building strength with 4-6 reps per set one week out every the month. The following week, I switch to 8-12 reps. Then, on the third week, I lift in the 12-18 rep range using strict form and going for maximum muscle pump.

“Generally speaking, the ideal rep range for hypertrophy is 6-12 reps.”

When I train with slightly lighter weights and high reps, I get the best pumps—the kind that make your muscles and skin feel like they’re going to rip. This “muscle pump” or swelling of the muscle cells, can result in greater protein synthesis and overall greater muscle size. I also believe a big pump helps you grow because it can stretch your muscle fascia. The fascia is a thin layer of tissue that holds your muscle together. The more you stretch that layer, the more room there is for your muscle to expand and grow.

Think of a balloon. If you blow it up and let the air out, it’s easier to blow up the second time because you’ve already stretched it. Just like a lot of air in a balloon, a big muscle pump stretches the fascia and makes room for future growth.

I think stretching is grossly underestimated because, in addition to helping prevent injury, it can also help you grow! I used to train with an old hardcore bodybuilder who would use a rubber mallet and a wood rolling pin to massage his muscles between sets. Try this yourself with a rolling pin or foam roll. You can’t even imagine the insane pumps you’ll get training this way!

Sample 3-Week Rep Rotation For Biceps

Go heavy enough to make your sets really burn. This isn’t an easy week.

“Think of your supplement regimen as the icing on your gains cake.”

Step 5

Think of your supplement regimen as the icing on your gains cake. It will help you increase and accelerate your results. Notice that I listed supplements last. While they’re an extremely important part of the equation, they don’t belong at the forefront of your weight-gain strategy. Supplements exist to support your diet and help you take things to the next level. There’s no magic bullet for getting big.

3 Basic Mass-Building Blocks:

Protein Powder

I drink at least two protein shakes every day, each with 30 grams of whey protein. This helps me get 60 grams out of the 218 grams that I need on a daily basis. There’s always a debate as to what type of protein builds muscle better—whey isolate, whey blends, casein, egg, etc. I prefer a high-quality whey blend which tastes great. Since you’ll be drinking it every day, taste is an important factor—you want something that you enjoy drinking, otherwise you won’t do it consistently.

Creatine

Creatine is the most studied and scientifically sound muscle builder in the world of sports supplementation. In simple terms, it helps improve volume, strength, and recovery. I’ve tried various types of creatine through the years, but the one I prefer is a capsule of creatine monohydrate and creatine hydrochloride. I get the benefits of creatine mono, the king of all creatines, plus the absorption benefits of the HCL. The capsules make for a convenient and easily dosed delivery system.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs support muscle protein synthesis and decreased protein catabolism. In short, they are great for recovery after a hard workout and help build lean tissue. The version I take utilizes peptide-linked aminos, or oligopeptides, as well as agmatine.

BIG FINISH

When it comes to getting big, one of the most important things to remember is that you have to make every workout count. Each and every time you step foot in the gym, you have to get your head in the game. You need the proper mindset to push past your comfort zone and do battle. I like to take a pre-workout before my workouts for that very reason. A pre-workout product delivers the extra energy and intensity I need to get the absolute best results from my training.

Remember that, when it comes to getting bigger, it’s the sum of the parts. Nutrition, training, and supplementation all play a role, but a successful plan requires the discipline and fortitude to execute it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are the best physiques in the world.


Recommended For You

DEFINE YOUR OWN DESTINY

He asked for a Jack LaLanne weight set at age 15, stepped on stage at 25, and built himself back up after a devastating car accident that very same year. At age 39, James Grage refuses to slow down.

ASK THE MASTER MOTIVATOR: HOW CAN I MOTIVATE MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER TO WORK OUT?

All too often, life partners don’t commit to being gym buddies. It doesn’t have to be that way. Learn how to motivate your spouse to spot you in life and in the gym.

ASK THE MASTER MOTIVATOR: HOW CAN I STAY PUMPED FOR A LATE-NIGHT WORKOUT?

With all the things that come up in a day, evening workouts can sometimes get lost in the mix. Learn how to stay on track and push through any workout, no matter the time of day.

Source: 

Scrawny To Brawny: 5 Steps To Big Gains

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, NutritionComments Off on Scrawny To Brawny: 5 Steps To Big Gains

<div id="DPG" webReader="243.996869497"><div class="side-bar" webReader="-19"><div class="c10"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/greg-robins-vital-stats-box.jpg"/></div><h3 class="article-title c11">Vital Stats</h3><p><strong>Name:</strong> Greg Robins, CPT<br /><strong>Education:</strong> University of Massachusetts Boston<br /><strong>Occupation:</strong> Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance<br /><strong>Twitter:</strong> @CoachGregRobbins<br /><strong>Website:</strong> thestrengthhouse.com<br /><strong>Location:</strong> Hudson, MA</p></div><p>Gaining weight can be incredibly difficult and stressful for certain people. For these folks, commonly called "hardgainers," adding even a little size can seem like a monumental task. Personally, I'm skeptical about the extent of this difficulty. From my time in the military to setting recent personal powerlifting goals, I've had my fair share of experiences gaining healthy weight.</p><p>At my lowest weight of 173 in the military, I had the energy of a bull and personal bests that included a 435-pound deadlift, a 315-pound squat, and a 285-pound bench press. Later, when I flew up to 230 pounds, these same lifts shot up over one hundred pounds apiece, and I still boast a better-than-average work capacity.</p><p>Over the years, I've learned that tackling any goal comes down to being honest, acknowledging how much work it will take, and pushing through that work. If you're a hardgainer who wants to gain weight, you probably won't feel hungry all the time, but you'll still have to eat. If you really want to grow, you need to silence your fears of getting fat, of your performance suffering, and of eating 100 percent clean.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/7-ways-to-gain-weight-1.jpg" width="560" height="346" border="0"/><p>"Gaining weight can be difficult and stressful. With proper training and willingness to do the work, you can build quality muscle and add healthy size."</p><p>I don't care how hard it is for you to gain weight. With proper training and willingness to do the work, you can build quality muscle and add healthy size. Do you have the courage to actually step outside your comfort zone and get something done? If you want to grow, start with these seven tips!</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">1 Use data over guesswork</h3>
</p><p>The guessing game and going by "feel" never give you an accurate picture of what you eat on a daily basis. So do the math and figure it out!</p><img class="float-right c13" src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/7-ways-to-gain-weight-2.jpg" width="190" height="283" border="0"/><p>Write down your daily diet in a notebook or food-tracking mobile app, crunch the numbers, and seek help if you need additional eyes. You may be surprised by what you find. Perhaps you thought you ate 3,300 calories one day when, in fact, you ate only 2,900. That's a 400-calorie difference that can add up overtime.</p><p>"Write down your daily diet in a notebook or food-tracking mobile app, crunch the numbers, and seek help if you need additional eyes."</p><p>Often, you just need something as visual as a food log for a couple weeks to fully grasp what you put into your diet—or <em>not</em>, in many cases.</p><p><strong>Action point:</strong> Spend at least one month writing down your meals, snacks, and calories of any form that touch your lips. This serves as a mental exercise to get yourself used to eyeballing portion sizes and grasping the frequency and size of the meals you can consistently suck in on a daily basis.</p><p>Take advantage of this experimental period to tweak your diet according to results and how you feel, and learn how your body responds. For example, if you haven't been gaining as much muscle as you'd like, check your protein intake to see if it's adequate; if not, bump it up by increasing protein portion size or shift foods around a bit. One gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is a solid daily target.</p><p>One month is all you need to get a good picture of your caloric intake, but if you feel like it really helps, by all means, continue doing it until you can confidently start assembling meals through approximation and still achieve the results you want.</p><p>Just be sure to avoid getting consumed by the idea that you need to count every calorie all the time.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">2 Add calorie bonuses in addition to planned meals</h3>
</p><p>Hardgainers don't gain weight for a slew of reasons. Chief among them is that they don't sneak in enough extra calories into their diet. Finding something to add as a surplus source of quick and easy calories is clutch for major gains.</p><p>Sure, this might be easier said than done, but it's a matter of identifying foods and recipes that are calorie-dense but light on stomach space. These foods include nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butters, honey, full-fat coconut milk, and full-fat Greek yogurt. Some other viable options consist of drinking milk throughout the day, making peanut butter and (insert your choice of condiment) sandwiches, homemade 1,000-calorie protein shakes, and homemade energy bars or "cookies."</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/7-ways-to-gain-weight-3b.jpg" width="560" height="288" border="0"/><p>"Finding something to add as a surplus source of quick and easy calories is clutch for major gains."</p><p>Once you figure out the foods which bloat the calorie count but not the stomach, plan to put them into your meals. That means making things in advance, thinking ahead, and having foods like full-fat Greek yogurt and nut butters within arm's reach and ready. Don't be lazy about it.</p><p>More calories = more growth, so pack on the calories and cram them in where you can.</p><p><strong>Action point:</strong> one of my favorite quick and easy snacks</p><ol class="dpg-list"><li>Grab a jar of all-natural peanut butter (none of that added sugar and oils funny business!) and empty it into a bowl.</li>
<li>Add two or three scoops of quality protein powder, a little honey to taste, and about 1/2 cup of dried oats.</li>
<li>Add just enough water to make it mixable but not soupy at all.</li>
<li>Mix all together.</li>
<li>Separate into little balls that can hold together and refrigerate.</li>
<li>Eat one with each of your meals over the next few days.</li>
</ol><p>Other good options include many awesome high protein recipes by <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/anna-sward.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Protein Powder Chef, Anna Sward</a>.</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/protein-powder/the-cookbook-protein-pow.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/annasward_bookbanner.jpg" width="560" height="144" border="0"/></a><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">3 You need to eat carbs (yes, even the starchy ones)</h3>
</p><p>This tip seems pretty straightforward, but you'd be surprised by how many people ask me why they're not gaining weight when their only carbohydrate sources come from vegetables, trace amounts of sugars, fruits, and legumes.</p><p>I'm not saying to go completely crazy on trashy carbohydrates, but your body will gain better results from additional carb sources such as rice, oats, sweet potatoes, and—dare I say it—bread. This is especially true with heavy weightlifting, since carbs are needed to replenish glycogen stores that a particularly grueling lifting session devours. Some studies suggest that timing the majority of your starches around when you train may shunt unnecessary fat storage. For example, eat these starches either pre- or post-workout.</p><p><strong>Action point:</strong> Add two bananas, a bowl of oatmeal (one cup measured uncooked), or half a cup of rice (measured uncooked) to your post-training meals.</p><img class="float-right c15" src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/7-ways-to-gain-weight-5.jpg" width="264" height="224" border="0"/><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">4 Fat is where it's at</h3>
</p><p>Fats are essential to your diet because they cushion your vital organs, help you digest certain types of vitamins, maintain optimum brain function, and more. Plus, fats are the easiest way to add extra calories. Fat sources are calorically dense, go down quickly, provide a lot of energy, and of course, they're damn tasty. Before you go to town on heavy cream and lard, fats should come from quality sources, like raw nuts, sunflower seeds, nut butters, avocado, fattier cuts of meat, olive oil, real mayonnaise, and some cheese.</p><p>Fats should comprise most of your meals when you're not training or close to training times.</p><p><strong>Action points:</strong> things you can do to add more fats and thus more calories to your diet</p><ul class="dpg-list"><li>Liberally douse your veggies in grass-fed butter or olive oil.</li>
<li>Pat some butter in your sweet potato.</li>
<li>Add extra olive oil in your marinara sauce.</li>
<li>Use real mayonnaise in your sandwiches.</li>
<li>Eat a whole avocado with your meal (they go with everything!).</li>
<li>Snack on macadamia nuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, and any of the other more nutrient-dense nuts throughout the day.</li>
</ul><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">5 Eat faster</h3>
</p><p>Before your body has the chance to feel satiated, fill 'er up! If you eat too slowly, you give your brain a chance to catch up on your stomach's actual satiety levels, which is usually about a 20-minute delay. When you sit down to eat, start shoveling as much food as you comfortably can into your gaping maw. That means the opposite of what most weight loss experts will tell you. Never put your utensils down during your meal.</p><p><strong>Action point:</strong> Make it a point to eat your meals with training buddies or friends who eat more food than you do. That way it becomes sort of a competition. It also puts "eating a lot" into a humbling perspective when you can see how much other people eat in comparison to yourself.</p><img class="float-right c16" src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/7-ways-to-gain-weight-6.jpg" width="268" height="322" border="0"/><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">6 Drink more calories</h3>
</p><p>Chewing takes work and time. Drink your calories whenever you can, whether that ends up being milk, coconut water, or a simple shake. Big, nutritional <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/proteinshakes.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">shakes</a> you make at home are the real moneymaker here. You can add extra calories from coconut milk, nut butters, high-quality protein powders, and fistfuls of greens to make that shake give you both weight and nutritional gains.</p><p><strong>Action point:</strong> Drink beverages like coconut milk, milk, or coconut water with each meal.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c12">7 Have a positive relationship with your food</h3>
</p><p>Far too often, people get consumed by the act of eating that they forget to savor food and view food as more than just numbers. Learn to cook, enjoy your food, and stop eating alone.</p><p>Having a positive relationship with food will do wonders for the poor habits you don't even realize are taking place. It's often the negative association that stems from the "need to eat" and makes hardgainers less likely to be able to adhere to consuming more calories. In these cases, it just helps to have a friend to be there along the way.</p><p><strong>Action point:</strong> Plan to have dinner with a friend at least twice each week over the next month. As I already mentioned, try to make plans with friends who aren't afraid to say yes to two entrees or second (or even third) helpings!</p><p>Do you have any other weight-gaining secrets to share with other hardgainers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!</p><br class="c17"/><h3 class="article-title">Recommended For You</h3><div class="c20" webReader="5.15789473684"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/12-skinny-guy-tips-to-build-monster-muscle.htm"><img src="images/2014/12-skinny-guy-tips-to-build-monster-muscle-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="6.63157894737"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/12-skinny-guy-tips-to-build-monster-muscle.htm">12 'Skinny Guy' Tips To Build Monster Muscle!</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Are you afraid to challenge yourself? After reading this article, you should be ready to take the first steps in the journey!</p></div></div><div class="c20" webReader="5.55434782609"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/hardgainers-guide-to-muscle-building.htm"><img src="images/2014/hardgainers-guide-to-muscle-building-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="7.14130434783"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/hardgainers-guide-to-muscle-building.htm">Hardgainer's Guide To Muscle Building!</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Every hardgainer is looking to add muscle. This guide will focus on the types of weight training, cardio and nutrition needed to meet your goals.</p></div></div><div class="c20" webReader="5.34210526316"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/30-day-bones-to-buff-training.htm"><img src="images/2014/bones-to-buff-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="6.86842105263"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/30-day-bones-to-buff-training.htm">How To Go From Bones To Buff In Just 30 Days!</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
For someone struggling to gain mass, a different approach must be taken. Here are the benefits of a 30-day program for ectomorphs. Check it out!</p></div></div></div>

Get Growing: 7 Ways To Gain Weight For The Hardgainer

Gaining weight can be incredibly difficult and stressful for certain people. For these folks, commonly called “hardgainers,” adding even a little size can seem like a monumental task. Personally, I’m skeptical about the extent of this difficulty. From my time in the military to setting recent personal powerlifting goals, I’ve had my fair share of experiences gaining healthy weight.

At my lowest weight of 173 in the military, I had the energy of a bull and personal bests that included a 435-pound deadlift, a 315-pound squat, and a 285-pound bench press. Later, when I flew up to 230 pounds, these same lifts shot up over one hundred pounds apiece, and I still boast a better-than-average work capacity.

Over the years, I’ve learned that tackling any goal comes down to being honest, acknowledging how much work it will take, and pushing through that work. If you’re a hardgainer who wants to gain weight, you probably won’t feel hungry all the time, but you’ll still have to eat. If you really want to grow, you need to silence your fears of getting fat, of your performance suffering, and of eating 100 percent clean.

“Gaining weight can be difficult and stressful. With proper training and willingness to do the work, you can build quality muscle and add healthy size.”

I don’t care how hard it is for you to gain weight. With proper training and willingness to do the work, you can build quality muscle and add healthy size. Do you have the courage to actually step outside your comfort zone and get something done? If you want to grow, start with these seven tips!

1 Use data over guesswork

The guessing game and going by “feel” never give you an accurate picture of what you eat on a daily basis. So do the math and figure it out!

Write down your daily diet in a notebook or food-tracking mobile app, crunch the numbers, and seek help if you need additional eyes. You may be surprised by what you find. Perhaps you thought you ate 3,300 calories one day when, in fact, you ate only 2,900. That’s a 400-calorie difference that can add up overtime.

“Write down your daily diet in a notebook or food-tracking mobile app, crunch the numbers, and seek help if you need additional eyes.”

Often, you just need something as visual as a food log for a couple weeks to fully grasp what you put into your diet—or not, in many cases.

Action point: Spend at least one month writing down your meals, snacks, and calories of any form that touch your lips. This serves as a mental exercise to get yourself used to eyeballing portion sizes and grasping the frequency and size of the meals you can consistently suck in on a daily basis.

Take advantage of this experimental period to tweak your diet according to results and how you feel, and learn how your body responds. For example, if you haven’t been gaining as much muscle as you’d like, check your protein intake to see if it’s adequate; if not, bump it up by increasing protein portion size or shift foods around a bit. One gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is a solid daily target.

One month is all you need to get a good picture of your caloric intake, but if you feel like it really helps, by all means, continue doing it until you can confidently start assembling meals through approximation and still achieve the results you want.

Just be sure to avoid getting consumed by the idea that you need to count every calorie all the time.

2 Add calorie bonuses in addition to planned meals

Hardgainers don’t gain weight for a slew of reasons. Chief among them is that they don’t sneak in enough extra calories into their diet. Finding something to add as a surplus source of quick and easy calories is clutch for major gains.

Sure, this might be easier said than done, but it’s a matter of identifying foods and recipes that are calorie-dense but light on stomach space. These foods include nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butters, honey, full-fat coconut milk, and full-fat Greek yogurt. Some other viable options consist of drinking milk throughout the day, making peanut butter and (insert your choice of condiment) sandwiches, homemade 1,000-calorie protein shakes, and homemade energy bars or “cookies.”

“Finding something to add as a surplus source of quick and easy calories is clutch for major gains.”

Once you figure out the foods which bloat the calorie count but not the stomach, plan to put them into your meals. That means making things in advance, thinking ahead, and having foods like full-fat Greek yogurt and nut butters within arm’s reach and ready. Don’t be lazy about it.

More calories = more growth, so pack on the calories and cram them in where you can.

Action point: one of my favorite quick and easy snacks

  1. Grab a jar of all-natural peanut butter (none of that added sugar and oils funny business!) and empty it into a bowl.
  2. Add two or three scoops of quality protein powder, a little honey to taste, and about 1/2 cup of dried oats.
  3. Add just enough water to make it mixable but not soupy at all.
  4. Mix all together.
  5. Separate into little balls that can hold together and refrigerate.
  6. Eat one with each of your meals over the next few days.

Other good options include many awesome high protein recipes by Protein Powder Chef, Anna Sward.

3 You need to eat carbs (yes, even the starchy ones)

This tip seems pretty straightforward, but you’d be surprised by how many people ask me why they’re not gaining weight when their only carbohydrate sources come from vegetables, trace amounts of sugars, fruits, and legumes.

I’m not saying to go completely crazy on trashy carbohydrates, but your body will gain better results from additional carb sources such as rice, oats, sweet potatoes, and—dare I say it—bread. This is especially true with heavy weightlifting, since carbs are needed to replenish glycogen stores that a particularly grueling lifting session devours. Some studies suggest that timing the majority of your starches around when you train may shunt unnecessary fat storage. For example, eat these starches either pre- or post-workout.

Action point: Add two bananas, a bowl of oatmeal (one cup measured uncooked), or half a cup of rice (measured uncooked) to your post-training meals.

4 Fat is where it’s at

Fats are essential to your diet because they cushion your vital organs, help you digest certain types of vitamins, maintain optimum brain function, and more. Plus, fats are the easiest way to add extra calories. Fat sources are calorically dense, go down quickly, provide a lot of energy, and of course, they’re damn tasty. Before you go to town on heavy cream and lard, fats should come from quality sources, like raw nuts, sunflower seeds, nut butters, avocado, fattier cuts of meat, olive oil, real mayonnaise, and some cheese.

Fats should comprise most of your meals when you’re not training or close to training times.

Action points: things you can do to add more fats and thus more calories to your diet

  • Liberally douse your veggies in grass-fed butter or olive oil.
  • Pat some butter in your sweet potato.
  • Add extra olive oil in your marinara sauce.
  • Use real mayonnaise in your sandwiches.
  • Eat a whole avocado with your meal (they go with everything!).
  • Snack on macadamia nuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, and any of the other more nutrient-dense nuts throughout the day.

5 Eat faster

Before your body has the chance to feel satiated, fill ‘er up! If you eat too slowly, you give your brain a chance to catch up on your stomach’s actual satiety levels, which is usually about a 20-minute delay. When you sit down to eat, start shoveling as much food as you comfortably can into your gaping maw. That means the opposite of what most weight loss experts will tell you. Never put your utensils down during your meal.

Action point: Make it a point to eat your meals with training buddies or friends who eat more food than you do. That way it becomes sort of a competition. It also puts “eating a lot” into a humbling perspective when you can see how much other people eat in comparison to yourself.

6 Drink more calories

Chewing takes work and time. Drink your calories whenever you can, whether that ends up being milk, coconut water, or a simple shake. Big, nutritional shakes you make at home are the real moneymaker here. You can add extra calories from coconut milk, nut butters, high-quality protein powders, and fistfuls of greens to make that shake give you both weight and nutritional gains.

Action point: Drink beverages like coconut milk, milk, or coconut water with each meal.

7 Have a positive relationship with your food

Far too often, people get consumed by the act of eating that they forget to savor food and view food as more than just numbers. Learn to cook, enjoy your food, and stop eating alone.

Having a positive relationship with food will do wonders for the poor habits you don’t even realize are taking place. It’s often the negative association that stems from the “need to eat” and makes hardgainers less likely to be able to adhere to consuming more calories. In these cases, it just helps to have a friend to be there along the way.

Action point: Plan to have dinner with a friend at least twice each week over the next month. As I already mentioned, try to make plans with friends who aren’t afraid to say yes to two entrees or second (or even third) helpings!

Do you have any other weight-gaining secrets to share with other hardgainers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Recommended For You

12 ‘Skinny Guy’ Tips To Build Monster Muscle!

Are you afraid to challenge yourself? After reading this article, you should be ready to take the first steps in the journey!

Hardgainer’s Guide To Muscle Building!

Every hardgainer is looking to add muscle. This guide will focus on the types of weight training, cardio and nutrition needed to meet your goals.

How To Go From Bones To Buff In Just 30 Days!

For someone struggling to gain mass, a different approach must be taken. Here are the benefits of a 30-day program for ectomorphs. Check it out!

Read this article: 

Get Growing: 7 Ways To Gain Weight For The Hardgainer

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on Get Growing: 7 Ways To Gain Weight For The Hardgainer

Jogging-Treadmill

Erin Stern Elite Body 4 Week Daily Fitness Trainer Day 25

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The best bodies are built through dedication and focus. Make sure you bring the right mindset to the gym today. If you aren’t dedicated to doing what needs to be done or you are lacking focus, you’ll waste time and energy on sub-par workouts. Visualize your elite body and recognize that every rep is helping you get there!

Don’t forget to have a little fun! Work hard, focus, but enjoy your workouts. You get to spend the next hour focusing on yourself and challenging your body to new levels. Appreciate and enjoy the fact that you are on the path to achieving your best self!

Elite Body Meal Plan

Check out the table below to see what Erin eats on a daily basis. You don’t have to follow these meals exactly, but take some cues from Erin’s template: Eat 5-6 times per day, eat protein at every meal, stick to complex carbs, don’t skimp on healthy fats, and taper your carbohydrate intake as the day goes on. Follow these rules to build your own elite meal plan.

Because each of us has particular caloric and macronutrient needs, feel free to add or subtract calories, increase the protein, and make other adjustments. Be smart about your choices, stick to the same food categories, and try to adhere to the schedule. What you eat is just as important as what you do in the gym, if not more. There are a lot of healthy options in these example meals, so you shouldn’t ever feel deprived or hungry.

Elite Strength Stack

Support strength, growth,
and recovery with this protein, bcaa, and pre-workout combo!*

“Day & Night” Protein Stack

Support muscle growth and recovery with this whey,
casein, and ZMA combo!*

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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Erin Stern Elite Body 4 Week Daily Fitness Trainer Day 25

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, NutritionComments Off on Erin Stern Elite Body 4 Week Daily Fitness Trainer Day 25


Paige Hathaway

2 days 3 hours ago

All these ropes yet I still can't tie you down.... #amiright 🤚🏼😂 #cricketcricket #illbehereallnight #bts

Paige Hathaway

1 week 1 day ago

Roses are red, Pizza sauce is too.
I just ordered a large and none of its for you... 😬

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