Hard-gainers or ectomorphs believe it's difficult for them to gain muscle because of genetics. But more often than not, they're training too hard, not allowing enough time to recover, and not eating enough. Seriously, it boils down to the simplest of setbacks. But these workouts provided by Ben Bruno, a strength coach in North Andover, MA, will set you up for success. See the Beginner Workout here >
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The Meal Plan
Eat a Lot
Aim for a gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day. So if you weigh 180 pounds, eat 180 grams. Take in starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, and oats; and snack on high-calorie (but healthy) foods like nuts, seeds, and other sources of good fats. If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to anything else, just remember to eat a lot of food every day. Once a week, weigh yourself in the morning after you’ve used the toilet and before you eat or drink anything. You should gain about a pound per week. (If you don’t, you’re not eating enough.) Get the full Meal Plan >
Mantra: “I Just Can’t Get Bigger.” Upper-arm girth: 12–14 inches Max bench press: Less than your body weight Fun fact about you: If someone elbows you in the ribs, it sounds like he’s playing a marimba.
Train better, not harder.
You can stimulate muscle growth with very few exercises as long as they’re done with heavy weight and they activate as many muscle fibers as possible. The workouts here have only four moves per session, but they’ll be anything but easy. If you’re the type who’s used to light circuits or bodybuilding routines that try to isolate every muscle, this is just what you need to grow.
Getting eight hours of sleep per night is crucial for growth-hormone release. “A nap every day in addition is even better if you can get it, ” Bruno adds. In between workouts, get massages or use a foam roller (pick one up at optp.com) to work out knots in your muscles and improve blood flow. Making these part of your routine enhances recovery.
Keep a Log
This program’s main focus is to increase strength, so “record all your numbers, ” Bruno says. Every week, strive to improve by adding more weight or more reps. As your strength goes up, muscle size will always follow.
Frequency: Perform each workout (Day 1, 2 and 3) once per week, resting at least a day between each session. Time Needed: 60 min How to Do It: Complete all the sets for one exercise before moving on to the next.
After 1 Month:
You should have added 15–20 pounds to the squat and deadlift and 10–15 to the bench press. You should’ve also gained three or more pounds of body weight. If you haven’t, consider adding more calories to your diet.