Begin by setting yourself some goals. Why are you doing this and what do you hope to achieve? When? Be realistic with yourself here because you’re not going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger over night. Having a goal to work towards, and the ability to track your progression will help keep you focused. This goal setting is crucial in weight loss programmes, and the same principle applies here. What do you want to gain, and how long are you setting yourself a target for?
If you’re new to working out and dieting for weight gain, then it will be hard to begin with. If it were easy then the problem wouldn’t exist in the first place. But your body adjusts to the new lifestyle and it becomes habit fairly quickly. You want to break into the gym softly so you can get used to a routine without damaging yourself. The first phase of our Fundamentals programme does just that, serving as an introduction to working out and dieting without chucking yourself in right at the deep end. By the end of the first phase you’ll be more confident in the gym and with your meals that you’ll be ready to take on the tougher challenges through phases two and three.
The journey to your ideal body is not a straight one. There will be weeks your weight goes up, and weeks it goes down. But overall you should see a steady increase. There are so many factors that affect your weight that it’s hard to fathom why it can fluctuate so much. Genetics and lifestyle will have a vital part to play, but you may find weighing yourself in the morning can have a different result from weighing yourself in the evening. It’s best not to get too bogged down in this. If you are doing everything you need to gain weight then you will. Do not be down-heartened if you ever see a loss, it happens to everyone, pick yourself up and keep pushing forward.
Lifting heavy weights for muscle growth requires specialist equipment that can only really be found within a gym. You don’t necessarily need a fancy gym with state of the art machines, but access to basic equipment is needed – especially within our programmes.
You should choose a gym with facilities and access times that suit your needs. If you want to go for a swim after your workouts, or want access to tennis courts etc., then by all means go for a more comprehensive gym. For weight gain those aren’t essential and many of the cheaper gyms will be more than appropriate. Go with whatever best suits your needs and your budget.
When deciding on a gym, have a look at how busy it is at the times you’re planning to go. That may be a key deciding factor. Many gyms will offer a one-day pass so you can experience the facilities before committing to a long-term membership.
You need to be dressed in appropriate attire for the gym, and most gyms will have rules about what you can/can’t wear. Clothes need to be comfortable and allow for movement – jeans aren’t practical. However gymwear does not have to be expensive.
At some point you may want to invest in gym gloves and wrist supports when you start lifting heavier weights, but again these do not need to be expensive. A dip belt is another worthwhile investment, but not essential.
This is another area that is often disagreed on. But we’ve found four times a week to be the ‘sweet spot’ for hard gainers. We recommend hitting each muscle group twice per week. We don’t recommend more because rest and recovery are equally important and you don’t want to overwork your body. Rest is crucial so you can push harder in the next workout, which just won’t be possible if you’re still exhausted from before.
Our programme is split over four days, with two days of push exercises, and two days of pull and leg exercises. When you can fit these in depends on your schedule, but we suggest a constant routine for being the most productive. If you can hit the gym the same day and times each week, you’ll find it to become second nature far easier than if you vary your workout days and times.
A workout will typically be anywhere from 45 mins to 90 mins depending on what the focus is for that session. You don’t need to spend hours a day in the gym, it’s just not necessary. Every workout in our programme will give you an estimated duration for that session so you can plan your time accordingly (this is calculated from the tempo, rest duration and number of reps and sets).
There is no right or wrong answer to this, it’s down to personal preference. The key is to be consistent. If you go in the mornings, always go in the mornings, same for the evenings.
Going in the morning is a great way to start the day. You’ll be rested from a nights sleep, and working out before you start your day will have you energised and focused for the day ahead.
Going in the evening will help tire you so you’ll be hungrier for your evening meal, and more likely to sleep better.
Decide what works best for you and your lifestyle and keep it consistent.
This will depend on your routine, but for hard gainers we recommend mostly compound exercises with a few isolated ones. Compounds target multiple muscles simultaneously which are ideal for people who find it hard to gain muscle mass. They allow you to reach more muscles in a shorter amount of time. Isolated exercises are better when you’re targeting one muscle group per workout session, which usually means hitting each muscle group only once per week.
Our workout programmes target multiple muscle groups per session, which are supported through compound exercises. Working out each muscle group twice per week rather than one allows for faster gains.
All these thoughts are completely natural when joining a gym for the first time. We know it can be a daunting place, even more so when you are not yet confident in yourself or your ability. There are a few things you should keep in mind.
Everyone in the gym started where you are and most will have experienced the same anxiety, so it is unlikely they will be judging you. The reality is that most people in the gym are focused on themselves rather than what everyone else is doing.
The first week will be the toughest because you’re getting familiar with the equipment and the exercises. But if you already know when going into the gym what you will be doing, that’s half the battle won. Those who start the gym with no programme to follow, who wonder from machine to machine whilst looking lost, are the ones who stand out. Someone entering the gym with a clear focus, who knows where they should be and what they are doing, will blend in with everyone else.
Having a programme when you start the gym is so important to help keep you on track and motivated so you don’t have to let your nerves get the best of you. As you get used to the gym surroundings, the exercises and the people you should begin to feel more at ease. The gym is also a great place for making new friends and meeting people on a similar fitness journey, so enjoy it!
It’s unlikely people will laugh at you for not lifting heavy weights. If you ever experience such a thing, mention it to the gym staff. Your safety is number one and you shouldn’t be lifting more than you can handle otherwise you risk seriously injuring yourself. Everyone at the gym should be able to workout in confidence and without being made to feel insecure by other members. Most gyms will not tolerate such behaviour, and if they do then move gyms. Most gym goers are decent people who have been where you are, and most will remember how it feels. Feel proud in your own achievements and progression, no matter how fast or slow.
This is true. You can spend so much time searching online and watching videos on YouTube, reading fitness magazines, and even speaking to different personal trainers. Everyone will have a different opinion which usually comes down to personal experience and preference.
There are exercises and routines that benefit certain body types more so than others. For people that find it hard to gain weight the method we use seems to generate the best results, and that’s working out each muscle group twice per week with mostly compound exercises. Of course diet also plays a key role in weight gain progression.
Online fitness videos are great for getting ideas for new exercises, but you have to be wary of form and posture if attempting any yourself. Quite often these videos focus on personal bests, which is fantastic for the person sharing them, but lifting very heavy weights can have a negative impact on form. So what you are watching may not be the best example of how to perform a specific exercise in a safe manner.
Online videos will not give you the tools to track and log your workouts either, and the exercises will vary from person to person and video to video. There is an ocean of content to be discovered, putting that into practice and discovering what will work from what doesn’t will take months of trial and error. We’ve already done that for you so you can save yourself the time, hassle and stress of being overwhelmed with it all. Our programmes also include other information you’ll need such as nutrition, full workout plans, and goal/measurement tracking to keep you motivated.
There are three key ingredients to getting the best results possible: progressive overload in your workouts, a calorie surplus in your diet, and motivation.
You need a routine for your workouts that pushes you harder every week, with a way to track your progression so you can see how far you’ve come. If you’re going into the gym with no plan of action, and no benchmark to set yourself against, then how can you be sure you’re pushing yourself hard enough? When the results aren’t coming through, this is likely a key factor. When you log a bench press at 60 kg for three sets of ten reps, you know for the next week to try for 65 or 70 kg for three sets of ten. Without logging it, the next week you may end up lifting the same again, or possibly less. To promote muscle growth your muscles need to be constantly adapting, otherwise they’ll plateau and you’ll notice the gains will stop. Switching your workout programme every four to six weeks also helps prevent hitting that plateau by pushing your body in new ways before it gets complacent.
A combination of progressive overload in your workouts (lifting heavier each session), eating enough of the right sorts of food to sustain muscle growth, and getting plenty of rest. It will take time and can’t be rushed, however the days will pass regardless so work towards your goal and gradually get there rather than give up and get nowhere.
Your gym may offer classes, but the majority are aimed at weight loss or general fitness. They are not essential nor do they make up any part of our programmes.
No and we don’t recommend it. Cardio is primed for burning calories, and also takes away from your recovery. There are cardiovascular benefits of cardio, but you’ll find when you start lifting heavier that also has a similar affect. A good weight lifting workout will get your blood pumping so cardio is not really essential.
You can download the programme and have all the information you need to get started right away. You won’t need to spend time researching or putting together a workout routine yourself, or trying to figure out how many calories you should be eating etc. The biggest benefit is that this programme is tried and tested and has already worked for other hard gainers. If you’re 100% committed to gaining weight then following our programme will take away the guess work. Following a set programme helps motivation as you are more likely to see results faster than if you go it alone. Not getting the expected results is the biggest reason people lose motivation and give up, and this is down to not having the right information to start with.
It is possible if you were willing to spend countless hours researching different approaches, followed by months of experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. It has taken an 18 month journey to bring this programme to life, is this time you’re willing to sacrifice or would you rather jump straight in with a programme that has done the work already?