I was always skinny growing up. I was so scrawny that during the warm-up before a rugby match, on a windy day one of my coaches actually said, “Quick! Someone hold Tom down before he blows away!” You’re probably thinking, ‘yeah but loads of kids are skinny until they hit puberty then they fill out.” True, but the sad fact is that I was 21 at the time!
By this time my dreams of forging a career as a professional rugby player were slipping through my fingers. I was too small. It wasn’t even close. I wasn’t just skinny by the standards of elite rugby. I was skinny by any standards.
By this time, I was determined to change. I was desperate to gain the muscle needed to compete on an even playing field. I began researching training. I got a personal training qualification. I experimented in the gym and went to university to study sports science. I became obsessed. During this time, I first heard the phrase “hardgainer.”
That’s me I thought!
Finally, I know what’s wrong. I’m doomed to a skinny existence because I am a hardgainer.
I gave myself the hardgainer label.
I began to accept my fate.
My mindset at this time was:
- It’s unfair.
- I blame my genetics.
- I’ll never be as big as I want to be.
- I’m at a massive disadvantage.
- Everyone else has it easy.
- Etc. Etc.
This was a fixed mindset. I was resigned to my fate. This was B.S.!
In time, I grew out of this. While I was limited in my views about what I could achieve with my body I fully believed I could help others. After all I had studied for years and learnt a ton about physiology and training. The proof was in the pudding too. My clients got great results. This boosted my confidence. It led to me attending more and more courses. At these seminars, workshops, and courses I met other driven PTs who were looking to improve themselves. They had a growth mindset. So did I, as far as my knowledge and career was concerned. In time, this growth mindset gradually seeped into my own training.
I began to believe in myself.
I embraced and worked on my strengths.
I realised I had weaknesses too and addressed these.
I applied the principles that worked so well for my clients to myself and I began to really believe in their efficacy for me.
Belief is key!
Once I really believed I could put muscle on and approached it as a foregone conclusion (so long as I ticked the boxes of training and nutrition) then, guess what?
I began to gain weight.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I was soon bigger and leaner than I’d ever been.
I’ve never looked back. Now I am over 50lbs heavier than I was when I was 18, and over 30lbs heavier than I was aged 21 on that fateful day I almost blew away in the wind before a rugby match.
This all happened because I embraced my circumstances. Stopped pissing and moaning. Took control of the controllable and ignored things that were outside of my control. I realised I couldn’t change my genetics, but I could control how dedicated I was to changing my situation. I also realised being a hardgainer isn’t all bad.
Below I will pinpoint 5 reasons being a hardgainer isn’t as bad as some would have you believe:
Hardgainers Are Naturally Lean
Most people to struggle to lose weight. They have a terrible time trying to shift fat. As a hardgainer this isn’t a problem. You have always been slim. If you want to get a 6-pack a little attention to your diet and about 4-weeks is all it usually takes.
Most people would bite your hand off to be in this position.
The grass is always greener, eh?!
2. You Can Bulk for Long Periods of Time
Firstly, I don’t really like the term bulk because people misinterpret as an excuse to get fat. I get that it is the popular term to describe gaining muscle though. I just prefer massing or building has a term to describe the process. Now I have those semantics off my chest and out of the way let’s move on.
To build muscle you need a calorie surplus. The longer you can maintain that surplus the more time you can be in an ‘anabolic’ state. Basically, you have more time available to grow.
As a hardgainer, you will almost certainly start out leaner than the average dude. You will also most likely stay leaner for longer. Your metabolism is probably humming along nicely. This means you can bulk for longer. The longer you can bulk the longer you can expose yourself to an opportunity to grow.
For regular guys, I’d suggest a bulk last a maximum of 16 weeks. More often 8-12 weeks before a mini-diet is needed. For a hardgainer, however, this can be much longer. As a beginner, there is no reason why your first year of training shouldn’t be focused on gaining size (aka bulking). Then, as you add muscle to your frame, get stronger, and more advanced you can still comfortably bulk for up to 6 months.
Bulking is mostly fun. It is certainly a whole lot more appealing than having to diet.
During a bulk, you get to eat plenty. You can enjoy tasty foods on a daily basis. For those less blessed with “lean genes” they can only dream of doing this. Instead they have to spend large chunks of their existence restricting their calorie intake to avoid getting too fat.
This is all another excellent example of why being a hardgainer isn’t as bad as you first feared.
3. You Get to Eat Tons
As I just alluded to in the above point. As a hardgainer looking to gain muscle you need to eat plenty of great tasting food. I LOVE food so this is fantastic.
Sure, there are times when shovelling another mouthful in seems like a chore, but it is nothing compared with the guilt so many people have with even the tiniest piece of cake or slice of pizza. Embrace this. Yes, eating will sometimes feel like a job, but at least you are feeding the machine and can enjoy mealtimes with friends and family. I’d far rather that than an existence of restriction which so many people suffer through.
4. Getting Ripped is Easier and you Don’t Need Cardio to do it
Since you are naturally leaner getting shredded comes easier. As is said, just reducing calories somewhat and lifting hard will get most hardgainers shredded pretty quickly.
For our “easygainer” friends this doesn’t happen so easily. They have to diet for longer. Diet more aggressively. Train more often. Many of them struggle to get lean without adding in a LOT of cardio.
Now, let’s be honest, most cardio is pretty mind-numbing. Certainly not as much fun as throwing heavy-ass weights around.
Be grateful you can avoid having to trudge your way through countless hours of boring cardio.
5. Girls Think Muscles Are Gross
Most girls like a bit of muscle. Broad shoulders and a narrow waist are certainly desirable to them, but they huge muscles we see on bodybuilders and aspire to…
They find repulsive. So, embrace this fact. Pack a bit of size in to your upper back, chest, and shoulders, while staying lean and you are golden. Literally (look up the golden ratio if you don’t believe me).
So, there you go. 5 reasons why being a hardgainer is actually a good thing. As I said above, the grass is always greener. Hardgainers wish they were bigger. Chunky dudes wish they had abs. You cannot change your genetics. Embrace the gifts you’ve been given and get to work developing them to build the best version of you.
Check out my Max Muscle Bundle which gives you the training plan and diet structure to finally growing. These are the techniques I used to finally go from scrawny to brawny!
Are you a naturally skinny guy? Head to my Instagram page @flat_whites_free_weights for tons of content specifically designed to help you gain weight and build muscle.
Feel free to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram to ask me any questions. I’d love to help!