Everywhere you go, everything seems to be screaming at you to lose weight, yet you look down at yourself and see a skinny body. People “congratulate” you on the fact that you can’t gain weight and then complain about the fact that they are fat.
You nod at them and keep on going, secretly wishing that you were at least a bit bigger. Our society is obsessed with losing weight, but it forgets that there are millions of guys who have the opposite problem: they can’t gain weight!
Luckily, you are not stuck in skinnyland, but with a few habit changes, you can get your dream body and grow big. Here are 5 tips that you should adopt in order to gain muscle and get bigger:
1. Go to the gym regularly
Pick a schedule and stick to it. A lot of guys agonize over whether they should go to the gym 3, 4 or 5 times a week. The schedule doesn’t really matter as much. What is important is being consistent.
If you have the time to go to the gym 5 times a week, that’s great. If you can only go 3 times a week, that’s fine too. When you have settled on the number of days per week, plan out your regular week. Say for example that you will keep a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.
However once you have determined this weekly schedule, stick to it religiously, while keeping a certain amount of flexibility. If you said you were going to go 3 times a week, then you need to go 3 times a week. If you start skipping workouts on a regular basis, then you will be in trouble.
Unfortunately, things do come up that might prevent you from attending some of the workouts. That’s why you need to keep a certain amount of flexibility in your schedule. If you can’t go Monday evening as you usually do, then be flexible enough to change up your normal daily routine and go in the morning or on Tuesday instead.
2. Eat more!
Most hardgainers think they eat enough. Most of the time that’s not true. If you are not growing, then you are not eating enough.
In order to grow, you need to eat above your daily maintenance level of calories. Your maintenance level of calories are the calories that you body uses to sustain its vital functions (basal rate) and to do all the other activities it does. If you are an active person, then your maintenance level is higher than for someone who is sedentary.
What you need to do is find your maintenance level of calories and then add 500 to 1 000 more calories to that. Experiment a bit with the amount and see which is the best for your own body. At first, it might be hard to eat that much, but after you have established a routine, it will get easier.
Remember to eat all the 3 main macro-nutrient types: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. There has been a trend to try to disparage carbohydrates and promote low-carb diets, but that’s not the way to go if you want to grow bigger and have bigger muscles.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and glucose then is pushed into cells, where it is converted into ATPs, the body’s main energy unit. In order to be able to work hard in the gym, you need to eat carbs.
3. Sleep more
A lot of guys skip out on their sleep. That’s not good. Contrary to popular belief, your muscles don’t grow in the gym, but after that, during periods of rest. In the gym, all the exercises you do, produce tiny tears to your muscle fibers.
Those tears then get repaired (using all the nutrients you get from food) while you are at rest. This then makes your muscles grow bigger.
Make sure you get at least 8 hours of good, deep sleep during the night.
4. Do compound exercises
If you are a beginner or an intermediate lifter, don’t go flipping through bodybuilding magazines and adopting the routine of Mr. Olympia. These routines usually consist of hundreds of sets of different reps for all kinds of muscles. This most likely won’t work for you.
Keep it simple and do full body or upper-body/lower-body splits. Pick a few compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses and build your routine around them. Remember not to focus too heavily on your show muscles like the chest, but work all your muscle groups.
Learn the proper form of all these exercises first before you attempt to lift heavy weights. Keeping good form is the key to growing bigger and lowering the chance of injuries. After that, the main principle you need to remember is progressive overload, periodically increasing the weight you are lifting to force your muscles to grow.
5. Work on your mindset
Your mind is probably your most important resource, including at the gym. Work on strengthening your resolve, your willpower and your self-discipline. Pick goals and set up a plan to achieve them.
Your willpower is like a muscle. It is limited and can get depleted pretty quickly. The good news is that just like muscles, you can train it. Pick a few easy tasks that you can do regularly and force yourself to do them. After a while, they will become automatic and your willpower will have been strengthened.
You also need to eliminate distractions from your environment. There are many things in your surroundings that drain your willpower. If you eliminate them, you will have a lot of willpower left over for other things.
Make it easy for yourself. If you want to eat healthier food, then fill your refrigerator with healthy food, so that every time you want to eat something, the only options you have are healthy foods.
Create habit triggers for yourself. You probably have a lot of habit triggers in place already. For example just the fact of getting out of bed triggers a whole series of steps that you do in terms of your morning routine.
You can use the same type of principles to set up other routines for yourself. A habit trigger can be anything from a song, to a motivation poster, to another action that precedes the habit that you want to establish.
Finally remember that things in this world usually don’t come easily. Achieving your goal will take a lot of hard work, but with consistent work, you will get there.