Hard Gainer Guide - 8 Indomitable Laws to Undeniable Mass

At some point in time every one of us could conceivably be considered a “hard gainer” – whether we are naturally skinny, think we’ve hit a plateau or simply desperately want to add some muscle mass.
No matter your particular situation, if you’re looking to add some serious mass the following “mass building laws” along with the suggested meal and supplement plan will help you pack on some beef.

Law 1 - Eat More – Add 25% More Calories Than You Consume For  Maintenance

If you typically consume around 2500 calories a day, this will mean increasing your average daily caloric intake to just over 3100 calories. An important rule to remember for adding quality muscle mass is that you must consume more calories than you burn up or you will simply not be able to add body weight.  Not eating enough is the number one curse for “hard gainers”.  If you want to be one of the big boys, you can’t simply eat when you are hungry or eat simply for taste. You’re not eating for the “fun” of it, you’re eating to grow. So if you have to force feed yourself then so be it! Some of the worlds best and biggest bodybuilders force feed themselves on a daily basis to the point that some of them will even tell you that they hate the idea of eating!  But that’s what it sometimes takes.

To gain appreciable muscle mass you need to eat a significant amount of calories. Studies have shown that sumo wrestlers actually often have more muscle per square inch than competitive bodybuilders do and most sumo wrestlers don’t even lift weights! That goes to show you just how powerfully anabolic (muscle building) eating is. Of course, you don’t want to end up looking like a sumo wrestler. That is why you have to eat intelligently and make smart food choices.

Law 2 - Consume Sufficient Carbohydrates

Many aspiring weight trainers believe that carbs will make them fat so sometimes avoid or restrict their intake to their detriment.  We need to remember that carbs boost levels of insulin, one of the body’s most anabolic hormones responsible for supporting protein synthesis and muscle growth.  Hard gainers trying to gain muscular body weight should aim to take in around 50% of their calories from carbs ie. if you were aiming for 3200 calories a day, you would need to be eating around 1600 or more calories from carbs per day.  At 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates this equates to around 400 g of carbs every day. Ideally you would time your carbohydrate intake so that you ingest 50-60% of these carbs (ie.  200-240 g) during the three “critical windows of opportunity” each day (breakfast, pre-training and immediately post-training) when your insulin sensitivity is highest and when your body is primed to grow.  Whilst simple and liquid carbs (eg. Vitargo or Waxy Maize Starch as found in SSN’s Cytomaize) should be consumed in and around workouts, you should emphasize slow-digesting carbs such as sweet potatoes, whole grain breads, oats etc at other meals.

Law 3 - Eat Adequate Protein

For “hard gainers” serious about adding muscle mass a good rule of thumb is to shoot for at least 3 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.  For an 80 kg person this would equate to around 240 g per day.  For most this will work out at somewhere around 30% of daily calories.  Most whole protein foods (lean red meat, chicken breasts, tuna etc) are hard to eat in large quantities, especially when combined with your carbs, so if they are forming the bulk of your meal you may be getting in enough protein but falling short on total calories.  Make sure you are getting in the protein you need for growth but not at the expense of total calorie consumption. As protein foods tend to be filling, thus potentially reducing the amount of total calories consumed at each meal, consider supplementing the odd meal with a scoop or two of a pure protein powder such as SSN’s 100% Whey Protein.

Law 4 - Eat More Meals a Day

Often the “hard gainers” biggest challenge is overcoming their limited appetite.  One of the best ways to accomplish this is to try and consume an additional meal or two everyday.  Instead of 4 or 5 small meals try for 6 or even 7. Taking in a pre/intra-workout shake (eg. SSN’s Cytomaize) as well as a post-workout shake (eg. SSN’s Anabolic Muscle Builder) and adding a protein shake (eg. SSN’s 100% Whey Protein or MRP) late in the evening before bed, or even in the middle of the night, can help take care of almost half your daily caloric requirements.

Law 5 - Use Whey Protein

A whey protein (eg. SSN’s 100% Whey Protein) shake with breakfast is a great way to start your day.  As it is fast-digesting, it acts to rapidly stop any muscle catabolism that might occur in the last few hours of sleep due to a lack of circulating amino acids.  Try getting in 30-40 g of whey immediately upon waking each morning.  Whey protein is also an ideal component / ingredient in pre and post-workout shakes, again due to its fast action, which helps get amino acids to your body quickly so it can halt-protein breakdown during the workout and immediately stimulate protein synthesis (muscle growth) after training.

Law 6 - Use Mass Builders

Mass builders (eg. SSN’s Anabolic Muscle Builder) are high calorie, protein rich supplements that often supply around 500 calories per serving.  In addition to a decent serving of protein (35-45 g) mass builder shakes have added carbs and sometimes added fats too, to pack as many calories as possible into a serving.  Blending each serving with healthy calorie/nutrient dense foods such as fat free frozen yoghurt, pure peanut butter, honey, nuts, banana’s etc is a great way to add additional calories not to mention enhance taste!  Consuming a serving or two of a quality mass builder in addition to your daily meals ensures your body will have all the protein and calories needed to fuel muscle growth. One thing to consider is that if you have a sensitive stomach try steer clear from those mass builders containing skim milk (fat free dairy solids), whey powder and soya protein, which can sometimes cause digestive problems eg. gas and bloating in sensitive individuals.  If you’re one of the unlucky then refer to the ingredient statement on the product label and rather choose products that list whey protein and/or casein and/or egg albumen and/or total milk protein (milk protein concentrate) as their exclusive protein sources.

Law 7 - Supplement with Creatine

Creatine (eg. SSN’s 100% pure Creatine Monohydrate) is one of the nutritional supplements that has stood the test of time and emerged as the undisputed heavyweight champ when it comes to packing on muscle.  Some first time users report as much as a 5 kg gain in bodyweight in as little as two or three weeks.  Take 3-5 g with both your pre and post-workout shakes and on non-training days take one 5 g serving with breakfast.  Use in cycles of 8-10 weeks “on” and 4 weeks “off”.

Law 8 - Use Digestive Enzymes to Help Break Down and  Assimilate your Food

Digestive enzymes produced in our digestive tracts break down protein, carbs and fats in the foods we eat so that they can be absorbed and utilized by our bodies.  When we eat the large amounts of food required to fuel and feed muscle growth, supplementing with digestive enzymes may help enhance digestion so that nutrients are more efficiently assimilated by the body as well as speeding up the digestion process so that you’ll be hungrier again sooner.  The most important enzymes to consider supplementing with are the “protease” enzymes, which support protein digestion. Look at your local health shop for products which contain the following protease enzymes: bromelain, papain, pepsin, trypsin and pancreatic enzymes.

Hard Gainer Meal and Supplement Plan

(as soon as possible after waking)
Large bowl of oats with 1Tbs honey, a sliced banana & skim milk
30-40 g 100% Whey Protein
Protease enzymes
Mid Morning Anabolic Muscle Builder Shake blended with skim milk, natural peanut butter and/or fruit (e.g. frozen berries) – honey as an optional extra
Lunch Lean Steak or Extra Lean Mince (200-250 g cooked weight)
Large Baked Potato or Sweet Potato (put whatever you want on the potato)
Protease enzymes
1 hr Pre-Workout 30-40 g 100% Whey Protein
Fruit eg. Large Apple or Banana
3-5 g Creatine Monohydrate
Intra-Workout Cytomaize
ASAP Post-Workout Anabolic Muscle Builder + a banana or bunch of grapes
Add an additional 3-5 g Creatine Monohydrate powder to this post-workout shake
Dinner 1 cup (cooked) rice or pasta
Fish eg. salmon or tuna steak or Chicken breast (200-250 g cooked weight)
Steamed or stir fried (non stick pan and olive oil spray) Veges topped with 1Tbs Omega 3/6/9 or Flax seed oil
Protease enzymes
Before Bed or middle of the night 30-40 g 100% Whey Protein blended with 1 Tbs natural peanut butter