Before I start I’d like to thank the boys at LDN Muscle for giving me an opportunity to write for them. This is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of posts on my own blog Ten Repetitions.
I wanted to take an ongoing look at a problem that I know is a common issue in our community and it typically refers to a group of people that struggle to add muscle mass when training – i.e. the ‘hardgainer’. If you consider yourself to be a hardgainer, it’s important to understand that there are a host of possible reasons why you may not be getting your desired results. In this series, I’ll gradually iron out the kinks, turning any hardgainer in to a mass building machine.
As this is the first in the series I wanted to touch on the most important aspect of this whole endeavour and that’s nutrition. I know that the recommendation is to eat 5-7 meals a day every 2-3 hours, however for a novice to intermediate trainer this is very difficult to attain. Let’s strip this recommendation back to the fundamentals so that we can build on that in the future.
The muscle building game, in a nutshell is about ‘calories in’ Vs. ‘calories out’, so eating 5-7 round meals a day isn’t going to make a world of difference to your results so long as you meet your requirements. As a hardgainer it’s far more beneficial for you to build a solid routine that tips the scale in to a caloric surplus. We’re going to do this by falling back a more natural three square meals that will get us close to our requirements, and then tip the balance by adding a few calorie dense snacks in between.
The first thing to do is get an idea of how many calories you should be taking on. If you already have an idea you’re part way there. If you don’t, check out my post on how I track my macros when bulking. The idea is to get about 80% of your requirements across the 3 meals. Be warned, they’re going to be on the large side but you’ve got to learn to eat to put on muscle.
Choose a solid carb and protein source and aim to get around 1/3 of that 80% in here. I like to go with Porridge Oats and Scrambled Eggs, or Whey Protein if I’m in a hurry. I find that making the oats on the hob as opposed the microwave allows me to eat more! We’re bulking here so you can use milk instead of water!
Again, choose your carbs and protein. We can add some good fats here to make up some of your total fats for the day. Remember we want 1/3 of that 80% again.
None of this ‘no carbs after 6pm’ nonsense. We’re eating big to get big! Pack in the carbs and protein from good sources. Add your veggies to this meal.
As I mentioned, you should aim to tip your calories in to a surplus by snacking in between meals. Even after a huge meal, you should be able to fit a small to medium size snack in within a couple hours and still be able to eat your next scheduled main meal. Below is an example of the kinds of snacks I’d recommend.
Remember building muscle is a systemic process, diet, training and their intercorrelation are both CRITICAL. For a fully comprehensive Bulking Diet and Training plan check out our infamous LDNM Bulking Bible, and the amazing transformations here.