Three Hardgainer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

October 31, 2016

About the Author: Daniel Freedman


It’s time to escape Hardgainer Hell and Discover How You Can FINALLY Have the Muscular, Sculpted And Athletic Body you’ve been working for… WITHOUT Living at the Gym or Ridiculous Diets.” Join the Minimalist Muscle Course, On sale today.


When it comes to building muscle, information overload is surefire way to fail.

Real results require you to differentiate good information from bad, then take massive action. Mistakes can be fatal.

You can be left skinny, overwhelmed, and trapped in hardgainer hell.

What’s a hardgainer? A scrawny, thin-limbed, narrow jointed dude who finds it tough to put on muscle, no matter what he does. I was that guy. And until I I took action, quite making excuses, and acting as a victim. 

My Story

I had to scratch, claw, and chew my way to every ounce of size every since my scrawny teenage years when I was drowning in skinny jeans and smedium affliction t-shirts ( I was a real bad-ass, I tell ya.)

No matter how hard I trained or how much post-workout ice-cream I pounded, I had one hell of a time building muscle.

(True story: I used to crush mint chocolate chip ice cream and protein powder after football practice and weight room workouts. But it failed. Miserably. )

Finally, after years of frustration, massive food bills (thanks for the help, Mom) and yo-yo training, everything changed.

My high school football coach, Mr. Morgan pulled me aside and said:

“Hey Eric. I see you in here working hard. But you’re not making much progress, are you?”

I shook my head, embarrassed.

He continued: “Do you know what the definition of insanity is?”

I looked up and muttered: No.”

Mr. Morgan then quoted Albert Einstein:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Don’t Make My Hardgainer Mistakes

I was making the oldest mistake in the book: Focusing too much on all the small details and not enough on the big picture.

And if you’re overwhelmed, skinny, and not sure where to turn in your muscle building quest, you’re probably making the same mistakes. You’re reading every blog. Every book. And trying every muscle building technique.

Which all leads to my point about muscle-building:

Falling prey to information overload guarantees failure.

Much like a Hail Mary pass, your efforts will probably end up with a turnover and failure. It’s much better to dink and dunk your way down the field.  Taking what you can. Create small wins on a daily basis until you spark a big play.

You wouldn’t jump into heavy singles in the weight room without first building up and practicing technique with heavy loads.

Nutrition for hardgainers is no different.

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass in the gym and kitchen Avoiding these five hardgainer training mistakes.

You’ll retake control, build muscle, and earn you pass out of hardgainer hell.

Hardgainer Mistake #1: You Only Lift Heavy

Naturally, most hard gainers are long-limbed, skinny, injury prone dudes. They need to train differently than the 5’5”, stocky, alligator-armed powerlifting guy who gets huge on a diet of benching, squatting, deadlifting, and whole milk.

After all, if all everyone had to do was the big three, there would be nothing difficult about building muscle for the natural, busy, hardgainer.

But that’s not the case.

It is still essential to get strong and build a big base of strength. But avoid endlessly chasing strength without including any higher rep, hypertrophy- driven exercises. Doing so is first class ticket to winding up beat up and tired, without much more muscle than the average dude.

Don’t be fooled by the ‘bro-science guys who  say:  “Just get strong.” That approach only works to a point.

Instead, get strong FIRST, then focus your training on your goal of building muscle. This means continue to pursue strength…but add in lighter, higher volume training.

Including higher rep work and increasing volume helps you stay healthy and get jacked in a few ways:

You’ll decrease CNS fatigue and joint stress: Endless training heavy will smoke your nervous system, which can leave feeling groggy and eventually, getting weaker and burnt out. Similarly, the greater your strength the bigger the stress on your joints. While optimal technique goes a long way to eliminating joint stress, the heavier the load the greater the compressive and shear stresses on your joints.


You’ll Maximize the mechanisms of hypertrophy: tension, metabolic stress, and muscular damage.  Here is a breakdown of what these terms actually mean for your training and building a jacked body, bruh.

Tension: Built through long time under tension AND lifting heavy. High tension improves the number of muscle fibers used during exercises.

Metabolic Stress: Getting a pump and the insane “acidic” feeling in your muscles stimulates many muscle building processes and over time, helps your muscles store more carbohydrates as muscle glycogen. This gives  your muscles the bigger, more full look.

Muscular Damage: Muscular damage is creating during training to prompt a rebuilding process. Once you break a muscle down with higher volume, longer eccentrics (negatives) and metabolic stress your muscles signal a need for repair so they can come back bigger and stronger.

Remember, I’m not saying getting strong as a bull is bad
Far from it.

But once you build sufficient strength, you need to place your focus on increasing your training volume and getting more specific to your goals.

Build a foundation of strength, then add in longer duration sets and higher training volume to maximize muscle growth.

Hardgainer Mistake #2: You Live by Body Part Split Training

A lot of lifters fall in love with bodybuilding routines that focus on pounding each muscle into oblivion.

You know the split I’m talking about:

Monday: Chest (bench day, obviously, ‘bro)

Tuesday: Back

Wednesday: Legs (if you decide to go)

Thursday: Shoulders

Friday: Arms (seven types of curls, anyone?)

And for the experienced, strong, and extremely dedicated lifter, this split works wonders.

Side Note: IF consistency isn’t an issue, then this becomes a mute point. But for most, consistent, balanced training is the first big hurdle to pass. 

But that’s not most people, especially busy guys and hardgainers. For most, it doesn’t allow consistent, balanced training. 

Let’s look at the issues:

Bodybuilders have done decades of heavy and hard training. You haven’t.  Bodypart splits are not bad workouts for high-level bodybuilders or dedicated iron junkies.

That’s because they’ve spent years, if not decades getting big and strong on major lifts like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Moreover, training isn’t an addition to live–it’s a firmly engrained behavior. 

Since they have a huge base of strength and experience, they leverage greater muscle fiber recruitment and lift heavier weights for more volume to maximize growth.

Skinny dudes don’t have such that luxury. Because they’re not yet sufficiently strong, they recruit fewer muscle fibers on each lift and cannot create enough tension to maximize muscle growth with a specialized, high volume approach. They need more frequent training with major muscles to make progress.

Training and Life Balance: Raise your hand if you’ve missed a workout in the last month. I work in a gym and my hand is up.  So I’d assume 90% of folks reading this article would admit to missing a session as well.

Nearly every decision bodybuilders make is based on improving their physique. That’s a luxury most busy people don’t have. You must work within the confines of your lifestyle and time commitments to maximize the results of your training.

Sure, a workout that has you lifting five days per week might sound ideal, but a training plan is only as good as it’s execution. And that means you need to train consistently.  Missing a day every other week leaves huge holes in your training and muscular development.

Instead, you’re much better off adapting a three or four day per week program that hits all major muscle groups. Generally, this means total body training splits with well-timed isolation work or upper-lower splits.

This way, you’re training your biggest muscle groups (chest, back, legs etc.) multiple times per week while giving you flexibility and ease of mind that you’ve hit every muscle group EVEN if you occasionally miss a workout.

P.S. In the Minimalist Muscle Course, we’ll help you AVOID the biggest mistakes and build the Muscular, Sculpted And Athletic Body you’ve been working for… WITHOUT Living at the Gym or Ridiculous Diets.” Join the Minimalist Muscle Course, On sale today.

Higher frequency splits are a much better option for building the strong, muscular body you’re after. Here’s why:

High Frequency Training Builds More Muscle: The more often you stimulate a physiological response, like lifting weights and getting stronger, the more you create an anabolic response and boost protein synthesis, allowing you to build more muscle.

Further, you’ll hit major movements like squats, presses, rows, and deadlifts if you’re following an upper-lower split, improving technique and building strength faster.

Improving both technique and strength will directly build muscle in beginners, while moderate-to-advanced lifters will progressively build more muscle as a byproduct of greater work capacity.

Focus on getting strong.  Want to build muscle? Increase training volume for greater stress to your muscles.

High Frequency Improves Strength Faster: The more frequently you practice something, the faster it’s learned. In lifting, learning new movements increases competency in the gym. This allows you to make faster gains in strength while building your work capacity for hypertrophy.

Hardgainer Mistake #3:  You Lack Patience

Ending your hardgainer nightmare isn’t about the perfect plan. It’s about consistent behaviors that lead to long-term change.

Are you a scrawny dude who sticks to a routine and diet for all of three days?

Do you flip out when your biceps lose a vein? And do you then immediately switch to a fat loss diet?

Then I’m talking to you, bro.  Consider this an old-fashioned pep talk. Or an even more old-fashioned  kick in the ass.

Listen up. Building muscle is tough.

And it’s not for the weak of heart. Or weak of mind.

You can’t bullshit your way to getting bigger.

It takes focus, grit, and perseverance to
(1) Eat when you’re not hungry
(2) Get back in the gym when you’re sore
(3) Find healthy food and workout options when you’re on the road.

If you can’t suck it up and embrace the suck…

…. then maybe looking better naked, having more confidence, and being more athletic isn’t for you, after all.

So what’s your choice?

Are you going to end this program hopping bullshit, yo-yo dieting, and making excuses?

It’s time to own your goals and make them happen.

You know what to do.

Hell, you probably could have a degree with the number of articles you’ve read on training and nutrition.

But knowledge without action is pointless. I want you to…

Take action.

End the madness.

Finally get jacked.

But it takes a well-thought-out plan, a no-bullshit approach, and the patience to see your goals through to the end.

As Coach Morgan told me: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.”

Next Steps

If you’ve been handling all your workouts and muscle building nutrition without results, it’s time for a change.

If you want to build muscle, lose fat, and look great as quickly as possible without steroids, good genetics, or wasting ridiculous amounts of time in the gym and money on supplements…then you need to join this course.

Join the Minimalist Muscle Revolution Today.

Do you want to finally build the physique you’re after?

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, science-based, experience backed program to maximize your muscle gains while keeping a low body fat and NOT living in the gym….

…. then I’d recommend my new course Minimalist Muscle: More Muscle in Less time for Busy Guys.

It’s Time to Build The Body You Want With The time You Have

It’s time to build a powerful body.

It’s time for a workout that improves your life, rather than consuming it.

It’s time to do less, but do it better.
You need workouts that improve your life.

You need workouts that are strategic and scientifically proven to get you stronger and more muscular in the gym.

You need workouts that are short and focused.

You need workouts that allow you to train quickly and efficiently and get on with your life .

You need workouts that allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

You need Minimalist Muscle: A no BS way to lean muscle gains for busy guys.



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