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Hard Gainer?
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eintology

California, USA

I have seen this "Hard Gainer" phrase mentioned from time to time over the last several years; most recently on the (Compound Exercise Only?) post, and I was wondering what the current thinking is on this term?

If a person has baseline endocrine function; neither high nor low, and they are not sleep deprived, calorie deficient, or in a disease state, what would the causality of "Hard Gainer" be?

I have my thoughts on it, and some of you probably already know what they are, but I am curious what all of you think; especially those of you that train several people a day. Do any of you have people you train, that no matter what you throw at them, the results are nothing short of nothing?

Discussing this does not mean you yourself are a Hard Gainer, and for basis of comparison, all opinions from a HIT, HVT, Pilates, Yoga, Spinner, Swiss Ball, and Dance of Ghana perspective are of course welcome.

Erik
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ics1974

To me a hardgainer is someone that has a hard time gaining "Weight" either muscle or fat mainly because of there body type.
The classic example is a ectomorph.

ICS

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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

I think the term has been heavily misused as a result of people having unrealistic expectations of training. A lot of people seem to assume since they don't look like Arnold after only a few months of training they must be a "hard gainer".

For the majority of people, gaining muscle requires hard work, but if we consider "hard gainer" a relative term then it is important to figure out what the "average gainer" is, which isn't an easy thing.

Consider that at the absolute most optimistic esimate, only about 10% of people regularly do something they consider exercise, and only a small fraction of those people strength train, and only a very, very, very small fraction of those people have any idea what they're doing. Anybody would have a difficult time making progress if they were grossly over training or under training, not training intensely enough, etc. Some people who think they are hard gainers may just not be training properly.

Also consider that there is no clear-cut line between "hard gainer" and "easy gainer", but rather a continuum with extremes at either end, and a whole lot of variation in between. There are probably very few people who are extreme "hard" or "easy" gainers, with the majority of people in between.

Like I mentioned earlier though, I think a lot of the reason for the "hard gainer" label is unrealistic expectations. Just because someone doesn't gain 40 pounds of muscle in six months doesn't mean they're a hard gainer. I think most people would find that with proper training and diet they are capable of producing dramatic improvements in their physique over a few months, and literally transform themselves over a year or two. If it wasn't for all the drug-created physiques in the magazines I think a lot of drug-free, recreational bodybuilders would have more realistic expectations from exercise and be happier with their results, and less people thinking that they're "hard gainers" because they're comparing themselves to genetic freaks taking massive amounts of drugs.

Drew Baye

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ics1974

Here is a definition I found of ectomorph I found on another web page

The ECTOMORPH

Definitive "Hard Gainer"
Delicate Built Body
Flat Chest
Fragile
Lean
Lightly Muscled
Small Shouldered
Takes Longer to Gain Muscle
Thin


The extreme ectomorph physique is a fragile and delicate one. The bones are light, joints are small and muscles are slight. The limbs are relatively long in proportion and the shoulders droop. The ectomorph is a linear physique. Straight up and straight down, and may appear longer than he or she really is, due to the length of limbs coupled with lack of muscle mass developed on those limbs. The ectomorph is not naturally powerful and will have to work hard for every ounce of muscle and every bit of strength he or she can gain.

Other Ectomorph Traits

The extreme ectomorph may have long fingers, toes and neck are long. A pencil neck you could say. The features of the face are sharp, and the shape of the face is triangular. The lower jaw is somewhat receding. The skin tends to burn easily. Extreme ectomorphs may suffer from extremes of temperature. Due to the great body area in relation to muscle mass, the ectomorph may suffer from great heat, and due to low body fat, the ectomorph may suffer from great cold. The hair is fine and grows quickly and is sometimes difficult to keep in place.

Famous Ectomorphs

Lisa Kudrow, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Seth Green, Edward Norton.
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NATUREBOY

ics wrote:
Here is a definition I found of ectomorph I found on another web page

The ECTOMORPH

Definitive "Hard Gainer"
Delicate Built Body
Flat Chest
Fragile
Lean
Lightly Muscled
Small Shouldered
Takes Longer to Gain Muscle
Thin


The extreme ectomorph physique is a fragile and delicate one. The bones are light, joints are small and muscles are slight. The limbs are relatively long in proportion and the shoulders droop. The ectomorph is a linear physique. Straight up and straight down, and may appear longer than he or she really is, due to the length of limbs coupled with lack of muscle mass developed on those limbs. The ectomorph is not naturally powerful and will have to work hard for every ounce of muscle and every bit of strength he or she can gain.

Other Ectomorph Traits

The extreme ectomorph may have long fingers, toes and neck are long. A pencil neck you could say. The features of the face are sharp, and the shape of the face is triangular. The lower jaw is somewhat receding. The skin tends to burn easily. Extreme ectomorphs may suffer from extremes of temperature. Due to the great body area in relation to muscle mass, the ectomorph may suffer from great heat, and due to low body fat, the ectomorph may suffer from great cold. The hair is fine and grows quickly and is sometimes difficult to keep in place.

Famous Ectomorphs

Lisa Kudrow, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Seth Green, Edward Norton.


ICS, I think us ENDOMORPHS have it the worst of all!

We are "easy gainers" (but that pertains to both muscle and fat) but very "hard losers" (with respect to fat loss):

Endomorph


Soft Body
Underdeveloped Muscles
Round Physique
Weight Loss is Difficult
Gains Muscle Easily Like the Mesomorph.


The ENDOMORPH

The body of the extreme endomorph is round and soft. The physique presents the illusion that much of the mass has been concentrated in the abdominal area. This may or may not be true. The arms and legs of the extreme endomorph are short in length and taper. This may give the appearance of stalkiness. The hands and feet of the endomorph are comparatively small, and the upper arms and thighs are often more developed than the lower parts of the arms or legs. The body has a high waist.

Other Traits of the Endomoprh

The skin is soft and smooth, and the hair is fine. The head of the endomorph is spherical. The head is large and the face broad.

Famous Endomorphs

John Goodman, Roseanne, Jack Black.
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

The term has been way overused. I think Drew hit the nail on the head re: unrealistic expectations --- I know, because I had them for years.

Instead of HG, I prefer to think of most of us as Regular Gainers. Despite our frustration that we can't pack slabs of beef onto our bodies in a few months, we keep slugging away, doing the best we can. There may be a small percentage of us that are TRULY down at that left end of the curve, but most of us fall right in the middle of the tall part of the "bell".

Now the guys who get bigger in spite of their workouts, not because of them --- the guys who get big just by walking into the gym are the Easy Gainers.

The rest of us Regular Gainers need to keep a couple levels of goals in front of us. Short-term goals for assertive completion and the ensuing "good feelings" that accompany such tasks. Long-term goals that are achievable and adjustable --- hopefully not adjusted due to compromise, but from thoughtful assessment and re-assessment regarding ones priorities and ongoing committments.

Scott
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

P.S. Speaking of ectomorphs, I recently watched American History X for the first time in a while and was amazed at Edward Norton's condition in that flick.

Of course, I've seen him recently and he looked pretty skinny. I guess that's his natural state.
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

ics wrote:
Famous Ectomorphs

Lisa Kudrow, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Seth Green, Edward Norton.


I wouldn't consider Pitt or Norton ectomorphs. Did you see Norton in American History X? Did you see Pitt in Troy?

They may tend more towards ectomorphy, but they are between ectomorph and mesomorph.

Most people are a combination of ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph, and methods have been developed for categorizing body shapes based on those traits.

Drew Baye
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sinan

Drew, quick question, how are triathletes, rowers, runners, suppose to encorporate HIT. endurance training, especially long slow distance (LSD) is extremely catabolic (hence the skinny marathoners). any thoughts will be graetluy apprreciated. thanks
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Acerimmer1

Stop taking LSD?
Sorry couldn't resist

Back to the question

If a person has baseline endocrine function; neither high nor low, and they are not sleep deprived, calorie deficient, or in a disease state, what would the causality of "Hard Gainer" be?

We don't know yet...
If I had to guess (which I do) I'd say your bodies ability to manufacture myostatin blocking agent as a result of exposure to exercise could be one!

Muscle belly length is probably another BUT I'm not so sure there aren't ways to lengthen muscle bellies within the limits of your bone structure and insertion points.

Maybe thats a new avenue for plastic surgeons shave of the excess tendon and re-attach the muscle unlocking new potential muscle growth as per Arthur Jones theory of muscle aspect ratio. Hey maybe I can sell that idea in LA! LOL maybe I already did!
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kevindill

Maryland, USA

Most people who consider themselves hardgainers train like idiots and don't eat enough. the term hardgainer as used frequently on the internet just means anyone who isn't "HYOOGE", as such it has become a mostly meaningless term
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NeuroMass

eintology,

Of course their are HARD GAINERS as their are FAST GAINERS,like thier are FAST and SLOW LEARNERS. Most of us though is somewhere in the middle (Average Gainers). This is oviously a GENETIC thing. Some people just don't have a genetic predisposition ideal to gaining a lot of muscle.

PEACE.
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ics1974

I remember reading in one of Dr. Darden's books how most people have pretty much a equal amount of fast and slow twitch fibers in there body. But there are few that are predominately fast twitch or few that are predominately slow twitch. He also said that you Arthur Jones could pick them out of a crowd. The few that are predominately slow twitch are very tall thin people with very little muscle mass. Then the ones with mostly fast twitch fibers are medium height, big boned and naturally muscular.

We all know that fast twitch fibers have the greatest potential for muscle mass so that tells me the few that are predominately slow twitch are probably the "Hard Gainers"

ICS
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

I guess triathletes should probably do HIT in their off-season. At least it will give their body something tasty to feed on when they go catabolic.
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bill1

California, USA

Acerimmer1 wrote:
Stop taking LSD?
Sorry couldn't resist

Back to the question

If a person has baseline endocrine function; neither high nor low, and they are not sleep deprived, calorie deficient, or in a disease state, what would the causality of "Hard Gainer" be?

We don't know yet...
If I had to guess (which I do) I'd say your bodies ability to manufacture myostatin blocking agent as a result of exposure to exercise could be one!

Muscle belly length is probably another BUT I'm not so sure there aren't ways to lengthen muscle bellies within the limits of your bone structure and insertion points.

Maybe thats a new avenue for plastic surgeons shave of the excess tendon and re-attach the muscle unlocking new potential muscle growth as per Arthur Jones theory of muscle aspect ratio. Hey maybe I can sell that idea in LA! LOL maybe I already did!


You are joking about there being ways to lengthen muscle bellies , right ?

Bill
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Ciccio

Like hard gainer as well the term ectomorph is widely over- and abused.
Especially on BB boards and among young guys which aren't matured yet.

And according my experience and observation, muscle belly length has to do more with the potential (e.g.the end result) and not so much how fast or slow somebody gains.
To gain fast you need to have the right hormonal factors including receptors for that hormones and what ever else is biologically needed for quick recovery and hypertrophy.
That's the reason drugs work.

Franco
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eintology

California, USA



Famous Endomorphs

John Goodman, Roseanne, Jack Black.


Thank you one and all for your responses. This term Hard Gainer is even more nebulous than I thought.

I have to say I got a kick out of seeing this. I have known Jack Black since 1989, and I'm glad to see my boy has now made it to the higher echelons of endomorph. He would probably say he is just fat, and then add a tag to justify how it came about. He will be delighted to hear he is an endomorph, I am sure of that.

Erik
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Acerimmer1

You are joking about there being ways to lengthen muscle bellies , right ?

Bill


I think there might be. You could almost certainly do it with some surgical proceedure, after all you can lengthen bones, why the hell not muscles?
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

sinan wrote:
Drew, quick question, how are triathletes, rowers, runners, suppose to encorporate HIT. endurance training, especially long slow distance (LSD) is extremely catabolic (hence the skinny marathoners). any thoughts will be graetluy apprreciated. thanks


Most endurance athletes are grossly overtrained, and would do best to limit their endurance training activities to no more than 1 or 2 times per week, alternating with their HIT workouts, and separated by at least a day or two of rest. You require recovery from both.

Drew Baye
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

I saw something on either the Discovery Channel or the National Geographic Channel on bone lengthening surgeries that are popular in some asian countries. It looked pretty painful.

There is a way to lengthen muscles, but it is neither practical nor makes a significant difference.

Studies have shown that if a limb is immobilized for a long period of time in a position that puts muscles on one side in a stretch and the other in a contracted position, the stretched muscle will lengthen slightly and the contracted one will shorten slightly, through the addition and loss of sarcomeres.

By "slightly" we're talking about a few microns, at most 3 or 4 per sarcomere. A micron is only about 1/25,000 of an inch. Hardly enough to make a difference. After the joint was capable of movement again, however, the length would probably return to normal over time.

So, technically, you can lengthen a muscle, but the means are so impractical and the results so negligable as to not even be worth serious consideration.

Drew Baye
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Acerimmer1

Drew Baye wrote:
I saw something on either the Discovery Channel or the National Geographic Channel on bone lengthening surgeries that are popular in some asian countries. It looked pretty painful.

There is a way to lengthen muscles, but it is neither practical nor makes a significant difference.

Studies have shown that if a limb is immobilized for a long period of time in a position that puts muscles on one side in a stretch and the other in a contracted position, the stretched muscle will lengthen slightly and the contracted one will shorten slightly, through the addition and loss of sarcomeres.

By "slightly" we're talking about a few microns, at most 3 or 4 per sarcomere. A micron is only about 1/25,000 of an inch. Hardly enough to make a difference. After the joint was capable of movement again, however, the length would probably return to normal over time.

So, technically, you can lengthen a muscle, but the means are so impractical and the results so negligable as to not even be worth serious consideration.

Drew Baye



As I understood it longditudinal bone growth was a stretch stimulus for muscle hypertrophy, which included longditudinal muscle and tendon growth to match the new bone length. Have I been given false information?

This is me months ago added .5 inches to my arms in the first 4 weeks of HIT which is since this photo! It illustrates that I have very little biceps gap, and what there is you can't really see. I'm pretty sure it wasn't always this way (I don't know why I think my forearm got bigger and closed the gap!) Dorian Yates right bicep is a much better example of the same thing I'll post pictures soon as I get them!
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Acerimmer1

It's his left bicep on the right of the page. I rest my case!
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Acerimmer1

see my point? Numerous examples like this can be found more often in reverse with the result a shorter more peaked biceps
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Acerimmer1

Whoops his wrists are in a different position (they are still nice photo's)

If anything Dorian is a monument to what can be achieved with genetics which are not that great. Thats if you are going along with the whole muscle bellies thing in the first place of course!

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Ciccio

Acerimmer,

are your wrists fully supinated on that pic? If so you have really long biceps! Be happy!
Propably you're right with assuming the impression of elongated biceps is due to your forearms(they look quite big as well) grow bigger.
If anything at all, muscle bellies will shorten over time from aging. Visible elongation due to training is just not possible.

Franco

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