Five nutrition tips to help hardgainers gain muscle

By Strength Sensei CP


One reason bodybuilders become hardgainers is they developed a mindset that they are hardgainers. This was not the case with Larry Scott.

Scott was born with narrow shoulders and wide hips, and if you saw the photos of him as a teenager, you would not probably label him a hardgainer. When he was 16, he stood 5-feet-7 and weighed 120 pounds. Twelve years and nearly 100 pounds of muscle later, Scott won the first Mr. Olympia title in 1965, sporting 20-inch biceps.

Success stories such a Larry Scott’s confirm my opinion that hardgaining is primarily a mindset. And it’s not so much that hardgainers are not training hard enough or using poorly designed workouts, but that they are making poor lifestyle choices and not addressing their nutritional needs. Here are five practical tips that can help turn around the program:

  1. Jumpstart your day with a liquid shake.Upon arising, make a quick shake of high-quality whey protein, glutamine, creatine monohydrate, and (because of its positive effects on testosterone) acetyl-L-carnitine. About one hour later, have your primary solid meal.
Jay Cutler won four Mr. Olympia titles and said he consumed an average of 4,700 calories a day. (Miloš Šarčev photos)


  1. Use the “ding-ding” time-to-eat trick.Ask any professional bodybuilder about what it takes to add mass, and they will say eating well and eating a lot! I realize that life gets in the way, and we find ourselves skipping meals, so I recommend using an electronic watch that enables you to set alarms for when to eat. For example, eat a meal and then set the watch to ring 2.5 hours later.
  2. Have a hypercaloric day.About once every five days on your off-training days, have a hypercaloric day, increasing our calorie intake by 50 percent. Make certain the food you eat is high quality, not doughnuts and beer! How many calories a day do you need?
  3. Consume branched-chain amino acids.Always carry a bottle of BCAAs with you, so if you miss a meal, you can take 10-20 capsules to prevent muscle catabolism.
  4. Keep a secret high-calorie jar.I always keep a jaw filled with a high-calorie mixture of nuts and dried fruits to keep my calories high and blood sugar constant. The bottle contains dried apricots, dried blueberries, Thompson raisins, dried figs, pistachios, cashews (high in magnesium!), walnuts, dates, pecans, Brazil nuts (great source of selenium!), hazelnuts, dried cherries, dried mango slices, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and macadamia nuts.

As a bonus tip, take naps. If you want to gain mass, nap often. About 20-60 minutes will work. MuscleMag Internationalpublisher Robert Kennedy was one of the biggest champions of napping for building muscle. If you can’t nap during the weekday, at least nap during the weekend. Seriously, the extra Z’s will make a difference.

If you’re a hardgainer, or you think you’re a hardgainer, give these nutritional tips a try to see just how much muscle you can pack on.

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