Hardgainer Workout - Build Muscle With Compound Exercises
The only effective hardgainer workout is one based on compound exercises, including squat, dead lift, bench press, military press and chin up. Variations may include the clean and press, which is a tremendous exercise targeting most body muscles. Increased time under tension (TUT) using drop sets further increases the stress, causing a beneficial natural production of testosterone, providing the workouts do not last more than 45 minutes and very few sets of these exercises are performed.
Volume and intensity do not go well together because it can actually cause the trainee to go into over training, setting him up to a self defeating condition of harder and longer workouts for no tangible muscle gains. This is an unfortunate common scenario seen in commercial gyms, where skinny guys spend a ridiculous amount of time performing an enormous amount of sets organized in split routines of 5 or 6 days per week. This is not the best workout routine for a hardgainer or an ectomorph. A hardgainer by definition is someone who finds it difficult or impossible to gain muscle, the closer to an ectomorphic body type, the more difficult.
However, since the reason behind lack of progress is over training, which means training too much and too frequently, a hardgainer condition is more self inflicted than genetic. Genes may play a limitation on final size, but there is no reason why an ectomorph should not gain muscle size fast and effectively if he knows what he is doing. Most people do not. Countless sets of isolation exercises do not stimulate strongly enough natural testosterone production and growth. On the contrary, they cause a localized excessive depletion of muscle tissue without any hormonal benefit or without taxing the nervous system enough.
Instead, compound exercises do just that, providing an incredibly intense, brief and energy sapping workout that will cause a body dramatic response to the unusual stress, providing adequate rest and nutrition are supplied. Bodybuilding for alleged hardgainers or ectomorphs should be focused on brief intensity. Squats and dead lifts are the kings of exercises, targeting quads, hamstrings, gluteus, traps, biceps and back muscles at once. They are proven to naturally increase testosterone production, spurring all body muscles into growth, not just legs, but also upper body muscles.
They should always be included as foundations for all other compound movements that complement them. Bench press and military press target what squat and dead lift can not, pectorals and deltoid, so they must be included together with chin up or barbell rowers specifically for the upper back. No specific isolation exercises for biceps or triceps are needed, as they will follow up overall size increase and are being used in all compound exercises.
Given the brief and intense nature of a hardgainer workout, it is very much possible to train performing a full body workout consisting of very few sets of each of the main exercises. On one hand, a full body workout comes with the added bonus of being simple and time effective, on the other avoids the temptation to increase the number of sets for each exercise over time, relapsing into high volume over training.
Should all compound exercises be too much to handle in a single workout, extra care should be used not to succumb to the temptation to increase the number of sets when switching to a split routine.
Not surprisingly, a hardgainer workout based on compound exercises is exactly what the old school strong men of the past used to train with. Bodybuilding pioneers like Charles Atlas or Eugene Sandow were born in a steroid free era. Without cheating and artificial aid, they quickly found out what worked best for the human body. The very same approach works just as well today as it did 100 years ago, as human physiology has not changed at all, information has. With the plethora of misinformation and disinformation scattered around bodybuilding literature and the coveted interests of muscle magazines and supplement industry, it is all too easy for an average person to be misguided into insane never ending split routines that will thwart all his efforts and stick a supposed "hardgainer" badge to him.