Oscar Mairs Article 8

Oscar Mairs Article
Question asked by a fan.

“I’m a hardgainer and I can’t seem to put on any weight, no matter how hard I try. Can you help me?”

What is a ‘hardgainer’? If you’re like me, you can eat everything within sight and not gain an ounce of weight. In theory this sounds ideal, you become the envy of every woman who witnesses your gluttony firsthand. However, in the quest for pure muscle mass, this genetic disposition is a severe handicap. In traditional body type classification, you are an extreme ectomorph. An ectomorph is blessed with a fast metabolism and a limited base of natural muscle. Like you, I have experienced deep frustration in my time spent lifting. As I have watched friends pack on pounds of meat while I stare miserably at a static number on the scales. Thankfully I developed a strategy to overcome this obstinate obstacle to my desired physique.

My first tip is ignore the scales completely. You can’t play the numbers game. Visual transformation in body composition is often not reflected in any change on the scale whatsoever. In any case, excessive obsession with the scales is a recipe for neurosis and an eating disorder. Any sound strategy revolves around playing to your strengths. While mesomorphs and endomorphs are genetically suited to building size, you are not precluded from doing the same. You just have to follow a different path. To develop your physique you must train and diet with specific accordance to scientific principles of endurance-oriented muscle hypertrophy. This will be outlined later.

My second tip is similarly psychological in nature. Be patient. Though you will not put on a drastic amount of size in a short period of time, if you adhere to a strict diet and an intense training regimen the muscle will come. Your approach will be to build lean muscle. Studies have actually proven that you make your best gains at around ten percent body fat anyway, baseline natural testosterone levels are considerably higher at a lower body fat. While your friends are seeing the numbers fly up on the scales, a vast proportion of that weight is merely fat and water. Building solid lean muscle that will survive a shredding protocol is a long and tedious process. Strap in to play the long game.

While you must be more patient in building a solid foundation of mass, it is a lot easier for you to get in peak condition. Consider your metabolism to be a blessing. This heralds my third tip, nutrition. Your caloric demands are far greater than the average individual, you can get away with far more. You must make sure that you are eating in a mild caloric surplus every day. There are many online calculators that you can use as a rough guide. Don’t be afraid to incorporate ‘cheat meals’ into your regimen either. By virtue of your body type, you are more insulin sensitive and sodium resistant. This means that you should be making the most of these nutrients, they are the decisive factor in achieving ‘muscle fullness’. When your muscles are full, they have the illusion of greater size. Think of Phil Heath, who is capable of beating much heavier competitors by virtue of his impossibly round muscles. Hardgainers are capable of attaining an aesthetically-appealing look to their muscle, so keep that in mind. Look at pictures of Frank Zane or Serge Nubret if you don’t believe me.

The latter of that pair brings about my final tip; training. Serge Nubret had a unique training protocol to build his incredibly dense and detailed musculature. He trained with high reps, moderate to light weight and short rest periods. He was known for doing forty-odd sets of bench press in a session. He would pick a weight that he could hit for twelve reps, and complete slow and deliberate sets with thirty second intervals between them. Apparently, he would ‘mentally add’ weight to the bar by simply contracting the muscle harder. This is something you need to realise, weight is largely irrelevant. Tension on the muscle is critical. As such, perfect form and control is essential. There is a scientific explanation for this theory too. As an ectomorph your muscle fibre composition is predominantly slow-twitch. This means that these muscle fibres have a greater fatigue threshold and must be kept under tension for longer to achieve growth stimulus. It was this revelation that made the most incredibly profound change to my physique. I was achieving astounding muscle pumps and flushing contractile tissue with nutrient-enriched blood.

To be clear, much of this advice is anecdotal. It is a broad sketch of the plan you should follow. There are many precise details which I have omitted, but by following this approach you will realise that it is in touch with the natural bodily rhythms of the ectomorph. It feels healthy and I can guarantee you that it will yield results. You will be well on your way to achieving the muscle you seek on this protocol.

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