I can't gain weight. I can't build muscle. Am I a hardgainer? How many times have you heard this question? Probably one too many times, I imagine.
If you are having a hard time gaining weight or muscle, I am not trying to make fun of you. The point of this article is to rattle a few cages, and wake some of you up.
If the scale isn't moving, and you're sitting at your computer chair right now wondering if you truly are a hardgainer, please read on...
Here are 5 reasons why you can't gain weight or build muscle.
Reason #1 - You Have No Idea How Many Calories You Are Eating
Nearly every skinny guy I've ever met told me: "I'm eating a lot." You know what happens next? When I ask him to tell me specifically how many calories he is eating per day a funny thing happens... silence. This "hardgainer" has no idea how many calories he's eating each day.
The solution? Take a week and detail everything you eat and drink. From there, hit one of the numerous nutrition sites online and figure out exactly how many calories you are eating per day. This is a good starting point. You will now be able to adjust caloric intake as needed.
By monitoring exactly what is going into your body, you can then know for sure if you are eating enough food. Odds are you will find out that you are eating fewer calories per day than expected.
Reason #2 - You Have No Idea How Much Protein You Are Eating Per Day
You might have a couple of chicken breasts, a protein shake or two, and maybe even a few egg whites - but the truth is...you have no idea how many grams of protein you are eating each day.
Did you know that most studies indicate a lifter needs at least 150 grams of protein per day, or one gram per pound of bodyweight, to gain muscle at an optimal rate? Yes, true story bro. If you have no idea what your protein intake is, it's time to find out.
It is very easy to undereat protein. We live in a very carb-centric world. Many lifters choose to supplement their protein intake with whey or casein protein shakes. This makes it much easier to reach daily minimum requirements.
Just like you did with calories, take a week to monitor your protein intake. Aim for about 180 to 200 grams per day each day. This is a quality ballpark range to aim for when muscle building.
Reason #3 - You Are "Working Out"
While working out is great for overall heath, it doesn't guarantee that you will build muscle mass or gain weight. Breaking a sweat only assures you of one thing, and that is the fact that you're burning calories.
Working hard does not mean you are working smart. "Smart" work includes the use of the best tools in the gym - compound exercises. You also need to focus on progressive overload, or getting a heck of a lot stronger than you are now. Doing intense 15 pound dumbbell curls for 30 minutes might leave you in a pool of sweat, but it does little to build muscle.
Stop working out and start training properly. The easiest way to do this is by maximizing every set. Head into the gym with the goal to beat each previous workout's effort by at least one rep.
If you were able to hit 200 pounds for 6 reps on the bench press, push for 7 or 8 reps. This constant drive for "progression" is the magic behind the muscle building process.
Reason #4 - You Are Doing Way Too Much Cardio
You are skinny. You can't gain weight. Why in the world are you trying to do 300 minutes of cardio each week?
Some cardio is great for overall health. But for a skinny guy, too much cardio only makes it harder for you to gain weight and build muscle. Limit your cardio sessions to 3-4 per week, for 20-30 minutes at a time. This is plenty. Trust me.
Get in, improve your health and heart, and get out. Save your extra time for eating and rest.
Reason #5 - You Are Obsessed About Having Abs, And Think You Are Fat
You are not fat. You weigh 130 pounds.
You are not fat, you simply lack muscle mass. Understand this...when you are very thin, the body will want to hold on to a few extra pounds of fat. It will be darn near impossible for you to lose them. Why? Because you are underweight and your body needs to protect itself against starvation.
Instead of worrying about your body fat levels, focus on adding 30 pounds of muscle. This extra weight will make you look like a super stud, and no one will notice those extra 2 pounds of "gut fat" you are currently obsessing over.
Have you made any of these mistakes? Let us know how you turned things around in the comments section below.