There is No Such Thing as a Hardgainer

Skinny guys are quick to tell me that they can’t gain weight. “I eat and eat and can’t gain muscle.” Ask yourself who hardgainers really sound like.

What other group of people claim that the law of thermodynamics do not apply to them?

Skinny guys who say they can’t gain weight are no different from fat people who say they can’t lose weight. “I don’t even eat much! How can I be so fat?!”

Do you know how fat people lose weight? They eat less than they want to, nearly every meal, and nearly every day of the week. There are occasional cheat meals and cheat days. But fat people, in order to lose fat, have to eat less than they would prefer to.

How does a skinny guy gain weight? He eats more than he wants to, nearly every meal and every day of the week. There are occasional days when the skinny guy skips a meal or doesn’t eat much all day. But skinny guys, in order to gain weight, have to consistently eat more than they prefer to.

It really is that simple.


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  • Gentsworth

    I used to think this too, condemning myself to one of many of the “perpetually skinny.” At least I did until I joined the military, and was more or less forced to eat until I puked. By the end of basic I actually had what you could call a “chest” with “pectorals.”

    Good times.

    • andrewmichaelmedina

      Same here. Then I found out about carb loading and hypertrophy.

      15lbs in 3 months.

  • krautz

    Deep. That really gets to the root of it.

  • Nick

    Witnessed. I used to think I was a ”hardgainer”, and even found hardgainer-specific workouts to do. About a month ago, I started downing protein shakes inbetween every meal. Gained 10 pounds in 4 weeks, and I’m still going up.

  • Young Hunter

    It all comes down to how badly does one want it. More than comfort? More than shitty food and excuses? Most often not. When I started making changes I realized how badly I wanted it and there was no turning back.

  • FFY

    Gotta add on my .02-

    Reps/Sets make a huge difference for skinny dudes. I thought I was a “hardgainer” until I stopped doing sets of 8-10 and went to 3-6

    • Wald


      How does that work?

      I seen people talk about that – but never understood why.

      I don’t lift – but I am curious.

      • (R)Evoluzione

        Some people do well on the low rep, high weight stuff. You need good adrenal function for it. Some dudes burn out quick on that, and do better with more volume. I’m convinced that fast/slow twitch fiber percentages do account for some of this too, but whatever ratio of fast/slow fibers we’re born with, we can either accentuate or diminish via training, and to a lesser extent, nutrition.

    • nek

      Cosign this completely. I got a great workout plan that ensures I fail b/w 5-7 reps and is based on squats, dead lifts, and Incline dumbell press. It’s gonna hurt, and I didn’t even change my diet too much. I’ve gone from 165-170 to around 190-195 in about a year. Do HEAVY weight of full compounds. The more natural the workouts the better (i.e. dumbells over machines). It’s all common sense, and understand two things: 1.) Yes it hurts, that’s the point of working out, you are deliberatly doing damage to your body in order for it to heal and heal better, and 2.) the reason your body does this is in response to a perceived threat. A weight that you can bench 15-20 reps may fatigue you, but your body isn’t going to feel “threatend”. Do heavy squats, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

      It’s really all logic. You don’t need to eat 6 times a day. You’ll need your calories, but if you can do it in two meals, then more power to you.

  • Elijah

    I think many get confused with maximum muscle potential and actually gaining that muscle in the first place.

  • (R)Evoluzione

    Agreed, conditionally.

    In “healthy, normal” individuals, D&P is correcft.

    Additionally, there are some cases where that isn’t true. I’ve seen in myself and several clients (I’m in the health biz) people who couldn’t gain weight who had some significant gut problems, and/or thyroid issues.

    Solve these issues, and people gain weight. For me, I gained 10 lbs of muscle in less than a year, doubled my deadlift & squat numbers, and things are still going up, all by healing my gut issues, making sure I could digest & absorb protein & good fats, and then eating them by the pound.

    It is said ” you are what you eat,” and this post is a corrollary to that. Not quite correct. We are the sum total of what we eat, digest, assimilate, and excrete. In my case, I had horrible protein malabsorption, which created wicked, sulfurous flatulence, lots or borborygmus (gurgling belly), and a host of other issues.

    Like I said, fixed those issues, now I’m a lil bit swole, on the path to being significantly swole.

    • (R)Evoluzione

      I should note that for more than a decade I did 3×10 “volume” workouts that were designed by “bodybuilders.” (from Muscle & Fiction magazine, etc.) and ate a TON of food. Granted, 4000 calories a day of crap is still a crap diet, and I couldn’t gain an ounce even though I worked out a ton.

      My body composition changed, sure, I lost fat and gained muscle. I was shredded, at one point, I caliper measured 4% body fat, but I couldn’t budge the scale. I stayed at that weight for over a decade.

      To make change, I had to heal my gut issues, then I changed to a low volume, high intensity program like FFY mentioned, and bingo, significant change.

    • The Chrome Microphone

      Shit, I wonder if I suffer from that

      I’ve started farting up a storm and getting dodgy stomachs and I don’t even use whey, I use hemp

      What did you do to counter that?

      • dangerandplay

        Probiotics and l-glutamine. I am working on a post about the gut, which is as important of a “muscle” as your chest.

    • Ovid

      “In my case, I had horrible protein malabsorption, which created wicked, sulfurous flatulence, lots or borborygmus (gurgling belly), and a host of other issues.”

      I get a gurgling belly from time to time. Any info about this and what it means? Could it have something to do with why mylower abs won’t respond to training?

      • Ovid


  • derthal

    Many people get overtrained, do not recovering enough, especially beginners. I know guys who stick with their “perfect” training plans at all costs. They are constantly tired thus do gain nothing or almost nothing and eventually get discouraged because of that.

  • samseau

    I used to eat over 3000 calories a day and not put on a pound.

    You have no idea what it’s like to have a fast metabolism. I’ve eaten so much before I’ve puked. That’s when I knew I was eating as much as I humanly could, and yet still not put on amazing gains.

    The only way it became possible for me to gain muscle was when my metabolism started to slow down around 22. Then 3000 calories actually meant something.

  • samseau

    Dude when I was 18, I ate a jumbo sized bag of skittles and Giant sized box of cheez-itz in one day, followed up with beer and pretzels… didn’t put on a single pound.

    • dangerandplay

      That’s poison, bro. No wonder you got sick.

      There’s 120 calories in a tablespoon of olive oil. Just add shots of olive oil into your food or take them down like an ACV shot.

      Cook your eggs in coconut oil. Put coconut oil in your rice.

      Cashews are fucking delicious and calorie dense. All mixed nuts are. Cheap, too, if you buy them in bulk at Costco or from Trader Joe’s.

      Throw mixed nuts into cottage cheese.

      Dark chocolate (with low sugar and high cocoa) is good for you and awesome and calorie dense.

      • Megale

        Awesome advice for a hard gainer! I love it!!

        I’m the other way around. I put on muscle super easy but fat even easier. I have to keep myself a bit hungry all the time, 24/7.

        It sucks, but that’s life. You play what you are dealt with.

  • MarcTheEngineer

    Yup… I’m a “hardgainer” – I know it’s because I need to eat when I just don’t feel like eating… and then continue eating after that…

    Gained 20 lbs in 4 months in University – I remember actively disliking having to eat because I was always eating when I had absolutely no interest (my hunger regulation system is very efficient towards not gaining weight – If I ate 3500-4000 calories on Monday, Tuesday I would have to force myself to eat because I could easily fast for the entire day without feeling the least bit hungry)