Muscle-Building Rules For Hardgainers (Tips and tricks Ex-Skinny Guy)

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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For hard gainers, building muscle can be an uphill battle. The muscle-building rules for hardgainers are different than for guys that have it easy.

It takes dedication and a carefully structured approach to gain significant amounts of muscle mass. 

Nutrition and workout regimes must be tailored to ensure maximum gains in the least amount of time without compromising health or increasing injury risks. 

However, with the right plan in place, hard gainers can make massive changes to their body composition and reach their muscle-building goals. 

In this article, we’ll look at how hard gainers can put together an effective program by following several key rules for muscle-building success. 

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We’ll cover everything, from training to nutrition and recovery. 

With a comprehensive approach such as this one, hard gainers have every chance of achieving their desired physique and strength levels – so let’s get started!

Why Do People Hardly Gain Muscle

Hard gainer or not, the fact is that building muscle naturally is no easy feat. It takes hard work, dedication, and consistency to see results in the form of bigger and stronger muscles. 

Diet, rest, and exercise all play a critical role in the muscle-building process – it’s important to ensure proper nutrition for healthy growth, get adequate rest so that your muscles can recover from each workout session, and do exercises that are tailored to build strength and size. 

Natural muscle building requires patience as well – results won’t happen overnight, but with time, you will start to see increases in muscle mass and strength. 

To summarize quickly – in theory, everyone is a hard gainer simply because natural gains take time.

How To Know If You’re A Hardgainer

While some people see results quickly when they start training, others may have to work harder to build muscle. 

If you’ve been training for a while and don’t seem to notice significant gains, it could be because your body responds less favorably to the stimulus of physical activity. 

But don’t let this discourage you – consistency is the key to making progress in any endeavor. 

Over time, with consistent effort and dedication, you will be rewarded with increased size and strength, even if it takes longer than it does for your peers. 

So keep at it, stay focused, and reap the rewards of your hard work in due time!

Muscle-Building Rules For Hardgainers

As you just learned, it is true that some people have a tough time building muscle mass, but there are some simple muscle-building rules for hardgainers to follow that can help optimize the process. 

Granted, these have nothing to do with hyped-up supplements and workouts, more so than being consistent with a well-structured plan of action.

What does this plan of action entail? Let’s have a look.

#1 Eat In A Surplus

Eating in a calorie surplus is one of the most important rules for hardgainers who want to gain muscle mass. 

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This means consuming more calories than your body burns on a daily basis, which provides the energy needed for effective and efficient workouts, and recovery afterward. 

Make sure to prioritize high-quality foods packed with protein, healthy fats, and carbs, as well as vitamins and minerals. 

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Apart from that, try to get the right balance of all these nutrients so that you can maximize your results. 

To set up a caloric surplus, find out your TDEE by multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 15.

Then, add 200-300 calories on top of that, and you’re likely to be in a solid surplus.

Keep in mind, though, that multiplying your weight by 15 or even using an online TDEE calculator gives you an idea of your daily energy expenditure, it is just an approximation.

Ultimately, you’d want to try the nutrition plan for at least two weeks and see how the scale moves and then adjust from there.

#2 Consume Enough Protein

Protein is one of the crucial muscle-building rules for hardgainers who are in a process of gaining muscle mass.

Consuming an optimal amount of protein on a daily basis is necessary to see results from your workouts and help with muscle growth and repair. 

An ideal daily amount would be around 1g per pound of body weight, spread throughout various meals and snacks throughout the day. 

Protein sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products or plant-based proteins like nuts, legumes, and quinoa should be incorporated into your meals for maximum benefit.

Don’t forget – protein is the building block of your entire body, especially the muscles!

#3 Eat Plenty Of Fats & Carbs

At number 3 on the list of rules for hardgainers, we have fats and carbs!

For those looking to gain muscle mass, having a good balance of fats and carbs is essential. 

Eating the right types of fat is important for providing energy and helping with hormone production, as well as the absorption of some nutrients. 

Hardgainers should aim to consume around 0.45g of fat per pound of body weight daily from quality sources, such as animal products, olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

Carbs are also important for performance and gaining muscle mass, fueling your muscles and providing you with sustained energy throughout the day. 

Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, rice, potatoes, oats, fruits, and vegetables.

Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates – they load the muscles with glycogen, which is the most optimal fuel for the heavy workouts that you should be doing, if you want to gain true mass!

#4 Drink More Water

Eating the right foods for muscle mass gain is important, but so is staying hydrated, and this is why we’ve included this in our list of rules for hardgainers. 

Consuming enough water throughout the day helps your muscles build and repair themselves, keeps your joints lubricated, helps to regulate body temperature, and improves digestion and nutrient absorption. 

Staying properly hydrated also helps you stay energized and alert so that you can stay focused during workouts. 

While the amount of water needed varies depending on individual and environmental factors, a good rule of thumb is to always have a water bottle with you and make it a habit to sip regularly, before getting thirsty.

#5 Lift Weights Frequently

Though in fifth place on this list, training is perhaps the most essential muscle-building rules for hardgainers when it comes to gaining muscle mass.

Simply put – without training, all your eating efforts will be in vain.

Think of food as the investment and training as the mutual fund that actually brings about profits.

When we train, we break down muscle protein and sort of damage the muscles.

During the period after a workout, the muscles rebuild themselves, healing the damage and growing stronger and bigger.

This, however, does not mean you should go all-out on every single training session.

Instead, you should follow these rules of thumb:

  1. Focus on doing challenging working sets, close to failure
  2. Do 10-15+ challenging working sets per muscle group per week
  3. Rest for 2-3 minutes between each set to delay fatigue and optimize performance
  4. Train each muscle group 2x per week (distributing 10-15 working sets for a muscle group in two separate workouts is always better)
  5. Allow each muscle group to rest for 48-96 hours before you train it directly again
  6. Workout to workout, aim to progressively overload slightly – add some weight, reps, and sets here and there (no big jumps, though!)

Remember – it’s all about creating as much quality training volume as possible!

#6 Get Enough Sleep

For hard gainers, getting enough sleep is the final piece of the puzzle for gaining muscle mass. 

This is one of the muscle-building rules for hardgainers that not many people abide by.

Think of sleep as the deepest form of recovery for the body – something essential, especially in the context of recovering from physical activity. 

Not getting enough quality sleep can also affect your energy levels during workouts, so it’s important to get at least 8 hours of restful sleep every night. 

Additionally, make sure to have a comfortable and quiet place in which you can sleep peacefully.

#7 Hire A Coach

Last but not least, if all of the above sounds too difficult for you to do by yourself, and you need an extra, professional helping hand, don’t be afraid to reach out to a coach.

As a matter of fact, hiring a coach increases your chances of success by a great margin – they can give you an effective plan of action, adjust it, and keep you accountable and motivated.

Plus, if you listen carefully, you will, without a doubt, learn a thing or two about training and recovery!


Following the simple muscle-building rules for hardgainers outlined in this article can help hard gainers get on their path to gaining more muscle mass. 

Eating the right foods and staying properly hydrated are essential, as is getting quality workouts and enough restful sleep. 

Above all, consistency is key – make sure to stay committed to your routine and see it through for the best results. 

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your bodybuilding goals.

And remember – if you’re not gaining… you’re likely not eating enough.

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