Many people find it particularly hard to put on weight. They are known as ectomorphs or ‘hard gainers’. Whilst this may seem like a blessing, when it comes to building muscle it can be an obstacle for many.
This article will present you with tips to build muscle even if you are a so called ‘hard gainer’.
TIP #1: GRADUALLY Eat more
Seem TOO obvious?… To put on weight, you need to ensure that you are in a calorie surplus. If you aren’t, you won’t put on weight. Simple.
A ‘safe’ threshold above your maintenance calories is 500, however if you find it particularly hard to put on weight you should increase this gradually over time, rather than failing to consume a huge surplus in one go and giving up – begin by working out your calories and macronutrient ratios if you’re not aware of them already.
It may be tough to eat more food at first, over time it becomes a lot easier.
✓ If you get full quickly, try drinking less throughout your meals, especially soft or fizzy drinks, as they will take up room in your stomach and make you feel fuller. This is obvious information… but effective when put in place.
TIP #2: Eat frequently
Most people cannot sit down and consume a large quantity of food in one sitting. If you can, great! But for those who can’t, it is best to space out your meals throughout the day. You can do this by portioning out your food into 8-10 smaller meals rather than 3-4 larger ones – it may seem a lot at first but your body will get used to the consumption times and begin to crave more food, more foten!
Many of us find that we are already hungry and hour or so after eating. If this is the case, you should have your next meal then.
✓ Space them out at set times if you have to and stick to the plan of what you will eat and when.
TIP #3: Make it convenient
One of the most common arguments for people not eating enough is ‘I don’t have enough time to cook/prepare everything’ or ‘there is nothing to eat’. This can easily be combatted so you won’t ever have to worry about preparing a meal last minute again.
Make a diary of what meals you are going to eat and go out and buy the ingredients in bulk. Not only does this make it cheaper, but it also means you can cook everything at once and prepare it for future meal times.
Portion your food out into Tupperware containers which can be stored in your fridge ahead of schedule. Cooked meat such as chicken will last a few days in the fridge without going off so you can prepare a few days’ worth of meals in advance. This will save you a lot of time and doesn’t take very long to do in the first place.
TIP #4: Eat calorie dense foods
Foods which have a high calorie intake in a smaller volume are perfect for ‘hard gainers’ since they will help you to reach your daily calorie goals without filling you up too much. Foods which are high in fat (the most calorie dense macronutrient) are perfect, as they won’t fill you up that much and taste good too.
Here are some great, healthy, calorie dense foods:
✓ Peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
✓ Dairy (eggs, milk etc.)
✓ Nuts and seeds
✓ Fats and oils
✓ Whole grains
✓ Dark chocolate
TIP #5: Track your macros
I don’t think I can stress this tip enough. It may seem a little labour intensive at first, but trust me, it really isn’t.
Once you have calculated your daily macros for protein, carbs and fat, you can log all the food that you consume per day and ensure you are reaching your goals – try using the abundance of fitness apps!
Tracking your macros will be one of the best decision you make fitness wise. It allows you to change what you eat if you aren’t eating right and make decisions based on which macronutrient you are lacking for that given day.
Take Home Message
Whilst it may seem hard to put on weight as an ectomorph at first, if you get everything right you shouldn’t face much of an issue.
These tips will get you on your way to achieving your fitness goals. Ensure your diet is in check and you are hitting it hard in the gym and you will start to notice results!