Q: I’ve been working out for a couple of years now pretty hard. I’m feeling frustrated because I’ve been tall and skinny my whole life: 6’2″ and 170 pounds. I just can’t seem to put on any muscle. Is it a possibility that a person just can’t build muscle no matter what they do? I receive your e-zine and read about other people’s gains, so I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong or maybe I’m genetically incapable of going from twig to big.
A: You will put on muscle—convince yourself of that; however, you’re in the skinny ectomorph boat with Steve, so you must be realistic, not frustrated. He weighed 120 pounds when he started weight training, and it took time for him to twig to big and looking like a bodybuilder—but even now he doesn’t look all that big in clothes.
It was the same with Frank Zane. He won the Mr. Olympia three times weighing less than 190 pounds at 5’9”—and in clothes he looked like just a normal, athletic guy—but when he took off his shirt, BAM!…
If you’re consistent with your workouts and and you eat six protein-dominant meals a day, you will start adding muscle gradually. You need extra calories and plenty of carbs too, but don’t get overly fat. Be patient, keep your calories above maintenance, and train correctly (more on the right training below).
Stay methodical, focused, and relentless—don’t give up. The good news is that, when the time comes, you’ll be able to get ripped pretty easily—and a cut physique looks MUCH bigger than what the scale reads.
Check out Steve’s pics below. He is 5’11” and when he leans out, he weighs about 195 pounds—in the beginning pic he weighs 120…
As for training, one thing to consider is that you’re probably a cortisol overproducer. Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes your body to eat muscle tissue, and excessive hard training causes it to skyrocket. With that in mind, you want to cycle your training intensity. For example, start with more volume and less intensity with something like our 4X Mass Workout…
4X has given us some great gains, even during serious dieting. We believe it’s because it doesn’t overstress the endocrine system or nervous system while still providing a lot of specific work for the key muscle fibers, the high-growth 2As, the dominant fiber type in the biggest bodybuilders.
For those unfamiliar, the 4X method is taking a weight that you can get 15 reps with, but you only do 10; rest 30 seconds, then do 10 more, and so on until you complete four sets of 10 reps. If you get 10 reps on your last set, add weight at your next workout.
It’s medium weight with growth-threshold muscle fatigue. Simple and effective! You can even apply it to your current workout—4X on every exercise—and no doubt make some impressive new gains…
After four to six weeks with that style, move to a pure power program. Examples include the FOUR-days per week 3D Power Pyramid (Chapter 2 in Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload Workout) or the THREE-days per week Size Surge Phase 1 program. Pure power equals straight-set, lower-volume, lower-rep HIT-style workouts. Once again, you can use one of ours or construct your own…
Stay on a pure-power program for four to six weeks, back off for a week with subfailure, medium-intensity sets so you completely recover, then go back to 4X. Or if you want to try PURE DENSITY, give 10×10 a spin—it’s like 4X, only you do 10 sets of 10 reps, same weight all the way through, but only ONE exercise for each muscle. (Note: Some hardgainers have reported results of five pounds of new muscle in four weeks with 10×10. It works in short bursts!) Your training approach might look something like this…
4 weeks: 4X workouts
4 weeks: Size Surge phase 1
1 week: Subfailure Size Surge phase 1 (stop every set two reps short of exhaustion)
4 weeks: 10×10
4 weeks: 3D Power Pyramid (Freak Physique)
1 week: Subfailure POF Power Pyramid (stop every set two reps short of exhaustion)
4 weeks: 4X workouts
That’s just a suggestion—you can use your own workouts rather than ours if you like. After six months of eating a calorie surplus and training hard—like through the fall and winter, changing programs every four to six weeks—it’s time to check the true status of your physique.
Lean down gradually so you don’t diet away muscle tissue. You may be surprised at how good you look in ripped shape when you peel off your shirt at the pool, beach, or lake.
Eating correctly combined with cycled workout change will give you the fastest muscle gains. With patience, you’ll be able to stand next to those with more bodybuilding potential and hold your own—ripped to the bone!…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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