There are many people who I have spoken to or even coached that find it hard or near impossible to gain muscle or even weight at all. These people are commonly referred to as hard gainers. Generally it is natural ectomorphs who have a super fast metabolism and simply cant eat enough food to gain weight. Usually they suffer from low appetite or even if they can eat it simply doesn’t work.
I guess you would imagine then that the last thing these types of people should do is go on a diet to drop body fat. In my opinion that is exactly what you should do if you have hit a wall in regards to gaining mass.
When you hit a mass gaining wall it is often a struggle to eat, you have no appetite, you feel bloated due to the amount of food you have to eat and you lose enjoyment from eating. Trust me I have been there. This is all easily rectified by a short calorie restrictive diet.
A calorie controlled diet will leave you craving food, able to digest everything easily and you will start to enjoy eating again.
The problem with this you might imagine is that a hard gainer doesn’t want to lose weight. Well it isn’t about losing weight. Its about losing body fat. The calorie deficit diet will not be so extreme that you will lose muscle. It must simply be low enough to slowly drop body fat over a period of around 6-8 weeks. For a 70kg male a recommended daily calorie intake for the start of the diet would be around 2200. The diet must be high in protein and good fats with carbohydrates put in strategically.
The reason that I recommend doing a calorie controlled diet is the effect that it has on your body after you come back to a mass gain diet.
When your body is starved of nutrients it works very hard not to drop body weight as that is not optimal for survival. If you diet for long enough your body will try harder and harder to hold onto its mass. If you suddenly switch back to a high calorie diet your body will take on board and utilize all of these nutrients far more effectively than ever before. Every diet I have ever done I have come back from and been heavier than my starting weight within 4 weeks and I’m a hard gainer. I must also note that I end up heavier but with a lower body fat percentage. This is not just about getting fat after a diet.
After a diet your hunger level will be through the roof. You will be primed to eat large amounts nearly every hour. You simply have to be careful of what you are eating. There is no point just eating crap as that wont help you gain muscle, you will simply gain fat. Plan your diet to be around double the calories you were on before and make sure that all of it is coming from good nutrients.
If you are a hard gainer I personally recommend doing a 6 week calorie reduced diet twice per year or when you have been stuck at a plateau weight for more than 6 weeks. Some important points to remember whilst on the calorie controlled diet. You are not to do cardio. Your goal is not to lose weight, it is to drop a small amount of body fat but maintain 100% of muscle whilst eating little food. Train heavy with weights. Don’t do masses of volume but keep the weights heavy. 15-18 sets per body part max.
When you get back to the mass gaining diet you will change the training and increase the volume. 30 sets per body part minimum. Your body will be able to cope with the extra volume easily duet to being so receptive to the food. The increased volume will also to help keep fat levels down and keep appetite up. This will lead to substantial muscle gain.
So there is my alternative method for busting past a mass gain plateau. If you are a hard gainer I know this is a daunting prospect but don’t be afraid to try it. I assure you, if done correctly it will pay off.