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Hardgainers, Resistance Training

The Best Workout Routine for Hardgainers

By Joe Talarico on Sep 30, 2021 10:00:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


If you’ve come this far you are probably hoping for some breakthrough new routine you’ve never seen before. You are probably frustrated right now, cause you feel like you’ve tried a hundred different routines, and none of them seem to pack on muscle like you’d thought. What’s going on?

Chances are, the routines you are doing are fine. If anything, you are probably skipping around too much and not sticking with a program long enough to reap the rewards of that program. Regardless of the situation, at the end of the day, there is nothing fancy that needs to go into a program to make it the “best workout”.


Focus on this first at foremost. Stop program hopping. Mind Pump has a ton of programs you can follow, but all of them require 2-3 months minimum before even suggesting that you move onto a new one. Follow that pace. Changing workouts won’t solve your problem. Sticking with one for 2-3 months, and focusing on the different forms of progression is what will get you there.


Progression doesn’t have to be just focusing on increasing weights. There is a cap to that. If all you did was keep adding 5lbs to the bar week to week, you’d never last. Your body can’t recover from that forever, and at some point you will hit a wall otherwise we’d all be benching 800lbs. So if adding weight isn't the only method what else can we do? 

Reps - choose a rep range (10-15). Choose a weight you can do for 10 reps. Every week try to keep the weight the same, and do just ONE more rep than the week before.

Rep Ranges - if you’ve spent one month lifting in the 10-15 rep range, now switch it to 5-10 reps. This will create a new stimulus that will allow you to go back to increasing weight week to week.

Tempo - Most of us spend most of our time just moving the weight up and down at the same pace. There are so many other forms of tempo manipulation you can utilize out there. Try to focus on spending 3-4 seconds to lower the weight on your squat instead of just dropping down. Use a 2-3 second contraction at the top of your bicep curl to squeeze the muscle as hard as you can creating a strong mind muscle connection.


Gone are the days of body part splits. To clarify, that doesn’t mean a body part split is useless and doesn’t work. What I’m trying to say is the research has shown what’s more important for muscle growth is making sure you maximize the muscle building signal. Every time we do a couple sets for a given muscle we maximize that signal. It goes down after 24-48 hours back to baseline which means what we SHOULD be focusing on is sending that signal back up over the course of the week so it isn’t just sitting at baseline and not growing. What does this look like?

If you do 10-15 sets of chest work on your chest day, instead of exhausting yourself and pushing little weights by the final exercise, take that same volume of sets and split it up over 2-3 days. Instead of 10-15 sets all on Monday, try doing 3-4 sets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This will allow you to most likely use heavier weights (because you will be coming in more fresh), while also maximizing that muscle building signal.

Overdoing Volume

If you are reading this chances are you are either a beginner or intermediate lifter. A beginner lifter only needs 8-10 weekly sets per muscle to maximize muscle growth. An intermediate most likely only needs 10-15. Adding any more, is more often than not, just giving you junk volume where you are not maximizing the mind muscle connection, and thus just going through the motions for the sake of getting sets in. Just because you are doing more sets, doesn’t mean you are growing. You are better adding volume on an “as needed” basis.

If you are a novice, start with 8-10 weekly sets per muscle, split over 2-3 days. Stick consistently with that until you feel like you are no longer growing off that volume. Only THEN, should you add sets to your program because you are realizing you are at the point you need more sets to grow. That should be the only reason you ever add sets. When you DO add sets, only add 1-2 sets at a time. Give your body time to respond to those new changes, and see if more is warranted. Think of it as troubleshooting an issue versus more is better.

If you want more help with this be sure to check out our MAPS Programs or my article on The Best Resistance Training Workout for Beginners.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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