Hardgainer Secret Weapon: Strength Training

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

Yesterday we discussed how volume training plays a role in building muscle mass and today you’ll learn how strength training is just as important to build muscle mass fast.

Without a strength training phase, muscle would grow but never as a result of actual muscle fiber growth – only as a result of intracellular fluids such as creatine phosphate (CP), glycogen, water, etc.

In addition, your muscles would never be as strong as they look due to the fact that strength training phases are designed to teach the nervous system to recruit your fast twitch (white) muscle fibers which are in charge of massive strength.

Therefore, if you’re a struggling hardgainer, I trust you see the importance of incorporating strength training cycles into your muscle mass program for optimal muscle growth.

What are the characteristics of a common strength training workout?

  • Rep ranges would be lower and consist of 1-6 reps
  • Rest ranges would be longer and consist of 2-10 minutes
  • Weight selection would be 80-100% of your 1 rep max
  • Volume would be lowered to typically 8-10 total sets
  • Lifting speed is far more explosive
  • Compound movements are first and only option
  • A strength phase could last for 3-12 weeks

Spoken simply, this is the phase you’ll be lifting your heaviest weights ever and you will be getting stronger each and every week. The total focus of a strength training phase is the amount of weight lifted.

In my No Nonsense Muscle Building book, I teach you a unique, and never before seen way, of doing strength training that is completely designed for the struggling hardgainer.

I have you cycle my strength training phase every 3 weeks with my volume training phase for 3 weeks.  Here is how your body increases muscle mass in response to a strength training phase:

  • Testosterone, one of the most anabolic hormones in your body, levels increase from the longer rest periods and heavier weights.
  • Muscle growth accelerates when the actual protein content of the cell increases, as does the thickness of the muscle filaments.  As discussed a few posts ago, strength gains come first and muscle growth occurs second.
  • From your abilities increased recovery ability from the volume training phase, you are able to increase strength and build muscle mass quicker and will more efficient at repairing it self and getting you ready for another high intensity workout.

Train hard and train even smarter,

Vince

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Comments

16 thoughts on “Hardgainer Secret Weapon: Strength Training

  1. in regards too the strength training and other kind i do mostly strength training less reps more weight i am very lean and ripped have trouble getting mass though should i be incorporating less weight and more reps at times??? my rests are shorter for strength training though as opposed to the three or two minutes you suggested

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  2. Vince thanks for the quick response. I just find some of the information promoted from other sources sometimes contradicts one another. But YES it is up to each individual to take what works and stick with it. If you do get to a plateau it is always good to try something else to break through it.

    I do think you program is great I just have had to cut the workout to a shorter period of time with as much intensity as possible to make best of my little free time that I have. I love the workouts and have made the workout and cardio part of my life that last 6 months. I have dropped 25 pounds and am starting to look tight and feel great.

    Thanks for the help and thanks for the response back on my earlier comments which I meant no wrong just what I honestly felt.

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  3. Everyone re-read Andrew’s and Brandon’s posts and buy Vince’s material. If you try and shortcut anything you will get partial results. Do quick and intense workouts with proper stretching before and after each workout, then sleep 7-8 hours per night keeping a good diet plan for your particular body/metabolism.

    Otis,

    I suggest you start talking to Jon Benson: http://jonbenson.com/ and purchase his book “Fit Over 40″. I would say he is right up your alley! 😉

    I am going to be 40 in January myself and have been working out on and off since I was 12 years old so I have seen and heard it all. Vince and Jon know what they are talking about and you should respect their advice, but ALL of their advice.

    Simply: go intense or go home and lay on the couch! You can’t workout hard and long at the same time, impossible! Try doing a 3 set compound exercise at 80% of your 1-Rep Max with only a 30 second rest, yeah, that is INTENSE! Now, try doing your full max with a partner pushing you past failure on just a couple of exercises. The first one is volume and the last one is essentially strength training as stated above.

    What I do is that if I feel good I do a heavy lift day and do partials at the top 6 inches of the lift since I have no partner. These partials allow you to go past failure. If you do your biceps for example you can take the concentration curl at the top portion of the curl and use the other arm to help. For barbell curls, just stop at the chest level and come back up. Use as much weight as you can handle without cheating too much or moving your body too much. I like doing preacher curls with dumbbells and the EZ-Bar (the bar with the bends in it) so I can really isolate the biceps.

    On every set go past failure! Act as every set is your last after the warm-up sets and keep the warm-up sets to a minimum. The reason, to get the workout done fast and efficiently as to elevate your natural growth hormone levels. Once you do these intense workouts consistently going up in weight and varying the lifts to keep your body adapting, you WILL SEE RESULTS, trust me. 😉

    I just herniated a lower disc this in the middle of August this year and went from 210lbs to 191lbs (I’m 5’10”) and now I am back up to 200lbs, lowered my body fat and almost back to my full strength. I am also seeing my muscles grow again and I was flat on my back for 3 straight weeks! The doctor said I would ever lift heavy again! I slowly have been gaining my strength back but I am also aware of my posture, flexibility and lifting form. To be honest, I am doing better now than before.

    I am not going to sugar coat it, it is hard work and if you do not put 100% into it, you will not get the 100% benefits it brings. Of course, this applies to everything you do in life, but muscles are stubborn and adaptive so you have to hit it hard, then feed and rest them for them to grow efficiently.

    Okay, that one was long…train hard but train smart. 🙂

    Sean

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  4. I’m a coffee lover….people said for workout person must avoid to drink that…cause have a problem to weight gain…

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  5. my arms are particularly skinny; what exercises will get my forearms & biceps/triceps bigger

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  6. i need somthing i can use to make me big i wiegh 152lb and i am 5ft 7inch. it is hard for me to gain muscles quick, but i do seee some gains coming on to me as time flys. Please help me get what i desired.

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  7. To pretty much everyone who posted:
    You will not see the ideal results unless you follow the WHOLE program. You can work out till you pass out, but if you dont have the rest and, most importantly DIET right, then you will never, ever see the results youre hoping for. Working out without the proper diet is like trying to drag race a car on diesel, or no fuel at all. IT DOES NOT WORK. So… stop with the stupid questions and get to work on the whole program, not just the parts you like the most.

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  8. I 100% agree with Andrew ( above)
    Otis, Although Vince is helping you by making it less confusing, you really have to listen to your body and fine tune your workouts to your own specifications. I found myself overtraining (too much weight and too many sets and reps) and had to get some serious nutrition back in my body and tone down my workouts with some less strenous routiens (sp?). I was like you trying too hard to get ripped. Keep a log of your nutrition, mood and workout effectiveness. Look at what you have accomplished and embrace small changes. I’m 30 and I;m totally stoked that your busting strength training out at 55 (not that your old) i’ve just seen a lot of people let themselves go after 45 to 50.
    Keep it up man!
    andy

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  9. hi vince am gona be honest with you i havent followed your program by every step by step like you said but i have taken a few things on board what you have said like rest /diet/and how many sets to do and increase the weight each set since i took some of your advice on board i have gone up in gains from 11 stone 2 to 12st 4 i can see a big difference in my build but this is mainly around the chest/back and shoulder area my arms have gained a bit but nothing compared to the rest of my body were am i going wrong am gaining everywere else quite well but my arms well???????????????? can you help
    thanks andy

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  10. Otis, I don’t know anything about, but why is your main goal to build muscle at the age of 55?

    All muscle gaining/fat loss programs are a business. They tell you what you want to hear and try to get you to buy their product. Vince’s programs may work, but not as much as you would like. Every person is different. Your body reacts in differently than everyone elses. AND age definitely does have an impact on how fast you can put on lean muscle tissue. As you get older, your body requires more time for recovery, which means less time to stimulate your muscles. Your muscle building hormonal levels also decrease. This prevents older people from developing muscle mass. However, everyone can get stronger and put on muscle (even at the age of 100). So for you Otis, I’d recommend that you stop thinking about putting on muscle and think about overal wellness. You are not a body builder and who is to say that body building is health (which it is not). Body builders do a lot of stupid exercises in the gym to get BIG. Yet, they don’t understand what they are doing to their joints as they perform these intense exercise motions. No wonder why many people fail in body building, they end up getting hurt. If I were you, I’d focus on building strength at a pace you can handle, perform reps at a slow pace to eliminate inertia and have less wear and tear on your joints. Also, exercise also has many benefits outside of muscle building. Think about how much more healthy you are compared to a person who doesn’t do any strength or cardio training.

    Muscle is a product of strength training, but it’s not the only product!

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  11. hi Vince…..
    i am working out at night as per your instrucions on how and the type of weights to lift. i have been working out now fo about three weeks but seen little results. i have weighed myself today and discovered that my weight is still the same as before i started to lift the weights.

    what am i doing wrong…..or is it bjust impossible for a skinny guy, well not soo skinny to gain muscle weight???

    regards
    Nige

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  12. Hi Vince,

    I have been doing some research into muscle fiber types and it seems to coincide exactly with what you are saying here (and your previous post).

    It would seem lower reps would stimulate your fast twitch muscle fibers effectively, and that higher reps would stimulate the slow twitch fibers.

    I was thinking of starting a (same as your program, coincidentally) 3 week cycle of low reps (3-7) and high reps (15+) and leaving out mid range reps (8-12) altogether.

    Does this make sense to you? My idea is that mid range reps, while they may stimulate both types of muscle fibers, the effect would be minimal, and that cycling high and low reps would be much more effective. I’d love to hear your opinion on this.

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  13. hi vince am gona be honest with you i havent followed your program by every step by step like you said but i have taken a few things on board what you have said like rest /diet/and how many sets to do and increase the weight each set since i took some of your advice on board i have gone up in gains from 11 stone 2 to 12st 4 i can see a big difference in my build but this is mainly around the chest/back and shoulder area my arms have gained a bit but nothing compared to the rest of my body were am i going wrong am gaining everywere else quite well but my arms well???????????????? can you help
    thanks andy

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  14. hey vince i really love all ur vidoes that u have put on finally with ur trianing i can see the results on my body before i used to be reall skinny like a lampost lol but now ive toned out nd and got a six pack thanks to ur training umm also i was wondering that money sheme that u were onabout that i can make so much on me selling ur product umm can i have more info on that please and what i need to get started nd if its not a problem can i have ur number so we can wrk one on one if that is ok with ur self thanks vince from yunus

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  15. I just want to know one thing. I have heard from one of my friends that if we use ROSE PETALS JAM in our daily diet then we can increase our weight. It is possible or not.

    thanks

    sahil

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  16. Vince,

    I read your phase ll for the hardgainers. I am a hard gainer and I have been working out now for about a year with your program. While I have seen some definition imporvement and some strength increase; I am not satisfied totally with what my results have been. These two phases that you have now introduced; let me get this straight. I am suppose to cycle your strength training phase every 3 weeks with your volume training phase for 3 weeks. From this I am suppose to increase my body muscle mass in response to a strength training phase: is this correct?

    Vince, I think I must level with you at this point. I am or I will be 55 years old in 8 days. I have been working hard at trying to gain the muscle mass that you have intimated through you program. I started out weighing 178 pounds, I now weigh 192 pounds; that is a total of only 14 pounds. Now level with me, please. Can a person my age really gain muscle mass? Yes, even the kind of mass that you are advocating in your program? I am beginning to think that it is not possible. I have followed your dieting instructions, weight lifting instruction and I have also adhered to your instruction on getting proper rest; but I am not seeing the kind of results that you have promised. What am I doing wrong?

    Otis

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