Let’s be honest, were in this game for one thing and that’s to build hard lean muscle mass. We toil in the gym for hours and plan our meals and calorie intake to the tee.
We go the distance to ensure that we make those few extra gains that will allow us to say to ourselves “it was all worth it”. For most, results will follow if all the elements of a muscle building plan are in place. However, there are a few among us who won’t see a thing, no matter what they do or what they eat. This is the hard gainers curse.
If you fit into this category, there is something you can do about it.
Let me start off by saying there is no such thing as a “hard gainer”. Believe me, I use to be a typical hard gainer but after figuring out the muscle building process, I considered myself to be “under nourished” as opposed to a “hard gainer”.
You can train as hard and as long as you want but in the end, if you don’t supply your body with the necessary nutrients to provide the environment for muscle growth, you’re not going to build an ounce of muscle. Give your body what it needs to grow and I can guarantee you that no matter what your genetics are or who you are – you’ll grow.
True muscle growth will come down to nutrition and diet. There is nothing more powerful on this earth (not supplements or drugs) at building strength and muscle than providing your body with a constant flow of nutrients. One of the more critical pieces to this puzzle is nutrient timing.
I like to consider nutrient timing as “Anabolic Windows”. These windows are so powerful that it will allow you to drastically alter your appearance and strength levels in a relatively short period of time. Anabolic windows will allow your body to soak up as much nutrients as you can cram into it and your body will use every last morsel to build muscle and strength.
What I’m about to show you will allow even the hardest gainer to build muscle mass in a relatively short period of time (of course you also have to have use the right routine).
When you wake up in the morning, your body is in a state of starvation. It is using muscle tissue for fuel and this is something you definitely don’t want. This condition is known as catabolism in which the body breaks down muscle tissue to use as fuel. This is bad news for the hard gainer; to stop the process and get your body building muscle tissue, you need to feed it fast acting carbohydrates and protein. The amino acids from the whey protein will be shuttled directly into your bloodstream to stop the catabolism process and kick start the recovery process.
If you can swing it, try using whey isolate. Whey isolate is the fastest acting protein available and will ensure you get those important amino acids – pronto.
During the course of a night’s sleep, glycogen levels in the liver will be depleted (carbs that are stored in the liver). The body will then revert to using muscle glycogen to stock up its levels of liver glycogen. Again, this is bad news. You want to stock up on muscle glycogen levels to in order to provide the necessary energy to recover and build.
This anabolic window is especially important the morning after a hard workout. Your body is in a state of havoc from the workout and combine that with 7 to 9 hours of fasting; your body is literally feeding on itself to help repair its muscles. Stop this process immediately and reverse the process by ingesting the power drink listed below – as soon as you get up.
If you’re a person who hates to eat in the morning, you’re going to have to change your eating habits. I can’t stress the importance of this meal and by skipping it you are missing out on a huge opportunity to build big time muscle.
At the end of this article, I’ve posted my personal “Anabolic Shake” which will help get those nutrients into your system – Lightning Quick.
We all know how important a post workout drink is but the problem is we’ve all been fed the lie that all you need to ingest is a pure “protein drink” to get the best results. This isn’t correct – In fact it’s more of a wasted opportunity if you don’t include a huge serving of fast acting (high glycemic) carbohydrates, fats and electrolytes (potassium and sodium).
Allow me to explain. After a hard workout, you want your muscles to recover as fast as possible. The faster you recover the faster you grow muscle, pure and simple .
The most important point you can remember is that recovery is essentially the process of replenishing muscle glycogen. Muscle glycogen provides your muscles with the necessary energy to build and grow.
Your muscles are most receptive to producing new glycogen after a hard workout because blood flow is much greater. It’s at this stage that your muscles sop up as much glucose as it can. Think of your muscles as a sponge. In fact, your muscles will soak up as much glucose as you can shove into them.
In addition, muscle cells are much more receptive to insulin at this time and as we all know, insulin promotes glycogen synthesis. If you recall from your grade 12 biology class, insulin acts as a transport which carries glucose and amino acids to varying parts of your body, including muscle cells. What does this mean to your weight training efforts? It means load up on high glycemic and fast acting protein foods immediately after working out to make the most of this anabolic opportunity.
What types of foods are best for this type of activity? High glycemic foods (fast acting carbohydrates). It’s these types of foods that replenish glycogen stores best.
Here’s a tip* Use honey as your main post workout carbohydrate choice. It’s been shown to outperform maltodextrin – a carbohydrate standard that’s been used for years as the post workout carbohydrate recovery choice. Get about 60 to 90 grams of quick acting carbohydrates into your system immediately after working out.
Also, remember to ingest some fat with your post recovery drink. Fats contain an abundance of calories to help replenish energy levels. Also remember fats improve the uptake of fat soluble vitamins.
Last but not least, you MUST get an abundance of electrolytes into your system immediately after working out. Remember, your muscles are fried after a hard workout and your body is flat out of electrolytes. Electrolytes ensure your muscles are contracting properly and by ensuring their working properly after working out will help improve your recovery efforts. This is why I always have a banana in my shakes after working out – It contains an abundance of vitamins and potassium.
Okay, I’m going to throw in a bonus window here. If you’re deadly serious about building muscle super-fast, than you might want to think about adding this window to your routine (even for a short period). This window will allow you to keep your body growing at a HUGE rate, around the clock. I first tried this in my early twenties and it’s become a part of my muscle building routine ever since. When I want to build muscle quickly, I always add this window.
Before you go to bed, make the protein drink noted below and store it in the fridge. Set your alarm clock for 3:00 AM. When it goes off, go to the fridge and have the drink – and then go back to bed. That’s it – Pretty simple eh? This window will ensure your body is full of muscle building nutrients around the clock. It will put your body in a constant state of growth which means super-fast muscle growth!
If you’re a hard gainer, try the following “Anabolic Shake” drink as soon as you wake up and immediately after working out;
Mix all the ingredients up in a blender. For those of you, who are trying to gain weight, substitute the protein powder for a weight gainer (Try mutant mass). Depending on the type of protein powder, you may have to add more liquid. (For more protein smoothie recipes, click here)
To really rev up the muscle building process, follow this drink up with a full muscle building meal an hour after. For some great Anabolic Meals, try Dave Ruels Book “Anabolic Cooking”. I consider this cook book a must have for all weight trainers. It has over 200 plus muscle building recipes.
I can say this with complete confidence, start ingesting the above noted drink into your morning and post workout regime and you’ll start seeing results almost immediately. If you can use anabolic window #3, even better.
Remember; consume this drink immediately upon waking and after working out for the best results.
All the best,
Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.
Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.