The Ultimate Hardgainer Workout

Every week, I get a couple of readers ask me about training programs for hardgainers. And while, I do have a great size-building workout posted already….it isn’t a true hardgainer program.   So here are the instructions for my ultimate hardgainer workout.

But this one is.

The HealthHabits HardGainer Workout of Death



  1. Focus on individual muscles or small groups & not movements – think pecs instead of bench press
  2. Keep the number of muscles worked per workout to a minimum – no full-body workouts
  3. Maximize the volume of work applied to those muscles
  4. Limit rest periods during the workout
  5. Make good use of post-workout recovery techniques to help aid recovery and avoid crippling DOMS
  6. In between these workouts, don’t do anything more challenging than a brisk walk.

All of these rules work together to do one thing:

To force the targetted muscles to do the most amount of direct work that is humanly possible….and then help you recover from it. For whatever reason, hardgainers need to be pushed really, really, really hard to force their bodies to adapt and create new, bigger muscles

Okay, that’s the theory….here’s what you’re actually going to do.

The Week at a Glance

  • For true hardgainers, I have set this up as a 4 day split routine with a mandatory 5th Rest Day.
  • After the rest day, you start over with Day 1.
  • This means 6 workouts per week.

Popeye workout

  1. Quads / Hip flexors / Hams / Glutes
  2. Chest / Horizontal Back / Rear Delts
  3. Biceps / Triceps / Core
  4. Shoulders (Front/Side) / Vertical Back / Neck & Traps
  5. Rest
  6. Repeat
Note: This 4 day program can be modified to fit your goals/lifestyle/training experience level
  • Instead of 4 on-1 off, you could do it over 7 days with M/W/F/Sun being your training days
  • Or over 8 days with an off day in between each training day
  • Or you include include one or more of these workouts into an existing program to bring up lagging bodyparts

The 4 on-1 off works best, but it’s pretty intense

A Day at a Glance

  • Each workout begins with a 10-15 minute warm-up all of your joints and muscles to get them ready for the workout. Feel free to use the warm-up I lay out in my Best Body workouts. The idea is to lube up your joints and warm up the muscles.
  • With this workout, instead of counting reps, set & weight lifted, each muscle group will be trained for a set time, with the goal being to do the most “work” during that set period of time.
  • Each muscle group will be hit with 2 – 4 exercises during that set time period.
  • Each muscle group will usually be hit by both compound (bench press) and isolation exercises (DB chest fly).
  • I have organized the exercises in a specific order to maximize your results.
  • We will be using 3 different set-extension techniques to help you extend the length of the set and maximize the volume of work inflicted on your muscles.

hulk muscle

  1. Alternating Single Limb Sets – left, right, left, right – kinda self-explanatory
  2. Drop Setslowering the weight used on successive sets as you begin to fatigue
  3. Rest Pausewhen you think you can’t complete that final rep, pause…take 2-3 big breaths…and then lift the weight

Okay, there’s the overview.  Here come the workouts…

Quick Navigation

Next PageDay 1 – Quads / Hip flexors / Hams / Glutes

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  1. I am going to give this a try for a month or so and then work in best body workouts for 2 weeks. I am going to repeat chest day on Fridays and rest the weekends though

  2. would you suggest this this workout be paired with a caloric surplus diet, with a small snack every 3-4 hours to keep insulin reactivity up?

  3. I agree 100% Jake

    Getting hardgainers to eat enough is harder than getting obese clients to cut back. It’s hard work getting enough food into them.

    I sometimes even get them to bang out mini HIIT workouts (2-5 min) prior to eating to encourage insulin to drive nutrients toward muscle rather than fat storage

  4. this is so wrong on so many levels, dude, i am a hard gainer and i’ve been training for 2 years now, this doesn’t work at all, its the exact opposite.

  5. I have been using versions of this for about 17 years with clients and it works almost every time 90%+

  6. Going to start this workout in the next couple days. Beginning a 6′ 4″ and about 170lbs. If this works and I stick to it, I should be able to see a big difference quick. The only place to go is up.

  7. Hey Kyle – I would love to get your feedback – I am always looking to tweak and improve.

  8. Gained 4 kg this first week, and I consider myself a true hardgainer. I work offshore in Norway and meals are prepared so thats good.. I work 2 weeks on 3/4 off. What do you think of bulking the 2 weeks at work and doing a leangains IF protocol the 3/4 at home with still alot of food in the 8 hour window? Will try the mini HIIT’s workouts to, can you explain what you recommend?

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