I often hear the term “hard gainer” thrown around by gym goers and fitness enthusiasts very loosely.
It is so prevalent that I feel it necessary to dispel some misconceptions around dieting and what the human body is actually capable of.
Common knowledge among most individuals, even newbies, is that there are 3 body types; ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs.
Ectomorphs are skinny and have a hard time putting on fat and muscle, mesomorphs can put on muscle and burn fat easily, and endomorphs can gain weight but have a hard time losing fat.
These three body types have been cemented into the minds of newbies as the only 3 body types that you can fall into.
Consequently, most men who start out as skinny rails (like I did) jump to the assumption that they are ectomorphs because they have very little muscle mass and not much body fat.
I too fell into this trap. I was convinced that because I was an ectomorph, I needed a huge amount of food to gain weight so I ate and ate and ate.
The result was me getting a decent amount of muscle mass, but also packing on at least 20+ pounds of fat.
I went from being a 140-pound twig to having a damn belly!
My young naïve mind couldn’t comprehend that if you are gaining quality weight, you shouldn’t lose sight of your abs and let an unattractive gut build up.
I could’ve eaten 2/3 as much food as I was and still gained the same amount of muscle.
And even though people were telling me I was chubby, I disregarded it because I was convinced that I was a “hard gainer ectomorph” and needed an absurd amount of calories every day to grow.
If you aren’t gaining weight, you aren’t in a calorie surplus.
Too often guys will say that they eat a ton of food but can’t gain weight. But when you break down what they’re eating and count the calories, it's not even close to what would be considered a lot of food.
Granted, some guys have faster metabolisms than others, but this is largely dictated by the muscle mass they have on their body burning calories, and not from them being a “hard gainer.”
If you aren’t gaining weight, it's not because you're a “hard gainer”, you're just not eating enough. And you're probably deluding yourself into believing that what you're eating is a large amount of food.
And if you're gaining weight at a fast rate (over a pound a week) and are overeating because in your mind you're a “hard gainer”, you could be gaining too much fat by overeating.
If you want to make consistent progress and break through plateaus once your calorie intake is no longer sufficient, count your calories!
Even while bulking.