Why Skinny Guys (Hardgainers) Should Not Be Doing Cardio

Nov 25, 2020 mindpump

Why do most people do cardio to begin with? To lose weight. What’s the biggest issue among hardgainers? Gaining weight. So why on earth do I see 145 pound guys running on the treadmill after every workout?

Don’t get me wrong, from a cardiovascular perspective, cardio and getting your heart rate up is absolutely important. We want to have a strong heart, and good aerobic capacity. But this isn’t your goal right now. Your goal (presumably) if you are reading this article is that you struggle to put on size and want to pack on muscle.  

I’m not saying you should totally eliminate cardio. However, you should absolutely be doing no more than 2 days (and even that’s a stretch for a skinnier guy). I say this because if you’ve been keeping up with my previous articles on how to bulk up for hardgainers, their biggest problem is that they expend a ton of calories from having a faster metabolism. We need to acknowledge this, and stack our tools to our advantage. 

This means – calories, calories, calories! We need to be optimizing our lifestyle around whatever has you taking in enough of a surplus to see the scale move .5-1lb a week. Cardio is just going to force you to have to eat even MORE calories than you already have to. You’re most likely going to have to eat above 4,000 calories just to make the scale nudge a LITTLE. Think about how much more you’d have to eat if you were expending more calories on top of that! 

Now that we got the reasoning out of the way here is what you should be spending that extra energy on. 

Caloric Surplus

I’ll say it till I’m blue in the face. We need you in that surplus. Multiply your bodyweight x 15-16 and use that as a starting point. If you aren’t gaining any weight, add 200 calories for the next week. Keep doing that till you are on pace then hold that intake. As your body adapts to it you may see a weight plateau. Up the calories again by 200. Rinse and repeat. Check my other articles out on bulking if you want specifics on how to calculate your macros for your caloric intake.  

Progression in the Gym 

Great, we got you away from the cardio machines. How does your lifting program look? 

  • Make sure you are in the gym at least 3 days a week
  • You should be hitting every major muscle group, and ideally hitting each one twice a week. No body part splits. That is for advanced bodybuilders on gear. We need to maximize the muscle building signal which only gets stimulated when you are hitting that muscle group. Then it dampens after 48 hours. So we need to make sure we hit it frequent enough to shoot that signal up again.
  • Compound lifts are your best friend. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, rows, pull-ups, etc. These are your staples. They hit the most muscle groups and allow for the most stimulation on the body cause you can really stack up the weight. The only reason you should be adding machine and isolation work is to get extra volume on the smaller muscle groups that are lagging behind and aren’t growing.
  • Track your progress! Make sure you are progressing week to week. That can be by adding weight, or adding reps. The worst thing you could do is stay at the same weight and reps week to week and hope for the best. The body needs a reason to grow.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate recovery. 8-9 hours of sleep, mostly whole foods in your diet (90% whole food, 10% more caloric dense if you can’t hit your macros).

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