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Hardgainer workout routine

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Posted by HIT Man

The Whiner's Workout...
by Jason F. Keen

This one is for all you whiners out there, or 'hardgainers' as some of you like to refer to yourselves. Now, I am not saying that you are not a hardgainer. So am I. So is everyone. Who do you know who is an 'easygainer'? Sure, there are some out there. But for the most part, take a close look at brutally strong guys. Kaz, Ed Coan, Dr. Ken, Ken Patera, Pat Casey, etc. How long do you think it took those guys to build up to the level of strength they have/had? In some cases, 20 years or more. So if you have only been lifting 3 years and can only deadlift 315, quit whining. Maybe in 10 years you will be at 600. All you have to do is settle in for the long haul, and hit the weights...

Now, for those of you who still claim that you can't 'gain' or 'get strong' on anything, I am going to give you two workouts. Here is the first:

-squats or front squats
-high pulls supersetted w/ weighted dips
-weighted chins supersetted w/ presses

There are a few choices here. One way to do things is to alternate the squats with front squats every other workout, which is what I recommend. Do the squats for 6,4,2,1 reps, and do the front squats for 3 sets of 3. As for all the other exercises, pick a weight that you can use for 6 reps. Then, do supersets, or 'jump sets' where you go back and forth from doing the high pulls to the dips, for instance. You take a little rest after the second exercise, and then go back to the first. Go until you have hit 20 total reps for each exercise, and if you have chosen the correct weight, there should not be much of a discrepancy between the number of sets done for the two exercises. Once you have hit 20 reps on both the high pulls and the dips, go to the chins and presses. For the presses, either do strict behind-the-neck presses, or sometimes push presses to the front.

Do this workout a couple times a week, going just about all-out. That is, take each set to the point where you could not do another rep with perfect form, but do not worry about going until you can not move the bar. In other words, leave about a half rep in you on every set. Then, take a couple of days off and do the routine again. If you can do it after one day of rest, fine. If you work a little harder than others, or have poor recovery ability, and need 3 days between sessions, that is all good, too. Obviously, the key here, like always, is progression. When you can, for instance, do the 20 reps in only 5 or 6 sets, up the weight. Or, if you like, make it 7 sets. This might sound like a lot, but the point is to go back and forth from the 2 exercises in pretty rapid fashion. It might only take you 12 minutes to do 7 sets each of the chins and presses, for example. That being the case, the part of the workout that comes after squats might take only 25 minutes. So, again, simply set up a scheme where you are adding weight to the bar/dip belt on a regular basis, making sure to keep your form PERFECT.

After 8-10 weeks on this program, take about 4-5 days off. Then do the following program for a week or two: dumbbell bench press, bent-over row, dumbbell clean and press, one-legged squats, Romanian deadlifts, dumbbell curls, and then one set of killer high-rep deadlifts. Do each exercise for a couple of sets of 8, but do the DLs breathing-style. That is, pick a weight you could do 10-12 with, and do 20. Then, after 4-5 of these workouts over a period of two or three weeks, take another 4-6 days off and then start whiner's program #1 again.

This time, after 3-4 weeks you are going to change things up a bit. Drop the set of 6, and after the single on the squats, do a couple of heavy negatives. That is right, you are going to do some negatives on the squat. Now, of course you need to be in a power rack for this. Just set the bottom pins slightly above where the bar is in your rock-bottom position in the squat. Then, slowly do a negative with a weight that is about 40-75 pounds above your PR. Use this same weight every time, doing 2 negatives. Do one negative, and leave the bar sitting on the lower pins. Then, pull a plate or two off of the bar(just enough to get the bar weight about to your 5-8RM), and squeeze under it. Slowly tense every muscle in your body so that you are extremely 'tight' against the bar. When you are just about to the point of exerting enough pressure to pop the bar off the pins, EXPLODE out of the hole and do a very powerful squat and put the bar back on the upright catches. Then, put the weight back on the bar for your last heavy negative, rest a couple of minutes, and do that last one. This time you can just do a very controlled negative and then unload the bar when it is on the bottom pins. As you get stronger with these negatives over the next couple of weeks, start doing 'holds' on the second negative. This is where you actually slow down and stop the descent of the bar, and hold it for a few seconds, at a couple of points on the way to the bottom. If you can, do a couple of the holds in the bottom half of the movement, building up some very good static strength in the bottom of the squat. Also, on the front squats, after your last triple you can add a plate to each side and then just unrack the bar and hold it for a while. This will help you get used to the weight and build up your supporting strength, as many of the people I know in the general lifting population hit a sticking point in the progress on the front squat not because of their leg strength, but because of the problems they have holding ever-increasing weight in that position. You can also opt to do some negatives in the front squat, which will build not only supporting strength in the back and arms, but crazy-strength in the thighs... Lastly, after your last set on each of the two exercise superset-pairings, take a couple of minutes of rest and do a single in each exercise. Don't actually start out at your 1RM. Do your first singles during that 4th week with about 90% of what you think you could. Then, start adding weight to the singles at every workout. If you feel good and want to do 2 singles after an exercise, fine, do it. If you feel good and feel like taking a max single or trying to find your max after 6 weeks or so, feel free. This is not a super-precise periodized workout scheme, I just want you to break into handling some seriously heavy weights and taking some heavy singles at least a couple of times a week.

At the end of 8-10 weeks of doing the routine with the negatives and singles, you should be a lot bigger and stronger than when you started it all. At this point, you should take a few days off, and then you can do whatever program you want, but I have a feeling that a lot of you will want to start this one all over again…


On the other hand, you might want to jump to whiner's routine #2. I like this one a lot. So, here it is:

Day 1
-Bench Press: 6,4,2,1 reps
-Inc. DB Bench/Flyes Drop Set: 5 presses, 3 flyes, 3 presses, 3 presses
-Pull-Ups: 3x3
-Barbell Rows: 2 sets of 6
-Shrugs: 6, 3 reps

Day 2
-Squats: 5x5
-Partial Squats or Negatives: 2 sets of partials, or 2 negatives
-High-Rep Conventional DL: 1-2 sets of 20 reps

Day 3
-Pressing Complex: 3 sets strict, 2 sets push-style, 1 drop set
-Barbell Curls: 8, 5, 3 reps
supersetted w/
-Close-Grip Benches: 8, 5, 3 reps

For this routine, like the other, you can take anywhere between 1 and 3 days off between workouts. There is plenty of pressing work in this one, and even some biceps stuff for you guys who are in love with having huge pecs and delts and biceps. On the other hand, your legs are not going to get off easy, as Day 2 is a real bear. You need to go all-out on the squats, and the DLs are performed just like in whiner's routine #1. Take a weight you can get 10-12 with, and take as long as you need to do 20. If you pansy out on the first set, do another as punishment. If you work hard, though, you won't be able to do another set...

On the incline dumbbell drop set, you do a set of 5 reps, and then drop the weight to what you can do 3 very strict flyes with. Do those 3 flyes, and then do 3 presses with that weight, which should be about all you can do at that point. Drop the weight one more time, to something that will cause you to fail at about 3 reps. Done after some heavy benching, this incline complex should certainly 'destroy' your chest.

The pressing complex involves putting progressively more and more weight on the bar. You arrange it so that the first 3 sets can be done in strict fashion, in front of the head. Then the next 2 increases of weight on the bar should see you having to push-press it, using some leg drive and pressing as hard as possible with the shoulders, driving the weight powerfully to lock-out. Then, do one more set where you drop the weight down to what you used for the first set of push presses. Be sure to push press the weight, and then do a controlled strict-rep negative, for about 3 reps. Then strip some weight off so that you can do a set of 5 or so strict presses to the front. Then strip some more weight off so that you can do about 5 strict presses to the back. That is about all your shoulders will be able to handle. If you want, you can have a partner help you do some manual-resistance lateral raises after the presses behind the neck. Go to failure, and this will *really* finish the shoulders... Of course, a little rotator cuff work in-between arm supersets probably wouldn't hurt, either.

In all seriousness, these routines should pack some serious strength, and size if you eat right, on anyone. They are good not just for beginners or 'little guys', but also for advanced men, particularly if you have just spent a while on a higher-volume workout using a lot of movements. These routines will help you to 'concentrate' your new strength and workload ability into the big, important lifts. Now, quit whining, and go try these routines out. You won't be sorry you did, and you will even be glad to tell people you are on the "Whiner's Routine". :^)

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