There are two demographics I come across on a daily basis as I sieve through enquiries from prospective clients. First, there are those who struggle to gain muscle who are often referred to as ‘hard gainers’; and second are those who find it hard to lose fat, referred to as ‘hard losers’. Of course everyone claims it’s their genetics which nobody else in the world has! I am being a tad sarcastic here but I want you to hear this point loud and clear – there is absolutely no reason why (unless a serious medical reason has been diagnosed) a person cannot gain muscle or lose body fat.
Just because some people are more genetically gifted than you doesn’t mean you can’t have what they have. It just means that you will probably have to work a little harder than them, be more consistent and accept that it is what you will have to do if you really want to achieve the goal you say you so badly desire.
I want to delve a little deeper into what you need if you’re to progress, when you’re a ‘hard gainer’ or ‘hard loser’…
Nutrition Is Your Remedy
If someone tells me they’re a hard gainer or a hard loser, and blames it on their genetics, I instantly think, ‘are you really?’ Because I believe that 99.99% of the people who make those claims simply haven’t nailed nutrition. How can you determine that the odds are against you when you haven’t got the basics right? Have you tried a very good nutrition plan, stuck with it and logged your progress?
Look at the diets you have followed for the last six months, look at them in-depth – what has this offered you in terms of feedback? Once you keep a food diary and break down what it is you have been doing, the glitches become apparent very quickly. You will almost undoubtedly find two things:
- you either under- or over-eat depending on your goal
- you are not as consistent as you thought you were.
Notice that both points have the word ‘you’ in them and that’s because the buck stops with you and no one else.
Good nutrition is fundamental and unless you are implementing it well and consistently it is unfair to label yourself a ‘hard gainer’ or ‘hard loser’. Rather than give specific dietary advice which is beyond the scope of this article, I am going to suggest ways to make change happen as follows:
- Identify areas in your food diary which you can alter for the better – if you are a hard loser it might be that you’re eating too many sugar-dense foods so drop them and see what happens – record progress.
- If you have consistently stalled having used a certain dietary protocol, that tells me it doesn’t work for you or isn’t giving you optimum results. Don’t be afraid to try a new approach to eating. For example, if your diet is carb dense, try a higher fat, carb-timed diet.
- Log progress on a weekly basis, use details such as food portions, how you felt, weight (always taken at the same time), photos and assess your performance in the gym.
This will quickly help you build a picture of what you need to be doing to move forward – diaries are great for this.
Genetically Tainted Or Slacking?
My message is always take a smart approach to your nutrition (if you need to, book a consultation with an expert to devise a nutrition plan with you. A lot of hard gainers under-eat drastically, mistaking a poached egg on toast as a breakfast fit for mammoth gains in muscle mass. In a similar fashion, a lot of hard losers mistake low calorie cereal as the Holy Grail to fat loss – again, a big misconception.
My conclusion is that most hard gainers/losers just need to learn to do things in a way which complement their genetics rather than fight against them. The trick is knowing how to work with your body.