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Old 02-22-2007, 06:44 PM   #1
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Hardgainer Benching Frequency

As a trainer I work with a very large segment of the lifting populace. I work with everyone from competitors in BB’ing and powerlifting to just average guys that want to gain 10 lbs of muscle and lose 10 pounds of fat. Working with non-specific lifting specimens (in other words, some coaches work with nothing but athletes) I have lifters that range from super easy gainers, to….well….guys that can only be described as hardgainers no matter if you like that label or not.

Lots of these “hardgainers” that come to me have been all around the lifting community and found the help of Mr. Hardgainer himself, Stuart McRobert. Stuart is the author of Brawn, Beyond Brawn, Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, and also the publisher of “Hardgainer Magazine”. Stuart has done more to help hardgainers than anyone extent—by a long ways. But, like any trainer or author, Stuart doesn’t have all the answers. His approach is a godsend for true hardgainers with poor conditioning levels and low CNS threshold. His standard approach is radical. 1-3 sets a bodypart usually, usually done to failure, and only working out twice a week. Does this actually work? Yes, extremely well for many. But…..it’s not the only way to skin the cat.

I very often get trainees so indoctrinated with the hardgainer approach (and often with good reason as it was the ONLY thing that ever worked at all for them) that they are convinced any additional workload will never work at all for them—and in most cases they are wrong. If the loading is periodized most can do much more work than they ever believed possible. I usually switch them from their 1-2 sets a bodypart once a week to 4-6 sets once every 5 days with the caveat that they quit training to failure and train 1 rep short of failure. And more often than not their rate of progress soars! Now sometimes their bench press doesn’t do as well as lower body and progress on benching stalls. When I ask these guys how their benching did on the pervious “hardgainer very low volume/frequency they almost always tell me bench progress was spotty at best.

Then I drop the bomb on them and tell them I want them to bench 2 times a week. The hardcore “hardgainer” converts almost always tell me it won’t work; they have tried it before, yada, yada, yada. Well they didn’t try it with an optimal diet and with the intensity modulated and/or lift/rep variation built in.

The short story is that if you are someone that considers their self a hardgainer, or a bench press hardgainer, 2 x a week benching with periodization and DIFFERENT set/rep/lift formats the two days, you might be in for a pleasant surprise.

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Old 02-23-2007, 08:03 AM   #2
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I guess Ill have to try that, my squat deads always go up but my bench only goes little by little. I have had great results with Dips and bench on the same week.
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:42 AM   #3
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Well said and I fully agree. There are some people who think the only way to muscle gains is through beating a muscle into submission. Eventually however, it will stop responding and you need to coax the gains....

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Old 02-28-2012, 02:24 PM   #4
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"The short story is that if you are someone that considers their self a hardgainer, or a bench press hardgainer, 2 x a week benching with periodization and DIFFERENT set/rep/lift formats the two days, you might be in for a pleasant surprise."

can anyone give me an example of how this would be set up? i think i understand but i dont want to mess it up. like monday do flat bench 3x5 and dips then friday do incline 4x8 and DB flys 3x10 and repeat every monday and friday?
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