Author: Jeff Anderson
Format: E-Book (Electronic Delivery)
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For those “skinny hardgainers” who are sick and tired of hearing people repeatedly tell them they need to eat more and increase their workout intensity, Jeff Anderson has your back.
In the “Hardgainer Project X” introduction, Anderson calls the people giving such advice “knuckle-dragging morons”.
Ouch, that hurts.
You see, I’ve given that advice a gazillion times. If I was to credit two things for turning my training around, they would be learning what it truly took to eat for muscle gain (caloric surplus) and what it took to truly challenge the body (workout intensity).
Before you think that being called a “moron” got me overly upset, you should know I really like Anderson. He produces good programs. And, I think what he meant by calling out the people who give that advice was not necessarily that the advice was wrong, but that it was insufficient by itself and, consequently, annoying.
I would agree with that. “Eat more”, “more protein”, “train harder”, etc. are cliché’s and not likely something the struggling hardgainer hasn’t heard a thousand times. I certainly heard them when I first started training and they weren’t really helpful. I didn’t understand what they meant. I was annoyed.
Anderson is a science-based guy who tends to look at bodybuilding problems from a fresh perspective. He finds stuff that other people miss. So when he says that he has research that shows that the “old skinny-guy advice” isn’t working, I’m all ears.
Hardgainer Project X first gives a very interesting look at the reasons why ectomorphs are ectomorphs. Hormones, muscle fiber types and more. It’s a good base of knowledge for the hardgainer to have in mind as he attempts to build muscle.
Then Anderson gets into diet and this is where he lost my enthusiasm.
His overall dietary recommendations are pretty standard. This isn’t a bad thing; I’m of the belief that the standard recommendations for mass gain dieting are standard for a reason – because they work. It’s just that there was a lot of build-up suggesting that something new was coming, a lot of science and a lot of mocking the “so-called experts”. And then the conclusion was pretty much where everyone else is at?
I couldn’t help but be a lot disappointed.
I also was unconvinced that Anderson actually understood what I feel is the greatest hurdle facing a hardgainer – Consistently reaching caloric surplus. He does acknowledge that you must eat to caloric surplus, but there is no emphasis on that fact. There is much more emphasis on how the “so-called experts” keep saying that. It’s a bit confusing.
Cliché or not, eating to a caloric surplus is necessary to build muscle. Saying it is easy, making the hardgainer understand exactly what that means and what it takes can be challenging. I don’t think Anderson even effectively says it and I definitely don’t think he gives the struggling hardgainer the education and tools he needs to employ it.
The training portion of Hardgainer Project X is unique and interesting. It covers the basics needed for hardgainer… compound exercise emphasis, progressive overload, 3 day-a-week workout schedule. And it has some unique Anderson tweaks… a rest-pause technique variation and a progressive load system which has you back off training when results slow (and gives you a plan to regroup and go back to getting results. That plan includes a low-carb week).
It looks like a solid training plan.
Anderson is one of the best guys to go to for smart supplement advice (love his “Homemade Supplements Program“). He doesn’t disappoint here, providing a great introduction to cost-effective supplementing.
It’s a fast and fun read. There are some great tips littered throughout. However, I didn’t get the sense that Anderson was a hardgainer or was in tune with the unique obstacles facing true hardgainer ectomorphs. He certainly understands them from a scientific point of view, just maybe not so much from a practical, real-world point of view.
It’s a good program overall, but not the best option for struggling hardgainers.
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