Hardgainers: Cycle Your Strength And Volume To Grow!

Two Weeks, Two Approaches

The basic split doesn’t change over the course of your two weeks. You hit one body part per week and simply alternate the emphasis every week, focusing on hypertrophy one week and then strength the next.

In the first week, expect a slightly higher rep range than you may be familiar with. The plan here is to boost your training volume, which will cause muscular damage and metabolic stress, two of the three major mechanisms of muscle growth. During this time, really focus on feeling the burn, getting a crazy pump, and inflicting as much damage as possible to the muscle in sets of 12, 15, and even 20 reps.

The plan here is to boost your training volume, which will cause muscular damage and metabolic stress, two of the three major mechanisms of muscle growth.

In the second week, you work in a slightly lower rep range for maximum muscle tension, the other factor involved in muscle growth. There is still plenty of volume during this week, but I arrange much of it in pyramid sets, where the reps decrease and the weight increases.

I don’t use pyramid sets for all muscle groups, though. While I’ll use it for chest, shoulders, and hamstrings, I keep my reps at around 12 in straight sets for my arms and quads, even on the tension week. However, I still boost the weight as much as I can from the volume week, even for bodybuilding movements like triceps push-downs.

Arms Training Triceps Heavy
Watch the video – 00:20

 

Cycle back and forth between these two approaches, and you can break out of the hardgainer hole.

Week 1 Volume Week

Monday: Chest and calves
1

Incline dumbbell press

3 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 15 reps

Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

2

Flat dumbbell press

3 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 15 reps

Flat dumbbell press Flat dumbbell press

3

Decline fly

4 sets of 15 reps

Decline Dumbbell Flyes Decline Dumbbell Flyes

4

Smith machine incline press

4 sets to failure (about 15 reps)

Smith Machine Incline Bench Press Smith Machine Incline Bench Press

5

Seated calf raise

5 sets of 20 reps

Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

6

Standing calf raise

5 sets of 20 reps

Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

7

Leg-press calf raise

5 sets of 20 reps

Leg-press calf raise Leg-press calf raise

Tuesday: Back
1

Wide-grip lat pull-down

5 sets of 15 reps

Wide-grip lat pull-down Wide-grip lat pull-down

2

Close-grip lat pull-down

5 sets of 15 reps

Close-grip lat pull-down Close-grip lat pull-down

3

Seated cable pull with rope

5 sets of 15 reps

Seated cable pull with rope Seated cable pull with rope

4

Deadlift

5 sets of 10 reps

Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

Wednesday: Legs (quad focus)
1

Leg extension

3 warm-up sets, 7 working sets of 15 reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

2

Squat

4 sets of 10 reps

Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

3

Single-leg leg press

4 sets of 20 reps

Single-leg leg press Single-leg leg press

4

Lying leg curl

2 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 12 reps

Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

Thursday: Biceps and Triceps
Superset
1

Barbell curl

4 sets of 15 reps

Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

Dip

4 sets of 15 reps

Dips - Triceps Version Dips - Triceps Version

Superset
2

Preacher dumbbell curl

4 sets of 15 reps

Preacher dumbbell curl Preacher dumbbell curl

Cable rope push-down

4 sets of 15 reps

Cable rope push-down Cable rope push-down

Superset
3

Hammer Curl

4 sets of 15 reps

Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

Seated Triceps Press

4 sets of 15 reps

Seated Triceps Press Seated Triceps Press

Friday: Shoulders and abs
1

Dumbbell shoulder press

2 warm-up sets, 2 working sets of 15, 2 dropsets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2

Seated Lateral Raise

3 sets of 15 reps

Seated Side Lateral Raise Seated Side Lateral Raise

3

Seated bent-over dumbbell raise

3 sets of 20 reps

Seated bent-over dumbbell raise Seated bent-over dumbbell raise

4

Barbell Shrug

4 sets of 15 reps, dropset on the last set

Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug

5

Abs: Choose 4 exercises

4 sets of 20 reps each:

  • Ab-crunch machine
  • Ab roller
  • Alternate heel touch
  • Normal bench sit-up
  • Cable rope crunch
  • Leg raise
  • Crunch
  • Decline crunch
  • Elbow to knee
  • Hanging pike
Abs Abs

Saturday: Legs (hamstring focus)
1

Standing Leg Curl

5 sets of 15 reps

Standing Leg Curl Standing Leg Curl

2

Lying Leg Curls

5 sets of 15 reps

Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

3

Seated Leg Curl

5 sets of 15 reps

Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

4

Straight-legged deadlift

5 sets of 15 reps

Straight-legged deadlift Straight-legged deadlift

5

Leg Extension

5 sets of 15 reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Sunday: Rest

Week 2 Tension Week

Monday: Chest and calves
1

Incline dumbbell press

3 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 10, 8, 8, 6 reps

Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

2

Flat dumbbell press

4 sets of 10, 8, 8, 6 reps

Flat dumbbell press Flat dumbbell press

3

Decline fly

4 sets of 10, 8, 8, 6 reps

Decline Dumbbell Flyes Decline Dumbbell Flyes

4

Smith machine incline press

5 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps

Smith Machine Incline Bench Press Smith Machine Incline Bench Press

Triset
5

Seated calf raise

5 sets of 15 reps

Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

Standing calf raise

5 sets of 15 reps

Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

Leg-press calf raise

5 sets of 15 reps

Leg-press calf raise Leg-press calf raise

Tuesday: Back
1

Wide-grip lat pull-down

2 warm-up sets, 3 working sets of 10, 8, 6 reps

Wide-grip lat pull-down Wide-grip lat pull-down

2

Close-grip lat pull-down

3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps

Close-grip lat pull-down Close-grip lat pull-down

3

Seated cable row (rope)

4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps

Seated cable pull with rope Seated cable pull with rope

4

Deadlift

3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps

Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

Wednesday: Legs (quad focus)
1

Leg extension

3 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 12 max reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

2

Smith Machine Squat

5 sets of 12 reps

Smith Machine Squat Smith Machine Squat

3

Leg press

4 sets of 20 reps

Single-leg leg press Single-leg leg press

4

Lying leg curl

2 warm-up sets, 4 working sets of 12 reps

Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

Thursday: Biceps and Triceps
1

Barbell curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Barbell Curl Barbell Curl

2

Dip

4 sets of 12 reps

Dips - Triceps Version Dips - Triceps Version

3

Preacher dumbbell curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Preacher dumbbell curl Preacher dumbbell curl

4

Cable rope push-down

4 sets of 12 reps

Cable rope push-down Cable rope push-down

5

Hammer Curl

4 sets of 12 reps

Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

6

Seated Triceps Press

4 sets of 12 reps

Seated Triceps Press Seated Triceps Press

Friday: Shoulders and abs
1

Dumbbell shoulder press

4 sets of 10, 8, 8, 6 reps

Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2

Seated Lateral Raise

3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps

Seated Side Lateral Raise Seated Side Lateral Raise

3

Seated bent-over dumbbell raise

3 sets of 20 reps

Seated bent-over dumbbell raise Seated bent-over dumbbell raise

4

Barbell Shrug

4 sets of 15 reps, 1 dropset of 15 reps

Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug

5

Abs: Choose 4 exercises

4 sets of 20 reps each:

  • Ab-crunch machine
  • Ab roller
  • Alternate heel touch
  • Normal bench sit-up
  • Cable rope crunch
  • Leg raise
  • Crunch
  • Decline crunch
  • Elbow to knee
  • Hanging pike
Abs Abs

Saturday: Legs (hamstring focus)
1

Standing Leg Curl

4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps

Standing Leg Curl Standing Leg Curl

2

Lying Leg Curl

4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps

Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

3

Seated Leg Curl

4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps

Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

4

Straight-legged deadlift

5 sets of 15 reps

Straight-legged deadlift Straight-legged deadlift

5

Smith machine lunge

3 sets of 12 reps per leg

Smith machine lunge Smith machine lunge

6

Leg Extension

3 sets of 10, 8, 6 reps

Leg Extensions Leg Extensions
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