When I write an article I never know whether it's going to make an impact or not. For example, a recent article of mine, Training for Easy-Hard Gainers, made a huge impact and I was deluged with emails. Honestly, I was surprised. I wrote it mainly for a very wealthy dot.com boy who's an easy-hard gainer himself. (Yes, I did receive the new Hummer. Thanks, Dave!) But I never suspected there were so many other easy-hard gainers out there!

Well, there are, and after reading the article they all wanted a program that would fit their special needs. I found myself in quite a predicament. Why should I take away some of my precious time just to write an article for the easy-hard gainers out there? The answer is simple: I'm a big softy and I want to help people. Also, I can't drive twice around the block in the new Hummer without needing a fill-up! Have you priced gas lately?

So here's a special program that'll help easy-hard gainers pack on muscle and help me buy a tank or two of gas!

Defining the Target

If you haven't read my first article on this subject, I recommend you do so before starting this one. However, here's a quick reminder of what an easy-hard gainer is and how he should train:

Easy-hard gainers are extremely fast-twitch dominant and have a very active metabolism (most are hyperthyroid).

Externally, they're very lean. Even when they don't have much muscle mass you can clearly see muscle definition (even striations).

These guys are hyperactive and very energetic, even nervous or hyper-reactive sometimes.

Normally they're ecto-mesomorphs: they have a high shoulder/waist ratio, long arms and long legs. Even while thin, you can see muscles (contrary to the pure ectomorph).

Their nervous systems are incredibly efficient. They're basically wired for power and speed. Most top sprinters and elite Olympic lifters (especially lighter weight classes) are easy-hard gainers.

They have great growth potential due to their fast-twitch dominance (hence the "easy" gainer part), but this potential is often hard to actualize because of their active metabolisms (hence the "hard" gainer part).

Easy-hard gainers should:

Now that you're up to speed, let's get on with the show and go right into the detailed training plan!

Program Overview

This is a sample eight-week program built on two training phases: an accumulation phase and an intensification phase.

The accumulation period is higher in volume and lower in intensity. I don't mean that it'll be high volume and low intensity as this type of training is suicide for easy-hard gainers. But we will include a bit more work than during the intensification period. This will be done mostly by using extended set techniques, especially cluster sets and low-rep supersets.

The intensification period will have you move on to more of a limit-strength training approach to really target the fast-twitch motor units. Due to your fiber dominance, you should be able to gain a hefty amount of strength in this second phase, which will lead to significant size gains provided that you follow proper easy-hard gainer nutrition.

Weeks 1-4: Accumulation Phase

Each muscle group will be hit directly or indirectly twice per week. You'll be using an upper body/lower body split, so you'll be training four times per week. Ideally you'd use one of these two schedules:

Schedule #1

Monday: Lower body 1

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Upper body 1

Thursday: Lower body 2

Friday: Off

Saturday: Upper body 2

Sunday: Off

Schedule #2

Monday: Lower body 1

Tuesday: Upper body 1

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Lower body 2

Friday: Upper body 2

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

I find schedule #1 to be the most effective for easy-hard gainers, but schedule #2 is often more practical.

Lower Body Training Session #1

The method of choice for this training session is going to be low-rep extended sets. An easy-hard gainer should keep his reps at 8 or less per set, so your objective here will be to perform 7-8 reps with a load that you can normally lift 5 times. To do so you select a load that you can lift 4-6 times (after 1-2 warm-up sets) and complete as many reps as you can.

When you reach a point where you know that you won't be able to complete another full rep, you rack the bar, rest for 10-15 seconds and resume the set trying to get 1-2 more. If you reach 8 reps after that second effort, the set is completed. If you're only at 6-7 reps, you can take a second pause before attempting one last rep.

Under normal circumstances a set will look like this:

The exercises you'll perform are the back squat, conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift and leg curl. Two or three sets of each are performed. So the workout looks like this:

A. Back squat

Sets: 3

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion described above

Tempo: Control the eccentric or lowering phase (2-3 seconds) and try to be explosive during the concentric (lifting) portion.

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

B. Conventional deadlift

Sets: 2

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: Same as above – controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

C. Sumo deadlift

Sets: 2

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

D. Leg curl

Sets: 3

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

Upper Body Session #1

This session will be much like the first lower body workout as we'll use the extended set method. The exercises selected will be the bench press, bent-over barbell row, barbell shoulder press, close-grip pulldowns (parallel grip) and dips. One to three sets of each are performed. The workout looks like this:

A. Bench press

Sets: 3

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

B. Bentover barbell row

Sets: 3

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

C. Barbell shoulder press

Sets: 2

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

D. Close-grip lat pulldown with parallel handle

Sets: 2

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

E. Weighted dips

Set: 1

Reps: 7-8 with your 5RM in extended fashion

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Lower Body Training Session #2

In this second lower body workout we'll use post-fatigue supersets. Remember that easy-hard gainers don't want to perform more than 8 reps during a set. These athletes should count one superset as a single set for one muscle group. So the total number of reps performed in both exercises of a superset should be no more than 8. That's 3-5 reps per exercise.

We'll use one compound movement supersetted with one isolation exercise. The compound movement will be performed for 3-4 reps and the isolation movement for 4-5 reps. Perform two supersets in your workout, each being repeated five times.

A1. Front squat (or hack squat)

Sets: 5

Reps 3-4

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: none

A2. Leg extension

Sets: 5

Reps 4-5

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 3-4 minutes

B1. Romanian deadlift

Sets: 5

Reps 3-4

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: none

The Romanian deadlift performed with dumbbells.

B2. Leg curl

Sets: 5

Reps 4-5

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 3-4 minutes

Upper Body Training Session #2

We'll use the same low-rep superset method, but we'll be performing three different supersets so each will only be performed three times.

A1. Low incline dumbbell bench press

Sets: 3

Reps 3-4

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: none

A2. Pec deck (or dumbbell flyes)

Sets: 3

Reps 4-5

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 3 to 4 minutes

B1. Chest supported T-bar rowing (or two-arm dumbbell rowing lying chest down on an incline bench)

Sets: 3

Reps 3-4

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: none

B2. Straight-arm pulldown

Sets: 3

Reps 4-5

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 3-4 minutes

C1. Dumbbell shoulder press

Sets: 3

Reps 3-4

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: none

C2. Dumbbell lateral raises

Sets: 3

Reps 4-5

Tempo: controlled eccentric, explosive concentric

Rest intervals: 3-4 minutes

Note: Some supplemental upper arm work (biceps and triceps) can be performed on any one of the upper body sessions (or both) but keep that to a maximum of 3 total sets for each muscle. Abdominal work is performed on both lower body days.

Weeks 5-8: Intensification Phase

During the intensification phase we'll really focus on increasing maximum strength by forcing the muscles to produce maximum tension. While strength and size aren't correlated at 100%, easy-hard gainers are the ones who'll benefit the most from performing strength work when it comes down to stimulating muscle mass gains.

During this training phase you're going to be training more and less – more in the sense that you'll hit the whole body three times per week, and less in that you'll only be training three times per week instead of four.

The training schedule you use can vary, as long as there's at least one day of rest between each workout.

Whole Body Session #1: Medium Wave Loading

A. Back squat

Sets: 6

Reps: 5/4/3 wave (meaning 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3, 1 x 5, 1 x 4, 1 x 3)

Tempo: Don't worry about tempo when training for strength.

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

B. Bench press

Sets: 6

Reps: 5/4/3 wave, same as above

Tempo: Same as above – no worries

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

C. Bent over barbell rowing

Sets: 6

Reps: 5/4/3 wave

Tempo: no worries

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

Whole Body Session #2: Short Wave Loading

A. Conventional deadlifts

Sets: 6

Reps: 5/2 wave (meaning 1 x 5, 1 x 2, 1 x 5, 1 x 2, 1 x 5, 1 x 2)

Tempo: no worries

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

B. Incline bench press

Sets: 6

Reps: 5/2 wave

Tempo: no worries

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

C. Close-grip lat pulldown with a parallel handle

Sets: 6

Reps: 5/2 wave

Tempo: no worries

Rest intervals: 2-3 minutes

Whole Body Session #3: Cluster Sets

A. Back squat

Sets: 3

Reps: 1(6) Meaning that you do 6 single reps per set with 5-10 seconds of rest between reps. Use a load that you can lift 3 times in good form.

Tempo: no worries

Rest intervals: 5-10 seconds between reps, 2-3 minutes between sets

B. Push press

Sets: 3

Reps 1(6)

Tempo: Explosive

Rest intervals: 5-10 seconds between reps, 2-3 minutes between sets

C. Power clean from the hang/blocks (if you master the technique) or deadlift

Sets: 3

Reps 1(6)

Tempo: Explosive

Rest intervals: 5-10 seconds between reps, 2-3 minutes between sets

Add Proper Nutrition and Grow!

For easy-hard gainers this program will be extremely effective at stimulating both strength and size gains. However, understand that without proper nutritional support these gains will just not happen. Nutrition is key for everybody when it comes to gaining size and strength, but even more so for easy-hard gainers. Refer to the first article in this series for info on how you should eat.

While this program is built for easy-hard gainers, it can stimulate gains in most every trainee. It's just that it'll increase muscle strength much more than muscle size in all but easy-hard gainers. Still, it's a great approach to use, especially when coming off a stint of high volume training.

Give it a shot and let me know how you do!