Motivational speaker and author Anthony Robbins once told the story of a man at a seminar who was extremely frustrated with his lack of results in marketing his company. The befuddled businessman said that he had tried everything but nothing worked. Here is the exchange that went on between the two of them:
Robbins: "You've tried EVERYTHING???"
Attendee: "Yes, I've tried absolutely everything!"
Robbins: "Tell me the last HUNDRED things you tried,"
Attendee: " I haven't tried a hundred things."
Robbins: "OK, then just tell me the last FIFTY things you tried."
Attendee: "I haven't tried fifty things."
Robbins: "Alright then tell me the last DOZEN things you tried."
Attendee: (getting somewhat embarrassed) "Well, I haven't tried a dozen things."
Robbins: "I thought you said you tried EVERYTHING! So tell me then, how many things have you tried?
Attendee: (Shrinking back into his seat), "Two or three."
Obviously the man got the message loud and clear (Hopefully you did too).
Now ask yourself - and be honest - have you really tried EVERYTHING? How long have you been working at gaining weight? How persistent have you been? How many different training and diet strategies have you tried? How many calories are you eating? How many times have you increased your calories?
When I pose these questions to so-called "hard-gainers," 19 out of 20 of them admit that not only have they tried very few things, but they haven't even mastered the most basic fundamental of gaining weight: YOU HAVE TO EAT LIKE A HORSE!
Here's the secret in two words: EAT MORE. That's it! That's all there is to it! (Well, there ARE other factors like training and recovery, but food really is the master key to getting big).
Don't look for shortcuts, whether it's drugs, supplements or some "secret" training program - nothing else can possibly help you unless you've mastered the most basic fundamental: FOOD. Motivator Jim Rohn said, "There are no new fundamentals. You have to be suspicious of someone who says 'I've got a new fundamental.' That's like someone inviting you to tour a factory where they are manufacturing antiques."
The truth is, most people throw in the towel way too soon because eating enough to gain lean body weight is downright hard work.
T.C. Luoma, editor of Testosterone.net, gave the best (and funniest) advice on this subject that I have ever heard:
"I can't gain weight no matter what I do! I am so sick of hearing that ubiquitous woe; when a client comes to me with this familiar lament, I usually offer a detailed explanation concerning caloric intake along with a proper meal plan strategy while providing encouragement through positive reinforcement. But I fantasize about smacking him repeatedly over the top of the head while yelling EAT, EAT! JUST EAT MORE YOU MORON!!! Simply put, if you're a terminal hardgainer it will be necessary to "force feed" yourself throughout the day. As soon as you can eat without making yourself ill, eat some more."
One of the biggest bodybuilders, inch for inch, that I have ever seen is Dave "Jumbo" Palumbo. Dave is a top-level national NPC heavyweight. I saw Dave up close in person in the audience at the Night of the Champions in New York a couple years ago and my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head! Dave was so massive he didn't even look human - he looked more like some sort of cartoon superhero caricature (you know those "Musclehedz" cartoons?)
Some people are quick to point out that bodybuilders who get that big must be taking drugs - but they're missing the point. The point is that ALL massive bodybuilders have one thing in common, whether they are drug free or not: When asked in his column, The Truth According to Palumbo, "what is the secret to getting huge?" Palumbo wrote,
"The difference between the massive bodybuilder and the mediocre bodybuilder is that the massive one views eating as a JOB (not as a luxury).
Before you start groaning about how you can "never gain weight no matter what you do," run through this checklist and make sure you're really eating enough. Then, when you think you're eating enough - Go eat some more!
1. Eat at least 18-19 calories per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs, you need at least 3420 calories to gain weight (180 lbs X 19 cal/lb. = 3420 calories). Remember, this is just a starting estimate. If you're not gaining weight, eat more!
2. Set your goal to gain a half a pound to one pound per week. If two weeks go by and you haven't gained any weight, increase your calories by about 10%. Continue to repeat this process until you start gaining weight.
3. Never let yourself get hungry. Ron Coleman (the NPC light heavyweight, not Ronnie Coleman the Mr. Olympia) once gave me some great advice at a seminar we were giving in Scranton Pennsylvania some years ago. He said that if you let yourself get hungry, it's too late - you're losing muscle - so never let yourself get hungry.
4. Be consistent in your eating habits: Are you eating 4000 calories one day and only 1900 the next? Success is a result of consistently applying the fundamentals every single day.
5. Eat 6 times a day and eat a meal every 2 1/2 to 3 hours - never, ever, ever miss a meal!
6. Don't eat a lot of junk food, but don't be too strict either (because you're afraid of losing your abs). You have to eat a lot to gain. Worry about getting ripped later.
7. Take Dave Palumbo's advice: Approach eating as a JOB, not a luxury.
One last thing: Check out my three part series, "How to gain lean bodyweight." This series covers all the specifics on how to gain lean weight from A to Z.