Life After the Hardgainer Phase

"I read your article on Training for the Ectomorph and decided to try it out as a new program, being an ectomorph and a hard gainer. I am about 185cm tall weighing 68kgs, my body fat is about 9.8%. I am trying to put on a more size. Ideally I would like to be 72-75kgs and drop a percent or two on the body fat.

"I am not a beginner bodybuilder. I have been training for 4 years, but I have been battling to increase in size after having ripped down from about 14% body fat. I have been following the program for 6 weeks and have gained almost 2kgs which is great. I also incorporated 20 mins of HIIT and a combination of pikes, bridges and one other ab exercise on the off days.

"I have a question. I am worried, being a more intermediate than a beginner, that I am neglecting or should be paying more attention to other exercises, aside from the core 6 exercises. I previously did do most of the exercises listed but also added more isolation exercises.

"I like the idea of full body workout 3 times a week, but I am not sure if that's right for someone like myself who has a decent build and needs more size. I also would like to know what I should be doing after 6 weeks. I don't seem to be progressing much further with this routine and am tempted to go back to my old routine which was:

Monday (chest and biceps)
2 chest exercises using 10-8-6-15 (barbell/dumbell flat/incline press and flyes)
2 bicep exercises using 10-8-6-15 (standing or seated dumbell/barbell curls)
Abs for 15-20mins

Tuesday (back, tris and calves)
2 Back exercises using 10-8-6-15 (lat, wide or close grip, pulldowns/seated row)
2 Tricep exercises using 10-8-6-15 (skull crushers/close grip barbell press/tricep pushdown)
2 Calf exercises using 10-8-6-15 (seated/standing calf raises)
15 mins HIIT

Wednesday (shoulders and legs)
2 Shoulder exercises using 10-8-6-15 (shoulder press/upright rows/lateral raises)
Squats 10-8-6-15
Leg presses 10-8-6-15
Lying/standing Hamstring 10-8-6-15
Abs for 15-20mins

(chest and biceps)
15 mins HIIT

(back, tris and calves)
Abs for 15-20mins

"The following Monday I start with shoulders and legs, then chest and biceps etc. Can you offer any tips or advice if this is OK or an alternative. I train in the mornings and a long workout tends to really punish me. The ectomorph type workout, with a break in between I find better, but I need to find a balance.

"Thanks again for your great articles and taking the time to read this (if you get a chance)."

from sunny Cape Town, South Africa

My Answer: It's great that you made progress on the 10-8-6-15 program, but as you've realized: all good things must come to an end. Your new program looks fine, but I would suggest 2 things:

1) Forget about the 10-8-6-15 rep scheme for now. Your body is tired of it. Try 5x5 instead, and you will jumpstart some new gains.

2) 15-20 minutes of ab work is way too much. There is a huge net of nerves over your abs, so excessive ab work will put you in the overtraining zone very quickly. If you overtrain longer than 3 weeks, then your gains will come to a screeching halt and you will even lose muscle. So cut the ab work in half.
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