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Hardgainer Project X Interview
with Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson is the creator of the critically acclaimed Hardgainer Project X which transforms skinny guys into muscle-bound studs.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Jeff and ask him some some hard hitting questions about his program and how hardgainers can use their "hardgainer genes" to actually build muscle.

You can listen to the audio of our chat below or read the full un-edited transcript below (or listen to the audio and follow along with the transcript)...

Chris Cannon: Hey, everyone. It’s Chris Cannon here from and I have Jeff Anderson from Hardgainer Project X on the line, and we’re gonna talk to him today about what hardgainers can do to build muscle. Jeff, welcome to the call.

Jeff Anderson: Hey, great for having me. Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it, man.

Chris Cannon: Awesome. So let’s go ahead and get started with the first question and something I want to know is aren’t hardgainers really just whiners who eat like birds and have no clue how to train? I mean that’s why they can’t build muscle, right?

Jeff Anderson: Yeah, that’s what a lotta people think and if you go to the forums that’s exactly the kind of response that you’ll get, but unfortunately, I wish it were that easy for people to actually gain weight and it’s really not.

You know, just like there are people who gain weight very easily, there are people that can’t gain weight very easily. So you have these different body types and the type that we’re talking about with skinny hardgainers is the ectomorph and the fact is is that there are genetic limitations that ectomorphs have that make it difficult for them to gain weight.

For one, most people think of them as having a fast metabolism. Well, that’s a pretty simplified version. There’s actually a scientific name for it and it’s called – basically they have an overactive sympathetic nervous system.

Now that means they burn calories at breakneck speed, so it basically means the same thing, but there is a genetic limitation there. There is a simple – a scientific fact that they do have a high metabolism there, so it’s nothing to be discarded as you’re just a whiner.

The other thing is that hardgainer ectomorphs have what’s called poor neuromuscular communication and basically that means that their training in the gym doesn’t really best stimulate their muscle fibers to target them for growth.

Now this is like, you know, I don’t speak a word of Greek, so if I were to go to Greece and I try finding my way to the local bathroom without doing hand signals or charades, you know, I can try and talk to them, but I don’t know any Greek, so they’re not gonna understand what I’m saying.

quote mark Well, the hardgainer advice that most people say, that you’re just not training hard enough, is like me going to Greece with a bullhorn and try shouting English to people that have no clue what I’m saying trying to find the bathroom. quote mark 2

It’s the same thing with hardgainers and training. You can’t just go in there and train harder because your training is not communicating well with your muscle fibers to target them appropriately. In fact, science – scientific research has shown that only about 20 to 30 percent of your fast-growing muscle fibers for the ectomorphs is even targeted at the end of a intense training session.

And one of the other things is that hardgainers have a higher ratio of what we call Type I muscle fibers. Now these are your endurance-related muscle fibers, the kind that, you know, marathon runners have a lot of, so your ratio of your muscle fibers has a big part to play with it.

Marathon runners and that type of body have higher Type I muscle fibers and lower Type II muscle fibers. Now your Type II muscle fibers are your fast-growing power muscle fibers.

These are the muscle fibers that, if we’re gonna stay with the running analogy, sprinters have. These are the guys with the big powerful legs that can get down to the end of the lane in – you know, in rapid speed. They have a higher ratio of Type II muscle fibers. So that’s another reason why hardgainers find it so hard to really put on weight.

Chris Cannon: Now hardgainers are known for having a fast metabolism that makes it hard for them to gain weight. Is there any way to slow this down and make it easier for them to build muscle?

Jeff Anderson: Yeah, there’s actually quite a bit that hardgainers can do to slow down their metabolism and what we can do is really look at how people who are overweight are – can really help to increase their metabolism.

We can actually do the opposite for hardgainers in order to slow down their metabolism. For example, I tell my overweight clients that in order for you to increase your metabolism, train first thing in the morning because when you train first thing in the morning, your metabolism increases throughout the rest of the day.

Well, for hardgainers who are trying to get a calorie surplus so that they can gain weight, you want to do the opposite. You don’t want to raise your metabolism throughout the day. You want to slow it down.

So by training in the evening time you can actually not raise your metabolism through your training during the day and then at night when you train you get kind of a double impact here because, number one, that’s when you’re increasing your metabolism, right before you go to bed when it’s gonna slow down anyway, so you only have a short period there where you’re actually supercharging your metabolism.

But here’s the other thing is that when you sleep you have your highest spike in natural growth hormone and growth hormone is what’s gonna help you build muscle and gain that weight there. You also get a spike of growth hormone after your training, so if you train in the evening time before you go to bed, you get a natural spike of growth hormone from your training as well as you’re going into your most anabolic time period when you’re sleeping for kinda this double dose here.

red quote mark So by training in the evening time you can really help to slow down your metabolism and get a boost of growth hormone to gain more weight. red quote mark

Chris Cannon: When it comes to a hardgainer’s diet, does it even make sense to have a diet or can’t they just really eat everything in plain sight?

Jeff Anderson: Yeah, this is really one of the biggest challenges for hardgainers and, unfortunately, a lot of the hardgainer advice out there that people find in programs and on the Internet is really telling them to just stuff themselves full of cheeseburgers and milkshakes and you can’t possibly not gain weight in that type of a scenario.

And, unfortunately, a lot of hardgainers are even more frustrated because they’re stuffing themselves like pigs. They feel bloated all the time and they can’t figure out why they’re not gaining.

The answer to gaining weight from your dietary standpoint when you’re a hardgainer is not to actually just stuff yourself but to eat more calorie-dense foods.

Now when I mean – when I say “calorie-dense,” what I mean is that you’re only taking in – you’re taking in your regular five or six meals per day, but the calories that you’re taking in are so nutrient-packed and they’re so powerful that you get in the calorie surplus that you’re doing without feeling bloated.

For example, with hardgainers you want to definitely focus on carbohydrates. Now carbohydrates have about 4 grams – I’m sorry – 4 calories per gram as does protein, but your carbohydrates for hardgainers are especially important because they’re gonna stick around longer. They’re gonna – they’re not going to metabolize very quickly for taking these complex carbohydrates. You’ll be able to better gain weight with that.

But here’s the thing, is that dietary fat is an important nutrient for hardgainers because dietary fat actually has more than twice as many calories as both protein and carbohydrates, so you can end up taking in more calories by adding more dietary fat to your diet.

Now here’s the thing, is that most people equate fat with fat on your body – not so. Dietary fat is actually what we call a functional fat if it’s a good form. In other words, it’s your monounsaturated fats, your omega 3s, your omega 6s, things like that, so if you’re taking in these kinds of fats your body actually has a use for them. Actually, these types of fats make up your entire cell structure. They help with hormone production, all these different great things.

So since your body has a use for them, it’s actually really hard to store this fat on your body as fat, so it’s when you start taking in these other types of poor types functional fat – or nonfunctional fats that actually make it where you’re putting on more fat – your transfats, your saturated fats, your things from junk food and candies and cookies and things like that.

red quote So instead of stuffing yourself like a pig, make sure you’re taking in a balanced meal with complex carbs as a main component in your foundation for your dietquote mark.

Plus make sure you’re getting in at least 20 to 30 percent of your overall diet in dietary fat, your healthy, functional fats, in order to get – help balance out your endocrine system, get those hormones going, get in a calorie-dense day’s worth of diet and you’ll end up – you’ll see yourself starting to gain weight.

Chris Cannon: Are there any supplements that hardgainers should use to help them gain muscle mass?

Jeff Anderson: Yeah. The number one thing, I would say, there are a lot of different supplements that are geared toward hardgainers and the fact is is that hardgainers really kinda drive the supplement industry because, you know, let’s face it. I mean who’s the most challenged of all the people that are trying to build muscle? It’s hardgainers and the thing is is they’re training their ass off in the gym.

They are eating like pigs outside of the gym and they’re trying to figure out why am I still not gaining the muscle and so they think that the answer must come in the form of a supplement. They’re just not taking the right kinds of supplements.

Well, not so. I mean you’ve gotta have the training down. You’ve gotta have the right dietary program in order for you to start really seeing the sizeable gains in muscle mass. However, supplements are there to do just that – to supplement – so there are some that work really, really well for hardgainers.

One of the ones that I tell hardgainers that are really, really helpful are branch chain amino acids. Now don’t get these from your local store because if they come in tablet form they’re actually really, really expensive. But branch chain amino acids are your bottom-line foundational amino acids that your body needs in order to build muscle and it’s the most readily available source of amino acids that your body can have.

So if you normally take in a protein, like you eat a protein, it has to break down into amino acids for your body to be able to use it. Well, branch chain amino acids are kinda like crack cocaine for your muscles. They’re already broken down. It doesn’t take a lot of it to be able to help repair muscle tissue. They’re very, very powerful. But here’s where a lotta people don’t know how to use branch chain amino acids.

I use them with hardgainers during the workout because working out is actually – when you’re in the gym, it’s actually a catabolic event. You’re starting an anabolic event, a muscle-building event, by stimulating growth, but it’s catabolic in that your muscle tissue is breaking down.

You’re actually doing damage to muscle tissue on purpose so that it can regrow later, but as you break it down your body’s gonna use those – that broken-down tissue and those amino acids that are released for fuel for your workout. It’s gonna actually use this to fuel your workout, so by taking in branch chain amino acids during your workout you do a couple of things.

Number one, you avoid this being a catabolic event because you’re providing amino acids that can also be used for fuel. At the same time, it’ll help restore your amino acid pools in your body so that when you start that recovery you already have those highly anabolic branch chain amino acids right there ready to start building muscle. So it takes what would normally be a catabolic event and it starts that regrowth period right away, turns it into an anabolic event.

These branch chain amino acids are really that powerful. The other time that you can use them is right before you go to bed. Take in some branch chain amino acids when you go to bed because that’s your most anabolic time period. That’s when you’re growing the most. That’s when you’re recovering the best.

So when you have these branch chain amino acids that are restoring the amino acid pools in your body when your body most needs them for recovery at night, you know that you’re gonna be growing and you’re gonna wake up the next morning with more muscle than you did the night before.

Chris Cannon: What’s the number one mistake most hardgainers make when it comes to their training inside the gym?

Jeff Anderson: Yeah. You know, a lot of the programs that are out there for hardgainers really have them working extremely hard in the gym and if you’re a hardgainer ectomorph and you’re trying to follow some pro bodybuilder’s five-day split routine, you’re absolutely doing the wrong thing and it’s no mystery why you’re not gaining muscle.

quote Hardgainers cannot train the same way as other people in the gym – they can’t. You will not see any sizeable gains from it whatsoever. You have to train entirely differently and this was the whole basis of the program that I put together. quote

 So one thing that you can do if you’re a hardgainer is normal people – I say “normal people” in quotes – normal people definitely want to keep their training sessions below 60 minutes. After 60 minutes your hormones start to take a nose dive. You start reaching an over-training zone. For hardgainers, it’s even shorter. You want to try and keep your workouts to 45 minutes or less. You need less intensity, not more.

The other thing you can do is make sure that you’re not following these five-day split routines. I know it’s kinda hard for a lotta people who are used to going to the gym every day, but you don’t want to follow that type of a training program if you’re a hardgainer. Your body needs more recovery time. It’s more challenge when it comes to recovery and regrowth, so you want to focus on only about three days per week in the gym.

Now if you’re not using my Hardgainer Project X program, I recommend an upper-lower-upper training program, so you might do upper body on Day 1, so like arms and shoulders typically. Have a day of rest in between and then do legs day on the second day of your training. You’ll have another rest day in between and then you’ll do chest and back on that final day and using this upper-lower-upper pattern gives you the ability to have a lot of recovery in between for all of your different muscle groups.

Now I use a different method in my hardgainer project x program that actually uses three full-body workouts done in a very specific way that actually works even better. And one of the methods that I have, even on the hardgainer project x web site you can follow it step by step, is a version of what I call the rest-pause method and I won’t go into it in detail here because you can go to the HPX website and you can see it step for step. You can take it, use it today in the gym, but we’ve found that this program works extremely well. This rest-pause method works extremely well for hardgainers.

Now we’ve taken it and tweaked it even more to be – with a whole new version. I actually have a three-step process that we put hardgainers through within those 45 minutes that really gets in there and targets these dormant muscle fibers that they have that they’re not able to tap in normally and really stimulates them for growth.

Chris Cannon: Okay. This is Chris Cannon with You can learn more about Jeff Anderson and his Hardgainer Project X program by going to and searching for keyword “Hardgainer Project X.” Jeff, thank you for your time today.

Jeff Anderson: Thanks, Chris.

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Hardgainer Project X Interview with fitness expert Jeff Anderson