You want to look like a ripped beast, but no matter how hard you workout, how often, how many different strict diets you try, it’s not happening? I know the feeling. But I also know why you can’t reach your goals, and how to change that!

Here’s the thing. I’ve been working out for years. Working harder than any of the other guys in my gym. Ever since I first started working out, I was always on those recommended diet plans, I never skipped a session, never missed even one leg day (and we all know how hard that is), and the results? Average at best.

Everyone else bulked up, my mates started looking like Wolverine, and me? I looked decent enough, but not nearly how I wanted to. That’s when it became frustrating. You know the feeling?

Turns out, I’m a hard gainer. And if you found yourself in my story above, I’ve got some bad news for you man, you are one too.

So, what does it mean?

It means that you won’t be able to use the standard routine and that you’ll have to work more and eat more than others. Not fair, but that’s how it is.

Still, it’s fixable, and, to be honest, once you fix the mistakes that you’re probably making, your road to desired muscle mass will be simple.

These are the most usual mistakes that lead to hard gaining:

Inconsistency: You cheat on your diet, your training sessions are inconsistent and you do only the things that are naturally easy for you? This won’t work.

Your training sessions have to be carefully planned out, and those plans have to be followed to the letter. You can’t spend hours on cardio, just because you like it. You still need it, but not every day. You can’t skip chest day on a whim, or add extra weights just because you’re feeling strong today.

If you want more mass, you also have to pay attention to your diet. You can’t have junk food and expect your body to build mass from that. You can’t just decide that you don’t want to prepare your meals today. You can’t be lazy if you want results, and your determination cannot falter whenever you feel like having an ice cream.

Here’s what helped me – I made a calendar with a detailed schedule for myself, for each day at the gym, and for each meal. Having it all in writing helped my self-control.

Not enough food: This is one of the most common mistakes. You think you ate well enough cause you had a hamburger, a hotdog, and a pizza? Nope. That won’t work. I mean, how could you possibly build your body with such poor material? Stuffing yourself with anything that’s convenient won’t help.Eat big to get big. You will need a lot of protein, nutrients and amino acids if you want to build muscle. Eat smaller meals, research which food is best for you, check out which supplements you need, and read every review you can find.

Plan your meal, prepare them in advance, and be careful not to go overboard. Trust me, pear is not the shape you’re aiming at.

Not enough sleep: You’re sure you’re doing all the work necessary at the gym, but you don’t sleep much? There’s your problem.You see, once I started doing research, I found out that the real progress happens in the recovery stage, and not in the time I spent in the gym. And you can’t recover if you don’t sleep. The quality and the quantity of your sleep will determine how much testosterone your body makes, how well your muscles repair, and how much you gain. Get your 8 hours of sleep, because when you destroy muscle in the gym during the day, you need to build at night!

Also, here’s a little tip that will help your muscles recover – do relaxing yoga poses for 10 minutes after a workout, and drink some caffeine-free tea.

Wrong supplements: If you fixed all of the mistakes listed above, or if you never made them, there’s only one reason left to blame for the lack of gaining. Incorrect supplementing.First, you have got to know that supplements are not going to build your muscle mass instead of you. That’s not how they work. Every supplement has something that your diet is missing or something that can help your body recover faster, or give it necessary fuel to keep on building muscle tissue.

When it comes to supplements, it’s hard to understand what all the experts are saying, so I broke it down.

You start off with a multi vitamin since you have to compensate for all those vitamins that you’re not getting in your diet. Next to that, it will help and make you more alert, and help you attain healthy mass.

After that, add fish oil – it helps the heart, brain, joints and it will reduce inflammation, so you won’t be as sore after a hard workout. And not just that, fish oil with meals can enhance the anabolic response to a meal, and make your food work for you!

Then, you add whey protein powder – this gives you amino acids and good nutrients helping your muscles grow and increases your energy during workouts. Just be careful to take them at the right time, since the proper use of these can make or break your mass gaining efforts. Ideally, take you protein immediately post workout.

When you’re ready for it, add creatine monohydrate. This will help you gain more lean mass and add strength. It will enable you to manage more work in a session, and even help muscle repair.

And, last, but definitely not least, if you struggle with the required calorie intake, add a weight gainer. This should speed things up.

Reading through the specifics is tiring, so everything I know about supplementing I learned from one review or another. I checked more reviews than I can count, and an honest review from a fellow hard gainer can mean a lot more than a thousand adverts.  And to me, it has meant a lot more.

Andrew has been a personal trainer since 2001 and was chosen as Canada’s Top Fitness Professional in 2013 for his dedication to his clients’ success.