Episode 114. The Hardgainer Solution 2.0

Jul 23, 2018 | 7 comments

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Show Notes

Coach Scott Abel introduces subtle tweaks to his bestselling workout program, the Hardgainer Solution. Fitness model Andy Sinclair—himself a hardgainer—joins Scott to discuss the program’s evolution and applications.

The Hardgainer Solution (HGS) became a bestseller and later produced as a video program.


HGS 2.0! BOOM!

  • Scott kicks off the show by sharing Seth Godin’s blog about shortcuts and its relevance to the diet and fitness industry.
  • HGS was designed specifically for trainees who work hard but have difficult time developing their physiques, related to anatomy, genetics or age.
  • People over 50 are automatically hardgainers.
  • Several genetic and age-related factors define a person as a hardgainer:
    – Narrow collarbones
    – Tall and lanky
    – Long limbs
    – Long trunk
    – Tendon length and attachment location
  • HGS works well for people who travel a lot.

The Tweaks!

+ Two days on, one day off.
+ All biplexes. No triplexes in this revision.
+ Five sets for large muscle groups, four for biceps and triceps.
+ 10 reps or greater for all other exercises.
+ Active recovery days (tweak prompted by feedback from clients.)
+ Rotate of the first muscle group each day.
Example: Day 1 would begin with chest, Day 2 back, Day 3 shoulders, and Day 4 legs.
+ Low reps, heavy weight has moved up to six reps from five.


  • Apply these tweaks to the existing HGS program.
  • Hardgainer Solution 2.0 is as versatile as the original. Scott recently developed an HGS variant for a military client on deployment that used his duffel bag as resistance.
  • Scott experimented with performing two exercises for the first body part in each workout, but quickly learned it wasn’t sustainable.
  • Active recovery allows trainees who find three or four straight HGS days are too much, but don’t exactly want an off day.
    Here are a few options for active recovery days:
    Andy’s Awesome Abs
    Great Glutes
    Busy Woman’s Train at Home
    – Long walks. Scott takes his long walks on the hilly terrain around his home on his off days.
    – Yoga
  • There are many ways to use HGS and stay true to its operating principles, using good program design.
  • Other forms of training can be integrated. This is an example of what Scott calls “tweakology.”
  • HGS 2.0 stays true to the original principles:
    – Whole Body, Peripheral Heart Action protocol
    – Uses inter– and intra-workout recovery
    – Reps-based, not exercise-based program
    No training to failure


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