A Bulking Diet For Hardgainers

The following article was sponsored by The 110 Lb Hulk

I packed on 45lbs of lean muscle, and so can you with this clean bulking diet.


5’6, 125lbs and feeling that I was at my genetic limit, vs. 5’6, 170lbs and feeling like a genetic beast

Weighing 110lbs and fed up with being bullied and rejected by girls, I discovered bodybuilding towards the end of high school. Throughout college I continued lifting weights and made good strength gains, but no matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t get past 125lbs. Frustrated and unwilling to risk the dangers of PEDs, I immersed myself in books and Internet forums for the next 6 months with all signs eventually pointing to a woefully inadequate diet. Although I felt I was eating a lot, my diet had nowhere near the quality or number of calories that a hardgainer needs to put on serious lean mass.

In bodybuilding speak there are generally two accepted phases: the bulking phase, which entails eating larger quantities of food with the goal of putting on as much muscle, and the least amount of fat, possible. Opposite to that, we have the cutting phase which entails losing the most fat, while sparing as much muscle possible in the process.

Bulking can further be divided into two types: a dirty bulk, and a clean bulk. A dirty bulk generally involves eating large amounts of food with little attention paid to the nutritional density of the diet (aside from possibly extra protein). A clean bulk, however, involves not only paying attention to the amount of food being consumed, but also to the quality of food and specific macronutrients in each meal (namely protein, fat, and carbohydrates). As you can probably guess, a clean bulk is much more effective than a dirty bulk, but also requires much more willpower, planning, and mental fortitude.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to focus on the exact bulking diet I used to pack on 45lbs of quality muscle. After bulking, I still had to spend 3 months in a cutting phase to get as lean as I wanted, however I was able to retain almost all of my muscle and about 95% of my strength throughout the entire process thanks to the clean bulking strategy that had resulted in little excess fat.

One thing I’d like to note is that these results did not happen overnight—this was the result of 3 years of hard, consistent work in both the gym and the kitchen. If it was easy, then everyone would be jacked right?

Muscle Math And The Art of Keeping Things Simple

Fully bulked -- before and after

Fully bulked — before and after

Before we dive right into the actual nutritional plan, let’s make sure that it’s going to make sense for your particular body structure.

Everyone has a different height, weight and body type, so just because 3000 calories a day worked well for me, it doesn’t mean that 3000 calories will work well for you. My successes started as a 125lb hardgainer, while you may be on the opposite end of the spectrum. Luckily the math and experimentation is almost the same in each case.

First, take your current weight (in lbs) and multiply that by 15. That number represents a rough estimate of how many calories you’ll need to eat each day in order to stay the same weight. Sure there are a million complex formulas on the Internet that will give you varying numbers, but remember this is just an estimate and no calorie calculator is going to be 100% accurate.

Next, increase that number by 500 and make sure that you consume very close to that number of calories each day (while eating clean) and making sure that roughly 30% of your calories come from protein, 20% from fat, and 50% from complex carbohydrates. For the next 30 days, eat as consistent as you can on this plan, while lifting weights 3 – 5 times a week.

If you find you’re gaining 1 – 2lbs a month with very little noticeable fat gain, then your body is responding well and you should continue on this path. If you find that you’re putting on too much fat, subtract 300 calories a day for the next month; likewise, if you’re not gaining quickly enough, add 300 calories a day. Continue adding or subtracting until you’re gaining lean mass at a steady pace (1 – 2lbs a month if you’re just starting out).

This is a one-time experiment, and through these trials you’ll begin to understand what your body responds to — future clean bulks will now be a piece of cake.

My Sample 3000 Calorie Clean Bulking Diet


A typical Sunday in my kitchen

This meal plan represents a typical day for me while bulking. I’m a very busy person and I don’t have a lot of time to cook, so I prepare as much of this as I can on weekends and. While I vary the types of food I’ll eat for maximum nutrition, I keep it pretty much the same every day in terms of the macronutrients – in other words, I might substitute chicken breasts for lean ground beef, fish, or steak, and frozen vegetables for raw spinach. Nothing complicated, but enough to keep the diet sustainable over long periods of time.

7:00 am 2/3 cup of oatmeal mixed with fruit, scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites), 1 slice of whole wheat toast with sugar free jam, water, multivitamin Calories: 543; Protein: 39g; Fat: 16g; Carbs: 60g
10:00 am Apple, 2/3 cup trail mix, water Calories: 617; Protein: 13g; Fat 29g; Carbs: 75g
1:00 pm 4oz chicken breast, 2 medium sweet yams (or sweet potatoes), vegetables, water Calories: 452; Protein: 54g; Fat 5g; Carbs: 59g
4:00 pm (pre-workout) 1 cup Greek yogurt with sliced up banana and strawberries, water Calories: 412; Protein: 30g; Fat: 1g, Carbs: 70g;
7:00 pm (post-workout) Protein shake with 2 scoops whey, water, 1/3 cup of oatmeal, frozen fruit, and 1 tbsp. of natural peanut butter Calories: 438; Protein: 55g; Fat: 7g; Carbs: 39g
8:00 pm 4oz chicken breast, 300g brown rice, vegetables, water Calories: 547; Protein: 45g; Fat 6g; Carbs: 78g
Before Bed (Optional) Casein shake with 1 scoop and a banana. Calories: 225; Protein: 25g; Fat: 0.5; Carbs: 31g

Total Calories (without optional shake): 3009; Protein 226g (30%); Fat: 65g (19%); Carbs: 381g (51%)

Note: Anytime you post a nutritional plan on the Internet, you run the risk of inciting rabid flame wars. Some people will look at 50% carbohydrates as being too high, but remember that while we’re bulking, we’re trying to maximize our workout intensity. Consuming lots of high quality carbohydrates is going to ensure that we’re going to be energetic for our workouts and that we can recover quickly enough to tear it up in the gym the next day as well.

What’s Next?


Shredded for the summer

After you’ve spent 6 – 8 months bulking up, you’re probably going to want to get yourself shredded for the summer or a special occasion. If you thought that bulking was hard, the cutting phase will separate the men from the boys. This is where the numbers become much more precise and small mistakes will cost you hard earned muscle.

I’ve written extensively about this and many other topics in my 300+ page book The 110lb Hulk which includes everything you need to know to reach your body’s full potential, including:

  • 40+ illustrated exercises that will leave you pumped hours after leaving the gym.
  • 5 sample workouts, and 6 sample diets tailored to your current goals of bulking or cutting.
  • Mastering the mental game, bodybuilding science, and tips on how competitive bodybuilders peak for a single day.

Available on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other major online book retailers.


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67 thoughts on “A Bulking Diet For Hardgainers”

      1. It’s just one of those lame internet bandwagon things that people say to feel cool and important. Like Justin Bieber hate or saying “I’m [insert] I’m offended”

        1. Some of what Mike Chang says might be legit, but I got a lot of scam youtube ads from him promoting bs products. Google him, his scams are well documented.

        2. Thank you for qualifying the criticism. Exactly my sentiments.
          Personally, I have received valuable information from him in the past from his free Youtube videos. Yet, I have never been tempted to buy any of his products.

        3. His advice is generally sound it is just not original. The reason he offers the advice is to pique your interest before offering you a product that he says will help. I have not seen evidence one way or another suggesting his products do or do not work. I suspect that the “hate” is borne of jealousy rather than the products or the articles. Generally I think he is OK but I have no need for his advice or products.

      2. He doesnt really know what hes talking about, is my issue. If you want real advice, ask/hire a proper coach. Or do some reading and lifting, theres plenty of quality, free information out there.
        Mike’s a master of online marketing and sales, but not a master of fitness.

    1. Funny, I was thinking the same thing. Read non-stop straight thru; well written.

      1. great home-based work opportunity for you; work for 3-8 hrs daíly and make from 5k-12k dollars a month.. weekly payments. clíck on my name to get more info

        1. 20% of intake from fat. Motherfuckers getting rabbit sickness in this bitch. And has no testosterone. And is a fruity faerie who wastes yolks.

        2. would this be an accurate translation from bro-speak to standard english:
          20% fat is too little. such a diet will lead to malnutrition and low testosterone. also, there is no reason to avoid eating egg yolks.

        3. yes, that may have been offensive. i apologize to any bros out there who were offended or triggered. heh. i was actually interested in the factual part of what he was saying, but it’s honestly difficult to tell for sure.

        4. hard to understand, though. i was hoping he’d chime in and say “yeah motherfucker that be what that motherfucker meant” or something. there’s a kurt vonnegut book (can’t remember which one) where the main character is a military officer who never swears. when asked why he says because at any given moment it might be important that my men understand me clearly.

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    2. It reads like a well-written sales letter. Would need to know more before I could decide if it’s credible. How do we know it’s 45lbs of muscle? Are there before and after dexa scan results? What was his age when he did this? Did he go through juvenile muscle growth or do it in his 30s? And 45lbs of muscle? That’s a hell of a lot. Think about 45lbs of steak. I doubt there’s much benefit to anyone over 25 eating tons of calories in an effort to put on muscle.

  1. The key accurate point made here is that this is an iterative experimental process. You can’t just eat eat eat. Make small changes and see what happens after a month.
    Also the timeline is real talk. 3 years of consistent effort.

    1. …and I was expecting at least 1 funny comment about Kratom.
      it’s like an explosion……KRA-TOM !
      BOOM !

    1. Mike looks natural to me. Please tell me you’re not those limp wrist guys that hate on someone just because they are ripped and got to say it’s because of roids.

      1. There is really no shortcuts in getting ripped. You gotta eat right and put in the work and time.

      2. That’s probably because you likely have never set foot in a gym before, and thus are gullible enough to believe these “Get ripped quick” peddlers, which unfortunately permeate the fitness industry. Questioning their claims isn’t hate, it’s common sense based on experience.

    1. My grandfather used to when he worked 12 hour shifts at IBM. He then became a pudgy old guy. Even after getting his hips and knees rebuilt he was still badass: a week before he died he was crawling on the ground working on his trailer.

  2. short dudes have significately easyer time gaining muscule and bulking, if you are that short no one gives how ripped you are, and no proof that you havent used roids. To use my favourite line on the world and make it easyer on you when you get dissapointed later “why lift when is all about the face?” Lift only if you like it, for fun, health and such… lifting will make tiny of any differnece of you are ugly or short, you will mostly impress only men around you.

  3. “Weighing 110lbs and fed up with being bullied and rejected by girls” is that what you take us for? Revise your marketing bruh

  4. Short + gorilla biceps/gym mentality = no pussy
    Short + hips flexor unlocked + dancing salsa skills= pussy

    1. Good point because women are really not impressed by weight-lifting or by a bodybuilder’s body. They are impressed by an athletic body. One that implies fitness and health but not obsession.
      There is something feminine about the whole notion of posing in your underwear.

        1. To this point I haven’t met her. I’m not saying that being a bodybuilder will disqualify you from getting pussy but moreso that it won’t help you. Being fit and athletic sure but being huge? I really don’t think so.
          I actually met a female BB once. Her preference was for actual athletes (she liked American Football players and combat athletes) rather than other BBs. Obviously both of these types represent not only strength but aggression and the willingness to take serious risks.

        2. Yea having a strong cut look seems to be want most women like but being very big will get you more pussy than being to small. The massive guys I know arn’t short on women who want them.

  5. Women will never understand or appreciate your sacrifice in the gym. Dont lift for women, lift for yourself. Lift for discipline, lift to establish a routine, to relieve stress, to feel good, lift to achieve goals,….but dont lift for fucking women.

    1. I used to pursue my goals for the sake of others and I was convinced that this would make me a man. When I discovered that this actually made me a bitch, I decided to pursue my goals for the sake of myself. When I discovered that this actually made me a man, I decided to include the ones I loved in my journey.

    2. Women appreciate a man who has hard skills. For example, they love a man who can fight (I don’t mean in bars, I mean competitively). I would suggest learning a fighting sport before lifting. Reason being, there are few things that indicate how brave you are, more than being willing to get punched in the face.
      It adds a air of mystery to you and comforts a woman who knows that you can defend her.

  6. Nice post man, especially for a sponsored post. I’m halfway to buying your book. Do you have a promotional or personal website where I can view any more content? Your emphasis on experimentation and finding what works for each individual is most admirable. Everyone needs to find for themselves what works best with their body and their goals.
    I’m about to go on my first cut after bulking from 150 to 190 over the course of two years (I was dirty bulking from 165+ because I stalled and was having too much trouble getting ‘clean’ calories.) My results are noticeable, but I’m only somewhat lean (not beach body ready, but big for my height with definition in the traps, delts, arms, back, chest and legs, albeit with blurry abs, nascent love handles, and some paranoia that my pecs are beginning to transition into bitch tits.) In my reckoning, I need to cut 15-20 pounds before entering my first competition–I plan to spend 8 months-to-1 year prepping.
    Currently, I’ve stopped my bulk and decided to maintain for as long as it takes to see my muscles gain the upper hand on my fat. I’ve begun to see these results while maintaining weight, which to me means that I’m on a ‘lean gains/cut’ sort of diet now. This is good for now, but it would take way too long for me to get into competition shape, so I’m planning on dialing back my calories a bit while simultaneously increasing my protein so that I can enter my first competition before I’m 35.

  7. Great joke. The guy in the picture never was a hardgainer. Hardgainers are really, really skinny dudes with narrow shoulders, broad hips, long legs and spaghetti arms. Ectomorph = Hardgainer.
    Everybody else has no problems with gaining fat or muscles. Real hardgainers still look skinny after 5 years of working out. It´s not because they do something wrong, it´s just genetics. You can´t change the size of your bones (without hormones). Narrow shoulders will be narrow forever. All a hardgainer can change is muscle definition.
    Look at Brad Pitt. He´s a celebrity hardgainer. All he ever achieved for his movies was definition but almost no gains.

  8. Drink a gallon of whole milk a day on top of your normal eating. Even mix some whey in it as well (eight scoops). And lift heavy but with good form and concentration on the muscle your working (sets of no more than 12, except legs, you may have to do sets of 20 to get those bastards to react…everyone’s different). If you can’t make gains that way…..You’re fucked….at least for now. I didn’t start getting bulky till I was 25 and made serious gains in my late 30s early 40s when my metabolism slowed a tad down.

  9. I was going to make a Super Mandro joke, but this is a legit sponsored post. The diet is on point for hard gainers.

  10. If you get me a MIKE CHANG-SEALED hand-written letter from MIKE CHANG HIMSELF where he fully agrees with this diet I, then will buy it…
    Otherwise, not a chance, gentlemen..

  11. 120lbs (currently) here, an inch taller, I started lifting in high school as well. I was a 125lb hulk in HS, benching 185lbs and squatting 375lbs, my strength has gone but my build is still the same. The most I weighed was 135lbs. Not gonna buy your book or anything but I think it’s about time I get back into the game. You’re right though… the women do bully. But they usually shut the fuck up when they see my cock, so, not doing this for them, they can suck a fat one. The only reason I want to is because it makes me feel better, stronger, happier, and more healthy.

    1. Damn at 135lbs you must have had
      1) great basic strength and genetics to begin with and
      2) a huge % of this weight in your glutes and thighs, i’m 5’6 170 and while i do bench a tad more my squat is pathetic compared to yours.
      Good luck (well, not luck but you get what i mean) getting back into it. Whenever i have a time off (due to some medical shite i had to cope with until recently) the hardest part was to accept my numbers are gonna be down. Call me stupid but THAT’S usually my main snag: having to write X (-) Y weight (-) Z reps in my log.
      Then after the 1st week routine, you have some practical assessment of the situation and actually enjoy working up from there.

      1. I did not by any means start out that way, lol. I started off benching 90lbs, squatting maybe 250lbs if I remember right. Went from 120lbs to 135lbs over two years. It pays off over time. I just seemed to hit a brick wall at 135lbs, strength and weight-wise, so I lost motivation.

        1. Hi r0llinlacs
          Well that just makes it more impressive in my book.
          Guess it’s all a matter of individual biomechanics.
          was going to give you advice but i dont feel qualified to do so, i’ll just state that drastically upping the protein intake the day after workout helped me bust out of a plateau a few times. Might be nothing new to you but i used to pay no attention to proper nutrition in the past and damn did i set myself up to a nasty surprise.
          happy lifting.

  12. A 3 month “cutting phase”????
    You got big AND fat. This diet reminds me of the GOMAD craze. Terrible. Eat good whole foods, lots of protein, sufficient carbs to maintain insulin (though you need a lot less than you think) and plenty of good fats (protein and fat go hand-in-hand). Eat a lot of that and train hard.
    This stuff isnt complicated.
    Oh, and guess what the most anabolic thing you can do is? SLEEP.

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  14. If you’re 5’6″ you’re not going to be impressing any girls with your body. Focus on developing your personality or dancing skills. I’m not saying short guys shouldn’t still work out and be healthy. But, when people see a really buff short guy, it reeks of overcompensation.

    1. Absolutely true.
      The guy in the photos looks very well, he’s normally bulked for his height IMO. However, short guys who are also buff look ridiculous, like a midget who pumps iron all the time and has no other occupation but to look at himself in the mirror. It’s a little funny and sad at the same time.

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