Metabolism is the process by which your body combines nutrients and oxygen to producesquat energy for everyday functions. Metabolism is influenced by the following factors: Age, sex, the amount of muscle on your body, weight, activity level, and current physical condition.

So what does metabolism mean to hardgainers? Here are 4 key strategies to help you increase your metabolism and burn fat.

  1. Eat six smaller meals throughout the day.

    Instead of eating three large meals per day, it is essential that you eat more often. Never skip a meal. Why? Eating when you are hungry keeps your energy levels consistent and speeds up metabolism.

    “When you put too many hours between meals, your metabolism actually slows down to compensate,” says Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Oscher’s Clinic’s Elmwood Fitness Center (WebMD).

  2. Avoid the “skinny fat guy syndrome.”

    This is common in hardgainers who want to gain weight but eat the wrong foods. Basically, the “skinny fat guy” is naturally thin but has a high percentage of body fat because he eats foods high in bad fats and spiked with sugar. When you consume too much sugar, your body basically says “I don’t need all this energy right now” and stores excess “energy” by converting it into body fat. Cut out the soda, fast food and sugary cereals.

  3. Don’t skip legs!

    It’s hard to tell people not to skip leg workouts when all you see on the internet are transformation pictures from the waist up. True, the ladies probably won’t notice your bulging calf muscles, but they will notice your scrawny chicken legs.

    Weight lifting increases your metabolism depending upon the level of resistance used and amount of muscle tissue needed to perform the exercise. Therefore, doing squats requires far more energy than bicep curls because you are using your entire legs. The more you focus on multi-jointed weight lifting exercises, the more muscle tissue will be used and the better your chances are of increasing your metabolism so you can looked ripped.

  4. Steadily increase the amount of weight you lift.

    Your muscles are lazy. They don’t want to work unless they are forced to. In order to make them grow, you have to introduce an uncomfortable amount of stress. When you lift heavy weights, you muscles are essentially saying, “Hey, that was tough! I don’t want to go through that again. I better grow so I don’t experience that kind of stress again.” Say you maxed out on the bench press at 170 lbs today.

    You either want to: A) try for more reps at that weight, or B) increase that weight for your next workout. It can be as little as 5 lbs total. Hey, if you gained 5 lbs on your bench each week, consumed plenty of calories and weight-gaining protein, you’d be bench 20 lbs more in just one month! That’s a huge bench gain.

    Lifting heavy weights in this manner will put on muscle mass and cause you to burn more calories hours after your workout, contributed to a lean, ripped look. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat.

    Every pound of muscle in our bodies burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day.

    While 30 minutes of aerobic exercise may burn more calories than 30 minutes of weight training, Kelli Calabrese, MS, CSCS, ACE, says, “in the hours following the cessation of exercise, the weight training has a longer-lasting effect on boosting metabolism.”

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