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Fast-Slow Gainer Chart

By (reprinted from

The following chart illustrates the ability of people to make fast, slow, or average gains. This is predominantly based on fiber distribution.

For those who are primarily White/Fast Twitch (Type IIb) gains will come rapidly. Meso-endomorphs fall more in this area. Biopsies of Ectomorphs revealed more Type I (Slow Twitch/Red) fiber distribution.

The problem is, however, that each muscle group's tolerance to exercise probably differs. Each exercise you do for each body part can - and often does - possess an entirely individual rep ability at 80 percent max. To discern your specific tolerance level for each body part, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Determine your approximate one rep maximum (1RM) for each exercise.
  2. Load 80 percent on the bar (machine) & rep out with it for one all-out effort to see how many reps you can do.
  3. Apply this information to the table below to determine each body part's exercise tolerance.
  4. Take into account ALL of the factors listed above that can affect your exercise tolerance.
  5. Critically evaluate whether your predicted exercise tolerance levels stand up to what you know from experience to be true. Remember, "low tolerance" means that you probably make easy gains for that body part, and "high tolerance" means that you're probably a hard gainer for that body part.

Here is an example of what I've found in regards to exercise tolerances for fast gainers, average gainers and slow gainers. Perhaps you'll find these figures and estimations to be pretty close estimates. But perhaps you won't. One thing is clear, you must look! Your continued progress toward your maximum potential may well depend on it!

Reps Performed w/ 80% Max Standard Deviation from Mean Tolerance Level Ability to Make Gains
4 or less -3 Very Very Low Fast Gainer (20-25% of total population)
4-6 -2 Very Low  
6-10 -1 Low  
10-13 Mean Average Average Gainer (50-60% of total population)
13-17 +1 High  
17-21 +2 Very High  
21-more +3 Very Very High Slow Gainer (20-25% of total population)

The distribution of Fast, slow, etc is Normal (Bell-curved). Any time the distriution is Bell curved, the Empirical rule states approximately 68% of the values are within one standard deviation, 95% of the values are withing 2 standart deviations, and 99.7% percent are within 3 standard devitations.

This means that, any people who can do less 4 or less reps represent about 2-5% of the total population and consequently find it easiest to get huge. Hardgainers (normal/slow) would constitute about 75-80% of the population. In a physiological sense, elite sprinters typically are about 80% white fiber, and Marathon runners often can be as much as 75-80% red fiber.


Reader's Comments:

Please leave your comments or suggestions below!
2011-04-07John Rizzo
 Hey, Are you the Bill Bauer from Pine Twp. and worked for CCBC?

I want to talk to you.

 In your opinion is it better to be a hard gainer or fast gainer if you want to be a professional body builder. Today body building is about size...the bigger the better (Ronnie Coleman) but back in the day proporsion was best (Arny and way way before that). Apparently i am a natural mesomorph, but i fit into your very very high tolerance or slow gainer. I probably have a low body fat percentage but i gain muscle almost as fast as my friends who are fast gainers (endo-mesomorphs) however they spend time trying to loose weight only to pile it back on when i remain fairly cut all year round and to get ripped would be easily achieved. Also my bench per body weight is alot higher than theirs. I guess what i'm trying to ask is, is it better to gain muscle slowly without the bulking? And is it possible that i'm and Ecto-mesomorph? Roe aged 22
 does this apply to training with machines eg. chest press machine?
or just free weights like dumbell press?
 For weak bones, eat a lot of food containing calcium. Other than that, I can't think of anything better than heavy compound movements (bench, squats etc.)

With nutrition, it isnt that hard to figure out. If you have a sky high metabolism, then make some homemade weightgainer shakes consisting of protein powder and oatmeal. Add three spoons of extra virgin olive oil if that doesnt work. Get the shakes in between your meals. Write down all you eat in a food log. You might not eat as much as you think you eat.

For the slower metabolism guys (i.e. me), veggies is now your only source of carbs exept post workout shakes and pw meals. High protein, moderate fat and veggies. If you have a real fat gain problem, eat only green veggies and dont eat carbs afte five or six o'clock unless it's a pw meal.

All sounds easy. But I spent the past two years figuring out this for myself. Endos do well with low carbs (hence eat alot of veggies).

Flat Barbell bench is a greate tricep builder. For chest size, stick to dumbell inclines/declines and barbell incline/decline. As a powerlifter, I've only performed flatbench, squats, deadlifts, chins, barbell rows and milliary presses. The only place I have obvious weakness is upper chest. My chest is wide, though not popping out. So for all you newer guys looking for bench as a chest developer, don't. Narrow your grip (pinkys on the rings) and use it for a powerful tricep builder instead and rely on barbell and dumbell inclines and declines instead.

I've also found out through my own and my friends' experience that when training with 3-5 reps, you don't really start to grow fast till you get pretty strong. So you can pretty much aim at 200 lbs bw for a 5'8 lifter when you reach 450 deadlift, 315 bench and about 450 squat if you train with only 3-5 reps. Thats why powerlifters should also include some hyperthropy work in the 10-12 rep range. Westside is one such program. And it is nice. "Westside for skinnybastards" if youre a newer lifter.
 hi with regards to muscle growth and gaining mass ive been gyming for about a year and a half. at first i seen results now im picking up heavy weights but not gaining any mass and muscle growth whats the reason cause i eat properly please reply
2007-03-12Josh Robinson
 Anyone can gain weight, if you eat a lot just eat more. How come so many skinny kids in high school turn fat?
2007-01-10Michael Hudson
 Ok im an 18 year old senior. i weigh 112 lbs..... :( can anyone tell me the best way to gain weight. i eat and eat but my metabolism takes EVERYTHING. is there anyway to slow it down a little so i can gain??? i lift my weights (i try) everyday but yeat i dont gain a thing!!!! can anyone help me. I would grately appreciate any help I can get. THX
2006-10-29Doc Bauer
 I'd very much appreciate your opinion regarding which of the muscle groups evidences, through proper weight resistance training, the least noticable result. Thanks in advance for your thoughts on the matter. William K. Bauer, Ph.D.
am doing exercise for quite some time now. But the problem am facing is if i don't go to the gym for even 4-5days i start loosing what i have gained.. Help me with some tips or suggestions, keeping in mind i have a small structure.. please...
 hi can u help me i go gym before 2 years my body is good but my bone i very week and small so what can i use to strong my bone and increas my bone size
 You won't be able to change your bones (unless you're still growing!), but work on the main lifts (deadlift, bench and squats) and eat a lot! (high protein, high carbs) Good luck!
2005-11-24Rob Newbury
 It is good to see some practical and scientific info which is also individual and not generic/generalised.

One question though. How do you apply the rep range, say of an average trainer/bodybuilder (5-8 sets of 10-12 reps)to their heavy day? Is a heavy day 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps such as a fast gainer would do? 5-8 sets of 10-12 reps going heavy is practically impossible.

I'm looking at a weekly 3 day split, cycling the heavy, medium and light sessions between the varying muscle groups( I'm currently unable to use double splits because of commitments.

Personally my whole upper body, apart from my delts, has a low tolerance level - my delts are average and my legs are average to high.

I've been bodybuilding for almost 20 years, so I suppose I'm fairly advanced. Anyway, if you have any further explanation of this approach (approx muscle fibre type targeting) then I would be extremely happy.

Regards, Rob N.


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