My Hard Gainer Fitness Routine

As I mentioned earlier this week, my workout journey has been a long, winding road but I’m in a place now where I feel like sharing it might help others reach their own health and fitness goals. So, here I am.

Since finding Lyzabeth Lopez, I’ve been in a place where I finally feel like my formula is working. But, it was a long time getting there. In this post, I’ll share the fitness side of my formula. In upcoming posts, I’ll focus on calories/macros and tracking, as well as supplements. Plus, I’ll share how I eat (this is my weakest link, I think), and in another post, I’ll try to lay out how I’m staying on track with all this. I’m very consistent and I’d like to think it’s because of how I’ve set up my routine and my schedule. So, I’ll share that.

So, back to fitness. As I mentioned in my previous post, my first ever lifting workout (recently, anyway) was from Simply Shredded. It was a 12-week program. I think it was a success for me because of its simplicity. Essentially, the routine was a four-week one that you repeated three times. The first four weeks was high reps up to 15, the second was lower around 10 and the third was only about four to six. The idea was that you got used to the exercises at low weight, high rep and as you gained strength and confidence, you could lift heavier. By the end, I was shocked at how much I was able to bench press and squat. I did this one a few cycles through before finding Lopez.

Train with Lyzabeth

Lopez has two separate workout options. The first, Train with Lyzabeth (TWL), is a fitness and meal plan product that you pay for once and you have it for life. It’s pricey but she offers discounts and I found a discount code online when I purchased it for $50. It is well worth the money. Although her website is a bit clunky to navigate at first you will soon find it has everything you need, if you put in the time to review it all.

First of all, she has downloadable meal plans. You select the one you want so in my case it’s the muscle building plan. Most ladies go for the classic plan but she also has a vegan option and others that are geared toward more specialized nutrition needs. The cool part is you don’t have to stick with the one you purchase. She will let you try others once you’re in the group. I also have the vegan plan though I still haven’t tried it yet! I’ll explain the plans more in detail in a future post.

Since I’m focusing on the workouts in this post, I’ll share that she has both a downloadable pdf and an online version of the workout. The online version has the videos of her doing the exercises so you can learn how to do them, correct form, what to look out for, etc. What’s great is that it works very well on my phone. So, I just bring up the workout for the day right on my phone and follow along. This workout is actually a 20-day workout done three times in a row for three months. She programs five days a week but some girls do fewer days and it all works out in the end.

The workouts all have clever names but essentially, you do about two leg workouts a week and two to three upper body with abs and sometimes metabolic conditioning thrown in. Metabolic conditioning or METCON is a high intensity workout that gets your heart pumping but also builds muscle. She also advises that you should add cardio. Depending on your goals, you might do it once to three times a week and it looks different for various goals. For me, I’m trying to build so I do bike sprints which build your legs. Other ladies might do sprints or other types of cardio depending on what they’re trying to achieve.

And here is the first place where I’ve made the TWL program my own – I tend to only do one cardio a week, maybe two. I found when I did more than that I lost weight and/or had difficulty making gains. Lifting weights is work enough and I often get my heart rate up plus I’m an active person all day. So, the lack of a ton of cardio works for me.


So, the second product from Lopez is a workout app she released fall 2017. I have a year subscription to that, as well. It’s cool because it allows for more flexibility and fun and you can’t possibly get bored. You still get your training videos but it’s easier to follow on your phone than her original program.

Equipment Needed

Over the past two years, I’ve learned what kind of equipment and items I need at the gym and how to adjust the workouts so I can get in and out in about an hour. I often do the exercises out of order to fit them in and sometimes I substitute other exercises when I don’t have access to something I need. Below is a list of equipment I have with links to the exact items, where appropriate:

I also use my phone to track the weights I’m using so I can constantly strive to lift heavier. I track this in my bullet journal, as well, which I’ll share more about in my post about tips for success. Lopez encourages tracking, as well, and her program comes with a downloadable tracking guide that you can pop into a three ring binder and use. I did that the first time through but found that the binder was too much and I do better keeping it with the rest of my life in a bullet journal.

I review the workouts the night before so I can familiarize myself with the exercises and figure out my game plan. Often, I watch her tutorial videos for the exercises once more to make sure I have the form down. The more I do the exercises the more comfortable I become. Plus, I find that going to the gym early in the morning, I see the same people and it’s not intimidating to me to be in the free weight area. I feel like the other people are family even though I barely know them. Some of them wave, others just keep to themselves. (I do a mix of both.)

But, I would say if you are truly scared to death about lifting a gym full of mostly men, try the app at home first and get used to the exercises. (The traditional, 20-day program really can’t be done at home.) Then, try the gym at a less busy time or find a partner to go with. Safety in numbers, right? Some other gym/home apps I’ve come across are below.


In between and since landing on my current routine, I’ve also been introduced to others, including the SWEAT app, which features Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells, as well as a yoga instructor. I tried it for a few workouts but it really wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the way it cycled through and it sort of felt like I was in a race. But, on the bright side, I did love the workouts Wells featured and have since been following her on Instagram. She posts workout videos and writes out her exercise routines in the captions of her posts. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of her workouts when I just want a little something different and off my routine.


One Saturday morning at the gym, I was there a bit later than usual and an older woman nearby seemed to be doing a similar workout app to Lyzabeth Lopez! I got a little excited thinking there was a comrade! But, when I asked her, she told me she was doing the Nike app, a free app that has dozens of workout routines, depending on your interest and level. What I like about this one is that it allows you to try a workout app to see if you like workout this way. It has all the key features of a good fitness app, including videos to show you how to do the exercises, timers, a search feature and a save feature. I still go to this app every once in a while when I just need a quick yoga routine or ab workout.

The Yoga Collective

Some of the ladies in the TWL group shared a Groupon with me for a year’s subscription to The Yoga Collective for just $12 so I purchased it. I have only been using it a short while but so far, it appears to be a great way to get a good yoga workout in at home. I will say it’s challenging for me to find the space and quiet time to do it but it’s there for when I figure that out! Here and there I’ve followed countless other routines that I find on social media or in magazines.

Couple Extra Tips for Success

I am very focused on form with my lifting. I watch the videos carefully and I try hard to emulate exactly what the trainer is doing. It has also been effective for me to really think about the muscles I’m using, because it focuses on them, consistent with correct form and building the muscle in the most efficient way.

It’s also recommended that you take lots of selfies along the way. This helps you see your own progress. Have you ever noticed that when you see someone every day you may not notice they are losing or gaining weight? But, someone you hardly ever see, you can definitely see changes right away? Well, that’s why pictures help. Now, I am very uncomfortable taking my own selfies and I hardly ever do it but every once in a while I try. Here are two I’ve taken recently – one last month and one just this morning. As you can see, I’m not great at photos! But, it’s supposed to help so I try!

What else do you want to know about my fitness routine? Comment below and I’ll answer! Or, if you have a great routine you follow, please share!

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