3 Ways to Train Your Way Out of a Skinny Fat Body

Take a walk down the main street of your town, and you’ll pass by a lot of guys who have skinny arms, narrow shoulders, and a puffy chest while their waistline spills over their belt. These guys are examples of the skinny fat physique. Some call it the Dad Bod. However you classify it, it’s a place that most guys don’t want to be. In this article, I’ll reveal 3 strategies to train your way out of a skinny fat body.

Most skinny fat people don’t look that out of shape when they’ve got a shirt on. While it’s apparent that they’ve got no muscle to speak of, it’s not until the top comes off that the layers of fat reveal themselves. A skinny fat body typically has …

  • Skinny arms
  • Very little muscle on the shoulders and chest
  • Love handles
  • Man boobs
  • Stomach blubber
  • Skinny legs
  • Low strength levels

Having worked with a lot of skinny fat guys, I’ve noticed three mistakes that guys who are desperate to build muscle while losing the fat consistently do. Avoiding these counterproductive measures is your first step to getting out of your skinny fat body …

In their desperation to build muscle, many guys will dramatically increase their caloric intake, with an emphasis on protein. However, if you’ve still got a high body fat percentage, you are going to be highly insulin resistant. That will make you far more likely to store body fat rather than muscle.

The lesson here is to lose body fat before you increase your caloric intake to build muscle.

Working out can become addictive, especially when you are obsessed with packing some muscle on your body. As a result, many skinny fat guys fail to maintain balance with their training. Remember that your body doesn’t build muscle in the gym; it does so when you are recuperating from your workouts. Unless you give your body time to recover, you will get smaller and weaker rather than bigger and stronger.

Skinny fat guys do a lot of cardio in the belief that it is the best way to lose body fat. It isn’t; nutrition adjustment is the primary way to do that. Too much cardio will compromise your muscle building efforts, especially if you do your cardio before your weights workout.

Compound Weight Training Workouts

Weight training needs to form the foundation of every skinny fat transformation. Other forms of exercise, such as running, may help you to lose body fat, but, unless you do strength training, you’ll simply go from being skinny fat to being skinny.

The question, then, becomes what sort of strength training should you do?

The following characteristics should underpin your skinny fat workouts:

  • Compound exercises
  • Heavy weight in the 6-10 rep range
  • 48 hours rest between body part workouts

Skinny fat guys typically have very narrow shoulders, skinny arms, and no width to their torso. When you train with weights, you have the ability to reshape your body by packing on muscle as needed. Even though you want to add muscle mass all over, I recommend prioritizing your areas of weakness.

The following exercises should feature as part of your weekly routine during the first year of training to widen your shoulders, beef up your arms, and help create the class V shape to the upper body …

  • Cable Side Lateral Raises to work your lateral or medial deltoids.
  • Lat Pull-Ins to target your latissimus dorsi and help create a V-shaped torso.
  • Alternate dumbbell curls to build the biceps at the front of the upper arms.
  • Lying Triceps Extensions to target the triceps at the back of the upper arms.

A plan you should try:

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on abdominal and cardio exercises to achieve a skinny fat transformation. I recommend following the 80/20 rule here. Put 80 percent of your gym efforts into lifting weights and you will be contributing to fat loss as you’re building muscle. Every ounce of muscle you build will boost your metabolism. Hard and heavy strength workouts will also churn through plenty of calories.

Abdominal training will not help you lose weight around your middle. That’s because you can’t spot reduce body fat. The only way to lose fat is to create a caloric deficit where your body is forced to turn to stored body fat to meet its energy needs.

When it comes to cardio, you should limit yourself to a couple of times per week. Long cardio sessions can be very stressful on the body, cutting into your recovery ability. Gym goers typically do their cardio before their weight training workouts. This inevitably leads to lower energy strength training sessions because you’re exhausted from the cardio session. That is not what you need to build muscle!

Your cardio sessions should consist of high intensity interval training (HIIT ), where you do short high energy sprints followed by even shorter rest periods for a designated number of rounds. For example, get on the treadmill. After a medium paced warm-up, sprint at max speed for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Do this for 8 rounds and then finish with a 2-minute warm down.

HIIT workouts are short and intense. They won’t burn a whole lot of calories while you’re doing them but they will elevate your metabolism for up to 24 hours after your session. That means that you’ll still be burning calories from your 7 am HIIT session while you’re lying in bed that night!

Do your two HIIT cardio sessions on days that you are not doing strength training.

In this article, we have focused on what you should - and should not - do in the gym to transform your skinny fat body into a lean, strong muscular physique. Check out our companion article on what you should be doing outside of the gym in terms of nutrition and recuperation to complete your skinny fat transformation.

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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

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