In my experience training over 100 men in my online coaching program, the skinny-fat body-type is BY FAR the hardest to transform and there’s a huge lack of quality training programs for our unique body-type.
Being skinny-fat means that you lack muscle tone while being soft around your lower waist.
In clothes, a skinny-fat guy looks like a regular guy, but once the clothes come off all the flab and softness is revealed.
Skinny-fat guys find it difficult to gain even small amounts of muscle tone and we gain fat “just by looking at food”.
Most of us find it difficult to gain muscle mass on our shoulders, upper chest and arms.
It’s not uncommon for skinny-fat guys to train with heavy weights and cardio for YEARS or even DECADES without any results.
So, what’s the best way to train if you’re skinny-fat?
My conclusion is that the fastest way to go from skinny-fat to ripped is to get better at 3 basic bodyweight exercises:
- Chin Up.
- Diamond Push Up.
- Bodyweight Squat.
In late 2012, after 2 years of heavy weight training and cardio exercise without anything to show for it, I switched my focus to doing a basic bodyweight training program that had just the 3 exercises listed above.
I did these exercises 5 days a week at home for less than one hour each time.
To my surprise, my shoulders, upper chest and arms started filling out for the first time in my life.
…Something that didn’t happen in the first 2 years of training where I added 500 pounds to my bench press, squat and deadlift total.
After 16 weeks of following my bodyweight training program, I gained more than 15 pounds of upper body muscle mass and got visible abs for the first time in my life.
I was amazed by my own results, because prior to discovering bodyweight training, I was pushing myself hard at the gym to add pounds to my squat, bench press and deadlift but I had nothing to show for it!
All I had were nagging joint pains and a huge appetite for eating a lot of food after my heavy weight training sessions.
These were not an issue with basic bodyweight training since it’s much lighter on the body, and surprisingly produces better results in both myself and hundreds (if not thousands) of other skinny-fat guys who followed my training strategies.
You can see a photo of my physique after doing basic bodyweight training below:
In the 16 weeks leading up to this photo, I followed my bodyweight training program just 5 days a week at home for less than one hour each time.
At the time this photo was taken, I was a lean 195 pounds at 6’2″ and I could do more than 15 chin ups with perfect form.
This was truly the first time in my life where I felt like I was in shape.
I felt strong, fast, light, energised and I always went into my training sessions fully recovered.
With the heavy weights and cardio, I was always tired and fatigued going into my training sessions and I didn’t feel or look fit.
So, why does bodyweight training work so well for us skinny-fat guys?
The short answer is: SIGNALING.
Bodyweight Training Signals to Your Body That it has to Transform
Just imagine adding 1 rep to your chin up max for 15 weeks straight.
When you go from 0 to 15 chin ups, there’s no way your body will remain the same.
It has to adapt by adding muscle size and shredding fat.
When you get better at bodyweight exercises, you SIGNAL to the body it has to change.
This is especially the case with the chin up and diamond push up which are the most important exercises for skinny-fat guys.
The diamond push up sculpts the upper chest and targets the triceps muscle which makes up 2/3 of your arm size.
The chin up builds the V-taper on your upper body by adding size to your lats and rear shoulders.
You can see how my V-taper developed with the chin up in the photo below:
Together, the chin up and diamond push up, sculpt your entire upper body, in all the right places: The lats, upper back, upper chest, shoulders, arms and abs.
While sculpting your upper body with diamonds and chins it’s also crucial that you develop strong and flexible legs that are in proportion with the upper body.
The bodyweight squat is the best exercise for that because:
- The leg muscles respond best to very high rep training (think 30-100 reps).
- It increases lower body mobility and thereby prevents the lower back and hip pain most people get from years of sitting down too much.
It’s also safe and light on your recovery.
I’ve never heard about someone who hurt themselves doing unweighted bodyweight squats.
This makes the bodyweight squat the perfect addition to the chin up and diamond push up.
The chin up, diamond push up and bodyweight squat are all compound exercises.
This means they train several muscle groups so you get more out of each exercise.
Here’s a list the muscle groups that you train with each exercise:
- Chin Ups: Back, biceps, rear shoulders, forearms, abs.
- Diamond Push Ups: Upper chest, triceps, front shoulders, forearms, abs.
- Bodyweight Squat: Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves).
In other words, with these 3 exercises you will sculpt your entire body and thereby build an athletic and proportional looking physique from the comfort of your home.
These 3 basic bodyweight exercises kick-started my physique transformation and enabled me to pack on a massive amount of muscle mass in the right places and create that V-tapered upper body I dreamt about for years.
All you need is a home chin-up bar and 3 hours of training time per week.
I Couldn’t Do A Single Chin Up or Push Up When I Started Training
I know that many of you reading this can’t do a single chin up or push up.
If that’s you don’t worry because I started in the same place as you.
I started training when I was 17 years old (February 2010) and I didn’t have great genetics for bodybuilding or training in general.
I started training because like most other guys I wanted:
- To attract hot girls.
- Stop being that guy who can’t do a single push up.
- Stop getting ridiculed by other guys for my out-of-shape physique.
I never dreamt about becoming a fitness model with a perfect body.
I just wanted to get a masucline looking physique with broad shoulders and a flat waist.
At the time, I was 200 pounds at 6’2″ (90 kg and 190 CM) but my physique was pear-shaped and I had puffy nipples and love handles.
I couldn’t even do a single push up and my big dream was to one day be able to do a set of 10 chin ups.
Then I started training.
I trained on a program called Starting Strength 3 days per week and I showed up every single time.
I put in the effort and I did my best to add weight to my squat, bench press and deadlift.
I also followed a high protein diet so I could gain muscle mass.
However, unlike my friends, my progress was VERY slow despite putting in much more work into my training and diet.
Here’s a photo of how I looked 1 year into my training:
During that 1 year, I gained a lot of strength on the squat, bench press and deadlift, but physically I still looked the same.
I barely changed.
Then I started looking into the skinny-fat body-type and I discovered that not a single skinny-fat guy has built a great physique by doing heavy weights.
You see… Heavy weight training programs are designed to get you stronger and not to build muscle mass.
There are some people that build muscular physiques with heavy weight training programs, but these people succeed in spite of their training rather than because of it.
Most of these people would have gained even more mass with a higher rep training program that is designed for muscle gains.
If you ever watched the movie Pumping Iron with classical bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serge Nubret, you would see that they trained with lighter weights and they did high reps for the pump.
These guys had some of the most well-developed physiques ever and they trained for the pump, not to lift heavier weights.
So what does that have to do with bodyweight training?
Bodyweight training can produce a similar training effect once you build your strength and conditioning to do sets of 10-20 reps on the chin up and diamond push up.
Another advantage of bodyweight training is that you can train the entire body with fewer exercises.
This is ideal for us skinny-fat guys because we don’t have the recovery capabilities to start off with high volume weight training.
We need to to first build up our recovery capabilities with bodyweight training and now I’ll explain why.
Building A Physique Is Similar to Building A House
When you’re skinny-fat, you have a low natural ability to recover from hard training.
You start with low starting strength levels, small joints and undermuscled arms, shoulders and upper chest.
Therefore, you need a body-transformation strategy that “takes a step back” and enables you to build a solid foundation.
Training is similar to building a house: If you build a solid foundation, everything else will be so much easier.
Heavy weight training and high volume bodybuilding programs are not optimal for building your foundation because these programs require a good amount of strength and muscle mass to produce results.
I don’t want you to go on the same path as me and many others who wasted months or even years following training programs that aren’t designed for the skinny-fat body-type.
At best these training styles will leave you disappointed and without results.
At worst, they will give you a serious injury that sets you back 6-12 months in your training.
Below I will list the top 6 reasons to why bodyweight training is the best training strategy to build your foundation if you’re a skinny-fat guy.
- The main bodyweight exercises are compound. This means they train several muscle groups at the same time so you get more bang-for-the-buck with each exercise.
- Bodyweight training is easy on your Central Nervous System. As a result, you can recover faster between training sessions, train more often and thereby build more muscle mass.
- Bodyweight training keeps you focused. When you train just a few basic compound exercises, you stay focused and get very strong on those key movements.
- Bodyweight training signals to your body that it has to transform. Just imagine going from 0 to 15 chin ups — there’s no way your body will remain the same!
- Bodyweight training can be done anywhere at anytime. You have no excuses to skip your training sessions when they can be done from the comfort of your home or while travelling.
- You can build 80% of your muscle mass with bodyweight exercises alone – even if you’re old or you have bad genetics for muscle building.
Therefore, my conclusion is that bodyweight training in an amazing way to get started with your transformation and you can join +14,000 skinny-fat guys on my free beginner bodyweight program below: