The Best Training Routine

Article last updated: January 2018 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer

Download my free eBook “Bodyweight Training for the Skinny-Fat Guy” (10-page PDF).

I’ve received a lot of emails recently about diet and training advice. The emails typically sound like this:

Hi, I’m new to training, what is the best training routine out there?

In this article I will give you The Best Training Routine For A Skinny-Fat Guy. This training routine will get you ripped in the shortest time possible.

Actually, I’m just kidding.

There’s no magical routine out there!

There’s no shortcut to changing your body!

The Best Training Routine Is Adjustable

First of all, as I explained in my previous article Why You Shouldn’t Do Starting Strength as a Beginner, a training routine should just be a plan that you adjust on a daily basis. My plan right now is something like this:

  • Exercise 1: 2-4 sets of Close Grip Chin Ups (the last rep of my final set is a very slow negative L-Sit Chin Up)
  • Exercise 2: 2-4 sets of Diamond Pushups or Bodyweight Skullcrushers (after my last set I do regular push ups to failure)
  • Assistance Exercises IF I have the energy: Single Legged Squats, Hanging Leg Raises and Climbing Rope)

That’s right, my plan is very minimalistic. I do this whenever I feel like doing it, but when I do it, I give my 100 %. On days where I have tons of energy I add single legged squats and make it a triset rather than a superset, and I might do a few dropsets at the end of each exercise.

This is actually one of the reasons why I recommend bodyweight training as I mentioned in my previous article about the 6 Benefits of Bodyweight Training. You can push hard on bodyweight exercises and recover much faster than from heavy compound lifts that stress your lower back a lot (the lower back recovers VERY slowly in comparison to other muscle groups).

So as you can see, I don’t  have a magical training routine. I focus on exercises that target my weak parts and I rarely do leg training, since I don’t want to build bigger legs.

The Best Training Routine Focuses On Your Weak Muscle Groups

This leads to the second problem: a lot of routines are good general plans for adding mass to your body. If you’re a skinnyfat guy, there’s a good chance that your hips are wide, your shoulders are narrow, your waist and chest are soft and you have no definition on your arms. If you do a typical beginner routine with a lot of compound movements, you will eventually get bigger overall. This is a wrong approach for a skinnyfat guy!

Instead, you should focus on adding muscle to create an illusion of a V-shaped upper body. This is done by training the back super hard with chin ups along with your shoulders, upper chest and arms as shown in the picture on the right.

There’s a reason why I always emphasize back training: WIDE LATS ARE EASIER TO BUILD THAN WIDE SHOULDERS. With naturally narrow shoulders, you can train your shoulders for years, and they will still appear narrow if your lats are lacking.

When I started training I got strong at compound movements, and I gained weight. The result was that I simply became a bigger skinny-fat version of myself.

With your worse than average skinny-fat genetics and low testosterone levels you are already struggling to put on any signifcant muscle mass. Therefore, to maximize your chances of looking good, you better add that muscle mass in the right places (lats, shoulders, arms and upper chest). By doing heavy compound movements my lats to bigger from all the heavy deadlifts but my shoulders, arms and upper chest didn’t improve at all.

To Sum Up

  • There’s no magical training routine out there
  • Your routine should just be a plan that can be adjusted on a daily basis
  • You need to learn to listen to your body so you can adjust your routine efficiently
  • Your routine should focus on your weak muscle groups and in most cases you need to focus on building a wide back

Finally, the best training routine for you is the one you can stick to! If you can’t stick to your routine in the long-term, it doesn’t matter how good it is. You won’t make much progress.

A lot of “keyboard experts” say that you need to switch up your routine frequently to confuse your muscles. That’s BROSCIENCE. I’ve done the abovementioned routine for over 8 months straight, and I’ve had the best progress of my life. I never believed in this muscle confusion theory, and neither should you.

Instead, you should find a routine that you know you can stick to in the long term – it’s easier to get really good at a few exercises, because that enables you to track your progress. If you have a complicated routine with 25 different exercises, it will first of all take time to learn the technique on each of them and second of all, tracking progress will be difficult.

I hope this article cleared up the confusion about magical training routines that will get you ripped fast. If you want me to help you adjust your current routine, simply drop a comment below.

–       Oskar

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  1. I used to do a “prison workout” everyday but I was pretty beat doing it. I would do a squat-thrust+5 push ups+stand up. That was one rep. I would jog in place for 5 seconds then do another, over and over for 30 minutes to an hour. Then do 4-8 sets of chin ups or inverted rows. I lost a lot of weight fast but it was HARD. I have been focusing on your Chin/Diamond super-sets and Hill Sprints two times a week. I have a ruined knee from martial arts and running a hill is much easier on it than squats. I love this routine and can do it everyday, the best part is I ENJOY working out again and it isn’t a chore. Thanks!

  2. Hi, my shoulders are lacking and still are small (im doing your routine).Can and what extra excercises should i do for shoulders?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Look up exercises for rear shoulders. Most people have underdeveloped rear delts. Also do your DB lateral raises.

  3. I am 1.80m/1.82m and i can do 9 dead hang chin ups (when i do them, i am around 86 kg) and my weight is around 84 kg (in the morning). Would you say that i am still skinny fat? Should i bulk up or continue my cutting? I have already lost 8 kg in 6 months :( (it gone to slow).

    PS: I got last year from 77,5 kg to 92 (it was a very dirty bulk sadly).

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Can’t say without seeing a pic, but if you have to ask about whether you should bulk or cut, you most likely have to cut first. Cut down a bit more, and aim for 15-20 chin ups, then do a bulk after.

  4. How much time should I rest between sets? And how much time between exeecies?

  5. Hi so looking at your program on the Beginner part 1. Would i still do the bodyweight exercises every day in addition to the A and B program? I don’t seem to have issues gaining muscles. It is really losing fat in the love handle and hips area i have never been able to lose.

  6. Hey Oskar my big problem is that my legs and hips are also skinny i startet 2 months ago going to gym 4-5 times a weak and reduce allcohol to 1 time in Month my main question is i have a very big stomache i like a prefnant woman ^^ think in the USAu called it pot belly, i am afraid that i never can loose because it doesnt shrink it gots harder since the training

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      If you’re already lean but still have a big stomach, it may be because your body doesn’t respond well to certain foods which results in bloating. If I eat a lot of wheat and dairy then I get a huge amount of gas in my stomach and a pregnant look.

  7. Thanks Oskar, thanks for your support.. Actually 99% of people to whom I am surrounded demotivates me either to go to gym or doing heavy exercises like squat.. Still unsure about the diet.. I want to follow intermittent fasting with two big meals a day.
    • High protein intake
    • Mid-High carbohydrate intake
    • Trace fat intake

    • High(er) protein intake
    • Mid-High fat intake
    • Trace carbohydrate intake
    Is the diet plan correct??

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Surround yourself with different people or ignore what they say. My family also demotivated me and said that I’m wasting my time lifting heavy, eating healthy and so on – just ignore that and keep moving forward.

      Your diet looks similar to the way I eat, give it a try, track your progress and see how it goes.

  8. Hello Oskar, I have planned to go to the gym next week using the following 6 week program I know my training program should be unique according to my body & I have to do the ‘trial & error’ to make a suitable program.

    But as I am very beginner I don’t know whether the program I am setting will drive me towards my goal ?(lose fat, simultaneously gain muscle & have a good back along with shoulders, upper chest and arms) Will it suitable for a beginner or is it a advanced level program? Will a beginner get hurt going through it??

    My second confusion: In your blog you mentioned that either you have to lose fat or gain muscles in the beginning. But in many site I saw that you can lose fat & simultaneously gain muscle (which is my goal actually).. So where is the twist??

    1A – Dumbbell Military Press
    1B – Pull-up (or lat pull downs) (as many as you can but no more than 12)
    2A – Dumbbell Bench Press
    2B – Seated Cable Row
    3A – Tricep Extension
    3B – Hammer Curl (1 Set)
    (2 Minute Rest Between Sets)
    No A-B Splits for legs… 2 sets of each.
    1 – Squats (3 Minute Rest)
    2 – Back Extensions
    3 – Calf Raise
    4 – Dumbbell Shrugs
    (3 Minute Rest Between Sets)
    1A – Incline Bench
    1B – Dumbbell Row
    2A – Palms in Military Press
    2B – Parallel Pull-up (or side grip lat pulldown) (as many as you can but no more than 12)
    3A – Dumbbell Curl
    3B – Tricep Rope Extention (1 Set)
    (2 Minute Rest Between Sets)
    Next Monday
    1 – Deadlift
    2 – Split Squat
    3 – Seated Calf Raise
    (3 Minute Rest Between Sets)

    Repeat this program.

    For you information: I am 22 years old skinny fat guy. My height is 5′ 4” & weight around 116-120 lbs & I have never been in a gym before.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      You can gain a bit of muscle in a caloric deficit if you are a new to training. You at your bodyweight I would focus on building muscle and not losing fat.

      I don’t understand your training program 100 %. Do you alternate between 2 different routines every Monday?

      • No. I will start on Monday with the first set of exercises. Then Wednesday do the second set. Friday third set.
        Then the following Monday do the fourth set. Wednesday do the first set of exercises again. Friday the second set etc..

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Your program has too many exercises, and the deadlift frequency is too low. Do the routine I posted in the bottom of this article instead:

          You can add bodyweight training on the days you don’t go to the gym to get some extra work in.

          To avoid injury, start with a low weight and do it for 12-20 repetitions. Always do warmup sets on the big exercises (deadlift, overhead press, incline press, squat, barbell row). When you know how to perform the lifts properly, you can start adding weight and train them really hard.

          • Hello Oscar, Can you tell me what should be the initial weights (approximate) I should use in Barbell Squat, Overhead Press, Barbell Rows, Incline Bench Press, Deadlifts. I am very beginner & don’t have even a moderate wrists & biceps. Just give me an idea about the weights.

            And one more question: some guys are telling me that barbell squats, overhead press are advanced level exercises & I can get hurt If I do them in the beginning. Is it true?

          • Oskar Faarkrog says:

            It depends on how strong you are, but start with an empty barbell and build up slowly to be on the safe side. I started with:
            30 kg x 5 @ squat, barbell row and bench press
            15 kg x 5 @ overhead press
            47.5 kg x 5 @ deadlift

            They are not advanced level exercises. You just need to read about how to do them properly to avoid injuries. The best book to read to learn proper form on them is “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe.

            Also, I described proper deadlift form in my free guide, so you may want to check that out.

  9. Hi I’m a 15 year old boy. Last summer I weighed 185 pounds and I’m 6″2. I dropped about 35 pounds. Over this year ive added about 10 pounds of muscle. So my body weight is about 160. I have wide shoulders and pretty muscular legs but I have love handles and no abs. I was wondering if you could tell me how to solve this problem. Thanks.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hi Bob,

      You lost 35 lbs and gained 10 lbs of muscle in a year. That’s VERY good progress, so congrats on that!

      To get rid of your fat you need to eat less than you currently do. There are different ways to make fat loss easier, but my favorite is intermittent fasting which you can read about here:

      • Just a question, why would I need to lose weight? I’m currently underweight and when I weighed 150 pounds I still had the same problem. Thanks.

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Hi again Bob,

          Sorry for the slow reply but I got no notification of your comment.

          If you want to lose the love handles there is no other way to do it than losing fat. I agree that 150 lbs is a very low bodyweight for your height, but you said that you’ve added a good amount of muscle mass during the past year so perhaps your love handles will no longer be present when you cut back to 150 lbs. Although, there’s a possibility that you simply have some pinchable skin in your love handles area since you have fat stores there.

          Personally, I wouldn’t obsess to much about it if it’s just a bit. I have some love handles as well and even at 175 lbs (I’m close to 200 lbs now) I had a bit of love handles.

  10. I never really thought about building a big back to get wide, but thinking about it now, it makes perfect sense.
    Can you give me any advice on back training? I currently train it once a week with hammer strength machines.


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