I got this email today:
“I’m skinny fat and have a lot of this excess skin any help to start on my transformation. I did read all of your articles just don’t know where to get a head start.”
This article includes 12 of my best lessons and I recommend you start with it.
1) Get Lean Before Bulking
“Won’t I get skinny if I do fat loss now, my arms are already small?”
You will gain strength and muscle during fat loss, as long as you train hard. Skinny-Fat Transformation reader, Jeremy, is a perfect example of that (not the guy in the picture).
He trained 6-7 times a week and went from 0 to 15 chin ups in 4 months, while losing 4 lbs.
Also, by getting lean:
- You eliminate the psychological burden of carrying excess fat.
- Your hormonal balance will improve. This sets a foundation to gain muscle mass while staying lean.
- You won’t wake up and see manboobs, a double chin and spare tires in the mirror.
And, your face get’s much more defined. The left picture is me one year before training, while the right one is from summer 2013:
2) Losing Fat and Staying Lean is Simple
Here are the 6 essential lifestyle changes that I’ve made in the past 3 years to lose fat and stay lean:
- A meal must consist of a protein/fat source (e.g. eggs, meat, fish, peanutbutter) and a carb source (e.g. rice, potatoes, rye bread).
- Start each meal with the protein/fat source. Eat that until you don’t crave protein/fat more, then fill up on carbs.
- Eat maximum 3 meals a day (NO snacking allowed during fat loss).
- Stop drinking calories.
- Sleep as much as possible (sufficient sleep reduces appetite).
- Chew gum between meals.
3) Minimalistic Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training works great for skinny-fat guys because it forces you to stay lean, while adding muscle. You can’t do 15 chin ups if you aren’t lean, but you can deadlift 400 lbs at the gym and be fat.
As a beginner there are 3 bodyweight exercises you should get strong at, while losing the excess fat: 1) Chin Up, 2) Push Up and 3) Squat.
This training is minimalistic in the sense that you focus on very few exercises, but you do them often.
Perform those exercises minimum 4 times a week, and note down your sets and reps each workout in a note book or on a phone. Next time you train, try to do more reps on your sets.
Here are the benefits of doing the same bodyweight exercises often:
- You signal to your skinny-fat body that it has to build muscle and get rid of the chub.
- If you do an exercise no more than once or twice a week, you only have 1-2 chances to progress in that time (better not have an off-day). In contrast, frequent training gives you more chances to progress.
- Overtraining is nothing to be concerned with as a beginner to training. In my experience, the more I train, the better results I get.
Read more: Bodyweight Training for the Skinny-Fat Beginner (full beginner routine)
4) The Importance of Weekly Measurements
How do you know if you’re losing fat if you’re not tracking your progress? You don’t.
As a skinny-fat guy, you need to get a tape measure out once a week and:
- Measure waist around navel
- Measure hips around the widest point
- Weigh yourself
Do this ONCE a week as soon as you wake up, on an empty stomach.
Note down the measurements somewhere visible so you can see them often. That will motivate you to stick to your fat loss and hold you accountable.
Read more: Skinny-Fat Beginner – Part 2
5) Already Lean? Time to Gain Muscle Without Getting Fat
To stay lean on a bulk do the following:
- Step 1: Set a target waist and hip measurement that you will not exceed under any circumstances during your bulk (about 2 inches above your lean measurements).
- Step 2: Bulk for 2-3 weeks by training hard everyday and fuel your training by eating a lot of calories.
- Step 3: After your bulk, cut back to your lean base measurement while letting your body recover with 3-4 easier training sessions a week.
- Repeat steps until satisfied
6) Protein Intake and Supplements are Overrated
From 2012-2013 I have been eating around 100-120 g of protein per day at 177-200 lbs of bodyweight and taking no other supplements than multivitamin, vitamin D and calcium.
Despite a “low” protein intake, and no bodybuilding supplements, I still gained muscle, strength and lost a huge amount of fat.
Focus on getting solid, nutritious meals that make you feel good and train hard with an emphasis on progression. That’s all it takes to get a lean and muscular physique.
7) Age is Not An Excuse
Skinny-Fat Transformation reader, Ron, 62 years old, performing 16 chin-ups with full range of motion:
Read my interview with Ron: 17 Chin-Ups at Age 62 – What’s Your Excuse?
8) You Can Make Great Progress in 3 Months
Read more: 3 Month Skinny-Fat Transformations
9) Carbs and Fat Don’t Make You Fat
Some people think that carbs make you fat. Other people think that fat makes you fat.
That’s partially true, eating a huge amount of fat AND carbs, will make you fat. But that doesn’t mean you should do a low carb or low fat diet.
Fat is crucial to keep testosterone high (the male hormone of vitality) and satisfy your appetite. A meal that has a good amount of fat makes you full for a long time, and increases your overall well-being.
Carbs are crucial to train hard, and to have a “full” muscular look. When you go low carb, your muscles will look flat, and your training will suffer.
The key is to have a bit of each in every meal, and be patient with your fat loss. The real enemies are sugar and junkfood – limit those to once or twice a week.
Read more: Are You Eating Enough Carbs?
10) Getting Ripped Has Many Benefits
- You develop persistence and pride which are crucial traits to succeed in other areas of life.
- The opposite sex becomes more attracted to you.
- You get respect. Other people will ask you for training advice and give you a better service.
- You will be able to perform well in sports instead of being the chubby guy that get’s picked last.
- Succes in fitness leads to motivation to succeed in other areas of life.
- Increased happiness: how can you be sad if you wake up to see a good body in the mirror?
Read more: 10 Lessons I Learned as a Male Cheerleader (my experience as a male cheerleader, where I had the chance to be coached by the world champion in partner stunts)
11) You Can Drink Alcohol
Alcohol is a poison, and has to be metabolized by the body BEFORE it can metabolize excess calories consumed during the time a person is drinking.
That’s not good for your fitness goals, but that doesn’t mean that you should completely eliminate it.
If you want to go out 3-4 times a month and get wasted, then feel free to do that, as long as you follow the tips below:
- Avoid dietary fat on the day of drinking since fat takes a longer time to metabolize fat, than protein and carbs
- Drink dry wines and non-mixed spirits to reduce calories consumed through drinking
Those 2 tips will enable you to go out occasionally and drink without affecting your progress too much.
Full, step-by-step guide on how to drink alcohol responsibly: How to Drink Alcohol Without Gaining Fat in 6 Easy Steps
12) Build a Wide Back to Create the Illusion of Wide Shoulders
I have said this many times, but I can’t leave it out of this 2013 summary: to create the illusion of wide shoulders, you need to build big lats. They will make a TREMENDOUS difference in the appearance of your upper body.
Once you build a powerful back with wide lats, your waist and hips will appear narrower and you will get that V-shaped upper body that everyone wants to build.
Training your shoulders is great, but no amount of shoulder training will create the illusion of wide shoulders, if you are naturally narrow in that area and have wide hips/waist.
To build your back, the best bodyweight exercise is the chin up, and the best weight training exercise is the deadlift. Both are explained in detail my free eBook.
Those were the 12 important lessons that I wanted to share with you.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer