Article last updated: June 2018 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
The picture above shows Skinny-Fat Transformation reader, Ron. He looks proud in that picture, and that’s not without reason. Today, Ron turned 62 years old (happy birthday!), and recently he performed a personal best of 17 chin-ups. That’s a feat most men never accomplish, yet Ron did it at age 62 even though he started with a skinny-fat physique, just like most of us on this website.
Watch Ron’s chin ups in the video below:
Did Ron have any secret program or diet? No, but he had the right mindset which you can read about in the interview below.
Hello Ron, please introduce yourself to the readers of Skinny-Fat Transformation.
My name is Ron Mercado and I found Oskar’s website while researching about improving my skinny-fat build.
I’m 61 and I’ve been working out for the last many years but I’ve been very consistent over the last 3 or 4 years. I was using weights at home but I always enjoyed the bodyweight exercises from my high school days so I started to look on the internet to see if anyone had good workout ideas.
I fell upon Arnel Ricafranca’s website and I liked his approach so I kind of based my workouts on his all bodyweight stuff – push-ups, pull-ups, squats etc. All during that time my main passion in exercise was and is playing baseball so I made my workout schedule fit in with my baseball workouts.
When Arnel made his site a pay site I kept researching bodyweight exercise elsewhere on the internet. Over this time I’ve learned by trial and error and I’m still plugging.
I didn’t look overweight in clothes but I was carrying too much fat for my very light frame.
To put it in perspective, using boxing weight classes as an analogy, I was a welter weight – should be weighing about 147 lbs – walking around with the weight of a light heavy weight, 177 lbs with all of the excess pounds being fat. So from there I got down to about 150 – 152 lbs where I am now and went from 39 7/8” waist to 34 ¼” around the fattest part. So here I am.
You lost almost 6 inches around your waist, that is great progress. How did you eat to lose the inches around your waist and what other lifestyle changes did you make?
1. Simple lifestyle changes got me started
When I started I knew from past experience that if I made drastic changes I’d stick with it for a while but I’d drop the whole thing when life got very busy. The first change that I made was to do bodyweight exercises 2-3 times a week and baseball workouts 2 times a week.
I didn’t keep any records; I just worked out – usually a couple of easy sets and 1 hard set of some type of push-ups, pull-ups and squats. I used supersets a lot to save time.
I did this for about a year or so, my weight may have gone down a pound or two but I pretty much didn’t change my appearance during that time but I definitely felt better.
2. Spiked blood pressure motivated me to lose weight
Then I had a scare during a workday and went to the emergency room for chest pains. It turned out not to be my heart, but I spiked my blood pressure in the treadmill stress test. I went to my doctor and she was going to prescribe medication, but I asked her for one chance and she said ok – lose some weight and exercise and we’ll see.
So I started to cut my portions; I pretty much ate the same stuff but I would try to eat 3/4 of what I normally ate, eat slowly and stop eating unless I was really hungry. Now the weight started to slowly go down about one to two pounds a month. I had my exercise habit in its infancy so I kicked it up a bit.
Over the next many months I got down from about 177 to 172 and stayed there for quite a while so I stopped eating out at restaurants and fast food places so much and tried to eat better food most of the time, cut out the chips, crackers etc. I mostly cut them out but not entirely, I still eat ice cream.
3. Counting calories and experimenting with intermittent fasting
Following this, I began to count calories at first just to see how many I ate, and found that I ate around 2600 or 2700 a day. So I decided to bring it down to about 2400 or 2500 and the weight started to come off. As I approached 160 lbs my blood pressure got into a good range and you could see that I’d gotten a bit thinner. I stalled again so I made my target calories a little lower around 2300 or 2400 and saw some more results.
Then I tried my own style of intermittent fasting where I went from basically grazing all day from sun up to bedtime. I was fasting for around 16 hours once a week and basically not eating breakfast the other days until I was hungry or skipping it all together.
By doing this I got to about 149 lbs, but for me it was too fast so I backed off a bit. I weighed in at 151 this morning.
I’m happy that you reduced your blood pressure by changing your lifestyle rather than taking medication. Now onto the next question: A lot of skinny-fat guys want to bulk before they get lean, what is your opinion on bulking as a skinny-fat guy?
I think one should get lean first. Your workouts will build some muscle if your cut in food intake isn’t drastic.
Interesting and straight to the point. You have previously stated that you accomplished 16 repetitions on the chin-up. Can you please share the step-by-step training process that you went through to accomplish this?
Well when I started my intent was to make exercise a regular part of life for the long term. I did not have a goal of a certain number. I just tried to get stronger. I started with sets of about 3 pull-ups, 2 or 3 sets a couple of times a week.
When I tried to force it faster I’d wind up popping something in a shoulder and then having to find exercises to work around it. I used chairs to assist at times. A pulling exercise is always part of a workout that would cover the back, chest, legs and core. I eventually got to 3 sets and increased the number gradually.
I almost never go to failure. If I want to see how many I can do I stop at the last good rep I feel I can complete.
My last workout was 3 sets of 8 pull-ups with squats (sets of 13 with a backpack with 25 pounds in it) with 1 minute rest between the super sets then onto the other two supersets.
Every one to three workouts I add one rep to each exercise. In the past I’d do a set of say 12 pull-ups then the next set will be 7 or 8 and maybe 4 or 5 in the final set. I like the planned rep numbers better. If I always try to top the past workout I wind up dreading the workout or feeling that I have to psych myself up for it and that can make me procrastinate.
I will try to see how many reps I can do when I feel like pushing myself. A couple of months ago I surprised myself with 14 pull-ups and 16 chin-ups.
Note: Ron can do 17 chin ups now.
Bodybuilding websites recommend high protein intakes to build and maintain muscle mass. What is your experience with different protein intakes?
I don’t really pay that much attention to my protein intake. I just make sure that I eat protein at most meals. Sometimes it’s the main part of the meal like last night: 2 eggs, 2 slices of turkey bacon, 2 whole wheat toasts with no butter and ½ slice with butter.
Some meals are just cereal or oatmeal and milk and sometimes I snack on toast. Other times I’ll just eat a couple of pieces of fruit like oranges and pears.
If you met a young skinny-fat guy in person and you had a few minutes to give advice, what would it be?
That’s a tough one because everyone is different. If they are not working out – the first thing to do is start getting stronger and fitter – going into it not as a quick fix, but as a change in lifestyle that gradually makes you fitter and stronger.
Once working out to get stronger is part of your life then start to change eating habits, to lose fat. Eating just under what it takes to maintain one’s weight so one can still gain strength gradually while losing fat. The changes should be gradual so one can stick to them in the long term.
The other thing I would advise is to avoid falling for the exercise gurus’ “get ripped in 6 weeks” or “get fit in 90 days” because building muscle and losing fat takes time.
I would tell them that everytime I tried to make fast changes, I would burn out in the training aspect or on the fat loss side, since I would be too hungry to work out well.
Great tips there Ron, hopefully young guys reading this website will implement them. I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview and let the final word be yours.
I’m really glad to have met you!
Your site is the best I’ve found. You are very straight forward about what works for you and how you got results and what didn’t work. That is EXTREMELY helpful! I was inspired reading how you tried to do what the building strength book prescribed and how you found that it did not work for a skinny fat guy. I have a similar experience. You give other guys the confidence to see what works and makes sense to them.
Keep up the great work!
3 Reasons to Why Ron was Succesful
- He made gradual changes that he can stick to in the long term.
- He focused on getting lean rather than bulking up.
- He turned exercise into an enjoyable habit by combining baseball with bodyweight training.