So many guys nowadays look slim with a shirt on but have a noticeable belly when standing shirtless in front of a mirror. They might also have frail arms, puffy nipples, and prominent love handles sticking out. This is commonly referred to as “skinny fat.”
A skinny fat person usually wants to look more muscular, while also shedding off the stubborn fat around their stomach. But the advice they get is often contradictory. Should they focus on cutting first, or dive straight into a bulk?
If this sounds like you, and you don’t know which course of action would be the most rewarding for you, then stick around...
...Because here are 3 crucial training tips for guys who want to go from skinny fat to absolutely ripped:
1. Prioritize Building a Muscular Foundation
Or in other words... put some meat on your bones first! This is the most crucial part which so many guys mess up and remain skinny fat for years.
You see, excessive body fat isn’t the problem here, but rather severely underdeveloped muscles hidden under a small layer of fat. Your little belly pooch would hardly even be noticeable if you had a reasonable base of muscle tissue beneath it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once said “You can’t chisel a pebble,” and this is exactly why! A stubborn layer of body fat will never seem to go away if all you have beside it are skin and bones.
So forget stripping away your midsection and slowly bulk up instead. Do this by eating in a slight calorie surplus, simply meaning you should consume a higher number of calories than you burn.
This will serve as fuel for you to consistently get stronger in the gym, which is your primary objective. Because for natural lifters like yourself, strength and muscle size are super tightly correlated, inseparable even.
Add weight to the bar and your body will adapt by adding dense muscle tissue to its frame. So, the stronger you become, the bigger you’ll be, and the bigger the muscle, the stronger it’ll be. There’s no two ways around it.
2. Select the Key Compound Lifts
If you really want to maximize your muscle growth, you’ll need to prioritize heavy, compound lifts in your workouts.
To put it simply, a compound lift is any exercise in which you use more than one muscle group at a time.
Compound lifts recruit a massive number of muscle fibers when compared to isolation movements such as bicep curls or front raises. They also allow you to lift heavier and continually push your limits, week after week.
This leads to higher muscle activation and stimulation, which triggers the release of growth hormones and promotes greater muscular growth and development.
So drop the high-rep, isolation focused “pump” workouts which you hear about on mainstream YouTube fitness all the time. “Blasting” your muscles like this is far less effective for muscle growth, and hardly makes a difference in the long run.
Instead, strive to improve on exercises that truly matter.
But what are these exercises? How do you pick the most effective compound lifts when there are dozens to choose from, each with their own variations?
Well, if you’re skinny fat guy, you probably have a soft midsection, love handles, and a lack of muscle tone in your arms and legs. It’s not the most attractive look out there. And certainly not the most physically capable.
Whereas the physique you should be aiming for is characterized by a strong V-shaped torso, broad shoulders, chiseled square pecs, a taut waist, dense arms and powerful legs. This is the ultimate physique: lean, athletic and powerful. Build this and you’ll be exuding strength and confidence.
If the idea of becoming an aesthetic, athletic machine excites you, here are the five key compound lifts you need
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Weighted Chin-Up
- Barbell Back Squat
- Conventional Deadlift
These lifts should be the bread and butter of your workout routine. Get strong as hell on them, and you will build huge amounts of muscle mass in god-like proportion.
3. Stop Overthinking, Start Building
When you’re a skinny fat guy, it’s easy to get caught up in your own head. You’re not quite skinny, but you’re not quite fat either. You probably feel like you don’t fit in either group, and you struggle with body image issues.
This can create a vicious cycle of overthinking. It’s possible you spend long hours doing cardio hoping to lose the annoying layer of fat on your stomach. It’s possible you obsess over your diet to an unhealthy degree.
You might even be tempted to switch programs if you don’t see immediate results - program hopping - as its commonly known. Unfortunately, all of this is only going slow down your progress. So, if you want to break free of the skinny fat trap, you need to trust the damn process!
Don’t get caught up in the number on the weighing scale, or on the size of your waist.
Instead, stick to a solid strength training program built around the five key lifts. Get stronger on them, eat nutritious food and sleep 8 hours. That’s it! It’s not rocket science, it’s not as complicated as you think.
Once you build muscle and improve your body composition, you’ll see the changes you want in your physique.
So, take a deep breath, relax and focus on the positive changes you’re going to make. You’ve got this.