T Nation

Coach Thibaudeau's Advice on Skinny Fat?


Hello Coach,
I first started training 8 yrs ago but I have been in the gym consistently for 6 months now. I consider myself a beginner because I'm really weak in the big lifts, although in these 6 months I have improved a lot. I'm 28yrs old, 175cm 73kg with ~ 18%-20% bodyfat . Obviously I am a skinny fat ecto (when I was younger I was naturally really skinny).

From your experience what training program works best for my ''case'' ? (considering that nutrition is OK). is it upper/lower , some strength based program , traditional bodybuilding ? also number of sets, rep range etc ?
My goals are to gain as much muscle as possible and lose bodyfat.

I know its difficult for you to answer these kind of questions but I hope you can give me some advice :slightly_smiling:

thanks in advance


Sorry in advance for replying in your zone, Thib, but I can't help myself in this case.

1: Post your weekly diet. Looking like you do, I doubt nutrition is anything close to OK.

2: Post your lifting stats, and progress from the past 6 months that you have 'improved alot'.

3: Forget about losing fat, you have very little of anything and should focus on getting stronger in key lifts, and getting your diet on track.

4:ONE goal. Get bigger/stronger or lose fat. Never both, unless you are REALLY advanced, like a huge black guy with a hamburger obsession-advanced.

5: Why do you thin a coach that gets paid for his expertise would basically construct a training program for a random internet person, especially one whose contribution to this site is 1 post?

Everything above is meant well, btw. But come on, man.


Welcome to the forums. Thibs is terrific both in his knowledge and how freely he shares it -- you're right to reach out to him. Your situation, though, is quite common; basic searching on this site will answer your questions and give you focus.

My advice (echoed by many) is simple: 5/3/1




Agreed. Most people who tell me that their diet is ''ok'' simply do not want to have someone tell them to change it because they are afraid that they will have to give up stuff they like.

Others think that it's ''ok'' but in reality they are far off. Either they consume too much of the wrong things thinking that they are good things; or they don't consume enough of the good thing because they equate ''watching what I eat'' with ''eating very little''.

Asking for a rundown of your daily diet is a good thing; most of those who have less than optimal eating patterns couldn't even give you a precise idea of what they generally eat.

I can actually see some visual progress. The thing is that people often have unrealistic expectations. If you lift for 6 months, chances are that the first month or so will be a learning experience and real progress will only start at the 2nd or even 3rd month.

And even then, strength gains precede size gains, especially in beginners. One could very well add a lot of strength for 2-3 months without adding too much size, at least not enough to make a drastic visual change.

I would agree with that. A lot of ''skinny fat'' people are not skinny fat at all. They simply have no muscle, a normal amount of fat and a narrow bone structure. The visual impact is thus the skinny fat look, but it's mostly a ''non-muscular, narrow skeletal structure'' look.

A lot of people know what they look like when they start out and have an idea (more like an ideal) that they want to reach. But they somehow assume that the process is linear. It isn't.

I agree. While it is possible to lose some fat while gaining muscle, and vice versa. It is impossible for most to make significant progress in both aspects at the same time. Trying to do so normally results in failure.

That's not even the problem. The problem, and the reason that I stopped internet coaching is that I cannot control the quality of the workouts. The program might be good, but if the efforts and proper executions are not there, the results will not follow.


Ok take it easy big guy :). First of all I think you misunderstood my post. I never said all the newb classic stuff like : I'm really confused, I'm stuck, I can't gain muscle, I cant'lose fat, ooohh I don't know what to do please help etc etc etc
I also never said my nutrition is PERFECT. I said its OK and by that I mean that I don't count calories daily and measure all my meals. I have a scale and by measuring a few times in the beginning I have a general idea of the portions I need to eat.
I also have realized after reading many stuff about nutrition that it all comes down to calories in VS calories out considering of course that you follow the basic principles like 3,3 x bodyweight(kg) in protein, 0,8-0,9 x bodyweight(kg) in fat , and manipulate carbs depending on your short term goal.
On top of that, it is really much easier for me to experiment with nutrition than it is with my workouts.

Ok. To give you an example of how weak I was and STILL am, when I first started squating about 5 months ago, I could barely get 5-6 reps with an empty bar (20kg)!! Now I can get 5-6 reps with 20kg on each side.

15kg of fat at 73kg bodyweight, normal fat ?? thanks for being so kind Coach !! :slightly_smiling:

Yes you are right. I obviously meant my LONG term goals. At the moment I'm focusing on gaining weight with minimum fat.

Thankfully because he doesn't think like you do and is generous enough to give free advice to nobodys like me.

Coach I understand what you are saying but as far as I am concerned I can give you my word that I put 99% effort to my training (i don't say 100% because i don't want it to sound TOO much :slightly_smiling: but I am sure you have heard these claims hundred times before)

Like I said before, I did't send this post to say that I'm desperate and don't know what to do. I am the first one to say that I am miles away from the physique I want to accomplish, but I have started to see improvements and that's important to me. I upload the pics so that Thib can see my body type and my minor changes so far.
I know that everyone is different and doesn't respond the same to a given routine BUT I also believe that there are some PRINCIPLES that apply to everybody. So ALL I wanted from this post is to get some advice and guidance, from a great coach who has tons of experience both from his own body AND from hundred clients, for a program that would be OPTIMAL (not perfect because I realize there is no such thing) for my body type and ''condition''.
I could try an Arnold workout, a Waterbury TBT routine, a 5/3/1 Wendler routine, an I,Bodybuilder Thibaudeau workout and get decent results...but what I am aiming for is OPTIMAL results and IF I can get a little help and advice from a great coach and save some time and energy, why not ask for it ?

Anyway, Coach thank you very much. I really I appreciate you taking the time to answer.
Your help and advice is really priceless for people like me who can't afford to be your client.
Thanks again.

*sorry for the long post and sorry if my english is not that good.


The last 6 months I shoot for ~190-200gr protein, 60-70gr fat and started at 200gr carbs and INCREASED them gradually so I could see the scale move UP. This a typical day when I STARTED :

breakfast : 50gr low fat cheese
2 slices turkey
2 slices whole wheat bread
1-2 pieces of fruit
1 scoop whey protein
2 caps fish oil

preworkout : 0.5 scoop whey
10gr bcaas
25gr carbs (fruit juice)
postworkout: 1 scoop whey

lunch : ~200gr (cooked) meat/chicken/fish
~50gr carbs (brown rice/whole wheat pasta/whole wheat bread)
a big salad (with olive oil,vinegar,usually some flax seed)
2 caps fish oil

snack : 200gr low fat yogurt
1 teaspoon of honey
walnuts/almonds/peanut butter
1 fruit

dinner : same as lunch

usually I eat 2-3 cheat meals per week.

That's how I went from 66kg (first pic) to 73kg (second pic)

My nutrition will be something like this until September. But from then and on I will have the time and money to buy and prepare all my meals so I can improve it as much I can and be really strict with it. Also the only reason I don't use more supplements is because I can't afford them right now but I'll try to improve that too from Sept.


Thank you very much for your answer. I was aware of that program and I am planing to try it some time soon.


According to the meals you've listed, it doesn't really seem like it adds up to a total of 200 grams of protein?


low fat cheese : 100gr contain 36gr protein , 10gr fat .So 50gr cont. 18gr protein
2 slices turkey ~40gr : 100gr cont. 18gr protein , 2gr fat .So 40gr cont ~7gr protein
2,5 scoops protein : ~62gr protein
200gr low fat yogurt : 100gr contain 8,4gr prot , 2gr fat .So the 200gr cont. ~17gr protein
200gr cooked meat is about 250-300gr of raw meat. 100gr raw meat cont. 20gr prot .So 250-300gr cont. 50-60gr protein

Adding it all :

= 204gr protein


Oh, sorry, didn't see that you we're weighing your meat after cooking it. Won't hurt eating a little more though :wink:



Just get strong, man. I went from 155 to 225 in 4 years, gaining 2" on waist so not too much fat and a lot of muscle for my skinny frame. I squatted and deadlifting until I didn't want to do it any more then I did some more.

Squat went to 405 deep/raw and DL 505 raw. Still working on bench which has been coming along as of late, hit 340 last week close grip.
Get strong and you will answer a lot of your queries.

Bump your protein up to 1.5 grams/lb BW, bump fats to 90g/day with good fats, MCT's, EVCO, olive oil, etc. Lower carbs a bit. Try protein pulsing to eat more protein in one sitting, dial in your pre- and peri-workout nutrition and that's it - lift heavy weights, rest, grow, rinse repeat.


that is so wrong. i think your main problem is you dont really understand nutrition or your body for that matter (YET). you should really try educating yourself. look on this site for articles


No problem. Yes I know man! I will definitely eat more.


Thanks a lot for the advice and congratulations on your accomplishments/transformation. In the coming year I plan to improve my nutrition/supplementation and I'm sure I'll see some great changes.
From your own journey so far did you find any particular routine that gave you the most progress or simply felt better (in terms of getting stronger, more muscular and less fatigued) ?


What do you mean ? Could you be a little more specific ?
IF the 3,3 confused you, it's just the classic 1,5 x bodyweight in LBS. I just happen to live in europe and use kg (kilograms) for my calculations. (2,2 x 1,5 = 3,3)
So my bodyweight is 73kg x 2,2 = bodyweight in LBS = 160,6 x 1,5gr of protein/Lb = 240,9gr protein/day
And according to what I wrote in my post : 73 x 3,3 = 240,9gr protein/day
The same applies to fats.


Bill Starr's 5x5 routine was my base for a long time and what I gained a lot of weight on. Truly, almost anything will work in the beginning. Be progressive, add weight to the bar and your body will adapt.

I squatted 3x / week but only DL'ed once every 2 weeks. I found that my body wouldn't recover from too frequent DL'ing. Probably from CNS fatigued. Thib's is right, the CNS is king.

If I had to do it all over again, I would train 2x a day, shorter sessions like 30 mins each, which boosts hormonal output during day and allows more intense but shorter workouts.

I think Thib's WO from last fall was awesome, he was doing 3x / day with one movement in each session. I.E. Push Session, a.m. Push Press, midday Bench, evening Incline Press. Then a Pull day then a Leg day, then rest and repeat. He posted it in "What I am doing now."

Buy a barbell and some weights for your house if you can't make it to the gym 2x/day and do a light session in a.m. similar to Thib's "Neural Charge Workout" 70% 1RM, circuit of 4 exercises, 3 reps, repeated 4 times in 20 mins. That will really fire you up, afternoon sessions in gym will be awesome.

Peri-WO nutrition will cover up a lot of failings in your daily diet as well. Get that right and you can slack a bit during day. Read on this site about 3rd law of nutrition.

Bottom line is work hard, get under the bar, and train!


what i mean is 'calories in VS calories out' and the whole '1.5 grams protein per pound body weight' are only GUIDELINES! they are not LAWS of bodybuilding.

you need to adjust your macro's (ratios [40/40/20 or whatever]) and play with your diet until YOU find what works BEST for YOUR BODY.

everyones body reacts differently to different foods, macronutrient ratios, etc...

make sense?


work on that yoke and everything else will fall into place


I Have recently lowered the reps and do some 5x5 and feels much better than the classic 3-4x10-12 plus I got stronger in some lifts that I hadn't increase the weight for some time.
I will definitely try the ''Neural Charge Workout'' and after reading the latest articles/forum posts from CT I'd really like to learn and use the 'max force/perfect rep' training system.
Thanks a lot for your input. I appreciate


Yes absolutely, you are right. And this is the main reason that I started with the guidelines. Because I really don't know my body yet and what works best for me :slight_smile: Hopefully I'll find it by starting to experiment as I get more experienced.