From Fat Guy to Lean(ish) Dude, But What Next?

Hi all, I’ve never posted before but have been reading T-Nation for about 5 years now. The reason for the new thread is to get some thoughts on what I should be doing in order to continue improving my body composition, I hope that’s okay.

A little background: About 10 years ago I had got to the stage where I was carrying a lot of body fat. I had a lot of unresolved issues and problems with self esteem but I’m not going to make excuses I was overeating and not exercising. I was unhappy and tried all kind of fad diets with limited and short-lived success. I was also in a bad relationship and was surrounded by fat people who told me that I’d never be lean as I wasn’t ‘designed to be’ or ‘meant to be’ a thin person and were more than happy to validate my poor lifestyle choices and make me feel bad whenever I did try to do something about my weight issues.

I’m 5"11 and my waist size was 42", my body weight had exceeded 127Kgs (280 pounds), I hate to think what my body fat % was but it was probably closer to 40% than it was to 30. I had a 2 year old daughter and wanted to be able to enjoy helping her grow up rather than being some blob sitting on the sidelines never taking part or even worse not even living long enough to enjoy seeing her grow. So I got myself a multi gym and began exercising.

5 years later I had made some progress got a little stronger and got my body weight down to 102 Kgs (about 225 pounds). I didn’t really know anything about nutrition or the science behind fat loss and I certainly didn’t know anything about training so had really spent a long time spinning my wheels and not really making effective progress. So I started reading up on lifting to begin with.

I stumbled across an article somewhere about Reg Park’s 5x5 workouts and wanted to try that so I got myself a membership to a gym where I could use olympic bars and weights and hired a personal trainer to show me how to squat, bench press, deadlift and push press. It was a corporate gym so not really geared up for proper lifters, the barbell area was virtually unused.

I did get some newbie strength gains and I was hooked, I’ve been lifting 5 times a week without fail since. I started reading more and stumbled across T-Nation and haven’t needed to go to any more online resources with regards to my training.

For a couple of years I focused on getting stronger and got quite strong compared to the rest of the guys at the gym but my body weight never really changed. There must have been some re-composition as my weight wasn’t changing and I was looking slightly less fat, my self esteem however was still rock bottom and I still was carrying too much fat I would have been carrying somewhere around 25-30% fat.

3 years ago I felt so low that I paid out more than £2000 for 8 weeks of nutrition coaching and training. I was measured at 103.5Kgs body weight at 26% body fat. They put me on a zero carb plan along with high rep body part split workouts for 8 weeks and I followed it to the letter. I dropped quite a lot of fat but also a lot of strength too, I know some of the strength loss would have been down to differing leverages because of lower body fat levels and I think I lost quite a bit of muscle mass too. I ended up at 95Kgs and 20% body fat. That was the leanest I’d ever been as an adult, hardly lean I know but it was a huge difference from where I began. I realised that perhaps I could be lean even though others had tried to convince me otherwise. I also realised that a low carb or fad diet approach wasn’t a sustainable way to make the improvements I wanted so I sought advice by means of the articles on T-Nation.

I found that articles from John Berardi and Nate Miyaki were a good fit for me so I used these as a template for making the necessary changes what I eat along with limiting starchy carbs to my pre and post workout meals. I also created full body training plans borrowing methods for periodisation from some of the Chad Waterbury’s and Charles Staley’s articles.

That was three years ago, and I have stuck to my guns. I’ve been training 5 days a week without fail and have been following a fat loss style nutrition plan since. It’s been a struggle being strict with diet for that long but now at the age of 38 I have a waist size of 28", a body weight of 75kgs (165lbs) and a body fat percentage of around 10% (although I haven’t had it measured in the past year).

I’ve tried to keep my strength up and am okayish in terms of strength. My 1 rep max numbers are as follows:

Front Squat (I haven’t done a regular squat in about a year) 125Kgs (275lbs)
Deadlift 205Kgs (451lbs)
Bench 115Kgs (253lbs)
Overhead Press 85Kgs (187lbs)

My workouts are still full body splits. I use one of the above lifts in a workout using strength rep ranges but vary the rep scheme. For the rest of the workout I use compound lifts that target the rest of the body but use intermediate rep ranges for my day 1 and 2 workouts and pump rep ranges for the day 4 and 5 workouts. Day 3 is conditioning such as barbell complexes, kettle bell work, loaded carries etc.

I’m still not where I want to be in terms of body fat as I have these weird pockets of fat weighing down areas of loose skin under my left pec and below my belly button and I’m still ‘fluffy’ on my lower back. I’ve been lowering my carb intake and have seen some small losses of fat in those areas but they’re still clinging on for dear life.

I can’t find an article to help me in this regard so I’m turning to the forum.

Guys do you think I should concentrate on fat loss with an aim to reduce the size of these areas? Should I continue to increase my conditioning followed by lowering my calories as described in John Berardi’s G-flux articles? Should I look at increasing carbs strategically to gain lean mass and then look at cutting again? I just don’t know.

My worry is that I’ll just start putting on fat so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys and apologies for the lengthy post, I just felt a bit of background info was required so you understood where I’m coming from.

Some pictures of my journey (I have none prior to 2014 I never let anybody take my photo).

December 2014

Mid 2016


Excellent work man! I think you’re leaner than you think you are. IMO I think you’d be best served spending some time putting some quality muscle on your shoulders and arms. You seem like a “torso-dominant” body type, as in your chest back and abs are looking solid, but your limbs and are lagging a little



OP, you look great, and your strength is quite good for someone as trim and lean as you are. Honestly, unless you’re trying to get “stage lean” - I don’t see any pockets of fat that people at the beach / pool / etc would notice.

What next? I guess it depends on your current goals. I think you can add some quality mass without worry of much fat gain, as long as you’re careful about it. But whether that matters or not is up to you. Not everyone needs to be 220 pounds. You look great, it’s just a question of whether you want to be a little bigger.

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@lord_humongous & @ActivitiesGuy. Many thanks for the positive comments. It means a lot, I’ve never had the balls to show my progress pictures to anybody but didn’t mind sharing then here as I figured we’re probably mostly like minded folks on the forum. It’s good to know that I’m in a better place than I thought I was.

As for goals, I want to be strong (relatively) in the long term 2x body weight bench and front squat, 1.5 x bw overhead press and 3x bw deadlift. Physique wise all I’ve ever wanted is to be satisfied with how I look and to be healthy. I’m not really looking to impress anybody else but those fatty areas do bother me. I don’t want to get show ready as I don’t think I’d ever think I’d be good enough to compete but have been wondering if I’d have to get freaky lean (i.e. low single digit fat levels) to get rid of that stubborn fat or if I’d have more luck adding some size and then cutting. My neurosis is preventing that at the moment as I worry that all I’ll be doing is adding more fat to those pudgy areas.

@lord_humongous you’re right about my arms and shoulders. I rarely train arms directly as I usually train the big compound movements but they do get some stimulation from the upper body pushes and pulls. I have recently however started adding in some arm work and will continue to ramp that up.

Thanks again gentlemen, I think you’ve helped me in a decision towards adding some quality size. Do you think it would be a waste of my time to only sightly increase my calories by say 200 for a fortnight to prevent excessive fat gain and continue like that or do you think I need to start with a bigger calorie surplus?

Thanks again

I am no expert, but I think you ought to start with a very small surplus and slowly add if needed. If you’re concerned about fat gain, seems to me that the ideal situation is eating the minimal amount needed to start nudging the scale slowly upwards.

You should really ask an expert, though. If you don’t get many responses here, you might post in the Bodybuilding section so a few physique guys there see it.


Amazing transformation, well done!

Start with a small surplus and work from there, the same way you figured out how to lose weight, crazy fad stuff won’t work for long.

Building muscle is a slow process, keep it up and be patient. Look into more bodybuilding stuff and incorporate a little into your routine, I wouldn’t go crazy though.

Good luck


@ActivitiesGuy Thanks very much, I have tried something similar after finishing the keto plan with the nutritionist. Gradually started swapping out fat for carbs and very slowly bumping up calories but not by much at all and regained some lost muscle mass but I’ve been cautious about going above the 2500ish kcal mark for fear of putting fat back on so I guess I was wondering if anybody else has had similar experiences.

I’ll head to the bodybuilding forums. Thanks again.

@kd13 That’s much appreciated, thank you. It was hard work. I wish I’d have allowed someone to take a photo of me at my largest but I was too ashamed. Top advice too. I was considering adding a couple of extra isolation exercises to the end of each session and you’ve confirmed that for me. Thanks again.

Don’t be afraid. The more muscle you put on the higher your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) will be.

Just start slowly adding 200 calories, wait two weeks, watch the scale and adjust accordingly. If you monitor it consistently, you won’t wake up one day and need a crane to get off the couch.

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That would be a good plan, experiment with a few different exercises per body part, and pick the one you get the best mind muscle connection with, really learning to feel the right muscles working is gonna be key.

Have a read of the current bodybuilding thread and the mind muscle connection one in the bodybuilding section. Some great stuff in them.

Best of luck

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Thanks @dchris, realistically I know that I won’t become a blimp overnight, an irrational fear for certain but hang ups are hard to shed. I suppose the best way to overcome the fear is to bite the bullet and go for it. Thanks again

awesome transformation! You should be really proud of yourself

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Thanks @Yogi1 much appreciated.

Very inspiring story and outcome. It’s amazing how dedication, knowledge and patience can really change a person for the better!

I personally think you are lean enough. Maybe by increasing your lean mass you can fill out some of your looser skin areas? I’m not really sure but I don’t think cutting anymore is the answer for you now.

Slow and steady I would say now. You already have a shape and strength that a lot of people would be envious of. Enjoy yourself and your new body!

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Nice work brother = )

There wasn’t any mention of TRT in your post, but my 2c would be to increase your level of hormone if it’s not already optimal, and throw in 200g of red meat each day on top of what you’re already doing and you’ll be laughing (if you’re comfortable doing those things).

Either way keep it up, you should be pretty happy with your achievement already

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Thanks very much for the kind words @Irishman92 and @Chalk. I’m going to go for a bit of extra lean mass to see if that can help torch those annoying pockets of fat. I’m going to attempt the slow and steady approach and keep any additional fat gain to an absolute minimum if possible. @Chalk I’m always comfortable with eating an extra 200g of red meat :smile:


That’s great,
I wish I have the same motivation as yours.

Thanks klaux, that’s nice of you to say. My main motivator was really low self esteem and a degree of self loathing :laughing:

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