T Nation

Skinny Fat 35yo, Advice?


Hi Guys - I've been lurking here for a long time and love the good info on T Nation, so signed up after reading a bunch of the stickys etc.

I need help.

I was overweight a few years back and thru calorie counting and bw/lifting was able to lose a lot of that weight. I'm 5ft8in and 69kg at 24%BF from caliper test after the last 12 months of seriously hard work..

This result shocked me as I thought I was closer to 12-13%BF according to the electronic scale. Anyway, I did the TNation online body type assessment and it confirmed for me what I've known for years - skinny fat. I find it very hard to lose fat below where I am now, yet also very hard to gain muscle.

I store the vast majority of fat on my lower chest and abdomen. Poliquin site/hormone advice did nothing for me. I look trim in a t shirt, but look a joke at the beach/pool. This bothers me immensely

For a couple of weeks I felt like quitting. But I'm nit a quitter. So I'm getting back on the horse. But i dont know what to do next... I can't keep treading water year after year to attain a basic V shape

My goals: baby steps. I'd be ecstatic with first adding 10kg of mass and being close to 10%BF

My question: do I....
1. Cut first - bc seriously I can't take these bitch tits any longer, or
2. Bulk then cut
And - depending on option 1 or 2 - what is the best program?

The conflicting arguments running around my head are:
- Maybe I don't have enough mass in the first place to get to a good low bf%, so bulk first
- why the f$&k can't I get below 20-something BF? I have a sedentary job and don't drink/smoke
- how long is this going to take? I'm a high school boxer and competent at pretty much all lifts (albeit never having focused on strength) - so I'm not going to get newbie gains
- any supps that can help the chest fat? Thru diet I have increased my T ( regular blood work) but Whilst E seems normal I think T to E conversion is going on
- sugar makes me fat for sure. What's going on with insulin?

To assist the analysis/response:
- diet: rmr 1800 usually run. 300 cal deficit with refereed every 5-7 days
- wake up; green tea and work out fasted state
- pwo: whey with coconut water
- bfast is meat n veg most days (usually have some berries and nuts too), occasionally eggs instead
- lunch is a chicken salad wig olive oil, occasionally steak/ribs n broccoli instead
- pm snack is a shake and some almonds
- dinner is meat, veg, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa (occasionally fish)
- supps: am zinc and multiv, pm magnesium, some Dha and hcl with most meals

Split is:
- upper body x2 pw
- lower body x2 pw
- cardio (usually sprints 1-2pw depending how tired I am)
- Deload every fourth week (otherwise intend to get run down and over trained)
- 3-4 sets per body part, rep range 8-12
- almost all compound exercises (I'm not that strong but I'm getting better, except chins at 10reps)

Any detail/advice on how to approach my goals and what program/diet would suit - I'd be extremely grateful to you. I know these numbers are paltry compared to some of the seasoned guys on here - but I have to start somewhere.
Thx in advance



Know completely where you're coming from. I went on the advice of a trainer for 6 months to try to "bulk"... and lessen the look of the fat, for starters, and that only got me fatter in the area I was most concerned about! I stay far away from rice and wheat (unless I'm cheating.) But, to lose the 'bitchtits,' you've got to focus on low-angle incline press with DBs maily. Still work entire chest, but put the heaviest effort towards pumping up the upper chest/clavicle/front delts. There's a man on here EyeDentist who raves about lateral raises and he's so right! Makes your shoulders expand almost instantly if done properly. OH! And traps. Work those good. They pull the focus UP, visually and physically.

Those are just things that have helped me very recently add slight bits of mass. Still trying to figure out diet that I can live with that won't make me blow up like a beached whale. But I notice a HUGE positive difference in bloating and "flabby feelings" when I drink at least a gallon of water a day.

Work your whole body. Drink a lot of water and strong green tea (steep for 30 minutes). Eat (and drink) the protein that digests best for you. Tons of greens and other veggies. Don't mess around with T-boosters (I got more boob fat from those than if I were eating a soy-based diet!) heavy duty multi-vitamin and a good Omega 3 plus D supplement. I bet you'll get there FAST!

Also, you mentioned something about over-training. If you don't FEEL well enough to get to the gym, you've done something wrong, in my book. What I've learned is that going a moderate pace/weight and not pushing myself to failure and just getting completely beat down is a much better way to keep me motivated and feeling great. Until you've got the fat percentage down(don't focus on the numbers, go on how you feel and look) there is NO POINT in trying to kill yourself at the gym. It's counterproductive. I had to take 2 months off b/c I allowed someone to train the hell out of me and I just wasn't there yet. Felt like shit, headaches, injuries.. blah blah blah.. so I do weights that are manageable and focus on the form and the "burn" and low-impact cardio. Walks outside.. slow pace on treadmill for 50 minutes. Then once I'm conditioned better, one day I'll pick up the heavier weights and do 5 reps.

The worst part is seeing the fat stored where you don't want it. You can get giant muscles later. You've just got to keep yourself in the gym, and feeling great because at this stage in the game, the fat is the enemy. Not the "lack of musculature." Hope I said something that helps. I've been in your exact situation and I'm still working on it.. so I feel ya.


I think I was at a similar situation when I started to get in shape. I decided to drop weight first. For me this worked because its easier to see weight loss and gauge if you are making progress. I would have been scared to add mass and actually get fatter. I think most lifting programs will have good results when you are new but the biggest game changer for me was my diet. I know its a pain in the ass but I made my largest strides when I started to weigh all my food and meal prep. Im sure guys who have been doing this for years know their bodies well enough and can wing it more. I leaned out enough where now Im starting to bulk. One thing that surprised me was that when I lost the weight I wanted, I felt skinny and wanted to add. Guess thats the thing you feel the best about yourself after 1 week in the gym after that you always want more


Some perspective is in order, I think. Absent heavy PED use, I would not characterize gaining 22# of muscle and shedding ~14% BF in a non-teen/non-noob as a 'baby step.' (At your age and size, the LBM addition alone would be one hell of an achievement if you could do it in 5 years or so.)

If your long-term goals include a significant LBM increase, you are more likely to be successful if you postpone the cut--you ain't getting any younger, and the older you get, the harder it will be to acquire LBM. That said, if you are profoundly unhappy with your current appearance, and it's that important to you to have a short-term improvement in your appearance, then by all means cut.

This depends on many factors.

The odds are that your hormone levels are fine. But if you're concerned about them, and it's going to be in the back of your mind sowing doubt, you should talk to your doc about getting your levels checked, and resolving the issue once and for all.

Insulin is like fire--properly controlled, it is an extremely useful tool, but if left unchecked it can wreak havoc.

Does this mean you average 1800 cals/d, or 1500 cals/d? Either way, how long have you been eating this way?

Not a big fan of fasted weightlifting myself.

Can you break your intake down into macros/d?

Also, please consider posting a photo.


Thanks guys. This is all helpful and has given me a confidence boost
Key ideas
- fat us the enemy. I can't take it any longer so I'll go the cut
- upper chest and delt work for visual improvement
- more water, omega 3s
- watch the over training (I definitely overdo it at times)
- watch the food (yup I wing some meals and blow out on re-feeds sometimes)

- thx for the reality check on my goals. It's better this than the over-cooked goals PTs give me
- been doing fasted state for 6 months, I'm not convinced either, will prolly stop that
- macros are: carbs 84g (low sugar), protein 125g, fat 73g = 1500cal per day
- maint cals are 1800, so I guess I'm consuming 1500 without factoring minus 200 to 400 calls for the workout makes me think I'm under eating? I've been doing this for about a year. I've upped it a but actually in the last few months but am hesitant to get added fat... Maybe I've hit a wall bc of body in survival mode?
Is that too much fat?

Split ideas
- Elliot hulse recommends 5x5 three days pw for 40mins followed by 20 min light treadmill + one day pw cardio (I could do sprints and/or boxing fir an hour on Saturdays). This I could manage

Starting to feel like I'm getting somewhere on this topic. Thank you everyone.

Any other insights?


Here's my two cents. Focus on performance...ie. getting stronger, faster, more explosive. Log your training (notice I didn't say workout) with tangible performance goals. I would recommend you train towards 5 rep max goals with your lifting. Choose a proven program and run with it. You're not eating atrociously so I'd make the training changes first and keep your eating plan the same. You will force your body to "change" in order to preform better.....that change will be a positive one from where you are now.

Play with different eating strategies when the training starts yielding results (rewards). Don't change everything overnight (diet,training,lifestyle) or you'll risk failing. Focus on one monster at a time....the training is the hardest monster. If you haven't already done so, purchase Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 and do what he says. It's a small investment that will change your approach to training

Good luck achieving your goals


Good. Absent PED augmentation, I'd say fasted AM weightlifting while cutting is about as bad as it gets from a metabolic standpoint.

Damn, that's not much food. Is this an accurate depiction of your typical non-cheat-day intake? Are you measuring/weighing your food?

Very possible. If we assume your pre-cut daily requirement was 15 cal/lb/d (a good approximation for an adult male who exercises hard for ~1 hr/d, but is o/w sedentary), your caloric requirements at your current weight would be ~2300 cals/d. Assuming a metabolic slowdown (from extended dieting) of 10% would put you at ~2070 or so. Factoring in 1 cheat meal/week @1500 cals/meal, if you're taking in 1500 cals/d you should be losing ~.5 lb/week. In this regard, what has your weight been doing over the last month? If you haven't lost a couple of pounds or so, something's off.

I would say yes, at least on lifting days. IMO, your protein intake is borderline low, and your carb intake is def low (on lifting days). Ideally, protein should be ~1 g/lb/d (so ~150 g/d), and carbs (on weightlifting days) should be ~1 g/lb + 50 g/hr lifting (so ~200 g/d, assuming you lift about an hour). So on a lifting day you would take in 350 g of pro + carbs = 1400 cals, which would eat up essentially all of your cals for the day. Even if we leave protein at 125 g and dial back on the carbs to 150 g/d, you would be at 275 g P+C = 1100 cals, leaving 400 cals (~44 g) for fat.

One way to circumvent this issue would be carb/calorie cycling. This entails running calories at maintenance on lifting days, and below maintenance on non-lifting days, with the caloric shift being a function of changes in carb intake. This is the approach I employed in my recent cut. (You can find details in the post entitled 'EyeDentist: How do you train?' in the BSL subforum).

Would you be willing to consider whole-body workouts 3x/week, and doing cardio on alternate days?

Edit: Before you respond, let me add that, IMO, the best lifting program/style of training is whichever one you enjoy the most--because this is the one you're apt to pursue with the most enthusiasm and consistency.


Thats way too simple cant possibly work :wink:


You just want him to do push ups every day.




Thx everyone for the advice. I'm going to incorporate it all into my new plan which I started yesterday; much stricter diet (carb cycling us new to me though)
+ hormone specific sups (calcium d glucarate, curcumin, grape seed/resveratrol - on top of the usual multi am and sma pm)

I'm going for 5x5 three days pw with some TUT work after each set and a 29min low impact cardio to make up the full hour (got the idea from Elliot gules strength damp btw). Plus one day pw cardin(boxing and/or some sprints)

Eye dentist - can't do any more days lifting, especially full body. I've tried many times and I just get over trained and catch the flu. Even monthly de-load didn't really fix it. Without compromising on firm or making excuses - I think I need to be honest with myself and work within my abilities

Not sure about the daily push-up thing. I did that anyway as a boxer and there was no spot reduction, of course. But all comments are your time and effort guys - so are truly appreciated. Keep em coming!

I'll post again when I make some gains


Personally, I'd take it easy with the low impact cardio stuff. It won't help much with fat loss, and can be catabolic if done too much, especially if on a caloric deficit. I'd suggest more lifting to fill up the hour, or HIIT conditioning such as sled pull/pushes or farmer's walks.


I was in the same situation and it´s difficult to fix because you´re not young anymore. If a 20 year old guy trains it just works with a good diet, for us oldies it doesn´t. I suggest you check the youtube channel from Gert Louw. It helped me a lot. I´m still working on it but look much better than before. I bulked for about one year and now I´m starting the cutting-building workouts this guy suggests. but most important I think is patience. You´re not a testosterone machine any more so it will take longer. To boost T levels I´ve found what better works is to have some healthy fats just before going to sleep (nuts, avocado, flax seed oil…) zink and vitamin C. I´m not sure why this is, I think you need those things to make T in your body and this is done during the night. Good luck!