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Skinny Fat - Advice Needed


I am 23 years old, been training for 4 years, only been training properly for the past 2.5 years. Graduated high school weighing about 110lbs at 5’10, went on a see-food-eat-it diet up until January of this year. Got up to a BW of 176 at the highest, thinking I was still 15% body fat and building all this muscle (typical deluded bulker). This January I had a bod pod test done, thinking I would be around 18% BF. The results showed I was 25.5% BF at 170lbs, leaving me with a lean mass of 126.9lbs. Clearly this is pathetically low.

The issue I have is knowing where to go from here. I could cut down to around 10-12%, but that would put me at a BW of 140-145lbs. With very long arms and legs, I would just look incredibly skinny at this weight.

I understand from various sources though that the body cannot really lose lots of fat and build muscle simultaneously, thus one needs to be single minded and attack either muscle gain or fat loss.

My training is a 5-day body part split, focusing on compound movements and using isolation exercises after the main work. Form on big lifts and MMC are not an issue for me (not being arrogant here I just pride myself in being totally engaged on every rep).

The interesting thing is that I really felt I had gained a lot of muscle over the past 18 months, in fact, many people had made positive comments, however the bod pod test and pictures I took were a pretty crushing realization. But at least I now know where I stand.

Hopefully some of you can give me some advice on how to proceed, as all I ever read is “you weigh 170, just eat”, well I’ve tried that and its not worked too well. Thanks in advance.


More pictures, Back Relaxed and Lat spread.


Lat spread

Don’t beat yourself down so much. This realization stuff is a rite of passage for most aspiring lifters.

Anyway, in your place I would NOT cut at this point but TRAIN my butt off (high volume BBing stuff) and learn to eat like proper bodybuilder at slightly above maintenance. Give us more details regarding your nutrition and training so that we can make sure that you are on the right track.

First of all, you don’t look that bad. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some of us “deluded” bulkers ended up much worse…

1.) What are your immediate goals? Do you want bigger muscles, to be stronger, abs, etc…
2.) What does your diet look like.
3.) What are your numbers on the compound movements you use?

you are NOT fat

you look beautiful

What is your diet like now? How much protein do you eat a day?

Thanks to all of you for responding.
Right now my training program is a 5 day split that takes ideas from Mountain Dog principles and Ben Pakulski.

Chest
Bench press - 3 working sets 5-8 reps
Incline dumbbell press - 3 x 6-10 reps
Dips - 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
Giant set x3: cable crossovers, machine press, front raises

Back
Hammer Strength Pullovers 1pps - 3 sets of 10-20
Dumbbell rows (deadstart) - 3 sets of 10-15
Lat pulldowns - 3 sets
Deadlifts - normally work up to a triple, then 3 sets of 5. Occasional higher rep set
Hammer strength rows - 3 sets 12-20 (focus on max. contraction and good stretch)

Arms
Single arm cable curls - 2 sets (pre-activate bicep using Ben Pakulski method for max. bicep contraction)
Tricep Pushdowns - 3-4 sets
EZ bar curls - 3 sets
Lying triceps extensions - 3 sets
Overhead rope extensions - 3 sets

Legs
Lying leg curls - 4 sets of 8-15 reps
Low bar squats - 3 working sets 5-10 reps
Leg extensions - 3 working sets (each rep paused at the top for 2 seconds)
Leg press - 3 sets (normally 15-30 reps)
Romanian Deadlifts - 3 sets of 8

Shoulders
Seated DB press - 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps
Lateral raises - 4 sets
Barbell shrugs - 3 sets of 12-20 reps
Rear delt destroyer set - total 100 reps minimum with 3 weight drops

As for the weights used on my lifts (all recent workout numbers):
Bench press - 135lbs - 3x7
Squat - 155lbs - 3x8
Deadlift - 240lbs - 3x5
Dumbbell rows 100lb - 3x10
Seated dumbbell press - 40lbsx2 - 3x10
Barbell shrugs 225lbs - 3x15

I know that my poundages are poor, but just eating more to drive the numbers up has led to me gaining fat without really getting much stronger.

I should add that in the pics above, I am weighing 166.

As for my diet, this is what a current days eating would look like.

Meal 1: Protein shake (24g whey)
Meal 2: 3-4 egg omelette with ham, cheese, peppers
Meal 3: 2 Chicken Breasts with rice; maybe a couple eggs, too
Meal 4: 3 eggs, 2 slices wheat toast, water w/ creatine
TRAIN
Meal 5: Powerade (maybe 32oz.), 2 chicken breasts, small serving fruit. (On leg and back day may also have a bowl of cereal with skim milk)

I eat on campus at a dining hall so can’t count kcals, macros. However I believe that my protein requirements are at or above 1g per 1lb BW, and I try to keep carbs low prior to training, then after training eat lots of protein, simple carbs and zero fat.

This diet can vary on a day to day basis, but is pretty much what I would eat most days. Weekends can involve some junk meals.
I should add that this is the diet I have been implementing since I got my bodyfat results back in January, prior to this I would eat whatever I wanted in unlimited quantities. I have cut back on portion sizes at each meal and attempted to eat cleaner this past 3-4 months.

[quote]Claudan wrote:
you are NOT fat

you look beautiful [/quote]

Well I hope this is sarcasm…

Personally I would be moving to a strength, upper/lower split or other program where you are hitting things at least twice a week. Getting your numbers up will help you, especially when you move to a more traditional BB program.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
First of all, you don’t look that bad. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some of us “deluded” bulkers ended up much worse…

1.) What are your immediate goals? Do you want bigger muscles, to be stronger, abs, etc…
2.) What does your diet look like.
3.) What are your numbers on the compound movements you use?

[/quote]
Hopefully I answered questions 2 and 3 with my other posts. Specifically my goal is to build bigger muscles, yes, getting stronger is cool but I started lifting to gain muscle and that is still my ultimate goal.

[quote]Joe_L_B wrote:

[quote]Claudan wrote:
you are NOT fat

you look beautiful [/quote]

Well I hope this is sarcasm…[/quote]

which part?

[quote]Claudan wrote:

[quote]Joe_L_B wrote:

[quote]Claudan wrote:
you are NOT fat

you look beautiful [/quote]

Well I hope this is sarcasm…[/quote]

which part?[/quote]

The looking beautiful part haha.

Looks like you are on the right track with those changes to your diet. Have you seen any improvements in the last three weeks?

The more your diet looks like a bodybuilder’s diet, the better off you’ll be.

There is no reason you can’t track macros for cafeteria food. If tracking just isn’t your thing, then don’t do it. But it can be a huge help.

Your lifting program looks reasonable. Personally, I would drop the squats, deadlifts, and bench press.

Yep.

Take all of that extra recovery currency you’ll be saving by ditching those heavy compounds, and invest in into even more volume on everything else. Take that strength you’ve developed with the MMC and focus and apply it even more.

Find a calorie intake at or even slightly BELOW maintenance. Get lean. If you are eating and lifting right, you won’t lose muscle in the process, you’ll probably gain it.

By the way, that bodyfat percentage you got from that machine seems off. I don’t think you’re as far away as you think. Drop about 8 pounds and start eating and lifting like a bodybuilder, and you’ll see results.

It’s a good thing you have already let go of “chasing numbers”, because from a physique standpoint, I really don’t think it will get you very far. I see a ton of skinny fat guys who focus on strength and end up fat with maybe some thickness in the chest and back, but still skinny little T-Rex arms. The reason they have to tell everyone how much they can deadlift is because nobody would ever have a reason to ask how much they deadlift.

Before you decide to bulk or cut, be honest with yourself about YOUR genetics. Too many times the skinny-fat type will be given the advice that
" oh, your just not eating enough". But when they do even in a small surplus, the excess seems to favor fat storage over synthesizing muscle tissue.

I consider a TRUE skinny-fat body type to be someone who gains fat just looking at food, but can’t gain more than 3-5 pounds of REAL muscle a year. Almost a cross between and endo and ecto. And it is this genetic type that falls into the trap of thinking even at 15% bf and up, they can just eat their way to real gains and end up having to do a massive cut later with little to show for the bulk.

This is a “controversial” opinion to the common bulk or cut question but even John Meadows latest article touches on this. He believes the higher your bf, the less primed your muscle building engines will be.

You may not like getting “skinnier” but it may be what you need for long term success. You have to understand your body best and not take the one size fits all “just bulk” approach

Have you ever tried a 3 day a week full body routine?

You might just be getting in too much trash volume and isolation which is draining your cns and not allowing you to recover properly. Not everyone has the genetics to gain optimally on a 5 day split it’s just too much volume for some. I’d recommend doing a 3 day a week full body routine with mostly big compounds and very little isolation with loaded carries at the end of each workout like Christian Thibaudeau suggests. See how your body responds because obviously after 2.5 years of trying to train like that it hasn’t been working too well for you. I’d try switching things up. You could end up responding much better.

Check out what Christian says in this thread it might help you out: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_thibaudeau/easyhard_gainer

Also the article on loaded carries: http://www.T-Nation.com/training/timed-carries-for-traps-arms-core

[quote]Serge A. Storms wrote:
Looks like you are on the right track with those changes to your diet. Have you seen any improvements in the last three weeks?

The more your diet looks like a bodybuilder’s diet, the better off you’ll be.

There is no reason you can’t track macros for cafeteria food. If tracking just isn’t your thing, then don’t do it. But it can be a huge help.

Your lifting program looks reasonable. Personally, I would drop the squats, deadlifts, and bench press.

Yep.

Take all of that extra recovery currency you’ll be saving by ditching those heavy compounds, and invest in into even more volume on everything else. Take that strength you’ve developed with the MMC and focus and apply it even more.

Find a calorie intake at or even slightly BELOW maintenance. Get lean. If you are eating and lifting right, you won’t lose muscle in the process, you’ll probably gain it.

By the way, that bodyfat percentage you got from that machine seems off. I don’t think you’re as far away as you think. Drop about 8 pounds and start eating and lifting like a bodybuilder, and you’ll see results.

It’s a good thing you have already let go of “chasing numbers”, because from a physique standpoint, I really don’t think it will get you very far. I see a ton of skinny fat guys who focus on strength and end up fat with maybe some thickness in the chest and back, but still skinny little T-Rex arms. The reason they have to tell everyone how much they can deadlift is because nobody would ever have a reason to ask how much they deadlift.[/quote]

Thanks for commenting.
I’ve dropped around 6-10lbs fairly gradually and I am a lot leaner in the face/neck, dropped around 2 inches on my waist, so things have improved.

Glad you agree about not chasing numbers. All the guys I know who train for strength think they are jacked because they squat 3+plates, but to regular people they barely even look like they lift. I don’t want to fall into this trap, and that is why I began training like a bodybuilder (orignally I did starting strength and then greyskull LP).

I was thinking that maybe at 155-160 I could start to look leaner, even if my BF percentage would still be fairly high (numerically speaking).
Interesting take on dropping the compound lifts, something for me to think about.

[quote]giograves wrote:
Before you decide to bulk or cut, be honest with yourself about YOUR genetics. Too many times the skinny-fat type will be given the advice that
" oh, your just not eating enough". But when they do even in a small surplus, the excess seems to favor fat storage over synthesizing muscle tissue.

I consider a TRUE skinny-fat body type to be someone who gains fat just looking at food, but can’t gain more than 3-5 pounds of REAL muscle a year. Almost a cross between and endo and ecto. And it is this genetic type that falls into the trap of thinking even at 15% bf and up, they can just eat their way to real gains and end up having to do a massive cut later with little to show for the bulk.

This is a “controversial” opinion to the common bulk or cut question but even John Meadows latest article touches on this. He believes the higher your bf, the less primed your muscle building engines will be.

You may not like getting “skinnier” but it may be what you need for long term success. You have to understand your body best and not take the one size fits all “just bulk” approach[/quote]

I’m realistic that my genetics aren’t stellar, but I really do feel that I only gain fat when I consciously try to eat a lot. Also, I believed that I had been putting on quality tissue, then I got my body comp tested and had to reevaluate.

I agree with you that I may have to accept that supporting a lean 190lbs may be a difficult task with my natural frame. I’m okay with that, just trying to figure out where to go from here.

See attached picture of where I started (that’s me at 19 years old). Safe to say I was no young Arnold, but I can’t believe I put on mostly fat since then.

Really appreciate your comments.

[quote]LordDogwood wrote:
Have you ever tried a 3 day a week full body routine?

You might just be getting in too much trash volume and isolation which is draining your cns and not allowing you to recover properly. Not everyone has the genetics to gain optimally on a 5 day split it’s just too much volume for some. I’d recommend doing a 3 day a week full body routine with mostly big compounds and very little isolation with loaded carries at the end of each workout like Christian Thibaudeau suggests. See how your body responds because obviously after 2.5 years of trying to train like that it hasn’t been working too well for you. I’d try switching things up. You could end up responding much better.

Check out what Christian says in this thread it might help you out: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_thibaudeau/easyhard_gainer

Also the article on loaded carries: http://www.T-Nation.com/training/timed-carries-for-traps-arms-core
[/quote]

I think I would look into something like this. I think you need more frequency on the compound lifts, and just a more simple program. Squat, Bench, OH Press, Deadlift, Rows. Each 2-3 times a week. 3 full body workouts a week, or 2 upper/2 lower weekly split.

And more detail and attention to your diet. Work to establish your baseline calories, and then increase by 500 or so and monitor.