T Nation

Skinny Fat and Poor Genetics, Need Guidance

I’ve been spinning my wheels to long and need some advice. Poor diet/exercise during adolescence has made getting a good physique now very difficult. I store most of my fat in lower abs, chest, and love handles. Last year I tried to do a slower lean bulk to add mass but was not happy with where it ended up (middle picture). I’m currently trying to lose the excess fat before I begin another lean bulk phase. Currently sitting around 165lbs, 25 years.

Looking for direction on whether I should change my approach.

Training is as follows (can elaborate if need be).
Day 1 - Legs quad focus
Day 2 - Chest
Day 3 - Back
Day 4 - off or HIIT
Day 5 - Legs ham focus
Day 6 - Shoulders/Traps
Day 7 - Arms/abs
Day 8 - off or HIIT

Current Lifts
Squat - 255lbs x 5
DL - 310lbs x 5
Bench - 190lbs x 5

Nutrition - Typical Day
5am - Black coffee before lifting
6am - BCAA’s during workout
7am - Smoothie post workout (protein, berries, spinach, almond milk, flax seeds)
12pm - 6-8oz meat, 2-3 cups veg, 1 cup quinoa, lots of olive oil
6pm - 6-8oz meat or fish, bag of greens, 1/2 avocado, nuts, lots of olive oil

Usually totals around 2000 cals; 150g Pro, 150g Carb, 70g Fat

Supps: Fish oil, Vitamin D, CLA, ZMA

Help an aspiring lifter out…

Did you ever try to switch up your routine? I don’t feel like I can progress all that well on 1x a week split.

During your bulk, did you actually increase your strength by any significant amount? Judging by your numbers, I’d guess no.

Your not actually that fat, it looks like you have your hips that are causing you to think you have love handles. I can assure you, no matter how lean you get your hips are still going to be there. You did have some love handles at 185 but at 165 there really isn’t much there.

As for whether you should change your approach, I would say if after 3 years if you made almost no progress then yes go ahead and change your approach.

I don’t really see how you even got 2000 calories from what you’re eating though, quick math tells me you’re only eating 1830. Which is kind of low, espeically if your doing HIIT.

What’s with "a lot of


Hope you don’t hate me for tearin u up a little here, but that’s what you’re lookin for, I think.

Before I even start, rule # 1 EAT BREAKFAST. Not even gonna get into this one just do it, If you want more explanation read some articles by Dan John he’s way smarter than me and can probly convince u. I’m sincerely hoping “fasted training” isn’t part of your plan.

1.) How you trained and ate during adolescence, has nothing to do with what you can accomplish now. total waste of time thinkin that way.

2.) you sometimes work out 7 days a week? That obviously isn’t working, lots of possibilities here but how about trying a 4 day split? I been lifting for years and training on your schedule, I don’t think I’d be able to recover properly at all. Are you training for the sake of training, or with an intelligent and thought out plan with a purpose down the road, i.e, a goal with a good plan on getting there.

3.) Before you start your “lean bulk phase.” I fuckin hate when people say that shit, I’m sorry… no offense, either bulk or don’t bulk. What does “Lean bulk” even mean, you’re going to eat lean and hope to gain a few pounds? That isn’t bulking. If you wanna bulk up then bulk up, at your body weight that should be pretty fuckin easy too. “Lean bulking” is a mindset that leads to people staying exactly where they’re at, scared to gain a pound of fat yet wanting to get bigger at the same time. It doesn’t work, period.

  1. There’s a long break (5 hours) between your post workout meal and your next meal, not a huge thing here i guess but if it’s possible, and especially if you’re bulking, how about a meal thrown in between those two?

5.) My brother stayed with me this summer. He wanted to “lean bulk” I had him lift heavy, 4 days a week, and eat like a mother fucker. He went from 200 to 228 lbs. He didnt look any leaner or fatter in the belly area, basically the same, but he def. looked a fuck of a lot bigger and stronger.

Also, #6. You don’t have poor genetics. Stop believing that shit. Your genetics are fine. work with what you got like everyone else. You get to believing shit like that and it becomes something you take to be reality when it is just some bullshit you told urself at one point and now take to be the truth when it is in fact not true at all.

Full body workouts 3 days a week big compounds you could try iifym, go to the iifym website use the calorie calculator find out how much you should be eating to gain muscle (in my opinion you don’t want to gain more fat than necessary when eating to gain, knowing how many calories you need and tweaking it based on how you are reacting) Check out John Meadows nutrition articles. Find out your macros if you are into that. Also do loaded carries at the end of each workout check out Christian Thibaudeau’s article on loaded carries. And do hiit once a week if you want on a rest day.

You might want to try lower reps with heavier weights if you’ve been doing higher reps… It looks like you have a really slow metabolism you need to start ramping it up. Might want to check out this article as well: http://www.T-Nation.com/diet-fat-loss/truth-about-metabolic-damage. You need to fix your workout nutrition big time. Before and after your workout is where you want to structure most of the day’s carbs or you’ll have a much harder time gaining muscle and boosting your metabolism. Check out this John Meadows article on workout nutrition because yours is ineffective :http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/maximize_protein_synthesis.

It looks like you’ve damaged your metabolism over dieting and reducing calories for too long. Your body just doesn’t want to build muscle. You need to ramp up your metabolism don’t go too fast or you’ll just put on a bunch of fat again. Fix your workout nutrition, simplify your workouts and do some reading. Maybe ask John Meadows a question or two in his thread.

Focus on a strength program with full-body work outs. Perform the lifts with correct technique. Drop your limiting beliefs.

Your lower back and abs may not be seeing much improvement because you are poor at using them in the lifts. Check your hamstring, glutes, and hip mobility.


I switched up my routine every 12-16 weeks or so but have always had high volume, might need to change this up. I did increase lifts during my bulk last year. I don’t remember exact stats but it was around 25-40lbs each on my big lifts. Those have gone down just a little since I started cutting this January but only 10 or so pounds.

I agree that a change of approach (diet and routine) is needed I’m just looking for help from those more experienced when I make that decision.


I do appreciate the bluntness, that is what I was looking for. I’ll touch on a few of your remarks below:

-I train fasted due to work time constraints. I leave for work at 6:45 which doesn’t leave much time for a proper breakfast before lifting. I’ve read numerous times that total daily nutrition at the end of the day is far more important than timing throughout the day. The most I would probably do is a protein shake and banana, anything more wouldn’t sit well during training.

-I will likely be switching to a 2 on 1 off schedule soon; rotating between push, pull, legs

-I may not have been clear, I’m currently cutting until I’m lean enough to bulk again. I guess all I meant by lean bulk is that I tend to end pretty healthy and am not in a rush to gain weight fast. I’m fine eating in a slight surplus during those times aiming for 1/2lb per week. I have already proven that I can gain weight I just wasn’t happy with how I looked aesthetically.

-I’m not trying to make excuses by saying poor genetics. My father’s side has a history with heart problems and he is diabetic. We have always had to stay away from too many sugars and high cholesterol. I am ready and willing to put in the work. I don’t wake up at 5am every morning to bust my ass for no reason.


Thank you on all points. I’ll look into the articles you linked and touch base with Meadows.


Yes I’ve had ATP for years now and haven’t focused enough on trying to fix. One thing that has helped a lot is getting a standing desk at the office. I still come home and do about 10-15 minutes of stretching due to my hips/hams being sore.

All - Given my stubborn fat areas should I continue to try to cut before I bulk again? Regardless of the diet sounds like incorporating more rest is a must.

Yup I’d try that new split, shuffle the meal timing a little with the bulk of carbs before and after training ( i know before is tough, a shake is fine takes 2 minutes to put all that stuff in the blender.) Hey, it’s a new approach and something to be excited about. Also, is it possible to train after work? Just a thought, but who knows it could be a good thing. Keep going at it, you’ll figure it out I have no doubt.

Even with the worst “genetics” you can make far better progress than that, if I may also be blunt. Something is lacking either in your recovery, training, nutrition or all of them. I only see 2 meals there your skipping breakfast, no idea how you manage to do that I would die if I worked out on an empty stomach. Start eating breakfast is number 1. Not sure how much sleep your getting but make sure your getting 8 hours but above all you have to be consistent (something ive learned recently), change up your routine also. Stronglifts 5x5 is worth a try.

  1. I suggest you recomp a bit and move on. You have too little muscle to look good if you drop too much weight.

  2. You seem to not place strength gains as a priority along with diet. Start doing that. This does not mean changing you routine drastically like picking up a powerlifting routine. Even on your current routine, you can make gains as long as if your bodyweight goes up, your bench goes up by a larger amount. Your current muscle mass matches your lifts. Its not bad genetics.

Plan is as follows:

Diet: Move calories to earlier in the day and increase daily total. Protein shake before lifting and more carbs after? Feedback appreciated

Training: Switch to Upper/Lower split with more rest, again feedback appreciated


  • Weighted Pullups 4x6
  • Bent over barbell row 5x5
  • Seated DB overhead press 3x10
  • Incline Bench press 4x8
  • a) Weighted Dips 3x8
  • b) Ab Rollouts


  • Lying leg Curls 2x12
  • Front squats 5x5
  • Rear foot elevated split squat 3x10
  • Stiff leg deadlift 4x8
  • a) Calve raises 3x15
  • b) Weighted Planks



  • Weighted Chinups 5x5
  • Bench press 5x5
  • 1 Arm DB row 4x8
  • Incline DB Flys 3x10
  • a) Bicep curls 3x10
  • b) Hanging Leg Raises


  • Glute Bridge 3x12
  • Back squats 5x5
  • Reverse Lunges 4x6
  • Leg Extensions 4x10
  • a) Calve raises 3x12
  • b) Deadbugs

SATURDAY - HIIT/foam rolling


[quote]dgallagher88 wrote:

Nutrition - Typical Day
5am - Black coffee before lifting
6am - BCAA’s during workout
7am - Smoothie post workout (protein, berries, spinach, almond milk, flax seeds)
12pm - 6-8oz meat, 2-3 cups veg, 1 cup quinoa, lots of olive oil
6pm - 6-8oz meat or fish, bag of greens, 1/2 avocado, nuts, lots of olive oil

Not eating properly for 5 hours post training is your no.1 problem.

Eat 4 solid meals a day and do this…

I like this workout plan a hell of a lot better than what you were doing before. I’d keep an eye towards looking to get stronger on the lifts you’ve chosen to hit with a 5x5 protocol. Keep a good log and try to break PR’s… But good for you, Hit it hard and let me know how it works out.

[quote]MikeRich928 wrote:
I like this workout plan a hell of a lot better than what you were doing before. I’d keep an eye towards looking to get stronger on the lifts you’ve chosen to hit with a 5x5 protocol. Keep a good log and try to break PR’s… But good for you, Hit it hard and let me know how it works out. [/quote]

Thanks Mike.

Starting a log in the link below for any interested in following.

Today was my first actual day off in as long as I can remember…