T Nation

Skinny-Fat Blues

Alright. I’m frustrated as hell. Pissed off and almost ready to quit. I’ve spent considerable time thinking about my progress over the last 2 years. As a newbie I saw some good gains. I saw my strength increase rapidly, bodyfat drop, and size increase. About once a week I’d have new stretch marks open up on my biceps. And as a typical newbie I didn’t keep a workout or food log and I didn’t even track my weight or bodyfat. I just ‘knew’ I was getting better. In fact, I didn’t work legs for the 1st 6 months and didn’t do cardio until a year after that. My diet consisted of some soy protein (maybe 80g/day), GatorAde, and take out food. I hit a peak about a year ago. Waist was down to about 32" and I weighed about 190#. Still didn’t know what bodyfat % was. I was benching 265 (1rm) and 225x7 fairly consistantly. Started using whey (tons of it), Nandrosol, Androsol, Tribex, and finally Finasol. Did long cycles of Clomid, T2, and MD6. I cycled between 177# and 196# trying to cut and gain repeatedly. Did Fat Fast with great results the 1st time. Later attempts weren’t so good. When I was 196# my gf commented that I was getting too fat and that I looked better when I was leaner (back @ 185#). Tried to cut several times but didn’t make much progress until about 3 months ago. After I read JMB’s method of bf reduction by doing cardio for a month while maintaining bw then dropping cals I tried that. BAM! I dropped from 190# to 178# in 20 days! I came off that diet feeling great. I felt like I made a serious dent in the bf finally and my strength was just under my alltime best until the end.

Now I’m all screwed up. My strength and endurance have been in the gutter for last couple of months. I started trying to shock myself into growth by varying my routine but any amount of overfeeding is just expanding my waist. When I look in the mirror I look ‘less’ muscular and cut than I did a year ago. Somehow I’ve lost my shoulder width and my upper pecs are almost nonexistent. Legs have come up a bit but I feel like my overall look has been compromised. More ‘skinny/fat’ than when I started. I’m caught in a perpetual loop of trying to cut 'cause I got no abs and trying to build 'cause I got no shoulders.

So if you know what the problem is: “I’m caught in a perpetual loop of trying to cut…and trying to build…”, then why don’t you fix it? Are you overtraining, currently keeping food/diet logs? Are you training right, or do you just THINK you’re training right? Do you over-do the cheat meals, when you probably should completely skip them? You’re going to have to make the decision: bulk or diet. Set a goal, formulate a plan, then stick to it like your MRP sticks to the side of your shaker cup. When you’re done with your first goal, maintain for maybe 2-4 weeks, then create a plan for the opposite goal. Don’t gain too much fat when bulking, ie don’t get up to 30% bodyfat, and don’t loose too much muscle when cutting, ie don’t lose 20 lbs in four weeks 50% fat mass, 50% LBM. What else can be said? You know what you need to do, so go do it. Remember, mediocre discipline will get you mediocre results.

Lipo: Let me begin by saying that I don’t have a lot of “science” or articles to quote on this one, but sometimes it’s VERY beneficial to the mind, body and spirit to stop EVERYTHING (except maybe a clean, caloric neutral diet in order to maintain weight, with a lot of “cheat” meals and foods thrown in), and sort of almost “start from the beginning” after that period of time.


We really can punish our bodies AND our mind with this workout and nutrition stuff. Our bodies simply “adapt” on us so that the same stimulus will not only NOT give us gains, but as in your case, may cause us to revert.


Give things a rest, and I’ll bet you body will again show progress.

I have to agree with Choad. Also, it’s not unusual for newbies to weight training to experience great initial results. Once you move out of that “newbie” arena, however, you need to keep “upping the ante” so that your body continually experiences gains.

It sounds like a couple of things are going on here: you are either mentally/physically overtraining, are trying to over-analyze your every move/decision in the gym and kitchen - and then doing exactly what Choad suggested: NOTsticking with a routine long enough to see results. Also, I see on your list alot of supplements - but what are you doing for food? When was the last time you took a break from the gym? Sounds like you need a break now -so that you can properly formulate a plan of action.

Take a break from analyzing every crevice of your physique - step away. You really do sound like it's time for sometype of "heavy-duty" training - a 3-4 day a week "powerlifting" type of program for 6-weeks. Create a plan of action, commit, maintain a food log to make sure you're eating enough calories that exceed your expenditures - so that you can gain LBM. And good luck.

I eat clean and have for about the last year (ie no milk, candy, fried food, etc.). My ratios are about 40-30-30 and I kept a food log for a few months but my diet content doesn’t really change so I adjust cals by altering specific food selections. A cheat meal for me is a Zone bar. Cutting or bulking cycles are usually 4-6 weeks. But as the rest of the skinny/fat population probably knows, gaining 5# of fat while gaining really shows. I’ve fucked with my training volume quite a bit and found that I ‘lose’ strength when I reduce sets. I also have a hard time getting my head together in the gym after several days off. I don’t feel rested. One of the problems I’m fighting is water shift. I tend to hold or lose up to 8# of water. Which means when I cut I get extremely flat and when I’m bulking I look bloated. My current stats are 5’10", 182#, ~12%. I had a goal of 200#@8%. This seems to be getting further away.

Try one of those water pills or something. Is there anything that has worked for you? When you have cut, have you tried a keto diet? Maybe you are thinking about things too much. A stress free environment is the best. If you are freaking out about everything than your body is too. What is your cardio routine? If not already, then try sprinting or some type of martial art/boxing. People get good results. And if you are constantly bulkin and cutting, then You should find a maintenance spot for a while. Shocking your body can be bad in a way. Another approach could be too keep on lifting in the same routines, just change cal intake and cardio supp. Lots of options, just see what works. We have nothing but time.

Lipo - I think Mufasa’s advice is right on. I was getting really frustrated with my lack of progress and decided to take 5 weeks off of hard core training, nutrition and log keeping to transition jobs, move apartments, and generally relax.

I'm still eating clean most of the time, but I'm throwing in plenty of pizza and ice cream when I feel like it. I'm still training, but if I'm totally run down, I'll skip a day.

I plan to be in this game for the rest of my life and I definately think we need some periods of down time. After I'm done moving at the end of May, I'll be primed to go all out in all gears during the summer.

12 weeks of ABCDE with MAG-10 used on the high cal weeks. I'm excited about the future results and training program and I don't think I would be as excited if I was not taking a break right now.

BTW, the only log I'm still keeping is my morning weight and body fat percentage and I've gotten leaner and maintained my body weight. I attribute this to the lack of stress and worry about my training and diet.

Good luck! Honestly, I know how you feel. I've been stuck in a skinny fat body all of my life and by Jan 1, 2003 there will only be distant memories of my skinny fat body.

As a side note, Eric and I had a great discussion about what you're feeling because we were feeling the same things. Final product of our discussion was to write down your goals.

Where do you want to be in 10 years, 5years, 2 years, 1 year, 1 month, etc. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, resonable and time bound or something like that.

Again, good luck, don't give up! Learning from your struggles will only make you better and stronger.

I couldn’t agree more with what Jason said. Actually getting all of my goals into specific words and saved in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet really proved to be a major turning point for me. Most people don’t realize that they’re just spinning their wheels until it’s too late. In other words, they have general goals, and HOPES that they’ll achieve them. However, these goals are often not quantifiable or time bound, and are never accompanied by an actual plan of attack. To make a long story short, I put evervthing into the spreadsheet that I could think of, and then exactly how I plan to do it. All in all, it’s just really nice to know exactly what you have to do every morning when you wake up. For now, I would follow some of the above advice if I was you; make training fun for a while:) Good luck.

Lipo you need to take a deep breath and relax. Its obvious you are too worried about your appearance. Do not get caught in being so vane. Looking good is great and a very worthy ambition, but at what cost? Are you making a living with your body? If not give it a rest for a while and just workout without all of your expectaitions on how you think you should look.

dude, you need to enjoy what you do. a great body is just a side-effect of doing something you love. right now, you ain’t loving it !!..take a vacation, go somewhere for a week and eat what you want. forget about training and diet for once.

Thanks for the input. Its appreciated. My business going under and all is starting to dampen my otherwise happy-go-lucky disposition; caused me to focus eveything on my physique. Just trying to succeed somewhere I guess.