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Skinny-Fat Bulk or Cut? Pics Included - Help!


#1


Background
I have been cutting for 3 months where I lost about 12lb and maintained what little strength I had.
Right now I am 130lb, 5,5 and I guess 15-20% BF?
My goal was to get as lean as possible then do a slow clean bulk back up to 145-150lb

Problems
I have lost a lot of motivation because people are telling me I got too skinny, even though I am still carrying a lot of fat that I hide well when wearing clothes.

I don't want to get any skinnier but at the same time I don't want to start bulking when I still have a lot of midsection fat.
I feel I will be very underweight by the time I lose all the fat in my midsection (120-125lb probably).

I am eating 1700-1800 calories on work-out days and 1600 on non-workout days.
I workout 4x a week, and HIIT 3x a week and I am probably losing about 1-1.5lb a week.

I tried eating at maintenance (2000-2100) calories for 6-8 weeks before but my weight just stayed the same and I didn't lose any fat but I was getting slightly stronger.

Can someone please advise what to do, it has got to the point where I don't even want to train anymore because I don't know what to do!


#2

[quote]peetpeew wrote:

I tried eating at maintenance (2000-2100) calories for 6-8 weeks before but my weight just stayed the same and I didn’t lose any fat but I was getting slightly stronger. [/quote]

Do you really KNOW you didn’t lose any fat, or you just did not feel lighter because perhaps your weight stayed the same but you gained a bit of muscle and and lost equal weight in fat?

[quote]

Can someone please advise what to do, it has got to the point where I don’t even want to train anymore because I don’t know what to do![/quote]

I strongly suggest neither bulking or cutting. You should eat at maintenance, follow a solid program, and have some PATIENCE.

What does your full program look like? And what does you diet look like?


#3

You don’t state explicitly what your goals are, but from what you’ve written, I infer they are primarily physique-related. Specifically, it seems you want to shed bodyfat and gain muscle. Assuming I’m correct in this, a few thoughts…

–The least important metric is your absolute weight, so don’t think in terms of being ‘underweight’ and/or ‘overweight.’ (Consider: If a genie offered ‘I can make you cut and jacked–give you the physique of your dreams–but you’ll weigh exactly 125#,’ would you really turn that down because you’d be ‘underweight’?) OTOH, relative weight–ie, changes in your BW–can provide helpful info re how you’re progressing–but only when interpreted in the context of changes in your appearance and gym performance.

–With regard to what you should do right now, that is a function of the relative importance of your immediate vs long-term goals. IOW, if you said ‘I’m vacationing in Hawaii this summer, and want to be as lean as possible while there,’ I’d say continue cutting. OTOH, if your Hawaiian vacation was slated for next summer, I would suggest a (lean) bulk for the next 8 months or so, followed by a slow cut. If your timeline was even longer, I would suggest lean-bulking for several years before cutting.

You say this like it’s a bad thing. Getting stronger while BW remains constant is called ‘re-comping,’ and it’s an excellent (albeit maddeningly slow) approach to physique improvement. Given your current physique, IMO this should be your default mode. That is, do this while pondering your next move.


#4

Your goals seem to focus on getting “away from”. ie. you are trying to get away from being skinny fat or whatever other flaws you feel you have. This is fine and will work for a time but eventually you will need to have a “where to” otherwise you’ll end up spinning your wheels.


#5

Thanks for the responses guys.

To answer some of the questions:

I want to put on a lot of muscle, I hate being skinny!
I want to be at around 150lb 10% bodyfat long term.
I have no short term goals but I don’t really want to get any skinnier and I don’t really want to get any fatter.

I don’t know for sure but I was judging from pictures I was taking each week. There was no change in my mid section bodyfat, but my shoulders/traps definitely looked a lot more toned than before.

I train 4 days a week and I do mostly supersets:
Mon/Thur: Upper body
Tue/Fri: Lower body

Example Upper Day:
*Superset each exercise. ie. 1 set DB Bench, 1 set Pull downs, 1 set DB bench, repeat… 15-30 sec rest.

1a: DB Bench Press 3x10-12 reps*
1b: Pull Downs 3x10-12 reps*

2a: Bent Over Row 3x10-12 reps
2b: DB Shoulder Press 3x10-12 reps

3a: Side Lat Raises 3x10-12 reps
3b: Push Ups 3x15 reps

4: Plank/Abs 3 sets

Diet:
Lean beef
Chicken breast
Tuna/Fish
Sweet Potatoes
Lots of veg, 1-2 portions of fruit
Whey
Nuts

I eat really clean and healthy for the most part and try reach my calorie goals and macros, high protein, moderate fat, low-moderate carbs.

My lifts really suck.
I can barely do 12 reps of 40kg barbell chest press.
Do you think I should stick to the workout I am doing now or should I do something like 5x5?


#6

I just posted a long response but it didn’t work…


#7

[quote]peetpeew wrote:
I wan’t to put on a lot of muscle, I hate being skinny!
[/quote]

I think you just answered your original question.

I suggest you pick a proven resistance program of your choice, and stick with it.

Now onto the nutrition: what exactly did you eat yesterday? I know you gave us a list of foods, but that’s not as helpful as you think it is.


#8

Can anyone recommend any good programs? I really have no idea except for the one that have been doing for the past 3 months (changing stuff up every few weeks).

Should I be doing a hypertrophy one or a strength based one?

Meal 1: Oats with whey and some fruit. Handful of nuts and a greens drink.
Post-WO: 40-50g whey, 10g glutmine.
Meal 2: Chicken breast, sweet potato, lots of green veg, some yogurt.
Meal 3: Fish, sweet potato, lots of green veg, some yogurt.
Meal 4: Beef, sweet potato, lots of green veg, handful of nuts.
Meal 5: Casein shake, 2-3 eggs, greens drink or veg
I cook/fry most of my meat with a lot of healthy fats such as coconut or olive oil.

It usually comes to around 1600-1700 calories as I carb cycle on workout days and I have been losing 1-1.5lb a week doing this with my current workout program.


#9

You are doing some things right, following an upper-lower split and eating good foods.

I suggest this simple plan. Eat for maintenance, say 15 calories per pound, which comes out to about 2,000 kcals for you and 0.8 to 1 g protein per pound.

You might make quicker progress at your stage with a full body, linear progression program, such as HST or Greyskull, and then worry about other exercises later.

How much are you squatting, benching, bent over rowing, deadlifting, and overhead pressing? I ask to get an idea of just how much work you have cut out for you.


#10

Hey thanks.
My lifts really suck, I used to be stronger a couple of years ago but since cutting calories I have just been working with the same weight.

Barbell Bench Press: 90lb/40kg for 10-12 reps max
Dumbell Bench Press: 35lb/15kg for 12 reps max
Squat: 90lb/40kg for 6-8 reps
Deadlift: 110lb/50kg for 10 reps max
Overhead Press: no idea, never do this!
Shoulder DB Press: 28lb/12.5kg 10-120 reps max

I try to increase the weight when I hit my rep ranges for all sets, but this hasn’t happened since reducing calories.


#11

[quote]peetpeew wrote:

Hey thanks.
My lifts really suck, I used to be stronger a couple of years ago but since cutting calories I have just been working with the same weight.

Barbell Bench Press: 90lb/40kg for 10-12 reps max
Dumbell Bench Press: 35lb/15kg for 12 reps max
Squat: 90lb/40kg for 6-8 reps
Deadlift: 110lb/50kg for 10 reps max
Overhead Press: no idea, never do this!
Shoulder DB Press: 28lb/12.5kg 10-120 reps max

I try to increase the weight when I hit my rep ranges for all sets, but this hasn’t happened since reducing calories.

[/quote]

Based on this, I REALLY think you should not even think of cutting, and need to follow a generic program of compound lifts, for three days per week, with linear progression, such as Stronglifts, Starting Strength, Greyskull, or HST. I STRONGLY recommend Greyskull.

Learn how to do these lifts properly: bent over row, squat, deadlifts, overhead press, chinups, bench press, and dips. Throw in some ab work at every session, bicep curls if you must, and that’s it, unless you have some severely lagging muscle group or structural imbalance.

You can’t sculpt a pebble.

Others might disagree with my recommendation for a cookie cutter program, but based on your experience, knowledge, strength, and physique, I believe there is no recourse.


#12

[quote]peetpeew wrote:

Should I be doing a hypertrophy one or a strength based one?
[/quote]

Based on your status, you will gain strength and size simply by improving on the basic lifts with a basic routine. Whether one quality improves over another is not even a concern at this point. And no, considering your amount of muscle, you should not focus on solely strength with sets of less than five. Focus on moderate reps, 5 to 10.

How the heck is this coming out to 1600 to 1700 kcals? Are you eating bird-appropriate portions? A measly six ounce portion of lean meat contains 210 kcals, a 1/4 cup of nuts is about 200 kcals, and a sweet potato, depending on size, can provide anywhere from 150 to 300 kcals. Throw in tablespoons per day of oil for cooking and you are eating what I believe to be up to a 1000 uncounted calories. If you are losing like this, more power to you considering you are likely not consuming a near-starvation-level diet for too long.


#13

I think the most wise thing I have heard in a long time from Brick “You can’t sculpt a pebble”

Eat big, lift big, sleep… repeat and be patient. Get big even if it means adding some body fat and then work with that size later.


#14

100% agree with something like 5x5, clean diet slightly above maintenance, and here is the main thing and the cold hard truth that is the reason many fail, TIME! It’s gonna take you at least 5 years of consistent and meaningfull training to reach your goals. It’s true but if you want it bad enough you can.


#15

Thanks for all the help everyone, especially BrickHead… everything you said makes a lot of sense!

I am extremely microscopic when it comes to meeting calorie/macro goals. I track everything using some calorie counting software and make sure everything is correct. I count the tablespoons of oil calories… nothing goes a-miss! It’s definitely right.
My servings of meat are usually around 3.5oz and same for the sweet potatoes so it is smaller portions spread throughout the day.

I have some more questions that I really hope you guys can help me with before I get started on this new plan.
It seems like it is going to be a very slow process which doesn’t excite me a lot but I want to do it right regardless.

  1. It seems like everyone agrees I should eat at maintenance or just slightly above and do a linear 5x5 type program 3x a week.
    My main options look to be Stronglifts or Greyskull.
    What are the differences between the two - why should I pick one over the other?

  2. I think my maintenance is around 2000 calories - Should I be eating this everyday (non workout days?) and what about carb cycling and cardio? How much is slightly above maintenance?

  3. What should I be aiming for each week in terms of bodyweight and lifting weight on this new workout plan? i.e. how do I know its working or that I am doing it right?

Thanks!


#16

Do 531 BBB. Get Wendler’s book on it.

And work like hell.


#17

[quote]peetpeew wrote:
2. I think my maintenance is around 2000 calories - Should I be eating this everyday (non workout days?) and what about carb cycling and cardio? How much is slightly above maintenance?
[/quote]

I would say your goal should be to take in 2000 cal/d on average. How you get to that number is largely a matter of personal preference. (I say ‘largely’ because there is probably a metabolic benefit to having occasional days of significantly higher calories.)

Personally, I like to bump calories up on lifting days, and drop them lower on nonlifting days. To hit your avg caloric goal, you can pair off a nonlifting day with the following lifting day. Your ‘budget’ is 4000 calories for each such pair of days. So if you eat 1500 on the nonlifting day, you have 2500 left for the following lifting day. If you get by on only 1300 on the nonlifting day, you have 2700 to spend on the lifting day.

You could also plan your caloric budget on a per-week basis. This is useful if you’d prefer to have one ‘big’ eating day per week. So for example, if you’d like to have one 4000 calorie day/week, you have 10,000 calories to get you through the remaining six days. If you’re lifting three days/week, the Big day will cover one of them. Of the remaining 10,000 calories (ie, 14,000 - 4000), if you have 1500/d on the four nonlifting days, that leaves 4000 calories (2K/d) for the other two lifting days. Make sense?


#18

[quote]peetpeew wrote:

I am extremely microscopic when it comes to meeting calorie/macro goals. I track everything using some calorie counting software and make sure everything is correct. I count the tablespoons of oil calories… nothing goes a-miss! It’s definitely right.
My servings of meat are usually around 3.5oz and same for the sweet potatoes so it is smaller portions spread throughout the day.
[/quote]

Alright. You might want to make life easier and eat the same macros and kcals for the day in three to four meals instead of the bird-appropriate feedings. Either way is fine.

[quote]
I have some more questions that I really hope you guys can help me with before I get started on this new plan.
It seems like it is going to be a very slow process which doesn’t excite me a lot but I want to do it right regardless.[/quote]

Natty bodybuilding results are painfully slow.

Read up on both and make your pick. I am biased to Greyskull because it is more modifiable for bodybuilding goals and not lower body focused, but rather much more balanced.

[quote]

  1. I think my maintenance is around 2000 calories - Should I be eating this everyday (non workout days?) and what about carb cycling and cardio? How much is slightly above maintenance? [/quote]

Eyedentist gave great advice for this, but if I were at your stage, I would just keep a flat 2,000 to 2,500 calories as a starting point for each day considering this is a relatively low amount of calories for a grown male to begin with. I don’t think minor changes involving dipping below 2,000 kcals, dipping into the high 1,000’s is appropriate for now.

Make your pick. Keep it steady or cycle as ED suggested.

[quote]
3. What should I be aiming for each week in terms of bodyweight and lifting weight on this new workout plan? [/quote]

You must read on Greyskull (get the e-book) and Stronglifts for the answers.

Is this a serious question?

You know you’re doing things right when you are looking better, gaining muscle, and getting stronger (you know this).


#19

What everyone has said in this thread and,

chase strength numbers.

Focus on getting your squat up. Your bench up. Your deadlift and press.

Don’t worry about body weight too much now. If it’s not moving (or going down?!) eat more. If you went up over 6lbs in a week, eat less. Get a system for you food so you can make it and consume it quickly.


#20

read pretty much any 10 articles on this site, include a couple by Dan John