T Nation

Skinny Fat, Looking for Advice

Good day everyone! I am new to this website. I’m 17 and I’m starting my muscle/bodybuilding journey

I currently am 5’9 and weigh 170lbs. I started lifting hard at the end of June around 160lbs. I have some motor coordination issues and started off incredibly weak ( benching the bar, deadlifting 25lb plates… you get the idea )

Well my strength has progressed although it’s still not great. These are my current 5x5’s
Squat: June- 85lbs
August- 185lbs

Bench: June-85lbs
August- 140lbs

Deadlift: June-135lbs
August- 185lbs

So you can see my strength has progressed, with the biggest improvements being seen on my squat. I am still much weaker than I want to be though.

I have a problem. I overbulked for a while and knew nothing about nutrition and am now sitting at an uncomfortable 22% bodyfat. I am basically skinny fat. I tried lean bulking too but I got nowhere. So I’ve been cleared by a professional to go on a small cut if I’d like to. Considering I am a frustratingly fat 22%, I want to cut down to more like 12%, since I am a beginner is it reasonable for me to continue to increase my lifts during this cut? Is it even worth cutting now? I don’t feel confident with the amount of bodyfat I have. These are my pictures.


Am I going to look skinny if I cut or will I have some decent definition? I lifted incorrectly for over a year before hand and now my back is lagging severely. I’m currently doing the ICF 5x5 novice program. I notice decent progression on my main lifts except my barbell row which is struggling severely and I can’t seem to fix it. During my bulk I just got fatter without adding any muscle size and I’m really frustrated with it, and I want to eliminate my extra bodyfat. Would doing a small cut work for me?

Hey bud im not gonna lie, no point cutting, you’re still very early in your lifting, I’d personally sort your macros or calories however you do it, maintain bodyweight and progress from where you are, if you cut now you wont get anywhere, you haven’t allowed enough time for the muscle to really develop. just sort your macros eat big but clean and just lift bro i wouldn’t even really say you’re skinny fat you just seem hold fat on your lower abs, just stick the course in my opinion.


That ICF 5x5 looks a mess. Like Rippetoe’s program made even worse. Has that guy got any notable clients? Choose something from someone reputable.

Other than that, I echo @elliottjamesfit, just eat well, don’t stuff yourself and you’ll be okay.

Yeah as long as you’re not smashing big mac’s x5 a day you’ll be fine, dont worry about confidence issues just do what i do when im bulking and flex t shirts and hoodies day in day out. just think of the bigger picture and it’ll all resonate and you wont care about having a lil bit of extra fat on your lower abs.

1 Like

Thank you to the moderator who embedded my photos, I appreciate it. The skinny one was from 2 years ago.

So there is no point in cutting? Overall would you say I have a skinny fat type body? I have a normal amount of fat everywhere else on my body, but my stomach likes to hold it and I don’t know why. Do I even have any sort of muscle mass on me?

I’ve been in a cut for almost a week now and my energy levels feel depleted, and I was weaker at the gym. If the ICF 5x5 isn’t good would someone be kind enough to point me to a decent routine? I want something with 5x5 on the main compounds, not 5x3. I’m also supplementing with creatine ( started yesterday ) to help with strength and mass.

What are my best options? I bulked like crazy for a while and was eating like 4000 calories and 500g of carbs daily and I added a thicker layer of belly fat over the summer. I’ve also read that the more belly fat you have, the more likely it is that new mass is going to go on as fat and not muscle, I’m so frustrated right now. I have a 22% bodyfat and this is what really frustrates me as I don’t like it. I’m in the worst spot even possible. I can eat 3000 calories and gain no weight or mass, so then I bumped to 4000 and I gained a bunch of fat. I don’t know what to do and I need help and I would appreciate if someone could guide me in the right direction. I want to actually add some muscle to my frame.

I’m frustrated too because I started off so brutally weak. Yeah I’ve gotten stronger but I’m nowhere near where I want to be. Isn’t my body type awful? I want so badly to fix it but everything I do makes me either weaker or fatter. There is no way to eliminate belly fat unless your in a calorie deficit either. Why have I added nothing but fat in my first 2 months despite getting all my macros in? I read an article that states it’s more likely to go on as more fat if you already have a lot of fat.

I feel I have shitty genetics too, I started off brutally weak and still am, I’m not even that tall/big, and I carry fat on my stomach. How can I get a muscular defined look? And if I have bad genetics am I screwed to be weak and small forever?

Yes I don’t know why I continually gain fat every time I go for a bulk though. I hate bulking at my fat level as I’ll never see any sort of muscle. I feel I’ve got the worst body type possible. Do I even have ANY mass on me? I feel like I’ve just got belly and chest fat

Either of these will work well at your level and the volume tends to lean people out…

You’re not fat at all, just look like a normal untrained teen. Train hard and eat clean(no sugary foods etc) and things will fall into place


Try Jim Stoppani’s workout plan, one of the first plans i used really helped me in the beginning. and yeah you don’t really look fat you just look like you’ve first started working out, dont let the mind games start about your physique being bad you’re in the point at the moment where you just need to enjoy lifting and eating and combining the two, no need to be getting conscious while you’re in the newby stage.

I’m confused. Why did you need to get clearance before cutting? Do you have a medical issue or was it just a general check-up/cautious preventive measure thing?

Lift 3-4 days a week, do 3-4 cardio sessions per week (15-20 minutes each, either right after lifting or on non-lifting days), eat 3 meals a day 7 days a week focusing on the foods listed in the Nutrition section here.

The specific training plan doesn’t really matter as long as it’s well-designed by someone who knows what they’re doing and you follow it to the letter for longer than 8 weeks without missing a workout. Either routine Badger posted is solid.

You really should earn it by sticking with a good training program and diet first. Supplements should come after those are in place.


No medical issues that would prevent me from curing. I just got checked out because I wanted to be sure it would be ok.

500g carbs a day?! what was your protein and fat? cause wherever you got your macros from they’re stupidly high! like while I was bulking from 80kg to 90kg i was on like 380 carbs maybe 400, 500 seems very big, the layer of fat may be from the overeating cause in 2months you just went to 4000 calories ?! you should’ve done it progressively not just shoving it in! + It could be genetic that you just hold more fat on your lower abs thought as well.

You will feel weak and sluggish on a cut due to the depletion of your energy sources, get your macros sorted and train and maintain your bodyweight, build some strength and make some more muscular gains then we can see where you’re at for a proper bulk

Why do I still look untrained when I’ve been working out really hard for 2 months ( and over a year previously but I didn’t focus on the main compound lifts )

So then I shouldn’t be cutting? What should I be doing in regards to my nutrition. I tried to bulk up before and I just gained fat. Do I need to cut fat or should I be going for the lean bulk? Everyone is telling me different things on different websites and I don’t know what to do. Am I skinny fat?

Considering I started off so horribly weak am I doomed to be small and weak forever?

Here’s where I’m confused. I have been consistently told by literally every person on another forum that as a novice I should be doing a full body three day a week program for maximum progression. how am I supposed to progress on these programs that are listed above? I’ve been doing a 5x5 for 2 months now and I’ve gained strength but it’s not as good as it could have been. Those programs sound more intermediate or so… do you think the size and strength program will benefit me? Some people on that forum are quite rude to me and my threads always get shut down whenever I ask a question. So that’s why I came here.

My concern is, I spent over a year doing a whole ton of isolation exercises and I got absolutely nowhere. I’m worried that a program that isn’t a full body is going to do the same thing. Are most of the exercises on these program s listed above " compound exercises "?

So are these programs going to get me further than the ICF 5x5 and how long will each gym session take. The ICF 5x5 takes like 2 hours and it’s tiring.

I’m also struggling with rounding my back on barbell rows so I wonder if T-bar rows would be a good option for me as they seem easier.

Please advise me, thank you. Will these programs get me further than the ICF 5x5?

What should I be doing with my nutrition and calories?

That’s what I said, I absolutely screwed up and I regret it. That’s why I wanted to cut to fix it. I’ve tried maintaining my bodyweight for the last month or so and absolutely nothing has changed except I seem to have gained more fat.

I honestly have no idea what I’m doing wrong. I’m feeling so frustrated as I’ve been lifting on and off for 2 years, and seriously the last 2 months and I have seen absolutely zero changes to my physique and I’m still brutally weak. Do I just have ridiculously horrible genetics or what?. If I saw some decent progress I’d feel better.

I know guys that are younger than me and just starting out and look a hell of a lot better and way stronger.

I wanted to cut to just get a clean base to bulk from but then I worry I’m gonna be a skinny kid again.

Why does everyone there say as a novice you should do the full body three day a week programs? Am I actually more likely to benefit from one of the programs listed above? I don’t understand why my body won’t build any sort of muscle and just packs on the fat.

Please help. And why do my posts need to be approved by the mods every time I post them

I’ve been where you’re at lol, its a bad place to feel stuck, however it takes more than 2 months for you to see a noticeable difference, my honest suggestion would be get your macros sorted, maintain bodyweight and then do a little surplus!

I personally like: PPL routines / My legs grow above most things so i do PPLPP/Restx2
I ran Layne Norton’s PH3 which did me good in terms of gaining strength and adding on a little bit of size!
But your macros are more key than anything, just don’t worry about that little layer of fat and just stay the course, once you’re muscle develops and your pecs grow they will over power whatever layer of fat that it won’t be a focal point.

I love dissecting data and am fascinated by the intricate details of all things. This skill has helped me in my career, but has also limited my ability to appreciate simplicity. I have a feeling you and I may be similar.

As a fellow beginner hoping to shed some fat I can tell from experience, getting my ass kicked in these forums, and trial and error, that Chris’s comment is 100% truth. Move. Eat. Be happy. As beginners that’s what we need to focus on. If at all possible, get out of your head and out of your own way. Pick a program you’re interested in and go for it. Use your brain, educate yourself, and stay after it. Output = Input.

I really like this vid…maybe it can help you gain some perspective.

I’m just so confused… it doesn’t matter where I go I get a different answer from everyone. Is the ICF 5x5 program bad? The ones listed above sound confusing… I haven’t noticed ANY sort of muscle growth whatsoever and it’s really getting discouraging. When I bulked before I just added even more fat to my stomach. It’s just horrible and I’m sick of the lack of progress especially when I work so hard. I wonder if my genetics are just horrible and will prevent me from getting big and strong.

Am I not gonna build size with the 5x5’s? I want a program where I’m gonna squat at least twice a week too.

Can anyone explain to me why they always recommend full body three days a week for a beginner? I tried super over complicated plans like this for a long time and gained zero strength and zero size. That’s what making me wary of doing any of these plans. The ICF is the only one I’ve ever seen a strength increase, although no size yet. I look like I’ve never even picked up a weight and I hate it…

I am finding those programs confusing? I thought a good novice program is supposed to be built around the heavy compound lifts

I can’t even dumbbell press more than 35s for 8 reps… that’s how pathetic I am. With this level of strength I don’t know how I’ll ever get anywhere. I can’t even curl more than 20s. I’m so confused because I’ve gotten different info everywhere. Why have my muscles not grown at all?

Chill dude. I’m working extremely hard at the gym, but I’m so weak I can’t lift any half decent amounts of weight. And I need to be on a set program because I wasn’t on one before and I got nowhere at all. Is the ICF 5x5 going to get me nowhere? I don’t understand why my muscles won’t grow

You haven’t trained long enough bro! you said what ? 2 months? my first year of training i made no gains because i had no fucking clue, yeah i had a tricep pop or maybe my pec’s showing but that is it. Bodybuilding isn’t a race! Bodybuilding is like a fine wine you gotta let it mature. sort your macros, find a plan that works for you, 5x5 do work! but throw in some higher rep workouts, make sure you have perfect form, and just stick the course and update us in a year! You’re only 17, you don’t have arnie genetics so dont expect it to come quick!

  • E