T Nation

Skinny Fat Training


Hi fellow T-Nationers,

I am a long time reader but first time poster, in need of some serious advice. I have the unfortunate body composition - skinny-fat, at 5ft 8 and 150lbs. I am really in need of some advice from people with experience and knowledge because at the moment I have no direction in my training and was even considering trying a low carb diet to lose fat, before reading the skinny fat manifesto.

My body naturally stores fat around the chest and abs yet I dont seem to build much muscle either which leaves me confused about how I should be training or eating.

I'm not a total novice but nor am I strong - I can Deadlift 300lbs, Squat 185lbs and Bench Press 150lbs. Any help would be greatly appreciated because I feel like I am running in two directions at the same time and getting nowhere.

Current Workout (Started last week)

Monday - Squat 6x3, Clean and Press 3x5, Weighted Pull Ups 3x5-8, Close Grip Push Ups 3x10-15, Thai Ab Workout
Wednesday - Bench Press 4x3-5, Clean Pulls 3x5, Power Snatch 3x5,
Friday - Front Squat 6x3, Clean and Press 3x5, Weighted Chin Ups 3x5-8, Dips 3x8-15, Thai Ab Workout

My proposed diet was to not worry too much about what to eat through the day but to only eat vegetables as my carb with dinner.

As I mentioned any advice would be greatly appreciated, I have no direction at the moment and the wealth of conflicting opinions from unqualified people on the internet is confusing me.


What exactly are you asking for? You said you need advice but you never mentioned what you needed advice for.

Here's a very basic rundown: Eat a lot, lift heavy ass weights, and be patient.

Logs are extremely helpful in the beginning of your journey into weight lifting. It's a good idea to write down your progress in the gym from workout to workout, at least initially. Ditto with a food log, so you can actually say that your are getting "x" amount of calories instead of just guessing how many you have ingested throughout the day.

If you are consistent in your training, you should begin to notice how many portions of a certain food equal a certain amount of calories, or how much weight added to the bar your body can handle. At that point, you could just ditch the logs altogether if it's a hassle for you. But initially, you'll gain a much greater understanding of nutrition and workout theory by keeping logs.

Hope that helps.


Thanks for the reply,

Sorry what im really struggling with is as a skinny fat body type 150lbs should I be trying to bulk or cut first? The more I think about it the more it seems I should deal with getting abit fatter first because I will look ill if i cut now?

Many Thanks,


Train 5 days a week

Forget the words bulk or cut.

Do what it takes to double your squat number. Make strength gains for every other muscle group as well.

Eat properly. At your level the scale should be staying somewhat stagnant while you burn fat and replace it with muscle.


Neither. Get strong first. Build a solid foundation and forget about the latest trendy linear periodization program you just read about. You're going to continue to read about 101 different programs, which is good as long as you just hang on to them as references for later and don't stray from what you are doing. So stick to something, get strong, and you'll be that much more efficient at bulking and/or cutting when you do get around to it. Plus, at your size it would be damned near impossible not to put on some mass while tacking on 100 lbs on your squats.


Some of the best advice Ive ever heard.

God I love this site:)


Ditto on what I said about BONEZ advice.

Dam, I wish I had found this site 6 months ago:)


Thanks a lot for the input guys, I am just going to focus on putting as much as I can on my compounds using 5-3-1 and stop worrying about bulking and cutitng. Strength first is the key I think now.


Oh jesus, yes strength is important to build up right now, but that doesn't mean things are going to go swimmingly if you shut your eyes to things like proper diet, mind-muscle connection, and pushing the limits of recovery the way I think every novice should be doing.

"Stop worrying about bulking and cutting"? You do realize the whole meaning of "bulking" is to eat enough protein and calories to build muscle and strength?

You are 150LBS. That isn't "skinny fat" just because you don't have a 6 pack. THAT IS JUST CALLED SKINNY. I am not suggesting you start eating a chocolate cake every day, but yes bulking is something you need to be "worrying" about if you want to be good at this at all.

Let's take a few scenarios shall we...

SkinnyguyA doesn't worry about bulking/cutting and just lifts 4 days a week worrying only about increasing his "compound" movements. After 9 months, he's gained 10lbs of bodyweight, and subsequently only gained 25lbs on his squat/bench/dead. No one can tell that he looks any different except maybe his mom.

SkinnyguyB shovels in the calories and protein like it's his job, lifts 6 days a week trying to increase every basic bodybuilding exercise (both big and small), and after 9 months he has gained 45lbs of bodyweight, added 100lbs to his squat/bench/dead, and is significantly more muscular in spite of also being fatter.

SkinnguyC shovels in the protein like it's his job, but consistently avoids sugar and any foods that are conducive to fat gain in spite of eating plenty of calories, lifts 6 days a week trying to increase every basic bodybuilding exercise, and after 9 months he has gained 20lbs of bodyweight with no increase in bodyfat percentage, and has added 75lbs to his squat/bench/dead. He looks both leaner and more muscular than the other two.

Which Skinnyguy do you want to be?


Well put.


Can't dismiss the fact that it worked for AmIaGate.


I feel like this is much too polarizing, as in you have to be one or the other. 2009 was my first year weight training, and I started with a 95 lb deadlift and squat in feb., only to end the year with a 405 pull and a 315 squat. I did not worry about bulking or cutting during that time. I did an upper/lower split, trained THREE times per week and did focus on the compound lifts. I lost a little bit of fat, but didn't gain that much mass. So I'm sorta like your A guy, but I just wanted to point out that I don't see why A couldn't make monster gains on his lifts.


I thought the biggest key in minimizing fat gain during a bulk was simply the amount of caloric excess each day (aiming for 300 over maintenance), not the specific foods in question. Aren't the foods conducive to fat gain somewhat dependent on the individual in question?