T Nation

The Fat / Skinny Guy


The problem I am having is that when I eat alot and try to gain weight and bulk up the weight go's right to my belly. I consider myself a hard gainer even though I can gain weight by stuffing myself, I can't seem to put any mass on my arms and legs, which are way too skinny. I've been close to 200# and am around 180-185# now. 5'9". Should I try to eat cleaner?

I try to eat fairly clean but could do better if thats the answer. I can see much more muscle definition in my arms and legs but if I measure them they have barely grown.



Well, what's your typical diet? Calories, macros, food choices. And what's your training look like?


Like a lot of people, you probably have a bad reaction to high carb intake. This would account for you getting fat when you up your food intake. Try restricting carbs and eating more protein and fat. There are a number of diet regimes on this site that follow these broad principles. T-dawg, anabolic diet etc. Just check the articles section (tab on LH side of page). You should also check out the "my experience on the anabolic diet" thread started by mdragon.


instead of worrying so much about the nutrition part, you have to make sure you are lifting correctly in the gym.

by correctly i mean do: deadlifts, squats, bench press, military press, barbell rows, pullups.

If you do these exercises throughout the week with heavy weights then your body will use your nutrients to grow powerful muscles, storing it as fat is no option if you lift that way. Your body has to adapt to those lifts.

If you are using machines and pussy exercises then you wont notice much change and your calories will go to fat because you burn less calories with those exercises and the stimulus is pathetic compared to free weights.

To make sure, do some cardio but make it very high intensity cardio for short periods of time which is much better for muscle growth and fat loss.



well may be intresting know what you eat, and how you train.

may be possible that you are low in proteins? or to high in fat? may be possible you choose the wrong fat and the wrong carbs?

about training do you put emphasis on core training?


This is poor advice. Body comp is directly linked to your nutrition. While the virtues of the compound lifts have been extolled many times and are correct, telling him not to worry about nutrition and workout is just plain wrong. Hopefully his workouts are in line, and from the sound of his original post he does lift weights. If so it is his diet that is holding him back and your oversimplification of the solution is as incorrect as it is harmful to newbies who may read such advice..


Consider the fact that you've been working out for a year. Have you made progress in your lifts? You may be a hardgainer, but that is neither here nor there if you are in this[weightlifting] as a lifestyle.

Not everyone develops at the same rate, and you will have to find what works well for you, weightlifting is more a marathon than a sprint with regards to development. Some people make very quick gains and others don't, but it's the guys that stay at it and improve upon themselves that are ultimately successful.

Read up on nutrition if body comp is your main concern, there are a ton of articles on this site about it. Tinker with your workouts, not everything works for everyone, and an understanding of what works for you and why it works for you will lead to better progress in the gym. Another note, set goals for yourself and continually check your progress against those goals, evaluating your improvement(or lack there of) accordingly.


Thanks for the input so far. I do all the core lifts and am currently doing ABBH II. I'm making slow gains in the wieght I'm lifting and always try to add weight on at least one set each W/O. Although compared to the numbers I see of most of the posters on this site I'm weak. I'll list the pathetic numbers.I know they suck but there about 50% better than 1.5 yrs. ago
DL 260 5X5
squat ATG 160 5X5
BP 160 5X5
MP 110 5X5
Chins body+25 5X5
dips body+25 5X5
Rows 155 5X5
As for what I eat in a typical day may be something like this-
7:00am-oatmeal-coffee-2 fish oil pills and vitamin
10:00am-whole wheat sandwich w/turkey or roastbeef-coffee-whole wheat crackers with liverworst
snack on nuts in between
2:00pm-maybe whole wheat taost w/tomato or left over fish or meat from the night before-maybe a can of salmon-fruit-milk
6:00pm sometimes BBQ.chicken or porkchops or I cook fish or speggetti once a week. I cook some type of vegi' like spinach or bussel sprouts or mixed vegi's
If its a workout night (every other night) I'll drink 2 scoops whey protien after.
usually some fruit in the evening and always 2%cottage cheeze before bed.
I'm not trying to loose weight and wouldn't mind gaining more but I'd like to take 20LBS. of my belly and distibute everyware else.

ps-love this site and read it daily



He didn't write that he should ignore his food intake, and I also agree that many people claiming fat gain, while they may lift weights, really aren't training with that much intensity. First, intensity is relative and I have seen many guys who truly think that one 45lbs plate on each side of a HS machine is really pushing it. Much can be learned by training with others who are stronger than you and even more serious about training. The rest does come from diet.

I mean, seriously, the guy wrote that he benches 160lbs. That is not a lot of weight and, unless he has no discernable muscle mass, I am betting he can lift more than that. You give people way more credit than I do by "assuming" they already know how to lift with enough force to see results. More and more people today DON'T.


You start with a solid goal in mind and then work hard towards it. That means you need both LONG TERM goals and SHORT TERM goals. You don't seem to have any short term goals yet you want your long term goals to just "happen". It doesn't work that way. What are your goals for the next three months? The next year?

That is how you make progress. People who set out in this with no map of where they are headed make no progress.


Again, thanks for your time and input to all who replied. I knew that when I posted the weight I am currently working out with that ppl. would assume that I wasn't giving my full effert and must be able to lift more. I do give my best every W/O and always push to add more. I know its hard to believe but april 2004 I could not bench 100 lbs. 5 times. Its not that I have sat behind a desk for 20 years ether. I worked hard in a collision repair shop for 15 years (except the 3 years previous this april I worked in a factory but the shift work was really knocking the shit out of me..not enough sleep etc.). Now I'm back at the collison shop working straight days so I'm seeing better W/O results these past few months. Like I said in my first post, I have skinny arms and legs, 13.5 " arms and those arms just can't move alot of wieght...But I'm now doing something about it.
However...I am here to learn and I will put some of this greatly appreciated advice to use and see if I can take things up to another level. I just didn't want to wait too long to realize I was doing something wrong. I'm going to read more nutrition info on this site and try to fine tune my diet. I'm wonder if I should avoid breads? even though I eat whole wheat. I have short term goals every W/O and thats to lift more weight than last week...
I'm counting on the fact that if I keep adding weight to the bar...my muscles will grow....



Here's the question I have; you wrote this earlier:

You now mention that your arms are 13.5". I hate to point out the obvious, but it is clear to anyone that you have not been training very hard in the past before this new kick, so what experience do you have to draw from that indicates you only gain fat when you try to gain weight WHILE training hard?


I've trained hard and put on more fat than muscle before as well. Granted, my arms did not stay at 13.5. But in my case I am perfectly willing to accept that I was mishandling my diet. In a year, I put on probably 15 pounds of muscle accompanied by 25 pounds of fat. But I freely admit to some large portion sizes, fried food, and dessert. I ate quite clean probably 80% of the time, but that other 20% of the time more than made up for the difference.

But when I say I performed "hard work" I mean at the end of some sets I was slightly nautious or even a little dizzy. That I had guys walk up to me and say how intense I looked during my set.


That's all great, but the 500lbs elephant in the room is still 13.5" arms on a grown man.


sorry if you understood that i meant not worrying about nutrition. Nutrition is important but in my opinion the most important thing is to train hard.

About nutrition you should worry about the basics which are: eat massive amounts of protein every day from various sources, eat a lot of carbs around workouts, eat fat/protein meals close to bed time.


Whats odd is that CW and others preach that you dont need to go to failure to make gains. Actually they advocate not going anywhere near failure. How do you suppose his clients make gains when they arent doing "hard work".


If your diet is good enough, you MUST train with an intensity that your body has not been accustomed to. It doesn;t mean train to failure or until you puke. It means doing routines that stress the body differently thatn it's used to. This means changing weight and reps on stes, training different body together on different days. It also mean putting 100% effort into each workout. Gaining mass is attributed to good diet AND good training. If one slacks, the other will not make up for it. You have to be diligent in what you put in your body as well as how you conduct your workout. And to quote Prof X again, intensity is the key in training.