A skinny fat body is one that typically looks decent in clothing, but flabby without clothes on.
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Back when I was managing men’s suit stores, I LOVED it when skinny fat guys came in to buy clothes.
The skinny fat body is easy to fit into a suit (and dress shirts).
I’m convinced the suit was invented by a skinny fat person (or a tailor).
People who are extremely fit have to spend a TON on tailoring, because of this skinny fat suit conspiracy.
Women have the same issue with dress clothes.
In this article, I’m going to teach you how to get rid of skinny fat syndrome.
I need to apologize ahead of time.
As you get lean and in top shape buying a suit will cost you quite a bit more in tailoring costs.
The good news is that this really only applies to suits.
For all other clothing, you can simply buy slim fit with minimal or no tailoring whatsoever.
Why did I decide to write about the topic of being skinny fat?
There are quite a few articles online that cover this topic.
The problem is that the majority were written for men only and aimed at helping them achieve more of a bodybuilding physique or muscular fitness model physique.
I cater to a different audience.
My site helps people achieve a slim and lean physique… what some consider to be a more sophisticated amount of muscle. I jokingly refer to this as a “Yacht Bod”.
“So this knucklehead says to me, Do you Even Lift? I look him squarely in the eye and respond with Do You Even Yacht? I can be such a savage at times!”
I don’t even own a boat.
I simply believe that a lot of men and women want a slim and tight build, yet the majority of fitness sites teach maximum muscle.
“Yacht Bod” is a term that makes me smile.
I encourage you to stay down-to-earth even when you do achieve a body ready for tanning on the upper deck of a mega-yacht cruising the Mediterranean.
This post is mainly aimed at helping men and women go from skinny fat… to slim and snotty-looking.
(There is nothing wrong with looking snotty as long as you are a kind and generous person.)
STUN them with your looks then KILL them with kindness.
Before I get into the meat of this article, I’m going to start this off with a music video.
Some of my posts are broken up with great tunes. My last few articles haven’t included this, so I’m overdue.
*Plus I’m writing most of this on a Friday night.
The music theme?
Trance and House tunes from the 90’s and early 2000’s that will be playing during happy hour aboard the SS Visual Impact mega-yacht.[Our happy hour drink special this afternoon is a Blood Orange Manhattan made with Buffalo Trace bourbon… We call it the “Rusty Buffalo”. ]
I’ll separate this post into two parts:
- Part 1: Fixing skinny fat issues for young people (29 or younger).
- Part 2: Fixing skinny fat issues for older people (30 or older).
*I’m sort of trolling those around 30.
You are still super young.
I’m just throwing you in my “old group” to scare you a little and have a bit of fun.
(Look at this picture of a 29-year-old woman holding hands with her best friend who just turned 30!)
Welcome to 30, it all goes downhill from here 🙂
I could have put the older age range starting at 40, but sometime between 30 and 40 things really do become more difficult.
If you are under 30?
We all hate you!
This is purely out of envy, and I really mainly blame your parents, but I will help you with this skinny fat problem as well (If I have to).
How to Fix Skinny Fat Syndrome Part 1: Tips for Young People
Fixing skinny fat issues is super easy if you are young and haven’t trained much in your life.
If you are 17-30 this could be the easiest of all of the types of fitness transformations. By lifting weights, you will quickly add 10-20 muscle without even really thinking about it.
It’s almost automatic at this age.
I’m feeling a tiny bit of anger and jealousy right now.
I’ll give you a basic workout routine that is a good starting point.
Skinny Fat Workout Strategies for Young (Evil) People
“Toniiiight… we are young. Let’s set the world on fire! We can burn brighter, than the sun.”
If you are skinny fat at this age, your workout should be focused mainly on adding muscle mass.
I have a background of training fashion models.
I am not going to turn you into a “swole” bro or bro-ette, unless that is what you want.
Warning: If you do want to gain a ton of muscle, don’t blame me when you have difficulty getting accepted into your local Yacht Club.
Being skinny fat is typically caused by not having enough muscle to offset the small amount of excess fat.
Most of the time adding a bit of muscle will make a dramatic difference.
Fat loss should happen too, but building a base amount of muscle first is the best strategy.
Here’s a simple workout split.
The Skinny Fat Workout (for Kids Who Can’t Read Good)
First I will cover the daily body part split setup, then I’ll cover suggested exercises each day.
A simple setup is to train half your body in one workout and half in another workout.
This is called a 2-day split.
Mon: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps and Abs
Tue: Back, Biceps, Legs and Calves
Thu: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps and Abs
Fri: Back, Biceps, Legs and Calves
Sat & Sun: Off
If you haven’t really trained much, and are still young enough, this period of gaining muscle will be easy.
This is called the “newbie gains” period.
I’m a big fan of cardio for experienced lifters, or for people in their 30’s and beyond who want to get lean. The ONLY time I don’t recommend much cardio is during this “newbie gains” phase.
The main strategy of this time period will be to get stronger, eat enough, and rest.
You will follow what I call a “blitz and rest” approach to adding muscle.
This is quite different than what I would recommend for your parents.
By the way, if you believe your parents are of the yachting type please refer them to this blog.
The SS Visual Impact has room for 30-40 more sophisticated people on our sundeck.
I’ll break down each workout further.
Mon & Thu Workout | Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, and Abs
Bench Press: 10, 8, 6, 3, 10-15
Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 Sets of 6-8 Reps (same weight)
Seated Dumbbell Press: 10, 8, 6, 10-15
Cable Lateral Raise: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps (same weight)
Overhead Triceps Extension: 10, 8, 6, 10-15
Hanging or Lying Leg Raise: 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps
Here’s what the numbers mean.
For bench press, you will pick a warm-up weight and do a set of 10 reps. Add more weight to the bar, rest 2-3 minutes, then do a set of 8 reps. Your third set would be 6 reps, etc.
Each set, besides the initial warm-up, should be close to failure. Blitz those muscles and lift with a bit of aggression. No screaming though or my staff with throw you overboard to swim with the sharks.
Since you aren’t extremely experienced in the gym, I would recommend asking for a spot on the bench press for your toughest sets.
If you don’t want to do that?
Stop a rep or two short of failure and then just hit failure on your dumbbell incline press.
With dumbbells, it is fine to fail in a lift because you won’t get trapped under them like a barbell.
Tue & Fri Workout | Back, Biceps, Legs and Calves
T-Bar Rows: 10, 8, 6, 3, 10-15
Pull-ups: 3 Sets to Failure
Barbell Curls: 10, 8, 6, 10-15
Incline Dumbbell Curls: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps (same weight)
Squats: 10, 8, 6, 6, 10-15
Standing Calf Raises: 10, 8, 6, 10-15
Push each set near failure if possible.
This is NOT the advice I normally give on my blog, but you are aiming to break the muscle down.
Then you will eat in a surplus to repair and increase your muscle mass.
Most of my blog focuses on increasing strength and definition without size, but this is a special circumstance.
This basic 4-day routine is all you need.
Push yourself hard on all the lifts and aim to increase the weight a bit each week.
You could even cut this down to 3 days… train Mon, Wed, and Fri and just alternate between the two workouts.
The increase in muscle mass will happen on your rest days when you eat in a slight surplus.
Speaking of eating, let’s talk diet.
Skinny Fat Diet Strategies (for the Young and the Restless)
The workout I outlined above will break the muscle down.
You will want to eat in a surplus, but not so much that you put on more body fat. At this age you have the ability to eat more calories, because a larger percentage of your food will go towards increasing muscle mass.
I would say aiming to eat 15 calories X your bodyweight in pounds would be a decent starting point.
So a 130-pound young woman would aim for 1,950 calories.
This would be too much for a typical 40-year old, but should be fine for a younger person building base muscle.
This is just a starting point, though.
If you put on weight too quickly or not quickly enough, make sure that you increase or decrease the calorie intake.
If you want to get a more precise calorie target, this is a pretty detailed online calorie calculator, but even this is just an estimation.
I know that keto is all the rage right now.
I’d recommend eating a decent amount of carbs during this time.
Carbs rarely get stored as body fat and will help you train with intensity.
Carbs are also “protein sparing” meaning that your protein will get used to build the muscle and not used to power your workout.
If you eat high carb I recommend lowering your fat intake.
I wouldn’t go above 20% of your calories as fat.
For the least amount of fat gain, I’d even aim for 10% or fewer calories from fat.
Protein is where things get a little murkier.
The standard advice is to eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight when trying to gain muscle.
That works and to be 100% safe, I’d say that is a good recommendation.
After you have as much muscle as you desire, you can maintain that muscle off of much less protein per day.
Here’s an article I wrote about the health advantages of eating a low protein diet.
Maybe wait until your newbie gains period is over before lowering your protein.
As far as calories go, I would only recommend eating at this level of a surplus for 3-6 months.
This way if you do put on a bit of fat it will be minimal.
Note: If you live in a keto household, you can go back to that way of eating after this phase is over.
Part 2: How to Fix Skinny Fat Syndrome for Moldy Old People (Ewww)
If you are under 30, please don’t read this part. Your mind is too young to fully understand the horrors that lie ahead of you.
If you are 30 or older, I feel pity.
You may feel young, but a 21-year old looks at you and sees a “real adult” (although we know that isn’t completely true).
When you enter a dance club, there is a chance that the music will stop as soon as you walk in and all the young people will turn and laugh at you.
Who could blame them?
*People in their 30’s are NEVER coming back to my blog, LOL. At least I’m enjoying myself.
So you are in the old section of this blog post.
I wish I could type this out or write it on a scroll, but that just isn’t practical.
Anyway, let’s get into it…
Skinny Fat Workout Strategies for the Elderly (Old Millenials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers)
(A picture of a 27-year-old woman posing with her sister who just turned 30. The younger sister is secretly thrilled and can hardly hold back her smile, now that she is considered the prettier sister.)
The strategy for older people is to maintain muscle while losing fat.
Because of this, calories will be lower and the workout approach will be drastically different than the young evil ones.
You will NOT be following a “blitz and rest” approach.
The goal will be to focus on strength training, without muscle breakdown.
You will eat in a slight deficit while maintaining or gaining strength.
Let’s cover the workout part first.
The Skinny Fat Workout (Free With Your Senior Citizen Discount)
As people age, they don’t recover as quickly if the workouts are extremely intense.
They also need to make sure they get in daily activity. Because of this, workouts should be frequent but less intense.
Instead of “blitz and rest”, think more along the lines of “moderate frequent activity”.
Also a greater emphasis on cardio.
I recommend a Mon-Fri gym workout and going for a walk or staying active on the weekends (yard work, shopping, etc.)
An easy setup is a 2-day split, that is set up differently than the skinny fat workout for younger people.
Mon: Chest, Back, Legs, and Calves (+ Cardio)
Tue: Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, and Abs (+ Cardio)
Wed: One Hour of HIIT + Cardio Combo
Thu: Chest, Back, Legs, and Calves (+ Cardio)
Fri: Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, and Abs (+ Cardio)
Sat & Sun: Remain active
This workout setup is great as long as you don’t train to failure.
In the Skinny Fat Workout (for Kids Who Can’t Read Good), I separated “pushing” muscles from “pulling” muscles.
That is called a “Push-Pull Split”.
This works well when you don’t want to overtrain muscles that are getting broken down. If the bench press is lifted to failure the shoulders and triceps will be broken down along with the chest.
In this case, you wouldn’t want to work shoulder and triceps separately the next day.
Since the Skinny Fat Workout for the Elderly is geared more towards frequent muscle stimulation WITHOUT muscle breakdown, we have a different setup.
Here’s a breakdown of the individual workouts.
Mon & Thursday | Chest, Back, Legs, and Calves (+ Cardio)
Bench Press: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Seated Cable Row: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Squats: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Standing Calf Raises: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Cardio: HIIT Workout, Walk (or both)
This is a low volume workout on purpose.
The next day you will be working shoulders and triceps (which get hit with the bench press) and biceps (which get hit during rows).
You will perform each lift well short of failure too.
The first set of 10 and the second set of 8 is simply a warm-up. The 3 sets of 5 reps are done with a weight you could easily get 8 reps with.
Training short of failure with this rep range is ideal for gaining strength without size.
It’s not good for building mass.
It’s all about maximizing your Yacht Bod status, which means increasing strength and definition without adding bulk.
Doing a low volume weight lifting workout gives you much more time and energy to devote to cardio.
Try and get a minimum of 20 minutes total cardio (HIIT workout or walking).
Tues & Fri Workout | Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, and Abs
Seated Dumbbell Press: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Cable Triceps Extensions: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Seated Dumbbell Curls: 10, 8, 5, 5, 5
Lying Leg Raises: 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps
Cardio: HIIT Workout, Walk (or both)
All of these exercises are just suggestions.
I actually like the idea of sticking to free weights on the Mon & Thursday workout, but going a little easier on this workout.
Instead of seated dumbbell press feel free to do shoulder presses on a nautilus machine.
Machines are great because they are less demanding.
If you are lifting two days in a row like this, it can be nice and beneficial to have a mellow machine workout every once in a while.
This will give you a little more time for cardio too.
As far as cardio goes, don’t push too hard. You are doing 5 days in a row, so if you are feeling worn out, simply walk on a treadmill at a slight incline for 30 minutes.
Walking is a healthy fat burning activity that is nearly impossible to overdo.
Skinny Fat Diet Strategies (for the Older Jedi Masters)
Since the goal is to lose fat while maintaining mass, you will need to eat in a caloric deficit.
It really doesn’t make sense to eat in a surplus.
Once you have a base of muscle, eating a lot of extra calories will most likely just get stored as excess body fat.
This makes the skinny fat problem worse.
Younger people are able to lose fat while gaining muscle, but that is unlikely to be the case for you.
I would say a good number of calories to aim for would be 10 to 12 X your bodyweight in pounds.
This is just until you get as lean as desired.
As long as you include resistance training while dieting, the majority of weight loss will come from body fat and NOT muscle tissue.
What about protein, carbs, and fat?
I share a controversial viewpoint with Italian longevity researcher Dr. Valter Longo, that we don’t needs tons of protein.
Dr. Longo recommends NO MORE THAN .37 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Link to my article on this: Benefits of a low protein diet.
There are countless dieting strategies that work.
Whether that diet is keto, low fat, Whole 30, etc… just eat in a way that is easy for you to maintain a calorie deficit.
Note: This is coming an author of a high carb diet course. I think my diet has several metabolic advantages, but I’m not so closed-mided to think that my way is the only way.
Just hit that deficit!
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