Skinny fat: You look scrawny with a shirt on. But chubby when you’re shirtless.
This sucks so bad because you don’t know whether you should focus on bulking up or losing weight. You need to build muscle AND burn fat.
The problem is that you have only a small amount of muscle mass. This is why you look so scrawny with a shirt on. This is also why you look chubby without a shirt on – even if you don’t have much body fat, there is no muscle underneath to give your body shape.
In this article, I’ll show you a step-by-step diet and workout plan to get rid of skinny fat.
The Skinny Fat Diet
If you’re skinny fat, then you fall into 1 of 2 categories…
- You’re more scrawny than fat (#1 above) – this means you don’t have very much fat on you, there’s just very minimal muscle underneath.
- You’re more fat than scrawny (#2 above) – this means you have some muscle mass, it’s just covered by a thick layer of fat.
If you’re more skinny than fat: Start by gaining weight and gaining size. You need to build a solid base of muscle mass. If you cut down instead, you’re just going to look scrawnier and scrawnier.
Here’s what to do: Use my diet calculator to estimate how many calories (and how much protein) you should be eating to gain mass. Then download a simple calorie counting app like “MyFitnessPal” to track your calories every day.
If you’re more fat than skinny: Start by losing weight and cutting down. You need to get rid of some fat so that you can expose the muscle that’s been hiding underneath. If you bulk up instead, you’re just going to look chubbier and chubbier.
Here’s what to do: Use my diet calculator to estimate how many calories (and how much protein) you should be eating to get lean. Then download a simple calorie counting app like “MyFitnessPal” to track your calories every day.
If you want to see how I track my calories (without going crazy), check out this quick video I made.
If you don’t know which category you fall into: Then I recommend you start by bulking up and gaining mass. This is because you have the potential to pack on more muscle earlier in your weight-lifting career (aka “newbie gains”). Plus, you can always cut down and lose weight later on.
The Skinny Fat Workout Plan
The same way your diet depends on which type of “skinny fat” you are, so does your workout plan.
If you’re more skinny than fat: You should lift weights in the gym 4-5 days per week and limit your cardio.
This is because studies show you need more sets per week (per muscle group) if you want to pack on muscle as fast as possible. Also, you should avoid too much cardio because it burns calories your body needs to build new muscle tissue.
Here’s a simple 4 day per week full-body routine you can use:
If you’re more fat than skinny: You should lift weights in the gym 3 days per week and perform 2 days of cardio.
This is because you need to lift weights in order to maintain your muscle mass (and force your body to burn fat) while you lose weight. Plus, a couple days of cardio per week will help burn extra calories and accelerate fat loss.
You can do the same workouts shown above, but use this modified schedule:
In terms of cardio, I recommend 30 minutes per day (2X per week) of low intensity steady state cardio (LISS). For example: a light jog, brisk walk, or bike ride. This will help you burn some extra calories without putting any additional stress on your body.
Wrap-Up and Final Thoughts
To quickly recap:
- If you’re more scrawny than fat: weight-gain diet and 4-5X lifting per week
- If you’re more fat than scrawny: weight-loss diet and 3X lifting per week (plus 2X cardio)
- If you’re not sure, then get started by bulking up and gaining size
Beyond this, it’s absolutely crucial that you stick to your new diet and workout routine for AT LEAST 3 months.
If you don’t – and you change your approach more frequently than this – then you will never give your body the time it needs to build a significant amount of muscle (or burn a significant amount of fat).