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).
Good topic man!
Someone that is 23 percent body fat and skinny fat should I bulk 144lbs, 5.6 male ? Also how accurate is your calculator compared to IIFYM?
I believe my calculator is more accurate (uses the best equation for BMR). And bulking or cutting is your choice, review category 1 and 2 above.
I have 1 week plenty of time / 1 week not so much time schedule with work and my kids…
I have been doing a “double-up” training program on my free time week, and less gym, but replaced with at home on my busy weeks…
TBH only read about it on a couple of sites
Not following thier routine to a tee, but none the less been doing it with what I feel to be success… Bad idea?
Hey David, I have been following your videos and your posts for some time. I have found it really fascinating and useful. After seeing this article, I started to bulk and I have been lifting for about 6 months now. I have gained about 10 pounds. However, I’ve started to look like the second picture. Do you think I should start cutting now? (PS: I weight 146 pounds and I’m 171 cm tall)
I’m 155 lbs 5foot6 should I Bulk or Cut?
Do I need to add another 250 calories for the diet calculator displayed calories to compensate for the workout?
I do 3 day weights/2 day swimming cardio roughly burning 250 calories per day.
I am skinny fat(more fat than skinny looking), planning to cut fat and grow muscle mass.
31 I Lift 6 days a week along with 15-25 mins of sprints 5-6 days a week. Ive cut my calories by quite a bit and only have 1-1.5 meals a day. I definitely am 2. Look skinnier but shirt off love handles etc. Maybe should eat a 2nd meal or?
The only problem which confuse me the most is the diet.i just eat regular food and workout. My weight is just the same the way it is.help me with that.
Can I add to your plan? Or just do workout A&B. Thanks.
I am 5ft 10 and my weight is 87kg and i am 42 years old. I’ve been lifting for around a year and a half but seem stuck in middle ground some muscle but 20-22% body fat. I need some guidance to what’s the best way to go.
Hello how r u !
I just want to ask you that I want to get a bigger ab form should I lift more and stop abs excercices?(because I heard that doing abs workout with skinny lower abdomen fat burns more muscles I that true?)
Very good advice. Though, I’d throw in some calf and forearm work.
I’m a mixture of both. Like I have muscle, but I also kind of have a gut. Does this go apply to me at all? What do y’all recommend me to do if I’m trying to get abs?
Hey I’m skinny fat at 5’10 175lbs at
With like no muscle But have a little of a Belly should I cut or bulk
Great post bro. Looks like I should be bulking even though I want to lose this belly fat too.
Yeah man, I know it seems counter-intuitive but if you build muscle and gain weight, your abs will actually grow and look more ripped than now.
david what squats should we do the one with a bat
hey this is late but do you have any idea of a home workout for someone who’s more skinny than fat?
Hi David, im skinny fat, weight at 160lbs and 6,2 height, im 23 yrs, and consuming 220g protein per day, is that enough?
Pretty please do a post on Victoria’s Secret model physique and diet and how someone can achieve it? I am already very skinny and not looking to become a bikini competitor. Just want the softer VS type of physique. Thanks!
Just lift weights and don’t diet down to get too lean.
Awesome thank you! 🙂 Do you think 100 squats a day and 100 pushups (both bodyweight) would be sufficient for someone with very little muscle? Thanks again!
That’s not bad, but something simple like goblet squats, seated cable rows, and db shoulder press would be better.
Awesome thanks! 😀
I’m 6’1 and 167 lbs and probably around 17percent body fat. Cannot decide whether to bulk or cut with how much deficit/surplus. I got a bit toned muscle but still have fat around belly. What should I do?
Appreciate any comment.
Enjoyable as always man.
Sorry, hit the button without finishing.
Would you recommend to change this workout depending on whether you are an ectomorph, endomorph or mesomorph?
Thanks man! And no, this advice stays the same regardless of body-type. Main thing here is level of bodyfat and level of muscle mass.
In my experience, to increase your belly fat burning, run for about an hour a day! I tested it on myself and it fit perfectly. Thanks for your post.
Hi, if I cant do a pull up as specified in workout B, what should I do? Thanks.
What does A and B mean in tour week program?
My name is Borut and I am from Slovenia(Europe)
I really like your writing style, your content is right to the point and easy to follow. I’m in the early stages of my own bodybuilding site and I see your stuff as really inspirational.
I am currently like 2 months into your dumbbell bulking routine that I do at home, and i love it.
Just wanted to say thanks and keep up the great work.
Thanks for the comment Borut – keep on beasting brother!
What is the difference btwn ordinary wrkout and skinny fat wrkout
Hi, David, I am John Cruise, I am also working on my early stage of the body building website. I read and did an entire analysis of your content which very points wise, educated and this much easier to understand. Currently, I have done, you dumbbell routine last two months and got so much improvement in my fitness so I am very thankful to you and I hope so you will keep continuing to write this kind of valuable content once again thank you very much.
Thanks man! Glad the dumbbell routine has been effective for you. Keep beastin bro!
Hey David. Quick question;
I’m probably a mix between #1 and number #2 above. I’m 5ft10 140lbs so I know I need to bulk (a lot). The problem is I’m going to Australia in 11 weeks (probably the only time I’m ever going to go, as I’m from UK) and I don’t want to be walking around on the beach with more belly fat below my belly button and bigger love handles than I already have. Any ideas? Big fan by the way.
Normally I would say bulk, but start with a quick cut if you’re really worried about Australia!
This is is good article. These body type of people are everywhere. Lot’s of them need to build some muscles and want look good. But they don’t have much idea about how to start. Your article will be a good start for them. Thank you for sharing with us.
Thanks man! Glad it helped
Hi im 46 , I used to workout a lot but I v been out of gym for about a year. I am skinny but ive built a belly this year, what would you recommend? Attack the belly or built muscle first? I have fear to incrase the belly fat on a high calorie diet trying to build muscle . Very helpfull article
Depends how skinny you are besides the belly. If you have very little muscle, then you should build a base first. Otherwise, attack the belly!
Hi Iam 15 and Iam skinny fat I have a some fat around my belly and waist and little muscle I have a good nutritious diet and go swimming everyday for a hour then hit gym for weights any thing else I could do to remove my belly fat and build muscle right now Iam in a calorie deficit
Great! Finally, a brief explanation with a brief workout/diet plan for skinny fat. One more thing, should i workout with stomach full or not? If yes, what are the recommended foods for skinny fat? Thanks in advance!
I recommend eating 1-2 hours before working out!
Hi David, I have a question, I’m going to choose to get bulk but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get bigger belly right?!!Lol I’m 5’2,109 Lbs all my fat is in my belly 🙁 and no muscles at all! And i don’t know if I should to choose moderate or High activity, I do Residential Housekeeping for living and after work I go to the gym and if I’m not at the gym I’m hiking, I usually hike twice a week, I do hikes like 4-6 miles pretty high elevations, so yeah…what do you think 🤔
I would start with moderate, and then increase cals if you don’t gain at all. And, as long as you keep the weight gain to about 2 lbs per month max, then it should be all muscle gain and no extra fat to the belly!
it is difficult for me to do workout with heavy weights. I got skinny fat on my back, but need to lose belly fa.
I got ab roller, one big pocket-shaped- jettelbell and pull-up bar. I can only do home workout.
Is it safe 5xtimes a week 1-hour walk in the morning + IF (2PM – 6 PM) + HIIT workout 20minutes? What kind of excercises and how long, to add to HIIT? The kettelbell is only for lower body, I cannot even exercise with it with one hand.
Need to cut my abs MAINLY, strenght my back (or maybe chest as major goal?). But it is difficult, when no access to heavy weights. The main problem is find an appriopriate HIIT with current equipment.I am not so fat, I am quick, strong legs (for squats), but cant bulk, it could be difficult.
Hey, m 18.
I’m 5’6 and about 58kg.
What should i do? Nd how can i measure my fat pourcentage?
(Thanks for the really usefull writings)
Hi David, great article just one question. I am category 2 more fat than skinny. Should I alternate the excersice in each series or should I do one at a time for example: 3 series of squats and continue with the next. Also in the 3 lifting days no cardio at all? Thanks
You can add cardio since your goal is cutting fat. Do one exercise at a time
I follow your 3 meals diet,it helps a lot since you dont need to cook every now and then.
i dont know if im skinny fat,i weight 141 lbs and 5’8 tall.
should i bulk or clean bulk? i have fat around my belly.
Just keep weight gain to 2 lbs per month and it will minimize fat gain
Will this plan also work for a female physique?
Love your videos,man. So,what date will you be posting your second in the course
You should get an email 24 hours after you receive video 1
Hi Thank you coach, i will try this method
hey bro…. according to me I should gym 4-5 days a week….. so give me a workout schedule…..currently I’m doing Monday chest n triceps Tuesday back n biceps Wednesday shoulders n legs….I need a proper workout schedule….im 141lbs 5.11
I hv been hittin the gym since October 17
Hi I am 6ft1 and weight 15.5 stone I have alot of body fat especially on my thigh which is very hard too lose I have massive thunder thighs that are full of fat and I am a man, I can not even fit to barely any trouser so u wear joggers. I am a man BTW and I also have large love handles. Please I really want to get lean by the summer or by the end of summer please help, what do I do???
Great Article. Very Informative and Great work.You have filtered some very useful blogs for fitness lovers.
How long does it usually take to get rid of the skinny fat physique if I am in the second category? (More fat that scrawny?
With a good diet and training 5 times a day, how long do you think?
hi, David, I’m skinny fat but not sure which category. I have done some cardio workouts over six months and I always move around every day, I went from 225 pounds to 183 pounds that’s when I started realizing I was skinny fat as I still have a loose belly fat and big love handles.so I started going seriously at the gym doing building exercises and hiit workouts taking whey protein I’m 20 years old 6ft and 20% body fat(approximation) .whats the best approach to lose the belly fat and love handles and around the chest area.thanks
Hi David, everything on my body is like “normal size” my waist is good only thing that looks fat is front of belly and my nipple are slightly big, everything else is skinny, my belly is not big big but you defo notice I have one even with a top on should i bulk or?
185LBS @ 26% BF. 5’9″ height. Should I bulk or cut first?
Hey I can’t do pull ups
So will the routine for someone more fat than skinny still help me build muscle mass?
hi david, any meal plan recommendations for skinny fat who wants to gain weight, muscle mass and lose fat
Iam from mexica and Iam 21,my shoulders skeleton is small,iam working out for years but it’s still not getting wider,what is your advice?what should i do?
Hey David, my gym does not have a trap bar, can I substitute it with normal DLs? Thanks!
I am 16 years old,my body fat percentage is 11% and my weight is 125 lbs.but I still look fat without my shirt on
I may 16 years old.my body fat percentage is 11%,height 5’7″, weight 130 lbs.i have a flabby belly.but I look thin with a shirt on. Should I bulk or cut ?
Hey bro , i need some advice. I weigh 189 i have muscle mass but My layers of fat are covering. I did the calculator, but im struggling to find a complete diet. I was wondering if you could help me out with a diet to get a body like you ? I need 151grams of protein, and 2,198 calories a day.
I wish you’d give specific weights.
Hope somebody can give me some advice: I’m currently 155lbs (70kg) , 5 feet 10 (177 cm) and 14,5 body fat%..
Now i see all those things about when you cut ill be a stick again, when i bulk or lean bulk ill gain extra fat and end up fat with no muscle definition.
Any ideas here about skinny fat and how the best way to fix it? Be in a deficit and high protein so ill lose the fat and build some muscle? Or maybe a small surplus? Maintenance calories?
Thanks in advance!
very nice man good job！！
I’m 155 lbs 5foot6 should I Bulk or Cut?
I need so much help, I am skinny and fat which is why I am here. In this you outlined 2 main types of body, one with some what muscle but fat is covering it and other with low amounts of fat but no muscle. My case is, I have a very fat stomach, love handles, and chest. But my arms and legs are skinny. I am 6’2 so this causes me to look lanky. I am not sure what i should I want to get muscle and get big but I do not know how, what should I do exactly?
Hey David ! Awesome article but I have a question. What if you enjoy running and you’re in category one but you still want to build your upper body what’s the best way to go about this ? Thanks
Hey David! I just stumbled upon your website today. I wish I found your guide a year ago but I guess it’s better late than never. Anyway, I think I fall on category 1 skinny fat. I am 5 feet and 5 inches in Height and 140lb in weight currently which is around the perfect weight range for me based on BMI scale. I have been lifting for almost 2 years now but I still have layer of stubborn fat on my abdomen area and some on my back and arms. My question is how heavy should I bulk up to show more definition and most importantly how do I get rid of the layer of fat I am carrying around? thank you in advance and great guide!
thanks a lot for these infos but I was wondering if being tall makes it more difficult to gain muscle mass or not ?
Hey David! I am 6ft1 inches, male, 18 years old, 155 pounds, and 22% body fat. I fit into category 1 and was wondering how to incrementally increase how much you lift and how to lose belly fat! Thank you
I’m 29 years old, male, 5’4 height, 132 pounds and i think i fall in category 2. I work out 5-6 times a week at the gym. Problem with having small leg muscles and fat belly. What should I do?
Hey David, I’m 5’8” 165lbs. I’m not too scrawny and the only thing I want to get rid of my gut and get my six pack back and maybe build my arms a bit more. Last year I did a bulk and went from 148 to 163lbs but still had a gut and then fell out of the gym for a bit. Should I cut and do HIIT exercises or keep lifting heavy? Also should I eat more calories or less? I’d like to maintain my weight. I mostly just want to get rid of the gut.
Amazing article. I’m 15 and 118 pounds. I’m 16% body fat. What would you recommend me doing first and should I select recomp, bulk, or cut to understand my macros.
I am also 5”4
Hey Bro, I am struggling with skinny fat for years. I am 5″7 and 157 pounds. I have made up my mind to start your program. Can you please advise me, as a beginner, How many pounds should I lift for each of the workouts? God bless!
great article bro;
For more information, see these people how they were and how they became and the real instructions they followed incredible
I’m currently 188.6lbs but it can go as low as 186.5lbs some days, and a body fat percentage between 24.2%-24.9% I also fall under category 1. I’m 27 and stand at 5’11. My target weight 170/5lbs. Ideally I want gain muscle, but I also want to loose fat and still make 170/5lbs
My calorie intake is 3268
Carb 59% 486g
Protein 19% 151g
Fat 22% 80g
Thanks in advance
I also hit the gym 4/5 times a week. With weight training, and use the heavy bag to practice punching combos for 15min
cut till you reach 15 percent and lift heavy till failure to keep muscle mass and go on a lower carb range so you take more carbs from your fat stores do cardio on rest days and dont make it intense, on rest days reach 10 k steps and build up to 15k and stop there, eat around 250 below maintenece to lose fat and not alot of muscle 🙂 lmk anything else u need at this email, Jeneskristof210@gmail.com
First I want to say I’ve been a fan for about a year now and I feel like your videos have really changed my, especially when it came to talking to women. So thanks
So I’m 18, male, 115lb, and 3.6% body fat. I’ve been eating 3 full meals a day, only eating peanuts as a snack, and I drank a protein shake 1 hour before a workout. I did this for about 7 months and I really didn’t see a difference. So I was wondering if I need to keep eating the same and start doing the workouts on this page, or if I also need to change what I eat?
I’m going to start home training myself to get the body I want but having trouble with what size/weight dumbbells I should use. I’m 19, 5’10, 155lbs, and I’m not very active far as working out as if I never done it before so I’m basically a beginner and need guidance.
I’m between category A and category B. What should I do?
I’m 14 years old, weigh 124 pounds and am 5ft 8inches. My BMI is 19.2. After reading your description I am pretty sure that i’m skinny fat. I’m pretty new to the gym with almost no previous experience. What kind of workouts and diet plan would you recommend?
Hello, I read your article and your information is really amazing and very helpful for me. Thank you very much:)
This for sure has been helping me out cutting back on weight. I am skinny fat and I need to shred down. I just have a few questions. Do you by chance have a shredding workout routine as of going through the type of workouts you do? Can you also do this diet if you have a kick boxing gym instead of a real gym? Thank you for your help.
I love this article. Im sure im skinny fat.
Your calculations only states protein intake as long as i take recommanded protein im alright?? What about carbs and fat?
How much cardio is good if I’m more skinny than fat
Amazing article!It tells how to train themselves for different people.
Hi David, These skinny fat diet workout ideas are very helpful for me. Keep it up!
Amazing page pls your quick opinion on this please :
Im 5.10 got light fat on stomach and high on lower back and thighs but my weight is 80kgs
Should I cut or bulk
People say cardio messes with progressive overload in the workout
Im guessing bulk, do you know how to improve metabolism
Any answer will go a long way
Thanks for sharing such great information. bsc 3rd year time table Hope we will get regular updates from your side.
I am a 29 year old man, 177 pounds in the morning. Been lifting weights consistently for about 5 years. According to my scale I’m about 13.4% body fat. I do not have abs. I consistently lift 4-5 times a week and do cardio one day for about 20-30 min. I really am not sure if I should cut, bulk or maintain. I did a cut for about 10 weeks and lost about 3 pounds. What should I do?
im 15 and 163 cm my top abs can be seen but i have a lot of stubborn fat, so should i bulk or cut?
This guide about skinny fat diet workout of howtobeast is excellent piece of work, Keep it up.
I’m 22 y/o female, my weight is 49.6kg, height is 153cm, Body fat 26.2 , Lean body mass: 36.7 , Soft lean mass= 3.8 and the BMi= 21. I have a skinny fat how can I choose/ know If Imm more skinny than fat or more fat than skinny?
I AM A Skinny Fat Woman?
skinny fat diet
There are some normal attributes all skinny fat young ladies appear to have:
• Skinny hefty ladies will in general convey the greater part of their fat around their midriff (stomach) and hips and thighs
(You know, the feared “overhang/stomach cushions” and “saddlebags.”).
• Skinny fat women’s eating regimen commonly comprises of abundance starches, fake sugars, sugar or handled food varieties. Essentially, you’re keeping away from vegetables however much you can and eating bad food.
See more : https://heathimprovement.com/what-to-react-if-you-are-skinny-fat
Hey David, great workout. One question – how long should rest breaks be between sets? Cheers!
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