Tips to Fix “Skinny Fat” Syndrome

October 23, 2009

I’m sure you have all heard of the term skinny fat. This when someone is chubby but doesn’t take up much space.

A person who is close to their target weight, but is soft all over. To be honest, this is a super easy thing to fix, but a lot of people go about it the wrong way. Someone who is skinny fat is just 3 months away from transforming their body, they just need to attack this problem the right way.

skinny fat

[This isn’t an example of skinny fat people. I just wanted to include a Halloween themed picture, since this holiday is approaching for a lot of us. I think it looks psychotic when people wear animal heads without the rest of the costume.]

Still Skinny Fat Even After Training for Some Time?

I would say that a good portion of the people in the gyms I have belonged to are skinny fat. A lot of people train really hard and still don’t display the muscle tone that they should. All you have to do is head on over to Youtube to see examples of this.

There are thousands of videos of people sweating their butt off, but still not displaying impressive physiques.

Trying to Create a Calorie Deficit Through Exercise?

The biggest mistake I see is that people are trying to create a calorie deficit through exercise. If you want to lose body fat, you want to create a calorie deficit through diet and burn additional calories with exercise. Make sure you are in calorie deficit even when taking away the calories burned with exercise.

*If you take away any tip from this article, this would be the most important piece of advice*

Eating Too Much and Then Training to Make up For It?

Training hard to make up for a bad diet puts you at risk for increasing your cortisol levels. The typical mistake I see is the people hitting cardio for 60 minutes at a time 5-6 days a week.

I have no problem with some cardio after HIIT, but I like to limit this to just a few times per week. Cortisol breaks down muscle and increases fat storage. If you see someone training like a mad man (or mad woman) and isn’t lean…this is probably the reason why.

Back off on Exercise to Get Rid of Fat

The first thing I would recommend for a skinny fat person? I would tell them to reduce their calories and reduce their workouts. If they weren’t doing resistance training, then that would be mandatory as well.

In fact, if they were really lacking muscle tone I would have that person hit the weights hard under a calorie deficit with very little cardio. Maybe re-introduce cardio after 1-2 months.

Focus on Short Intense Workouts While Eating Well

Skinny fat people typically need to boost the intensity of their workouts, but not too often. The main thing is to avoid the release of cortisol while increasing the HGH through strategic exercise.

There is a “Sweet Spot” of just the right amount of exercise and it is different for everybody. The key is to find that sweet spot.

Once you figure that out, you are just 2-3 months max away from a complete transformation.

 

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

saddam riaz October 23, 2009 at 5:13 pm

GREAT POST RUSTY

saddam riaz October 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm

RUSTY HI,
I THINK IM JUST 10 KGS AWAY FROM MY RIPPED LOOK I DO HIIT CARDIO FOR 15MINS COMBINED WITH SOME STEADY STATE FOR 20MINS 4 TIMES A WEEK MAX AND WEIGHT TRAINING 3 TIMES IS THAT FINE AND IM UNDER STRICT CALORIES DEFICIT I EAT MAX 1000 CALORIES DAILY WITH 2 FASTING DAYS

Yavor October 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm

My approach would be to eat to maintain or even drop body weight and train to increase the working weights aggressively (most people do not push themselves hard enough).

So lets say a guy is 6 feet tall and 170 lbs, but skinny fat. I would have him weight train to increase the muscular strength and eat to drop to 160 or maintain at 170 (as opposed to the advise that floats around to eat big – even if he is lacking muscle now).

Because most of the weight a skinny fat person will get with ‘bulking’ will be fat.

Muscle mass is built slowly. And, a few pounds of real muscles will actually dramatically change the way a person looks.

The mistake young skinny fat guys make is gaining too much weight and living in the self-delusion it’s all muscle.

Diana October 23, 2009 at 5:42 pm

This is really interesting! I’ve lost 62 pounds and I’m now one of those people. I’ve joined a gym so I can finally start working harder. I’m strength training 3/4 times a week. But I had no idea it was better to reduce the cardio so thanks for the tips. 🙂

gus October 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm

hi rusty,

wanted to ask a question about ryan kwanten`s physique,
the muscle tone he outlines in “true blood”( the veins in the bicep, he mucles apears larger than they are and six pack) is this something people will achive with havin as low body fat as he has, or is it something in his workout ( bodyweight training) that helps to enduce this compared to weight training ?

also wanted to ask how the life is without a gym, and if the bodyweight training is going well
thx 😛

Helder October 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Very good advice here Rusty, the most important part in my opinion is cutting on cardio and long workouts, cortisol is probably the bigger part of the problem.

Do heavy weight training like 3×3-5 per bodypart, and do full body workouts, do HIIT after weights, sprinting or rope jump. Train no more than 3/4 times per week, and results will come

Keep calories low, but not so low that you feel without energy, just listen to your body

Bryan October 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Rusty,

This isn’t really concerning this article but I wasn’t sure where else to ask. I’ve got two questions. I’ve lost 40 lbs. and have been at my target weight of 170 for 3 or 4 months now. Over the last few months I’ve had some shoulder pain that’s gotten quite annoying. Never hurts unless I’m weight lifting with a push type exercise. I’d quit doing cardio too.

Now, it looks to my eye like I’ve added back 5 to 10 lbs of fat yet my weight is still 170. I just don’t look as cut even though I was doing a lot more weight training until the last two weeks which I’ve stopped to give myself and shoulder a break. I was thinking maybe I’m retaining a lot more water. Any ideas?

My second question is to ask you expertise on weight lifting injuries. Maybe you could do an article on some of the most frequent ones. It took me a bit of internet searches but I’m 90% sure I’ve got bicep tendontious where the tendon attaches to the shoulder. My plan is to rest for two weeks, then start back with my workout but not do the pushing exercises that hurt the worst (dips and bench).

Sorry for the long post.

Grok October 23, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Sound advice. Working on a skinny-fat tranformation right now. About two months left.

Got most the fat off and applying only the heavy stuff now 🙂

FitJerk - Flawless Fitness October 23, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Skinny fat. Holla!

I used to be skinny fat. A long long time ago and you’re right, fixing it isn’t that hard. Just like with anything though, it takes consistency. Although I never changed my workouts by much, it was the changes in my eating habits made all the difference.

But back then, also didn’t know much about physiology. Good times.

Michael - Fat Loss Tips October 23, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Rusty… I’m glad you stressed the caloric deficit before exercise point.

There really is no such thing as a fat loss workout. It’s all in the diet… If you eat like crap then don’t expect to over compensate for it through your workouts. It doesn’t work that way. Get your eating under control first and then supplement with exercise.

Mike

Kevin October 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Hey Rusty,
I’m almost at my goal. The only problem is I have a bit of flab at thebottom of my chest and the lower part of the abs. My upper abnominal muscles are quite toned but how do I get rid of it to achieve my goal?
PS: Great advices so far by the way

Steve October 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Hey Rusty, is it possible to lose skinny fat and put on muscle at the same time?

I’m worried about going on a serious low carb diet in case I end up looking like a rail, being 6’8 and weighing 300lbs I already went through that stage.

skinnyfatnomore October 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm

i used to be skinny fat too, from childhood til adulthood. Then i started cleaning up my diet and lifting heavy, i lost the skinny fat look.

flowerd October 24, 2009 at 12:25 am

hey rusty thats me for sure..so for a girl what do they need to do with weight training..i think i need more muscles or more tone?you say not to do squats so just HITT?

flowerd October 24, 2009 at 12:32 am

sorry one more thing i have the turbulance deluxe body weight package..if i were to do the 6 months body weight circuit and HITT after will that build my legs to much..The TT training does alot of squats?

baz October 24, 2009 at 3:29 am

Alot of the time(though not always) skinny fat syndrome affetcs people who have fast metabolisms so arent big but their poor diet habits cause alot of the fat to be stored around the stomach area. People who have a lean face or arms but still have a pot belly becasue of eating choices mainly. Of course its not the same for eveyone though. Some people do eat well but still eat more than they should so innevitably this leads to a slight weight gian.

Chris October 24, 2009 at 4:52 am

The”skinny fat syndrome” hurts dieters that overdo it.
Long,steady cardio is not of course the solution.
Sound nutrition-keeping an eye on the caloric intake-and a combination of HIIT with resistance training will perfectly do the job.
Thank for sharing your experience!

Jason G October 24, 2009 at 5:31 am

Most skinny fat people should focus on building muscle without gaining additional bodyfat. Its up to each individual whether or not they want to build muscle before getting super lean or after. Most skinny fat people have never had a long period of time where they focused on muscle growth. Skinny fat people’s workout routines do not challenge their muscles and are usually more cardio focused. We have all seen these guys lift weights with no signs of tension or struggle.

Rusty many of the points you made in this article represent my main philosophy:Train Less and Eat Less. Skinny fat is a quick fix if getting lean is your goal, but its a hard fix if you are a person who needs years of muscle development to reach your desired goal. These people need to learn how to train hard and correctly with weights.

Gabriel October 24, 2009 at 6:23 am

The easiest way is to have a right diet (40% protein 30% carbs and 30% good fat like monounsaturated) and have a lift weights working different groups of muscle every day so they can rest 6-7 days, get 150g proteins a day (for 150 lbs man) and you’re done. You’ll boost your testosterone working out the muscles for no more than 1hr a day, 5 times a week (more than that is counterproductive). Big muscles are easy to get with the right ammount of protein in the diet (wich most of us do not have).

John October 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

Since I’m skinny fat I was wondering if I should do body weight exercises or lift wieghts or both

Steve October 24, 2009 at 8:29 am

Great post Rusty,

This is the advice I missed out on for the last 5-6 years that I have been training. I used to think I had to get big muscles then they would burn off all that fat.

In truth I’ve never been fat, I once ate 1.25kg of spaghetti bolognese in one sitting, I looked like cool hand luke after eating all those eggs, however after a good night’s sleep my body looked the same as it always did.

About 3 weeks ago I measured in at 11.7%BF probably the average for my life, since then I’ve been doing eat stop eat and high intensity gymnastics training and conditioning. I look better and more importantly FEEL better than I EVER have before. Though I still have a long way to go (to get to my current goal of 8%BF) I can finally see ab numbers 5 and 6.

Once again, great post!

The Spaniard October 24, 2009 at 11:34 am

Bryan,
a few years ago something similar happened to me. Everytime I tried to do bench presses I felt pain on my right shoulder and it was even worst when I tried push-ups. Now, maybe our cases are different because the x-ray I had done on my shoulder showed that the bones on that area where very close (the result of breaking my collarbone 3 times) and were rubbing against the tendon, therefore, the rubbing caused the tendon to swell and that is when the pain appeared. I was told to rest for a while, have some rehabilitation done on my shoulder and do special exercises for the shoulder and the rotator cuff (if I can find the exercises I will let you know). What I noticed is that at the beginning I had to do bench presses with dumbbells (it didn’t hurt like that) because the range of motion didn’t affect the shoulder the same way as when you do it with barbells or bodyweight…but it took me a long time before I could do push-ups again without pain.

MC October 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

I’m a skinny fat dude right now.

I’ve tried the eat stop eat diet (still do it now, but only stop once a week), but I get light headed on the stop part of it, which makes me not really able to take advantage of the HGH edge it would give me. I’m physically healthy (get checked up regularly) so I’m not sure if this is a norm for others who do the eat-stop-eat diet.

Jason G October 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm

John,

If you want to gain muscle then I would lift mainly weights because the body weight exercises will be more for endurance training since you most likely have a lite body.

wolverine October 24, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Jason G, what if you have a heavy body? thanks

Venee October 24, 2009 at 3:59 pm

The Skinny Fat thing interests me. I have parts of my body that I’d like to be more cut but I’ve been doing warrior for about 6 months and if you do that right it knocks skinny fat right out of the ball park. I’ve since got the Eat stop Eat book and am trying to snag those last 5lbs. I started doing Rustys crazy 8 workout and I also do a HIIT called get lean in 12 (anyone heard of that workout?) I wondered how the crazy 8 would work on a female and I gotta say it’s tightened up the very areas I wanted. My glues are finally tighter, and it’s a killer workout! I eat very clean and am at 18 to 20% BF depending on the source used. The key for me is the intemittent fasting. and doing exercises that work with it to maximize the fat burning.

Godd topic keep em coming!

Rafi Bar-Lev at Passionate Fitness October 24, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I think the answer for “skinny fat” people is the same as anyone else trying to get in great shape. Eat well and train hard. 🙂

-Rafi

Kristen October 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Hi Rusty,

Thanks so much for all the great advice! I was wondering if you’d be willing to weigh in and offer some personalized guidance (I need it desperately! –it’s been a two year journey and I’m at a standstill).

What would you suggest the ideal regimen for a 5’3” female weighing 130 lb. I was a javelin thrower in college and during that time, I did a lot of heavy lifting. Prior to college I weighed 115. I’ve definitely managed to lean out my body again to appear less bulky as compared to my college days despire the fact that my weight remains the same, I am attributing much of that to the idea that it is a total body gain in muscle mass. Though I am not as concerned about the number on the scale, I do feel that I need to lose at least another ten pounds to acheive that truly lean, tone look I desire. I have always had a tone stomach and fairly thin, defined legs, but for some reason seem to carry a lot more weight in my arms (something I realized is a bit genetic). Do you think I need to break down the muscles I have in my arms in order to make them appear more svelte to match the rest of my body? And, I guess to come full circle to my initial question, what would you suggest as an ideal regimen for me to acheive this long, lean, tone look?

Oh, and I recently started Brad Pillon’s 8 exercise HITT workout. I was able to do the 3 sets during the first session (don’t get me wrong though… it was HARD!). And since that is something you initially said to strive for, I was wondering if you had any other similar routines to mix in (so as to avoid too much muscle memory and, therefore, decreased effectiveness)…?

Thanks Rusty……look forward to hearing your advice!

Aditya October 25, 2009 at 12:35 am

Awesome Motivational and Informative post again by The Man 😀

I got down from the skinny fat look to a 9% body fat state in 4 months and I was getting all the information from Rusty from the start till now. Initially I was a hardcore HIIT guy when I was at 18% starting BFL. I used to do HIIT 5 times a week. It was tiring and I was getting obsessive. I was paying attention to my diet too, concentrating on eating Paleo and less, Warrior Diet and stuff like that. I shed incredible amount of fat in a short span BUT then I saw it hit a plateau when I was at 12%. It became all slow. Thats when I came to know of the Eat Stop Eat plan. Rusty and a lot of other low body fat guys follow it. Its not always easy to be clean with your diet and thats when ESE comes handy. I do just 1 HIIT session each week and I at everything but do 3 ESE fasts. I am going low on BFL still and I am happy. When I have to get toned and extra lean, I would go on a Paleo spree. I do not stress on my workout much now. I go to the gym solely for my weight training and I do HIIT when I feel. I still am toned and lean with a 9%BFL. So yeah, diet is all it takes and you still can enjoy everything, everything from Caramel glazed Popcorns to a McBurger if you clear the concept of eating lesser Calories then you burn. Check out ESE and get some knowledge from Rusty’s and Brad Pilons post about fasting and fat loss, you will be on the right track. It worked and it works for me, anyone can do it!

My quest is still on and I still ask Rusty a hell lot of questions and I am amazed he never gets irritated 😀 If you have any questions you should just ask the man, he always helps!

Thanks
Aditya

Adam October 25, 2009 at 7:14 am

More Olympic lifts!
Train hard and intensively!
Don’t kill post workout hormone surges with food, wait a bit!
Eat less, eat the foods you enjoy, keep moving more!
Enjoy life.

🙂

Studio Element Personal Training October 25, 2009 at 9:44 am

I have used that term many times but have never heard anyone else use it. Some people are just fooling themselves by thinking that they are in great shape because their “inches” tell them so. This is the exact reason why my fitness trainers and I do a very detailed, complete fitness evaluation to measure all aspects of ones status.

Jason G October 25, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Wolverine,

If you have a heavier body it can be a different ball game. The main thing to look at is reps. If you are doing pull ups eight to twelve times then you will promote more muscle growth then if you do twenty or more. Twenty or more reps will be considered endurance training. Endurance training promotes less muscle growth and is more focused on making your muscles more fatigue resistant.

Monica October 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for this great post Rusty!! Right now I workout five times a week, Sun/Mon/Tue and Thu Fri. I alternate legs followed by 15 min HIIT and upper body as well as abs/obliques (no HIIT). I end each workout with 15 min walking.

So basically, I do HIIT 2-3 times a week only, and some walking 5 times a week. Is that ok? I don’t push myself, I just enjoy walking to music to finish off my workout, because it makes me feel good. I figure, it’s not more than a brisk walk home, or is it?

BTW, I like to gain strength and size, so I do 5×5 reps and also 3-4x 6-8 reps and also focus on training my legs. I also like to be lean and get a little leaner even.

Thank you:)

Katelyn October 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm

The best way is to eliminate carbs. Carbs raise insulin which stores fat. Eliminate that which stores fat.

jarrod October 25, 2009 at 10:38 pm

hey, i just brought some muscle milk, i have heared great things about this product? im bout 10%bf not far off gettin the full 6 pack look, my diet is very good now lots of protein and low carb and doin simliar workout 2 cam giggnet plus trainin mma 3 times a week, but i just want to build a bit more muscle, do u think this muscle milk would work well with me? im like 135 pounds and 5’9 i just got a bit of fat on bottom abs still to get rid of, any tips would b great to help me rid it 4 good! thanks alot love ur site!!

Rez October 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Muscle Milk is pretty high in carbs for a protein drink. For building muscle it’s okay, but not for getting lean (abs). There are many protein powders on the market that have nearly zero carbs.

Ramon October 26, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Great post Rusty! This is exactly what I see whenever I go to a gym (rarely) or talk to people who “like to run” – they are mostly skinny-fat. I was skinny fat for most of my life. I blame conventional wisdom for giving people the idea that running for 60mins or more is a good way to get in shape and I blame dumb diets like Weight Watchers for promoting low-fat, high carb diets that, at least in my case, burned off more muscle than bodyfat. I’m so glad I found your site and MarksDailyApple which have helped me get leaner than ever before! Thanks!

admin October 26, 2009 at 5:22 pm

saddam,

How much do you weigh and how tall are you? The only reason I ask is that 1,000 calories per day might be slightly too low. It does sound like the rest is spot on. It will just take some time.

Yavor,

I like the idea of dropping weight while gaining strength…a great strategy. Perfect summary on people believing the weight they add is muscle when bulking up. We both know that most of that gain is fat.

Diana,

You don’t always need to reduce cardio, but for some people this is a great solution. Typically those who are spending many hours training without results need to adjust diet and possibly reduce cardio.

gus,

Life without the gym is awesome. I will be back in the gym in January, but it is a great break. Ryan’s physique is a combination of low body fat and workout history. Over time you will build muscle density. I am roughly the same size and body fat percentage I was at the age of 19, but my physique looks dramatically different. You won’t get the Ryan Kwanten physique overnight, but could look close if you get lean enough. Just keep pushing and you will get better as you age.

Helder,

Great summary Helder. That is exactly the plan of attack I like to take.

Bryan,

I wish I knew more about muscle injuries. I am afraid I am not an expert in this area. I know a decent amount about back pain…only because I am well-read on the subject, but that is about it.

Grok,

This will be a snap for you. I know you have been working hard.

FitJerk,

True, a lot of people probably just need a good diet tweak.

Michael,

Yep…get the calorie deficit down then people can have a 100% success rate on dropping weight.

Kevin,

Just focus on overall fat loss…you can’t choose where you lose the body fat. Focus on creating a calorie deficit and you will eventually lose fat from that area of your body.

Steve,

It is actually quite possible to lose fat and put on muscle. Gain strength under a calorie deficit. Add in more volume if you want to gain muscle or keep the volume low to just maintain the muscle while dropping fat.

flowerd,

I am not completely against squats…Some people can benefit from doing them for a few months and then moving on. For women, I would aim at getting stronger without adding size while dropping body fat. Any body weight squatting movements are fine. I am against the long term use of heavy back barbell squats done in the 6-12 rep range bodybuilding style.

baz,

I have a couple of friends who fit this description perfectly.

Chris,

Yep…less calories + intensity.

Jason G,

True…most skinny fat people need to hit the weights for at least 3 months. People just expect results too quickly.

John,

I think a quick way to reach your goal is to probably lift weights. Once you get a base of muscle move on to body weight exercises. That being said, you can get ripped with body weight only work…it just takes longer in my opinion. For the best look…I recommend a combination of both.

Steve,

I need to another post on muscles not burning a significant amount of calories. This is a big mistake that many people make. I am glad you are doing what it takes to get lean now. You won’t have a problem hitting your 8% body fat goal.

MC,

Try it a few more times. It helps if you reduce your carbs a bit…it sounds like you have a low blood sugar crash happening. Get your body used to using fat for energy by eating a bit more fat in place of your carbs when you do eat. Sometimes it takes a few times through to train your body to use fat for energy when fasting. At least that has been my experience talking with 100+ people who are following Eat Stop Eat.

Kristen,

The body weight circuit training stuff is amazing for lightening up a bit while staying lean and burning body fat. I would recommend a combination of that and if you do lift weights, don’t do many sets for upper body. Keep the volume low and most of all, avoid “the pump” in your arms. It sounds like you are doing the right things. It does take a while to become more compact.

Aditya,

Thanks for the compliment and testimonial. I appreciate it. I am glad Brad Pilon put out such a solid strategy with Eat Stop Eat…the best Intermittent Fasting strategy by far.

Adam,

Great reminder to people to not eat after training. I always instruct people to not touch any calories 3 hours before and 1-2 hours after lifting. That way the HGH boost is maximized…along with fat loss and muscle sparing effects.

Monica,

Sounds perfect for your goals. I used to recommend more HIIT…but now I believe 2-3 times per week is plenty. Save the 4-5 times per week for just 3 weeks leading up to a trip. As far as leg training goes…your approach will build muscle…if at any point your legs feel too big just back off on the volume a bit.

Katelyn,

Good point. I believe in keeping insulin levels stable as well. It will make any fat loss program more effective.

jarrod,

I like Muscle Milk a lot due to the fact that it has fat. The fat in the product will help you avoid insulin spikes that is the downside of many protein shakes on the market. It will also be more satisfying and you won’t get hungry as quickly compared to other shakes. A great choice for sure. Like Rez says…there are also zero carb options as well…I would probably save those for if you want to get extremely lean for a vacation or event. You will do well with Muscle Milk the rest of the time.

Ramon,

Funny isn’t it…not very many of those marathon cardio men and women who live on the treadmills are in good condition. I love treadmills, but it is usually limited to 15-20 minutes of interval excitement. Taking a break from my gym this winter, so won’t be near a cardio machine until January. I am glad you got in great shape following some of the advice on both mine and Mark’s site. Mark’s Daily Apple is outstanding.

Rusty

jarrod October 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm

I no that muscle milk has lots of carbs but do u think with intermittent fasting twice a week and eating really well and trainin alot which i do resistance weight training and mma i can still get leaner abs, i have them now just worried this product will make me a bit porky round the abs? i dont put on fat easy so i just wanted to get a bit bigger muscles but still keep the abs? or should i exchange it for something with 0 carbs even though it taste so good!! any help would b great!

Gain Muscle Mass With Nick October 26, 2009 at 11:56 pm

I agree that the skinny fat thing is very common and also very easy to fix! Instead of taking the “more is better” approach, more people should focus their workouts into an efficient block of 20 – 3 0 minutes. This is enough time to stimulate muscle growth and burn off a few calories, while allowing your body enough time to decompress and rest throughout the rest of the day.

If the person is looking to strip away body fat and firm up, then a few sessions each week of high intensity interval training combining full body dumbbell or kettle bell exercises with cardio intervals is a very effective approach.

The net result of this approach is typically more muscle mass, better muscle tone and a fitter sexier body for sure. If you learn how to approach your workouts the right way, you can kiss your skinny fat body goodbye!

jo October 27, 2009 at 6:25 am

Hey Rusty, I was just looking through some old posts on your site (I know this is a little off topic and for that I apologies) and was thinking that you should make a sort of “new to the website” page where people can go when they are starting a new diet/workout routine. This page would then say something like “If you need to lose weight look at these posts first and then work your way from there”.
Just thinking it would make a lot of your older posts instantly more available to new people and give people a better sense of orientation.
Hope the bodyweight workouts are going well.

Kate October 27, 2009 at 10:46 am

Hi,
Thanks for the tips. I’m a skinny fat 29 year old woman. I weigh 55kg, 5’6 — and I have fat everywhere: legs and love handles, arms 🙁 I never toned in my life. a few months ago I tried losing some more kilos to get the fat off and I did like myself better, however, my parents started freaking out that I was too skinny. Plus my chest bones were sticking out while my thights were finally OK. ugh. I don’t have time for the gym, can I get the same results at home?

TonyKim October 27, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Hey Rusty,

Another great article. A lot of times, I find myself veering off from what my goals are because there are so many articles in other places on the net that tell you to eat more if you want to bulk. And you are absolutely right about other folks in the gym….a lot of them are skinny fat. And then you have that big group of people who are pretty muscular, but they are also bulky and fat. No thanks.

I’m glad you wrote this article…it was just the reminder that I needed!

Chanel October 27, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Very interesting! i know someone who is skinny fat. she’s very thin but so athletic and somehow she has a bit of a belly. i never understood why, but at least i know that it’s fixable. i’ll pass on the advice because i’m SURE she’s made at least half of these mistakes

Scarlett October 28, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Great post! I was skinny fat my whole life! I can eat whatever I want and I don’t gain weight. People swore with clothes on that I used to work out. But I knew when I looked in the mirror minus the clothes that I had a lot of fat on me for my petite size. I’m still thin since thats genetics but I’m toned now. What worked for me was changing my diet (very important), lifting weights (mostly free weights) and intervals: sprints or on exercise bike.

Rahim October 28, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I wouldn’t say I’m a skinny fat guy, but I’d LOVE to have a little more muscle tone. I practice martial arts which invloves a lot of cardio but there are TONS of martial artists who look like bodybuilders. I guess I need to add some weight training which is something that I didn’t really wanna do.

randell traxler October 28, 2009 at 9:51 pm

i recently had a class given by an Army nutritionist. She said that as long as calories in matches calories out. I brought up that the body uses different things differently so that eating like that may not help ppl (soldiers) maintain a healthy weight or lose fat. I brought up the fact about eating starchy foods and insulin in the body and such. She asked for some proof so I emailing you because you cover it alot on your page and emailing several universities. I read a few studies somewhere, but cannot remember where. I would appreciate all the help.

mindbodygoal October 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Great post Rusty and this was something I was writing about just the other day.

I would like to add that elevated cortisol levels can also be attributed to lifestyle, especially if stressed, always on the go, insufficient sleep, too much caffeine/stimulants and so forth.

Let’s face it, in todays age of pressure and the need to perform, all of us could probably do with a little less stress in our lives.

Personally I find an approach that addresses the mind, nutrition and the body to be optimal when looking to keep cortisol to a minimum.

Nutritionally, cutting back on stimulants and supplementing with phosphatidylserine can be beneficial.

As you have mentioned Rusty, cutting back on steady state cardio and replacing with intervals is a great call.

One final think I suggest is simply making some time to be still, meditating if you like, closing the eyes and trying to let go of the days stresses and strains. Also treating yourself to things like a massage can play an important role too.

Be Well

Rez October 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I think I agree with the calories in/out idea. An average size guy can eat two Big Macs per day and not gain weight. He won’t be very healthy long term, but that’s only about 1200 calories or so. Everything I have ever read pins fat gain on excess calories, not what type of calories.

Katelyn October 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Rez, you need to read Good Calories Bad Calories. You are woefully mistaken.

Rez October 31, 2009 at 11:30 pm

I’m aware of Taubes research. He basically advocates more protein and fat over eating carbohydrates. Duh. If you are a 180 lb person, eating two Big Macs per day and nothing else will not make you gain weight. Big Macs aren’t good for you, but they are not outrageously high in refined carbohydrates. I’m not advocating eating Big Macs daily, I’m only stating if you are well below your daily maintenance level, there’s no way your body is going to add weight.

wolverine November 1, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Rus im not sure if this has been addressed before, but im trying to determine which is better for weight loss. Bodyweight circuit of incline and normal push up, squats, v ups and burpes, for 3 to 4 rounds, at 70 rep each and doing interval sprints. I seem to feel a massive effect and sweat for about an hour after doing the bodyweight circuit, but find it hard to get the effect when i sprint. I can do 8 rounds of all out sprints for 30 secs, but come home feeling like i just went for a normal jog

Kristen November 3, 2009 at 11:05 am

Thanks Rusty for the response and advice! I’ll keep it up with hopes for leaning out and here’s to hoping that the lean will reach my arms!

I do have one followup question though: What do you mean by “the pump?” Does this also refer to the motions involved with pullups and pushups?

Tony November 5, 2009 at 6:37 am

Hi Rusty,

I am new to this site and I could really use some advice. I just read your “vacation body” report and it sounds great. I realized though that I have some work to do before I can begin that process.

I have always been an athletic guy but after starting college I began to let myself go and now I am just a semester away from graduating and I really want to start making some changes in my life. I have always been called skinny and over these past few years my weight has only gone up a few pounds but I was lost muscle mass and gained fat.

I am 5’10 and currently weigh 155 to 160. My target weight is to be somewhere around 170 to 175. According to your “vacation body” report you should be around 10lbs heavier than your target weight so you can slim down and get that toned look.

So I could really use some guidance as to what exercise and diet routines I should use to get myself to that 180-185 goal. I am really serious about making some changes in my life. My lack of fitness has made noticeable changes in my personal life and in my health in general and I am ready to turn things around.

-Thanks for your time

kiki November 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Scarlett,

you sound just like me, everyone thinks im slim and workout but, my clothes and my frame give that illusion. I go to the gym but I dont have routine and havent a clue where to start for my shape What exactly do you do?

As i’m petite and its genetic but need to tone up and lose that pot belly and chubby arms.

kiki

georgina November 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm

hey rusty,
greetings from warm sunshine athens,greece. I started read u several months now,and i have to tell u,U really change my diet habits, thoughts and how should be an effective workout. I used to be skinny fat style,but with your advices – proper diet and workout 3 times/week- i change my body and everyone now admiral how my abs look !!!
Ok,I have a question:i have noticed that when i eat something with sugar e.x an icecream or a soufle chocolate,i am not gaining weigh as i am when i eat carbs e.x. bread,pasta.
Do u have an explanation for this weird situation;

many many kisses, i love your site rusty,and i hope to see u on summer in mykonos or santorini.

georgina

John November 24, 2009 at 9:42 pm

So is it okay to incorporate a weekly controlled cheat day? I’m just about 17, around 160 pounds, 5’11 and I’m starting to work out with weights Mon, Tues and Wed, as well as body weight training on Fri on average. I am planning on eating 1300 cal 6 days a week and then have 1, 2500-3500 cal (depending on special occasions) cheat day every week. I don’t do much cardio (its getting cold and i dont have acess to machines) except for walking to and from school 5 days a week (30-50 min). Is this program okay or should I make any changes? I am looking to drop to 145 and get very lean (6pack) within about 2 months and get rid of this skinny fat look. I don’t really know my exact current bf but I think its between 13-16%, looking to get down to 10%.

John November 24, 2009 at 11:19 pm

So is it okay to incorporate a weekly controlled cheat day? I’m just about 17, around 160, 5’11 and I work out with weights Mon,
Tues and Wed, as well as body weight training on Fri on average. I am planning on eating 1300 cal 6 days a week and then have 1 2500 cal cheat day every week. I don’t do much cardio (its getting cold and i dont have access to machines) except for walking to and from school 5 days a week (30-50 min). Is this program okay or should I make any changes? I am looking to drop to 145 and get very lean (6pack) within about 2 months. I don’t know for sure but I think my bf is 13-16% and I want to get down to 10% and lose the skinny fat look. Is the cheat day okay to help keep my metabolism high or would I lose fat faster without it?

Angela November 26, 2009 at 12:21 am

Interesting. I think I was skinny fat. Until I started doing turbulence training (thank you, by the way, for posting about it so I could learn it.) I used to do all steady state cardio.

I’m now working out with the 30-day shred. It’s a lot like turbulence training – maybe easier – but I like it cuz it’s a little girly and it’s more like a girl workout class. What are your thoughts on the 30-day shred. I’d be interested in getting your opinion. Thanks, Angela

Adam December 10, 2009 at 6:04 am

Question, ive taken my specified food for the day and spaced it out so im eating 5-6 times a day, with a 3 hour wait before sleep. Is this at all benificial?

Casey December 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Your articles are the most helpful source of health I’ve ever read and I was an exercise science major in college. So I have always had problems with the “skinny fat” thing. 3 years ago in bball I broke my leg during my first college game at got my weight up to 250…. I am 6’5. I finally i started running long distance until I got my weight down to 195 where I plateau’d. I started reading about your HIIT strategy for burning fat and followed your instructions. I am at 185 within 2 weeks of starting your program. I feel like I have already hit my target weight, but I still am flabby. I don’t eat 4 hours prior to workout, then do 10 minute warmup, then 25 minutes of HIIT (jump rope), then 25 minutes steady state on the elliptical. I do this 6 days a week and its way too easy to lose weight now. Should I keep losing weight through HIIT and diet to get toned (I eat 1500-2000/day)?
Thanks

Casey January 6, 2010 at 3:32 pm

OK, I’m down to 175 now and I’m seeing muscles I didn’t know I had….weird. I plan on stayin at this weight and doing more resistance now to get more defined along with HIIT 3-5 times/week. Sound good?

Jackie February 11, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Hi Rusty,

Great post! I’m 19 and have always been active and healthy. Most people call me “skinny” but my body isn’t where I’d like it to be. I have fat on my arms and legs but I rarely gain any on my stomach. It’s frustrating because I know I’m definitely not fat, but I don’t feel proportionate. I know you can’t spot reduce, so I was wondering if you have any tips or advice for me.

Thanks & love your blog,
Jackie

Josh February 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Good post but not completly accurate. What I mean is I guess i’m one of those skinny fat people. It seems like the rest of my body develops just fine but my ABS and chest get no where. I have been working out for over a year. Oatmeal and egg whites in the moring followed by fish oil, then chicken breast on a salad with no dressing, and then two chciken breats with veggies with more more veggies. Nuts and almonds for snacks. @ protein shacks a day, oh and i take fish oil 3 times daily. My diet is on point but I am starting to give up the dream of a 6 pack. Basically I found out that its more about genitics than anything. Some people are just born NOT to have a 6 pack but at least im healthy though right!?!?

T March 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm

SKINNY FAT. LOL, i have never hear this term before but this is ME 100%. I look good but soft with squizeable fat all around…. it disgusts me so i run like that skinny body is within reach… but i haven’t been able to get there for years. I have this sexy, lean body under the inch or two of fat that’s on me so what do i do??? I just started HITT and i’m already addicted. I feel like i want to do it every day but i’ll try to keep it to 3 days a week. Should i do steady pace runs of days don’t do HIIT? My diet is good, actually great , could it be that i’m just working out too much… i can’t seem to swallow that???? on days i don’t do HITT should i lift weights? And I’m with Kristen, i have genetically (or so that’s what i blame it on) bigger arms so what does “Don’t pump” mean??
Appreciate your advice.
It’s good to know my lean body is only a few months away but i really need to get on the right track, i’m doing all the wrong things.

tami April 2, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I would like to get to the point where I was “skinny fat” 🙂 I’ll worry about that problem when I get to it.

T April 12, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Rusty,
You are amazing. Thank you for a web site without the BULL SHIT! I’ve been working out really hard (sometimes 9 times a week) and eating well (not deficit) for years and have not lost any weight. Since finding your site i’ve lost 11lb’s!!! (with less exercise and less calories) I’m so excited. Actually i just took out the bin of size 4’s from my attic. WHOO HOOO!
Two more months and those skinny jeans will be loose! Can’t wait , just in time for summer! Your the man!!! Thanks!

Ectomorph April 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Brilliant article. Skinny fat this is a perfect description of me. I seriously had a problem with wobbly legs and cellulite. Exercises like squats and lunges really help address the problem in combination with some interval training. This article also had a good explanation of skinny fat.

http://www.superskinnyme.com/skinny_fat.html

Concerned Person April 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Thank you MINDBODYGOAL for you post about phosphatidylserine. I did some research on the supplement and I am going to the store tonight to purchase some for myself.

Angela April 19, 2010 at 2:53 am

G’day Rusty,
I’ve just stumbled across this site whilst looking for information on how I can get more toned, particularly around the middle third of my body (from waist to knees).
I am probably skinny fat. According to my calipers my body fat percentage is around 17%. I am a 45yo female. I eat pretty healthily, lean, unprocessed protein, fruit and veg and nuts, with the occasional chocolate.
I am a bit of a gym class junky and currently do: 3 body pump (TM) classes a week, 1 cross training class, 1 circuit class, 1 kick boxing class and 1 yoga class a week. Apart from Saturdays I always exercise in the evening and I have Sundays off.
I doubt I could do the eat stop eat thing but I did cut down on my nuts today and I’m going to have a black coffee before I go to my pump class tonight. I will also do the HIIT thing (walk, jog, walk…) on the treadmill before the class.
Is there anything else I should be doing (or not as the case may be) that will help me achieve the toned look I’m after?
TIA

Danny July 5, 2010 at 8:59 am

Josh:

Your diet is not on point.
Your diet is extremely low-carb and that’s the worst thing there is to build muscles. A good amount of carbs after working out and at least one high-carb day a week is necessary to build muscles if you’re an hard gainer.

Kayleigh July 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Hey Rusty, thanks for the article, I’m 21 years old, 120 lbs, and I’ve been skinny fat for about two years now. I’m still confused personally though, the thing is I’m great with the whole eating part. I’ve been maintaining a 1200 calorie diet for about six months now, full of protein, vegetables and whole grains, no white carbs/starches, etc. I also don’t eat before bed, I have breakfast every morning to kick start my metabolism and everything. I could stand to drink more water but other than that, from everything I have read, I am following a very nutritious diet.

I started weight training recently so hopefully doing more of that and less cardio as you suggest will help. Do you know of anything else that could help me boost my metabolism or any other tips to show my muscle definition? I have NO definition at ALL in my stomach, even when I was down to 110 lbs a year ago, I had zero stomach definition. Any advice you have would be great, I’m at a total loss after everything i’ve read as to why I am still skinny fat!

David August 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I’m skinny fat. too. Been like this for a couple of years. Tried different things. Remain the same. Crossfit 2-3x a week. Just started lifting weights. Numerous people have told me to eat more. I am eating Paleo/PB with 1500 to 1800 cals. a day. 6′ tall, 155 lbs. and in fifties.
Will lifting weights with ESE work?

Leilani August 19, 2010 at 7:27 am

How come dancers do 5 hours of cardio each day and they are in good shape (no fat) and are still strong. Does long cardio really not burn fat? Beacuse i enjoy it. I want strong lungs and heart, to start dance or cycling. I’ve only just started trying to get into shape. I want to be strong but as small as possibile, i like feeling light and fast. Does long cardio really make your muscles weaker? I don’t see how it does looking at my dancer friends. Please explain. I’m so confused. Help!

wolverine September 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

you said it!!!! 5 hours a day!!! who has the time!!! except ofcourse if that is what you do for a living

orlando December 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm

your dancing friends probably were never skinny fat, maybe just skinny .. they probably do bodyweight exercise plus the dancing
Genetics also count like I said, they probably were never skinny fat just PURE ectomorphs .. pure ectomorphs are able to maintain muscle mass just by doing bodyweight exercises and even lose fat by doing that much cardio … the skinny fat person is different, the reason why he is skinny fat is because even though he has little muscle like the pure ectomorph, he has more fat cells around the abdomen and love handles and is a person who produces more cortisol, more stress and less testosterone than the pure ectomorph .. recovering from life itself is hard for them
thats why this article is correct .. a skinny fat person should only train 3 times a week to avoid overtraininig, a skinny fat person should train with big compound exercises such squat, a skinny fat should never do cardio and focus on diet for losing fat or gaining mass
The main reason why they are skinny fat is not because of lack of muscle or lack training or lack of a good diet, is mainly because they have many more fat cells around their midsections which makes them look fat even though they are very skinny
The problem is that fat cells can only be reduced in size but not in number, only way to get rid of fat cells permanently is to have liposuction on the problem area, fat cells will be gone forever and will never come back unless you go morbidly obese
Liposuction is the best way to get rid of the skinny fat look once and for all … even if you get lean like 10% fat you will still have same amount of fat cell and a little slip from your part will make you gain fat on those area very fast .. another is that is goign to be more difficult to gain muscle mass .. in order to gain muscle mass you have to eat more calories than maintenance and you will always gain some fat … even if you are at 10%, if you have lots of fat cells on your midsection, when you eat avober maintenance calories you will gain fat in those areas fast even if u are really carefull

eric January 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm

hello, I would like to know if i am a skinny fat person should try to gain weigh (bulking) then cutting? And while i am skinny fat can i do abs exercise?

Clarian January 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I have never heard of skinny fat. But now I’m analyzing people like crazy! It’s fascinating. As is that photo, by the way.

German February 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

Great article, I’m exactly this type. I will now do eat-stop-eat and I’ll update you Mr. Rusty Moore on my progress.

I’ve downloaded your Vacation-Body-Blueprint and I must say that I envy both your test subject there with amazingly low body fat levels.

Hope it works to me also, More power

keep fit February 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

One problem is that some people reach their target weight only to find that they are still flabby. The weight loss regime that they have been on has unknowingly robbed them of some of their muscle mass. Some good muscle toning routines are all they will need.

Orlando February 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm

The best way to fix the skinny fat look is

Slight caloric Deficit
Weight training
4 months of patience

This will make the skinny fat person to lose fat slowly which will also help them to maintain the little muscle mass they have especially if they do resistance training, yes you will look skinnier because you are losing fat all over, that doesn’t mean you are losing muscle mass . Once you get down to 12%bf then and only then you can concentrate on gaining muscle mass.

Leo March 26, 2011 at 5:27 am

@orlando

are you sure about this?
I’m skinny fat and I’m afraid that with a slight caloric deficit I will become even skinnier and more emaciated.

I wonder if the solution might be cycling days or caloric deficit and days of caloric surplus.

orlando April 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm

there is no solution besides

1. getting lean first and then bulk or
2. gain muscle (you will gain fat because you already have a high bf) and the after months get lean
3. lift weights, eat at maintenance and expect after months a miracle

no such thing as cycling days, that wont do anything to change your skinny fat physique .. you will be spinning your wheels if you do that .. i have done and didnt see results

i was only when i started lifting heavy weight and eating less food, than my gut started to go away .. once you get lean then you can concentrate on eating more food to build muscle slowly hopefully with little to no fat

Jay May 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Ok wait. There is way too many conflicting & confusing replies on here. Some say this and some say that!!

I’d rather have admin answer my question!!

I just want to get this straight, as I fall under this category, and have been at this stage for a couple of years now.

I’m about to start a 12 week transformation from skinny-fat to one or the other. As I want to bulk up first, I need to eat a diet consisting of 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% good fast, right? And at the same time, lift heavy and confuse my muscles to make it grow?

After that, I want to spend 3 months losing fat and trying to get lean. So I need to change my diet to a lower carbohydrate intake and high protein diet? While at the same time, continuing to lift heavy and confuse my muscles?

Tim July 2, 2011 at 12:39 am

Hi, I’m an 18 yr old boy that weighed 210 lbs at age 15. Within a year and a half I dropped 70 lbs and picked up running. Now I’m about 155 lbs at 5’11” and am training for a marathon. I am definitely skinny fat. I look skinny but I hold a lot of excess fat on my stomach and lovehandles. I’ve tried everything I could find to help fix this, but nothing seems to work. I run 6 days a week for a total of about 45 miles per week. I also weight train about 2 times a week and do a spin class once a week. This article says to cut cardio but I really can’t do this while training for a marathon. Do you have any suggestions of what to do to help?

bsrat October 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm

hi my name is bsrat and iam 20 years old i start to become fat after i have my first child and after that i become thinner but the prplome is my son was having heart and lang prplome and he is dead after 4 month and i become so sad so i start to eat to make my self happy but i hate my look and i realy want to chang i realy need to adves to loes my weight so can u help me

spiritlessons November 28, 2011 at 12:43 am

i have read about anorexics who were very petite but when they looked in the mirror they thought they were fat. i think i might understand why now!

Dear bsrat im saddened to hear of your loss. do not lose heart, your baby is being cared for in heaven with Jesus. if we follow our good Lord’s example we can reunite with our loved ones in the next life and have everlasting joy!
take some time out to be with Jesus; just close your eyes & the Lord will wash you with His love. He will comfort you. He knows exactly how you are feeling.

may God bless your heart.

mary December 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

What if a person has lost around 60lbs by exercising and eating better,but has about 35lbs to go and they don’t want to become skinny fat. What should they do. Me of course. I am starting to feel soft. I do a mixture of intense cardio including HIIT and shadow kicking boxing. I do weight training but am not for sure just how to do it the right way. I have worked hard to get the first 60lbs off, no pills, no fad diets, nor surgery; just eating better and working out. I want to feel a shapely body come through not a soft flabby one.

Grace January 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

All this time I never knew there was a name for the problem I have…and now I know, ‘skinny fat’! And from what I’m reading, it makes sense to target the muscles that have been ‘dormant’ for years! For too long I seem to be going nowhere.

So, for a basic ‘skinny fat’ workout, am I right in saying this consists of say 30 min resistance training, followed by 20 min H.I.I.T. cardio 3 to 4 times a week?

What about resistance cardio, is it crazy for example to do resistance cardio after weights? Or is resistance cardio even necessary at all with that programme? I’d appreciate any advice as I really would like to kick start this new routine 🙂

Eman February 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Dear Rusty,

I’m a 22 year old guy that is 5’8″, weighs 170 lbs with 8% body fat. I feel like I’m really stuck in the skinny fat category and I’m trying to trim it down to 160 lbs (lose 10 lbs of fat) and 5 or 6% body fat. What do I exactly do? I read your Visual Impact e-book and I want to skip Phase 1, because I don’t want to get any phase 1. Also in accordance with your post, I do think I spend too much time lifting at the gym and I’m getting bigger, but not ripped like I want. Suggestions, please? I would greatly appreciate it.

joo March 3, 2012 at 12:24 am

Hi I’m skinny fat an breastfeeding I’m losing weight like crazy all fati hope. I look like a stick. I weigh 120 5’7. My legs are all fat an going to be bones pretty soon please help idk what to do I’ve been sqauting but don’t have much time going to the gym..

joo March 3, 2012 at 12:32 am

im only 21 an have never had an inshape body I look good in pants but not shorts I’m soft on my arm an legs mainly I’m tired I want to change an maake my 20ies amazing.

Zeynep June 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hello and thanks for sharing this useful article. I’ve just heard this skinny fat thing which suits me at all. You know i used to go to gyms (not regularly) and ask the sports people how to loose fat, they always told me “you’re so thin, no need to make so much training”. Nowadays, I was just starting swimming for twice a week and walking 1,5 hours every morning. Do you think swimming can be okay for the muscles or shall i definetely lift weight? Age 31, 170cm and 53 kilos, female. And i keep loosing weight and having a lot of fat!

Zeynep June 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I forgot to ask the most important one: i heard that muscles can be build up to age 27. Will it be difficult for me (at the age of 31-32) to build muscle? Shall i give up before starting?

swizel July 5, 2012 at 3:14 am

i am 58kg and 5.”4 tall but i am thin but i have belly fat i whant help to get rid of if

Darryl July 20, 2012 at 8:44 am

I workout 5 to 6 times a week. I will warm up first with a high intensity cardio run/elliptical/bike. I switch it up so my body doesn’t get used to it.

Then I go directly into lifting weights. I usually do the heavy stuff first (legs and what ever muscle i want bigger) and rest about 30 to 40 seconds in-between. The lighter stuff is on the later half, so that I can alternate sets and NEVER stop. This keeps my heart rate between 120 to 150 bpm for 1.5 to 2 hours. In the last 7 months I have gone from 21% body fat (I was skinny fat) to 11% body fat while only loosing 10 lbs (168 to 158).

One thing I did notice was that once the fat comes off, you actually can see what muscles you need to work on. These are the heavy lifting exercises I do. I also noticed, that I look just as good as those guys who lift massive amounts of weights 3 times a week. I’ve caught them looking at me when I am lifting 30 lbs weights and got muscles bulging all over the place. My calorie deficit will ALWAYS be there because I do my cardio and weight training at the same time–kill two birds with one stone.

Matt August 12, 2012 at 1:27 am

@zeynep look into strength training. Starting strength/stronglifts 5×5 a great place to start. Don’t be scared to lift heavy weight. You will not look like a female bodybuilder unless you start eating like one and taking steroids. Women who eat whole foods 90% of the time on a paleo ish diet while focusing on strength training have the best body’s. They will be proportionate, and you will not become skinnier from training with only cardio, but look more healthy while maintaining or even building muscle. Seriously lifting weights is not only for men. There would be a lot more happy women if they weren’t scared of lifting weights.

Matt August 12, 2012 at 2:33 am

@zeynep it is never too late or early to start building muscle at any age. Remember that.

Alex August 21, 2012 at 1:31 am

To be honest whenever I read things like this it makes me think I’m doing everything wrong and it’s all to complicated! I just do something everyday and try and eat the right food each day also, This idea people get about getting toned etc in 3 months is silly because you just have to do some excersize each day forever.

Jason August 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Response to Orlando:

You described me to a T. I have a highly disproportionate amount of fat cells in my midsection and love handle areas. I’m 5’10”, I weight about 170 pounds (I got down to as low as 165), and my love handles were and are UNBELIEVABLY thick and dense. It’s embarrassing. I was very obese as a child; I weighed 224 pounds at age 14. I became a fitness freak and adopted a healthy lifestyle, and over the years, I have become a very fit and in “good shape” person. But the love handles/belly fat; it has never gone away!! And it’s always been hard for me to concentrate on building muscle mass, because, as you so eloquently explained, us “skinny fat” people always gain fat in our problem areas when trying to build lean muscle. And it’s almost impossible to get these “problem” areas lean enough to where we can switch over into a muscle-building mode.

I am seriously considering having laser-assisted liposuction done. This has been a problem that has gnawed at me since I was a teenager (I just turned 38 now). I Know plenty of guys who are shorter than me (guys like 5’6″, 5’7″) who can easily carry 200+ pounds on their frames and not have as much loose, jiggly subcutaneous fat as I do at 5’10” 170-ish pounds. Sometimes it almost drives me insane!!

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