How to Fix Skinny Fat (Skinny Fat Workout Plan + Nutrition)

With your shirt on, you look pretty regular. On the scale, the body mass index (BMI) says you are at the correct weight you should be at.

So far, so good! But then…

You take your shirt off. And sadly, you do not like what you see.

You look soft and flabby — no muscular definition, and a slight muffin top.

It kinda sucks, right? But, let’s see what you can do about that.

First, what are you? You are a walking oxymoron. You are skinny fat.

In this article, I will show you how to eliminate skinny fat, gain muscle, and achieve that fit physique you’ve always wanted.

Skinny Fat Definition

Skinny fat is a term that describes your body composition or the ratio of your muscle mass to your body fat mass.

Basically, skinny fat people are those who carry little muscle mass and high body fat.

Having a slim and thin body type does not mean you are not fat.

Try flexing any muscle in your body, then pinch the skin on top of it. See that soft mass? That’s adipose tissue, aka fat fat and more fat.

This is why I don’t trust the BMI. When you are skinny fat, it tells you that you are at a relatively healthy body weight. But, your lack of definition and shapelessness says otherwise.

Thus, your body weight is not the only thing that you should be paying attention to.

What you should pay more attention to is your body composition — how much of your body weight is muscle, and how much of it is fat.

The better your body composition is, the healthier you are. Yes, I am, in a way, saying that being skinny fat could mean you are unhealthy.

Ideally, you want to be at 10-15% body fat for men, and 12-20% for women.

But, not everyone has access to skinfold calipers to measure their body fat — and I doubt you have one sitting on your desk. So, let’s make assessing your body composition simpler.

Stand in front of a full-body mirror. You can tell that you are within those ranges and at an optimal body composition when:

  • You can see your second row of abs from the top down.
  • For the shoulders, you are able to discern the outline of your deltoids, which takes up about a third of the upper arm.
  • For the legs, when the skin above the knee does not appear loose and you can discern the patella from the upper thigh.

While they are not an accurate measure of your fat-to-muscle ratio, they serve as a good gauge of where you should be physique-wise.

If you can’t see any of those visual indicators, then you have a skinny fat physique.

Feeling frustrated? Don’t be! I’m here to help you with your skinny fat transformation, and the solution is actually simple.

You have to change your body composition to go from skinny fat to fit and ripped.

How? Easy.

You do this by losing fat and building muscle. The combination of both will lead to a defined, sexy, or jacked physique.

Causes of a Skinny Fat Physique

Not Having a Proper Skinny Fat Diet

Inconsistent Calorie Intake

Let’s start with the most basic nutrition factor that most people botch: counting how many calories you get from your diet.

You can be skinny fat from undereating and overeating.

When you’re undereating, you might be consuming too few calories that your body resorts to burning muscle mass for the energy it needs to fulfill basic metabolic functions.

If you overeat, your body will store more calories you consume in the form of fat.

Thus, you can see how overall caloric consumption can influence skinny fat physique regardless if you’re on the low side or high side.

Inadequate Macronutrient Intake

Source

The next nutrition factor is your macronutrient intake. The amount of each macro you consume affects body composition, especially protein.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that jacked fitness influencer on the gram is always raving about his fave protein shake — so, what’s up with protein?

Protein is the most important macronutrient for getting out of your skinny fat physique. First of all, protein builds muscle mass. Second, it helps you preserve those hard-earned muscles.

But keep in mind, you’ll only get the most benefits from this macro if you exercise and lift weights.

Third, you burn more calories processing protein than any other macronutrient. And, lastly, it helps you stay full by curbing appetite, which leads to fat loss.

Thus, you can see why it is important to keep your protein intake high.

As for carbohydrates and fats, you can consume more or less of either, as long as your calorie intake is accounted for.

Training Mistakes

Lack of Exercise

The first training mistake is evading skinny fat workout sessions.

To drastically improve body composition, you would want to build muscle, not just lose body fat. And, anaerobic exercises, aka resistance training, are the answer.

Lifting weights help you effectively utilize the protein you consume.

Instead of being converted for energy, the protein is used to build muscle fibers you tear down in the gym.

Too Much Cardio

Next mistake is only doing aerobic exercises. Don’t get me wrong! Cardio is not bad, but you most probably are overdoing it.

Besides cardiovascular and respiratory health, one of the main reasons to do cardio is to burn fat to help you lose weight quicker.

When you overdo it — especially for long, endurance-type of sessions — your body will eventually run out of stored muscle glycogen and shift to burning more muscle mass instead.

So, while you may be losing weight, you are also losing fat and muscle in the process — you don’t want that to happen, bud!

Doing too much cardio would not help you get rid of your skinny fat body.

In comparison, lifting weights or resistance training leads to losing weight and muscle growth.

If you look at it, not having enough muscle mass is the main reason for being skinny fat. Thus, weight training is the best way to avoid having a skinny fat body.

Other Factors

Testosterone. This hormone greatly affects how well you build muscle and burn excess body fat. Thus, having low testosterone levels, especially in men, have been linked to poor fat-burning and muscle-building capacity.

Stress. When you’re stressed, you have a strong propensity to overeat, especially on high-carbohydrate food that loads your body with more calories.

Why, you ask? Here’s the scoop.

Carbs help you produce serotonin in the brain. It is, plainly speaking, a feel-good hormone. Yup, your go-to comfort food is most likely carb-filled.

You might not be aware of it, but your skinny fat body tells you to reach for that bag of cookies or finish that pint of ice cream because of this mechanism.

Also, with the perception of stress-inducing stimuli comes the production of cortisol. This affects body composition by increasing the possibility of storing more body fat as well as signaling your brain that it’s hungry even when it’s not.

Genetics. As with most of our traits, some people are just genetically predisposed to store body fat.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the term mesomorph. The truth is, some people are born with this body type that can burn excess body fat faster than others. And, unfortunately, you have a different body type.

I totally understand the frustration. But, don’t fret! Because there’s always something you can do about it. With proper diet and a skinny fat workout plan, you can overcome these genetically predetermined difficulties and develop from skinny fat to ripped and jacked!

But, it’s not an easy nor quick journey to where you want to be.

I tell everyone that patience is the most important factor for building your dream physique. If you’re not willing to wait, you won’t get to see the results of your hard work.

Think you’re up for the challenge? Let’s get down to business and move on to actually transforming that skinny fat body.

How Can You Get Rid of Skinny Fat Once and For All?

How to Go from Skinny Fat to Fit?

Focus on Pumping Iron

The first is to concentrate on doing anaerobic work in the gym. Your skinny fat body workout should be focused on weight training to help build muscle and lose weight.

If you want to do some form of cardio, better keep it light and short.

We just want to give the body a reason to burn more fat via a higher calories-out. We do not want to force it to use muscle tissue to supply the energy needed for aerobic exercise.

Resistance training combined with a high protein diet will take care of preserving any lean mass you currently have. And, you should be able to preserve that with fair ease, since we are not going on a drastic cut.

Let me address again the question that I know is still lingering on your mind: Why would I want to lose fat if building muscle is the best solution to getting rid of skinny fat?

The answer is this, it is easier and simpler to track progress and changes in your body composition when you are at a low body fat percentage.

Do Not Use the Weight Scale to Track Progress

Remember why I don’t trust BMI for gauging your fitness level?

The mirror is an easier and more accurate tool to use when tracking your skinny fat transformation progress than the scale.

Take progress pictures weekly and you’ll see what I mean. Your scale weight might not budge, but the half-naked selfies you’ll be taking will show you significant differences in your skinny fat body.

Another way to track if you are gaining muscle mass is to measure strength changes. An increase in strength means an increase in muscle mass.

Especially for beginners, progressive overload or increasing the weight you can maximally lift for a given skinny fat workout plan consistently is a great indicator of muscular hypertrophy. So, track your 5RM PRs.

Get Your Zs In

No matter what your fitness goals are, all your hard work will go to waste without proper sleep.

It is the single most important tool for recovery. And, proper recovery means more muscle growth and increased fat loss.

So, do not neglect sleep. It is not only vital for building a jacked or sexy physique. More importantly, it is important for overall health.

How Long Does it Take for Skinny Fat People to Get Fit?

This all depends on how skinny fat you really are, and how quickly your body can lose fat and gain muscle.

On average, skinny fat people can become fit in about 3 to 6 months while diligently following a healthy diet and an effective skinny fat workout plan.

Should You Bulk or Cut?

Source

For skinny fat people whose goal is to look leaner, it can be quite hard to know whether or not you should bulk or cut first.

To achieve a lean physique, you need to gain muscle, which is typically what happens when you bulk up. However, you also want to lose fat, which is associated with the cutting phase.

If you are on the skinny side of skinny fat, you should definitely bulk first. Try to hit a 10% caloric surplus so that your body can build muscle mass without putting on a lot of belly fat.

Stay in a caloric surplus for at least 4 months and then you can start going on a gradual cut.

Bulking Phase

If you decide to go on a bulking phase first, be ready to increase your daily protein intake and follow a good skinny fat workout plan.

Try to hit a small caloric surplus. A 10% increase on maintenance makes a good starting point.

Keep your protein intake high at around 1.8 to 2.7g per kg of body weight, and aim to consume around 4 to 6 protein servings throughout the day.

Doing cardio is not a priority, but you can put in some cardio if you really want to.

Stop the bulking phase when you don’t want your body fat to increase further.

Cutting Phase

If you are on the chubbier side of skinny fat, cutting is the way to go first.

Maintain a high protein intake at around 1.8 to 2.7g per kg of body weight.

Strive to hit a moderate or aggressive calorie deficit of around 10% to 20%.

Lifting weights regularly can help you build muscle and lose weight at the same time.

Put in more cardio or at least take 8000 to 10000 steps each day.

Skinny Fat Workout Plan

For the skinny fat workout plan, I’ll be giving you a Push/Pull/Legs split routine. This allows you to train huge muscle groups at a time.

This split skinny fat workout plan is done so that you can train hard and heavy on every single training day using compound lifts. Thus, training intensity will be high.

I recommend doing this skinny fat workout program in a 3-days-on 1-day-off approach to allow optimal recovery.

This way, you’ll also be training 6 days a week, ensuring that training frequency is still high.

I understand that we probably are in different situations with regard to lifting equipment access.

So, I’ll be giving you two programs, one for the gym and one you can do at home. This skinny fat workout program will be effective no matter where you do it — as long as you do it diligently.

The main driver for muscle gain is intensity or mechanical tension, so focus on technique — how you perform a single rep — rather than the rep scheme or the amount of weight you are lifting.

Gym Workout

Push

Muscle/s Worked

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Chest

Barbell/Dumbbell Bench Press

5

5-8

Chest and Front Delts

High-Incline Dumbbell Press or Seated Dumbbell Press

4

8-10

Side Delts

Lateral Raises

5

10-15

Chest, Delts, Triceps

Dips

3

To failure

Triceps

Lying Single-Dumbbell Extensions

4

8-10

Pull

Muscle/s Worked

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Lats (torso parallel to ground), Upper Back – Traps, Rhomboids, Teres Complex (torso 60-70 degrees from ground), Lower Back

Barbell/Dumbbell Rows

5

5-8

Traps, Rhomboids, Teres Minor and Major, Rear Delts

Chest-Supported High Rows

4

8-10

Low Back – Erector Spinae, Lats, Traps

Deadlifts

4

5

Rear Delts, Rhomboids

Reverse Pec-Deck or Chest Supported Prone Flyes

4

10-15

Upper Back, Lats, Biceps

Pulldowns (alternate supinated and pronated grips)

3

8-10

Biceps

Cable Bicep Curls

4

8-10

Legs

Muscle/s Worked

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Quads, Glutes

Back Squats

5

5-8

Quads

Leg Presses

4

10-15

Hamstrings

Romanian Deadlifts

5

8-12

Hamstrings

Leg Curls

3

10-15

Calves

Calf Raises (alternate between standing and seated)

5

To failure

Home Workout

Push

Muscle/s Worked

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Chest, Front Delts

A1 – Banded Push-Ups

5

To failure

Chest, Front Delts

A2 – Regular Push-Ups

5

To failure

Front Delts

B1 – Front Raises (use bands)

5

To failure

Side Delts

B2 – Lateral Raises

5

To failure

Triceps

C1 – Diamond Push-Ups

5

To failure

Triceps

C2 – Wall Skull-Crushers

5

To failure

Pull

Muscle/s Worked

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Upper Back Complex, Biceps

Pronated Grip Pull-Ups

5

To failure

Lats

Supinated Grip Pull-Ups

5

To failure

Traps

Band Shrugs

5

To failure

Rear Delts

Band Pull-Aparts

5

To failure

Biceps

Band Curls

5

To failure

Legs

Muscle/s Worked

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Quads, Glutes

Bulgarian Split Squat

5 sets each leg

To failure

Hamstrings

Single-Leg Band Romanian Deadlifts

5

To failure

Glutes, Hamstrings

Single-Leg Hip Thrusts

5

To failure

Calves

Standing Calf Raises

5

To failure

As you can see, all sets for your home skinny fat workout routine will be taken to failure. This is to get the most out of these skinny fat workout exercises.

Taking the sets to failure allows you to create the most mechanical tension and metabolic stress in the working muscles so you can mimic the stimulation you would otherwise get using barbells, dumbbells, and machines in the gym.

Skinny Fat Diet Plan

Since you’d want to lower your body fat percentage, you’ll have to go on a calorie deficit. But, I also told you that you need to build your muscles which, for most people, require a caloric surplus.

How on earth are you going to experience muscle gain and burn fat at the same time?! It’s actually simple.

To answer the question, yes, beginners can build muscle and experience fat loss at the same time.

Before anything else, go calculate your daily basic calorie requirement (which is the calorie intake you need to maintain your current weight).

Now, subtract 200 calories from it. Got it? This will be your daily goal as far as calories are concerned. Notice that we are only going on a slight calorie deficit of a couple hundred here.

Is that number enough to help you get rid of your extra fat fast?

Yes, it is. We will let the intensity and frequency of training increase your calories-out.

The goal is to build muscle. And, muscles use more calories than fat. The more muscle you skinny-have, the more calories you burn even without doing anything.

As you are gaining muscle, the calories you burn increase. Thereby, steadily increasing the calorie deficit without making any drastic change to your calories-in, or the food you eat.

Here are the key elements you should have in your skinny fat diet plan:

  1. Keep your protein high. Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
  2. For carbs and fats, their amount will depend on your preferences. Just remember to stay within your computed calorie intake.
  3. You should also utilize proper meal timing and increase meal frequency. For meal timing, have a carb and protein-heavy meal before your workouts and after. For meal frequency, have 5-6 meals a day spread out evenly. Try to eat every 2-3 hours.

Eating keeps your metabolism up, which leads to more calories burned outside of your skinny fat workout plan.

Supplements to Help You in Your Journey

Take fat burners before your resistance training and cardio sessions. They’ll help you incinerate fat by pushing it as a secondary energy source after your muscle glycogen (carbs) stores have been depleted.

You might also want to consider buying a protein powder to make it easier for you to hit your daily protein goals — and the best part is they’re yummy drinks!

Lastly, I recommend you use at least one of these two supplements: creatine monohydrate and Omega-3s.

Although each compound works through different mechanisms in the body, these two have been shown to significantly increase muscle hypertrophy, increase fat burning, and improve overall performance.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What body type is skinny fat?

If you are at a “healthy” weight yet your body appears soft and round, then you have skinny fat body type. Also, a lack of muscular definition can be a sign of being skinny fat.

Is being skinny fat unhealthy?

Yes, it is. Being skinny fat means you have a high body fat level.

High levels of body fat are associated with life-threatening diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer.

Should I do cardio if I’m skinny fat?

I recommend dropping cardio if you are skinny fat, since it can interfere with your primary goal of building muscle mass. Remember, we want to maximize the calories we consume for muscle gain.

How to fix skinny fat?

There are 2 ways to fight skinny fatness: lose excess body fat, minimize fat gain, and build lean muscle tissue.

It pays to do a lot of heavy resistance training and diligently follow a high protein skinny fat diet.

Final Thoughts

There’s a difference between looking fit, and actually being fit. Which one is better is a no-brainer.

And, if you’ve managed to read this far down, that means you’re ready to start your journey to getting fit and hot!

Stick to this foolproof guide, and you’ll go from skinny fat to fit in no time! I may be bad at wordplay but I know a lot about transforming a physique from average joe to savage (gym) bro ;).

Do resistance training. Ease up on the cardio. Consume a high-protein skinny fat diet. Be consistent. That’s all you have to remember.

Fitness is not a lifestyle. Rather, make optimal fitness a part of your lifestyle. You have a career, a family, and other passions and hobbies you care for and do. Make being healthy an integral part of that.

Imad Deryan

My name is Imad, and I struggled to gain mass in the past due to my metabolism and being very skinny. In this blog, I share the best reviews and advice when it comes to gaining weight and mass, for all the people that are struggling like I was.

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