It is incredibly embarrassing posting before pics but as my mentor, Dr. Tim Reynolds, says
“You is where you is”
And the reality of my before picture is I had let myself become “Skinny Fat”
I had just finished college.
I put on the freshman 15 (more like 25)
I wasn’t obese but I definitely had more fat than was ideal and I had much lower muscle than I needed to have.
That is all I mean by skinny-fat…too much fat and not enough muscle.
Not only did this cause me to be unhappy with my body but…
My energy levels were low.
I had low confidence (and to be frank, I hadn’t EARNED the right to be confident).
I didn’t respect myself enough to leave a relationship that wasn’t working out.
I accepted much lower wages than I was worth.
Skinny fat is a frustrating place to find yourself.
And it doesn’t have to be for lack of effort either!
I was fairly regular at the gym the semester prior to me taking this picture.
But I was working out all wrong and hadn’t gotten my diet under control.
That is why I wrote this blog.
I know many guys find themselves in the skinny-fat stage and I don’t know many who wouldn’t want to have more muscle and less fat.
And once you take control of your health, everything else falls into place to.
People find you more attractive, thus giving you more confidence.
You are proud of the work you put into building a body you are satisfied with.
You will make more money.
Have better relationships.
Have more sex drive.
Have more energy.
And a long list of other benefits.
So let’s break down just what needs to happen to transition from skinny fat to fit….
But first, let’s figure out why we are skinny fat in the first place.
The main reasons are
-little to no strength training
-not eating enough protein
-Too severe of a daily calorie deficit
When I found myself skinny fat, I was guilty of all 4 of these, but do not worry, these are simple to fix.
So I am going to give you a playbook on how to go from skinny fat to fit, which is essentially just doing the opposite of these 4 things.
First and foremost…
Strength Train 3-5 Times Per Week
This is the first and most important step because you get the most bang for your buck.
And this doesn’t have to be time consuming.
You can easily get a solid strength workout in 45 minutes to an hour, so we are looking at around 5 hours a week.
We all have the same 168 hours in a week so I really think everyone can carve out 3% of their week to train.
I said you get the most bang for your buck because strength training is the best way to build muscle.
And the higher muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be.
After a strength workout, your body is consistently burning calories to try to repair your muscles for up to 72 hours after the workout.
Versus cardio where you are really only getting a boost in calories burned while you are exercising.
And when I say strength training, I mean lifting HEAVY.
I fell victim to thinking that high-rep, burn out workouts were the way to go, but I only saw minimal results.
Your body needs what is called progressive overload to build muscle.
All this means is it needs to be pushing itself to lift heavier weight, do more reps, or have varied mixes of tempo while doing your workout.
So only do a high rep workout periodically and stick to the 6-12 rep range to really grow some muscle.
And this is going to take some discipline.
But if it really is important for you to get fit, it will require daily consistency.
I am confident any guy can follow this first step.
Next we need to…
Prioritize Protein Intake
If you are going to put all this work in, you must fuel your body properly.
You can chase a lot of different fad diets, but this is the easiest, most sustainable way to think about dieting in my opinion.
During strength training, you are literally tearing your muscles and your body builds muscle by repairing these tears so they can get stronger and withstand the next time they are under stress.
To rebuild, they MUST have sufficient protein.
Studies suggest somewhere between .7-1 gram of protein per lb. you weigh.
So a 200lb. male needs somewhere between 140-200 grams of protein.
Beyond protein intake, you also have calories to watch as well, but I would argue focusing on protein intake is a much easier way to run your diet because it forces you to eat foods that will keep you full.
High protein foods like lean meats and fish will sustain your hunger for much longer that processed foods.
So aim to get 30-40 grams of protein per meal along with fruits and vegetables and you won’t have to stress much over your diet.
You can start out by using a tracker like MyFitnessPal to track your calorie intake and then move to a bit more intuitive eating once you get the hang of it.
Now I will say, it is difficult to try to add muscle and cut fat at the same time as your body needs a caloric surplus (more calories in than burnt in a day) to put on muscle and a caloric deficit(less calories in than burnt in a day) to lose weight.
So I would, personally, start out eating somewhere around your maintenance level (equal calories in as expended) and continue to strength train and focus on protein intake.
If you find yourself putting on weight, you are probably in a surplus.
And if you are losing weight, you could be losing weight from fat, but you may also need to up what you are eating to give your body enough to put on muscle.
Now that we have strength training and diet down, let’s sprinkle some cardio in.
Mix in cardio, but don’t over do it
Now if you have been doing a lot of cardio and can’t see yourself shedding any weight, you may be working harder instead of smarter.
First off, you shouldn’t be spending any more than half the time you are spending lifting weights as you are doing cardio.
You can get your cardio a few different ways.
You can swim, walk on an elevated treadmill, ruck, box/martial arts, sprints…
The list goes on, but the main thing to note is doing too much will steal your gains.
For one, you will expend too much energy on cardio instead of putting it into a workout.
Furthermore, the extra calorie burn will push you further into a deficit and keep your body from being able to develop muscle.
Cardio is a very important pillar in fitness, but when trying to get fit and put on muscle, you don’t want to overdo it.
And like I said earlier, you get more bang for you buck from strength training because there is higher calorie burn, and the greater muscle mass will speed up your metabolism.
This takes care of diet and exercise, lastly…
Don’t forget flexibility!
There are 3 pillars to fitness:
We covered the first two.
The third doesn’t have to be stressful.
Simply stretch for 5-10 minutes before your workout to get yourself loosened up instead of going in cold.
There is a vast list of resources online.
If you are working chest and shoulders one day, simply google or youtube “Stretches for chest and shoulders” and you can find what you need.
Stretching before a workout will reduce the chance of injury and keep your flexibility where you need to be for as long as you prioritize it.
You don’t want to be that guy that can’t scratch his back or touch his toes because you never stretch.
And if you are that guy, don’t think you can change it.
Stretch before your workouts and if you want bonus points, do a little yoga once a week as well.
Let’s wrap it up
So to summarize, lift heavy, eat plenty of protein, do cardio, but don’t overdo it, and stretch.
You have the tools and information, now you just have to put in the work.
That is why a fit body is one of the best status symbols.
People know you can’t buy or cheat yourself into a healthy body.
I am no body builder or anything as you can tell from my pictures, but I can promise you I have been through the same struggle as you have been through and I know how to get to the other side.
I believe anyone can be fit and healthy and a lot of the world’s problems would be solved if everyone got in shape.
If you need a place to get in shape, I can’t recommend our gym enough.
If you still aren’t ready to commit, let us ease you into it.
We offer a free week trial for you to make sure this is the right gym for you.
If you have any other questions, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.