Do you plan on looking like an emaciated prisoner of war? I mean, I guess it’s not a bad idea if you’re looking for a Halloween costume with shock value. But something tells me the whole “Christian Bale in The Machinist“ look isn’t exactly kitsch otherwise.
(Did I really just use “kitsch” in a sentence? What is wrong with me?)
If you don’t want to rock the I might die tomorrow look, there’s something you need to do yesterday. I consider it the second most important thing a skinny-fat dude can do to look better naked.
Doesn’t matter if you’re bulking or cutting. Although, you should know, I only use those words because they are popular lexicon. I’m not a fan of conventional bodybuilder bulk and cut strategies for skinny-fat dudes.
But I’m not here to talk about that. Maybe later. My strategies will make more sense to you after I slice through the weeds we’re about to enter anyway.
The second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do is progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training. The combination is money in the bank if you want a lean and muscular body.
If you trust me and don’t care why I recommend barbell and bodyweight strength, then I suggest B3W, which is my program (and programming philosophy) for building an x physique. Or you can find a free program online. Whatever. Just pick something.
If you don’t trust me, then the list of objections circumventing through your cranial canals is accumulating.
- But I use machines, which are just as good.
- But I’m not sure if I should be bulking right now.
- But I don’t want to be a huge bodybuilder.
- But I just want to be toned.
- But butts.
I’ve answered enough emails to know Nietzche was onto something: those a strong why can bear almost any how. Without a why, well, fuhgetaboudit. So what follows is why barbell and bodyweight strength training is the second most important thing a skinny-fat dude can do.
If you want to know the most important thing (not the second most) a skinny-fat guy can do, you’ll have to stick around for my answer. Another cliffhanger. Wow I’m good.
But I’m warning you up front: it will absolutely, hands down, disappoint you more than Jar Jar Binks. The curiosity seed has been planted though. Information gap. Loophole. I’m winning.
The first reason barbell and bodyweight strength training is important: muscle mass.
Progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training is the quickest and most reliable way to build muscle. If you want to know why, read this mildly coherent thing I made.
But why is muscle mass in itself so important for a skinny-fat guy? I’m glad I made you ask yourself this question, but here’s the deal: you need to have thick skin to appreciate the answer.
The Truth (capitalized, fellas) is that most skinny-fat dudes drastically overestimate how much muscle they have.
Skinny-fat dude weighs 180 pounds. Skinny-fat dude decides to lose weight. Skinny-fat dude gets down to 160 pounds, only to have every family member and friend tell him he looks ghastly enough to drop dead any second because he’s about as shapely as a dry towel on a clothes line.
Aside from the small pouch of belly fat he still has, of course.
Skinny-fat dude is bummed. Skinny-fat dude worries. He wants to get rid of the rest of his fat, but he’s afraid of turning into a pile of dust.
Skinny-fat dude doesn’t want the rest of his muscle to melt away, which is ironic because, well, there was never much muscle to begin with. As the great Scotty Smalls once said, “I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?”
Skinny-fat dude is simply revealing the Truth of his body, which is a bunch of bones that were formerly covered in fat tissue.
His ego makes him think he was more muscular at his previous weight, but he’s confusing Taking up more space with Being more muscular. Or, even worse, he’s confusing Weighing a certain amount with Looking good naked, which is insanely too common.
A lot of skinny-fat guys don’t want to drop below a certain weight, but have no rational explanation for their feelings.
“I don’t want to get below 150 pounds.”
People want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club because of the way he looked, not because of how much he weighed. I know this because 99% of the people that say, “I want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club,” will not know how much Pitt weighed when filming the movie.
Your body isn’t a number. You aren’t trying to be a number.
Most people that are cut and ripped weigh less than you’d think they would. You don’t need a lot of muscle mass if you have low body fat.
Brad Pitt was sub 10% body fat in Fight Club. I’ve only been sub 10% body fat a few times because, well, I like drinking beer. Too much beer. I should get a beer.
Pitt was 165 pounds, standing at 5′ 11″. But Pitt looked good at 165 pounds because he had muscle mass. If he didn’t have muscle mass, and he dieted to sub 10% body fat, he’d probably be 140-150 pounds.
Let’s reconnect this to skinny-fat dude. Skinny-fat dude loses fat and is way leaner, but he still doesn’t like the way he looks. Meanwhile, skinny-fat dude just did something tons of people would love to do: shed a bunch of body fat. Instead of being happy about his accomplishment, he’s sad.
He wasn’t equipped with the right expectations, which are as follows: as a skinny-fat dude, the odds of you having (a) a lot of muscle, (b) a favorable skeletal structure is slim.
Once you lose fat, you’re going to be mostly skin and bones. And the bones of a skinny-fat dude aren’t all that attractive.
Although it’s impossible to have a hip-width that exceeds your shoulder-width, a skinny-fat physique often pushes those boundaries.
Combine a lack of upper body muscle and fat storage in the lower stomach and love handle region, and you’re looking at an “A” framed upper body.
An “A” has a wide base and a narrow peak. Once you lose fat, you still have that same unfavorable body frame.
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to beauty culture, but most females are attracted to males with a more “X” shaped body, meaning the upper body has a “V” shape, meaning it’s the exact opposite of the skinny-fat “A” frame.
Whether or not you want an “X” shaped body is up to you. You might want look rectangular, like a brick. I don’t care. I don’t judge. It’s your body. I’m not in the business of telling anyone what they should want.
But there’s only one way to change the “A” frame: you have to add. You can’t change your shoulder-width or hip-width. But you can add a bunch of meat to the upper chest, shoulders, and upper back to make your “A” look more like a “V” (or “H” if you’re into the brick look) over time. And the best way to add said meat is with progressive barbell and bodyweight training.
Some of you are now thinking, “But I just want to be toned, defined, and proportioned,” which is my cue to shove your face into hot coals.
Muscle toning is a scam. What is commonly seen as a toned muscle is better described as a defined muscle. Muscle definition comes from two things: muscle size and body fat.
Imagine buying a doggie chew bone. Now wrap a flank steak around the doggie bone. Circle one single layer of plastic wrap around the steak, adhering it to the doggie bone.
- Steak = muscle size
- Plastic wrap = body fat
A big steak with a lot of plastic wrap makes for a massive structure, but it won’t be all that defined (because there’s too much plastic wrap [body fat] covering the steak [muscle]).
A small steak with a little bit of plastic wrap makes for a lean appearance, but it won’t be all that defined (because there’s not enough steak [muscle] to show through the plastic wrap [body fat]).
You need to have both a big enough muscle and a low enough body fat to have what’s considered a defined muscle.
I’m not talking about becoming a bodybuilder. Ten to twenty pounds of muscle goes a long way in shaping your body, especially if you build muscle in the right places.
There are people with the insanely irrational fear of getting too bulky overnight, which slaps every non-genetic freak in the face that has scratched and clawed day in and day out (with training, eating, sleeping) in order to build an inch of muscle.
Assuming no abnormality, human biology is set up in such a way that a wild metabolic reconfiguration overnight is pretty much impossible. It takes time to convince your body to change.
All of this sounds like I’m recommending a typical bodybuilder bulk up in order to build muscle, but that’s not 100% true. Progressive barbell and bodyweight training is important if you’re trying to build muscle, yes. But it’s equally important if you’re trying to lose fat.