The Skinny on What The 40 Day Program and PLP Did to Skinny-Fat Syndrome

Be sure to read Part I, Why and How I Combined The 40 Day Program and The PLP Program, and Part II, Some Results and Q&A About Combining The 40 Day Program and the PLP Program, before reading this.

A question that frequents my inbox:

“Well…are you still skinny-fat? Sometimes you say you are. Other times you say you’re “formerly” skinny-fat. What gives?”

Good question.

Body composition is a symbol in more ways than one.

Not only does it symbolize the kind of life you live, but it also symbolizes the state of your physiology.

Physiology forms from many factors. With body composition, it kinda boils down to genetics, training, and nutrition. Of course this is an overly simplified look at things. But sometimes overly simple is a good thing.

Genetics form the base “code.” But the code is also influenced by environment — which is shaped by culture.

Doesn't matter if you have skinny genes if you go ahead and down five gallons of Coke every day. Combine that with a lack of physical activity and you're in a bad place. (Probably in a bad place regardless of physical activity.)

Once you work your way into a tricky situation, you gotta fight your genetics to get out.

Combine overeating on terrible things and lack of physical activity with a physiology not genetically primed for muscle growth and you get no muscular development and a lot of fat development.

Enter skinny-fat.

“But since you have the genetics for skinny, wouldn't it be easy to lose weight?”

No. Not really.

Overly processed foods and soda make it easy to vandalize genetics. Eating 600 grams of potatoes is tough stuff. But 600 grams of sugar via soda? Less so.

Then you face the reality of physiology: Fat cells don’t really disappear. They just shrink. I once heard that an emptied fat cell takes about ten years to fully die off. (Believe I got this from John Kiefer.)

Here's the example of myself:

I was born to be skinny. Didn't have a touch of fat on me. But as I grew I developed the “fat” part — poor nutrition and lack of physical activity (among other things).

So my genetics are hardwired for skinny. But physiology is more than genetics. Otherwise you'd be impossible to change.

So it’s like this: I may not look skinny-fat anymore. But I’m still hardwired to fill up my fat cells when I overeat, just as I'm genetically hardwired to be skinny.

Hence skinny-fatness.

What the combination did for skinny-fatness

I've been hinting that combining The 40 Day Program and PLP program did “something” that altered my skinny-fat propensity. It worked against my “code.” This goes back to an article I wrote earlier this year: Skinny-Fatness, Hardgainers, and High Frequency Training.

Training often forces your body to adapt a certain way. (As long as you don’t overdo it and injure yourself.) Even if your genetics “go against” the adaptation.

If you do 2370 chin-ups over 60 days, does your body have a choice as to whether or not it can adapt?


It has to.

By constantly living in an environment that demands muscular contractions and moving your body through space (of which body fat is a factor), you’re “hinting” at “needing” a certain physiology—a physiology that contrasts what most skinny-fat people have.

Just as overfeeding on gushers fruit snacks (used to love those things, especially the sour kind) can derail genetic propensity, so can training.

Put yourself in a position in which the body doesn't have a choice. Put your body in a position in which it has to adapt in a way that contrasts your current physiology.

The tricky part is doing this and living to talk about it. (Staying injury free.)

But as you still skinny-fat as an intermediate?

Another common idea is that no one “strong” is skinny-fat. And that to cure skinny-fatness you only need to get “strong.”

Not true.

“Strong” is a relative term. But when the picture above was taken I could squat 405 pounds at about 190 pound body weight. Yet I had a “soft” appearance.

Right now I can squat 325 for mediocre 5. Not overly difficult. (My foot gives me the fritz. I’m hoping my new Nike Romaleos help my Morton’s Neuroma.)

And yet here’s a picture taken of me at around 205 pounds. And then you can even compare these to when I weighed about 190 in the midst of my PLP and 40 Day Program extravaganza.

I'm “weaker” in both the squat and bench press. Yet I look better and am undoubtedly more muscular.

Just some food for thought…

Is this…blasphemy?

I love squats. I've done a lot of them. I squat often. But here are somethings to think about:

  • I haven't squatted anything above 405 since that picture above was taken. (Hurt my back on the third rep.)
  • Haven't benched anything more than 245 since the picture. (Was my max at the time of the picture.)

Yet I was able to gain 15+ pounds of lean body mass.

What gives?

How have I gained muscle without getting that much stronger on two exercises that most would consider necessary?

Because at some point — when you can stress the body enough — sheer volume over time is enough to churn adaptation.

And if you're doing this right, everything else trickles into place. You get stronger. You gain muscle. You get better.

Interested in learning more?


Are you a skinny-fat soldier?

This idea of getting better on account of sheer volume — just showing up — is all about basic stress and adaptation. The way you live, the way you train, and the way you eat come together to “nudge” your body in certain directions.

You can even add more to the list. How you sleep. How you deal with stressful situations. How you perceive yourself.

All of it funnels down and contributes to the “nudging.” The key is doing the right things to nudge it in the direction that opposes skinny-fatness. This includes doing the right lifts in the gym. Eating the right foods at the right times. Doing the right things in life.

How your body adapts in response to all of this is the cornerstone of The Skinny-Fat Solution.

The Skinny-Fat Solution is the resource I hinted to in my last article — the one that would be available early at a discounted price pending on whether or not I wanted to accept charter members.

I'm here.

You're here.

Yeah, let's do it.

Charter members will help refine and shape the product. They’d also gain access to a private Facebook Group where I'd give regular feedback and coaching advice.

Here are the full details:

  • There’s going to be a soft launch where I only allow a limited amount of people to purchase. This is because I’ll be soliciting feedback. I’m only one man and can only handle so many questions. So this isn’t like a lot of internet dudes that claim there’s only 20 *products* available and you have to “act now.” Really? Dude, you’re selling a PDF. There’s infinite quantities. What gives?
  • Buyers will be invited to a private Facebook Group where the discussions and coaching will take place. Questions will be encouraged. As a charter member, you’re expected to help shape the final product. You’ll also be updated on the product’s progress. So you’ll see glimpses of the design process and back end stuff.
  • I’m doing this because I want to create the best and most comprehensive product possible. But because you’re an eager soul and buying a beta version (90% of the content is there and ready to consume though) the price will be heavily reduced.
  • You get to see the secret sauce. No one ever gets to see secret sauce. Blasphemy!
  • I want the product to represent skinny-fats as a whole. I’m far removed from the original skinny-fat days and it’d be nice to have perspective from those currently living them. We all share the same wounds. But mine are more like scars. I want the blood. The guts. The stuff that's yet to dry. (This is also why an interview with Nate Miyaki — fellow skinny-fat sufferer turned nutrition dude — is included. [P.S. This interview is well worth the price of admission.])

So if you can excuse the dust and want some hands on attention, or you want to see the back end of product development, listen up. The fairest way to do this is through e-mail.

I'll send an e-mail to everyone when it goes live. The first one's to grab the deal before I cap enrollment are the lucky ones.

To get notified of when everything will go down, you have to sign-up for the exclusive e-mail list below. This is separate from my main newsletter!

This exclusive list will notify you of when you’re going to need to be at your computer to get a crack at being a charter member for the skinny-fat resource at a discounted price.

So if you’re one of those that’s been pestering me about this, I expect to see your name and e-mail soon.

See you then.

[ois skin=”SFBETA”]


Trying to lose fat, build muscle, and build a body you’re proud of?

Maybe you’re a little lost right now.

Maybe you don’t have much motivation.

Maybe you don’t what program or diet to use.

I don’t know…

But what I do know is this:

Everything you need is inside of you.

You’re capable of more than know.

You just have to open your eyes.

My weekly column can help.

Just a small little honest note from me sent every Sunday.

Unless I’m hungover.

And then it comes Monday.

What I’m trying to say is that it’ll come Monday.

(These weekly columns don’t get posted to the site.)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tom Caru November 8, 2012, 8:35 am

    I think I am more of a skinny-fat reservist but I would really enjoy seeing some active duty haha Really respect what you’re putting together mate, keep it up!

    • Anthony November 8, 2012, 11:18 pm

      Thanks a bunch Tom!

  • Traindom November 11, 2012, 9:18 pm

    I think it’s a great idea to involve your readers in your product in order to ensure it’s as great as possible. Really admirable. And it’s a great way to connect with them as well.

    I particularly liked this bit: “I was born to be skinny. Didn’t have a touch of fat on me. But as I grew I developed the “fat” part — poor nutrition and lack of physical activity (among other things).
    So my genetics are hardwired for skinny. But physiology is more than genetics. Otherwise you’d be impossible to change.
    So it’s like this: I may not look skinny-fat anymore. But I’m still hardwired to fill up my fat cells when I overeat, just as I’m genetically hardwired to be skinny.”

    I have a firmer grasp of what skinny-fatness is. I had some abstract idea of it, but this really cleared things up.

    Great stuff, Anthony.

    • Anthony November 14, 2012, 1:11 am

      Thanks doodles.

  • Mat3usz November 11, 2012, 9:20 pm

    Hi Anthony!
    Sorry for my poor english – is difficult for me… 🙁
    3 years ago I was fat. I lost 35 kg by cardio program.
    Now I have skinny-fat body (13-15% fat)
    I can’t build muscle mass – I can’t add any kg/rep on my strenght traing – 0 progress… (FBW, Split, FBW by Mark Rippetoe) On high calories and high proteins I get fat – without changing strenght level.

    When I enter to your blog I became interesed “40 days training”.
    Does it make sense? My results: Squat: 70 kilos, Bench Press: 55 kilos?

    • Anthony November 14, 2012, 1:13 am

      Well your problems are a bit more than I can handle via reply here. I’d need to know details of your history, what your diet is like, your program. You can give me some stuff, but it will probably overwhelm. Your best bet is to sign-up for the skinny-fat program. It will give you all you need to know.

  • Bobby November 13, 2012, 7:17 am

    Anthony – I’ve been utilizing your concepts of “athletic fitness” and “warm up is the workout” for quite some time. Love it. It makes exercise addicting (which has some cons..) and the body comp effects are perfect.

    However, I wonder if after a certain leanness, progress in aesthetics/physique development is better achieved if the high frequency “dilution” (i.e. diong PLP, 40 day challenge, pullup/dip/lever holds on rings circuits, bodyweight stuff, tricking, etfc) effects outweight the bread and butter barbell routines. For instance, heavy compoudn movements done in 3-8 rep range, multiple sets, possible rest pause, etc. produces some sick gains. I fear that after these core barbell work, if I were to add in another hour+ of ring work or jumps or “playground” stuff, that I “dilute” the signals for muscle development.

    Anecdotally, when I quit a workout after the heavy babell work, my muscles retain a huge pump and fullness. If I keep doing athletic movements (chin/handstand pushup/dip circuits) I get an endorphin high, burn through a lot of calories, but lose that uber pump (replaced with a more drained, almost glycogen depleted feel at the end).

    For reference here’s where my physique is around

    Thanks for reading. Looking forward to the new book.

    • Anthony November 14, 2012, 1:16 am

      I don’t think that you’d need to do both in the same workout or both in the same training cycle.

      PLP is only 60 days long, after all.

  • Dale November 15, 2012, 6:43 pm

    I feel very strongly both ways. 😉
    I’ve not missed Anthony’s point about the benefits of a ‘not-thinking’ template. And it also satisfies the urge to do something every day.
    On the other hand, frequent training, even with light to moderate resistance, invariably leads to tendonitis. So, for this ectomorph, low-frequency/low-volume/high-intensity is the better bet long-term, similar to Martin Berkhan.

    • Anthony November 16, 2012, 3:07 am

      Frequent training only leads to tendonitis if you don’t listen to your body 🙂

      And I disagree to a point. High intensity can lead to injuries too.

      • Dale November 16, 2012, 2:43 pm

        I do listen to my body. It tells me not to lift every day. 😉
        You’re right about the high-intensity. But the definition has changed as I’ve aged. Failure is no longer life-passing-before-eyes failure. It’s more like technical failure. And the money set is preceded by warm-up sets. So, I suppose I’m smuggling in a little volume.

        • Anthony November 16, 2012, 8:57 pm

          Fair enough. But I’m just saying that frequency alone isn’t going to cause injury if you play your cards right.

  • Dale November 15, 2012, 7:16 pm

    Also, FWIW, fairly recently, for about a month, I profited from a less-thinking than non-thinking template. There was very little structure to it other than positioning weights and equipment around the house, such that I’d have to encounter it.
    Ex: I positioned my pullup apparatus above the bathroom doorway. So, every time I went into the bathroom, I’d execute a perfect pullup. No reps, just a perfect pullup. And dumbells and a barbell were similarly positioned around the house.

    • Anthony November 16, 2012, 3:08 am

      Hah, this is a cool idea. Barbell in the kitchen. Welp, gotta snatch it.

  • Jonathan November 20, 2012, 10:22 pm

    Anthony, I think one last practical question remains to me about this subject, relative to Waiter’s Walks. I´d never did them, and I just see how Dan John praises carried loads, which only increased my interest. I “inherited” two 13 pounds dumbbells, wich would be perfect for home training. (Believe me, in Brazil, I would be called crazy in the gym if I started carrying weight around overhead – swings alone already cause many questions and weird looks!) Do you think 13 pounds would be sufficient for daily practice, or would it fall in the category of “flies”? 2×40 yards certainly don´t is so difficult for me to do, but I certainly feel the body response to the weight. Forgive my ignorance, carried loads are pretty new to me.
    And thanks a lot for answering all this questions! Not everybody acts so kind.

    • Anthony November 21, 2012, 12:08 am

      Not enough. MOAR! FIND MOAR!

      • Jonathan November 21, 2012, 10:59 am

        Hehe, ok. I´ll figure out something moar.

        • Anthony November 21, 2012, 3:05 pm

          Good. How about this: go to a store and grab a bag of mortar. It’s like 50 lbs for $5. Bear hug and start walking.

          • Jonathan November 21, 2012, 5:54 pm

            Cool! Sometimes we forgot that there is heavy things outside the gym.

          • Anthony November 23, 2012, 4:12 pm

            Yeah. But the gym is a cool place.

  • Filipe November 24, 2012, 3:43 pm

    Hi Anthony!

    I recently found your amazing blog and im addicted:) Im a soldier of the Skinny-fat army and i joined a gym for the first time in my life 2 weeks ago. I weight 163.3lbs (74.1kg) and im 6.13 (1,83 m).
    My body fat percentage is 24% (!!) and the they guy who made this measurement sayd i needed to drop that number fast, also that i needed to gain some weight (he sayd i need to be at 80 kg 176.3lbs). He handed me a training program that i need to follow for 2 months, and sayd that its main objective was muscle definition, then i can start weight lifting. (the program consist on training almost every muscle of the body, legs, chest, back, abs etc)

    The thing is i am clueless about dieting. The only thing ive changed is that i eat more. alot more. (no processed food) When i ask people about what specific and key food i need to eat its all very blurry ( some say i need to “bulk” so i should eat peanut butter tuna bananas etc).

    Can you please help me out on this one?

    Thanks! (sorry for my bad english :/ )

    • Anthony November 26, 2012, 1:36 am

      I wouldn’t say there’s one food you “need” to eat. You “need” to eat a good bit of protein, in my opinion. Maybe you should just start there. Just make sure meat is a mainstay.

  • Brandon December 24, 2012, 5:14 am

    So let me get this straight. You are basically saying to end being skinny fat you have to: 1. Eat more(high protein, highs carbs, low fat) on training days
    2.Eat less(High protein, high fats, low carbs) on off days
    3. Get at least 8 hours of sleep
    4. Do cardio a little but not a lot
    5. Lift heavy but make sure to do high rep low weight at times.

    A skinny fat

    • Anthony December 26, 2012, 1:44 pm

      It’s not really a five step process, which is why I wrote a gigantic resource about it (I guess you missed the beta launch of it?).

      That’s a good starting point though, those five points.

      Lift heavy is ambiguous. Most times I think you should stick to a challenging 5-8 for some perspective. Cardio won’t kill you unless you turn into a competitive marathon runner. One or two twenty minute sessions per week will likely do you some good.

      As for the calorie cycling (eat more, eat less), I also think that’s a good suggestion too. But you have to have some kind of a baseline since the main goal would be to lose fat initially.

      • Jake December 26, 2012, 3:03 pm

        Do you have to calorie cycle? Or can you just eat in a defict 7 days of the week? Which is better in your opinion

        • Anthony December 26, 2012, 4:22 pm

          Constant deficit tends to ruin hormonal profiles and all that jazz. I’d include at least one day with more calories every week. A “refeed” if you will. This doesn’t mean it has to be junk food either. Can just be more of your normal food.