You don’t see yourself as skinny, but you also don’t see yourself as fat. What’s going on with your body here?
Assuming that you want to get lean and feel healthy, I created this guide for men and women who are stuck in the middle. You don’t like the way you look and you want to change it up quickly.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s just assume you have “skinny-fat syndrome.” The process to transforming your body composition is the same: you must adjust your diet and introduce exercises that work your body as a whole.
As a man who had the “not skinny but not fat” body type for years, I created this in-depth guide to help you reach your goals. You’ll learn how to burn access fat on your body and build some lean muscle in the process.
The worst part about this body type is that you know you’re not a fat person. At the same time, you also feel that you’re not skinny. You constantly feel stuck in the middle and it kills your self-image (which is a big reason of why we workout in the first place).
This is exactly why I’ve created this guide. I want it to be the best resource on the internet for people who suffer from “Not-Skinny-Not-Fat Syndrome.” Please share it with your friends if you find it useful.
What’s Going On With Your Body Anyway?
This body type that you suffer from is what nearly everybody suffers from these days. It’s not unhealthy or anything, but it’s nothing impressive either. You don’t wake up in the morning feeling great about the way you look.
That’s what we ultimately want to change. You’ve read this far because you aren’t happy with your body composition. That’s why I created this website. I want to help you build both a body and lifestyle that you’re happy with.
The goal is to look good and feel good as you progress. We want to burn excess fat and build some lean muscle in the process.
Both men and women can accomplish this goal. You’ll look great and feel great after 12-18 weeks. That might seem like a long-time, but it’s actually not at all.
Most people who workout will go 5-10+ years without seeing any improvement in their body composition. This is the case with most people who hit the gym. They look exactly the same year after year, even if they’ve improved their strength.
The reason for this is that they don’t challenge themselves enough. When your body isn’t challenged, it’s not going to change. It will remain in the same state because it’s comfortable.
That’s ultimately the problem with most people who aren’t getting results. I can almost guarantee that it’s exactly the problem you face with your body. It’s why you’re not getting the results you want.
So, we want to change that. And, it doesn’t require heavy weights to do so. While heavy weights are good for building muscle, they are not the only way to progress.
Some people can’t lift heavy due to injury or pain. Plus, most people who only lift heavy week after week struggle with mobility and core issues down the road. They might be strong, but they’re not nearly as functional as the Lean Warrior that I want you to be.
Think of your current body as being dormant. It’s in this statis that’s comfortable. In order to wake your body up and encourage transformation, we need to get it uncomfortable.
So, I’m warning you: what I’m going to teach you will make you uncomfortable. Your muscles will feel sore for days at a time. The workouts may be short and the weight may be light, but it’s brutally effective.
This is the type of training I teach for developing the Lean Warrior body and mentality. This isn’t your common exercise and diet plan where you obsess over poundage and counting calories.
You’re not going to do any of that. You’re simply going to eat healthy, and you’re going to move weights that fatigue you. Don’t obsess over tracking anything. You won’t need it.
The Problem With Common Workout and Diet Programs
As I mentioned above, the reason why most people have this similar not-fat but not-skinny body type is because their body is always comfortable. They hit the weights week after week doing the same exercises.
Some people do get good results by lifting heavy weights and tracking every calorie, but it’s rare. I’ve known plenty of people over the years who have gotten stronger and weigh all their food, but look very average.
This is why I abandoned the common fitness advice. I decided to stop tracking my macros and quit all my heavy, low-rep lifting exercises. Plus, heavy weights gradually cause pain in my joints. Joint pain is never a good thing. Stop lifting heavy if you have pain in your joints.
You can build muscle or burn fat by tracking every calorie you throw into your body, but it gets incredibly tedious. Most people who do this go through bulking and cutting cycles with minimal results to show for it.
I weighed every single meal for years. While this can be effective, it gets extremely tedious after awhile. So, I don’t want you worrying about calories. I stopped weighing meals before I built my body with what I’ll teach you here (I still weigh protein powder for post-workout protein shakes though).
When I sit here and think about my biggest issue with mainstream fitness advice, it’s that the focus never seems to be on functional strength. Instead, it’s simply about getting really strong.
But, how does a 400 pound deadlift function in the real world? What about a 400 pound squat? How does bench pressing 315 pounds improve your functionality in anyway?
The answer is that it doesn’t. Unless you’re a professional Football player pushing against a 300+ pound lineman, you’ll probably never need such a huge amount of strength.
Thus is the problem with all this mainstream fitness advice. It’s why so many people are unhappy with their results. Even if you’re incredibly strong, do you feel good and healthy about your body?
Can you move and function like a Warrior at the end of the day? Probably not (and if you did, you wouldn’t be interested in reading this article anyway).
So, we do things differently here. This is all about building functional strength that has you moving and looking like an athlete. You will be in better shape than 99% of the people you see in the gym lifting heavy weights.
And, you will be strong. Make no doubt about it. While I don’t train you to do low rep, heavy weight exercises, you’ll be shocked at how much you can lift after going through my training.
You’ll also only need to train roughly 30-minutes per workout. There won’t be any of these 3 minute rests between sets. That’s just keeping you comfortable. You can’t be doing that if you want to transform your body in a short number of weeks.
Therefore, you must abandon the mainstream diet and exercise advice you see all over social media and the web. We’re going to take all these common exercises and take them to the next level (no barbells needed).
But first, let’s quickly go over the main factors that are keeping your body in its not-fat but not-skinny state.
Main Reasons Why You’re Skinny-Fat
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on each reason here. These are just to briefly go over the reasons why most people have a very average body, even if they workout and track their calories.
1) You’re Too Comfortable With Your Exercise Routine
Contrary to popular belief, diet and nutrition is not the main reason why you develop the skinny-fat body. You can count calories and track your macros all you want, but if you’re not exercising correctly, you’ll struggle to develop the body of a warrior.
While you can definitely lose weight by lowering calories and eating less food, it’s not a good idea to do that if you don’t have much muscle mass to begin with. It’s much better to keep your calories higher with more intense exercise.
The style of exercise I recommend is the most important factor because you’ve got to get your body in an uncomfortable state in order to build muscle and burn fat in a short amount of time.
That’s the goal here. And, you can do all that without counting calories or weighing meals. When your exercise is on point, your body will be forced to change. It’s a different mentality and approach when it comes to fitness.
2) You’re Not Eating Enough
As mentioned above, you’re probably not eating enough. If you were eating too much, you would be gaining weight week after week. But, that’s not the case. You’re skinny-fat, but not actually fat.
With the type of exercise training I want you to do, you’re going to want to feed your body enough food to build some lean muscle tissue while burning fat. You want to transform your body in a short amount of time. This is how you do it.
Therefore, I want you to listen to your body. Don’t worry about counting calories and weighing your food. Just listen to it. If you’re hungry every night before bed, you need more food. Eat more protein and get some healthy carbs and fats throughout the day.
As you go through my training, you’ll see what I mean. Your body will tell you if it needs more food. So listen to it. And reach for the right foods, not the box of Toasty Cheez-Its (which are amazing and I do eat hehe).
3) Too Much Cardio
With my type of training, you’ll be getting enough cardio. You won’t need to worry about running on a treadmill for 20 minutes. I want you to throw all that cardio out the window. There’s no need for it.
I don’t like steady state cardio because it can prevent any sort of lean muscle development. There are studies that prove this. Unless you’re on a track team, avoid cardio for the next few months while you go through my program.
You don’t need cardio treadmill sessions to lose weight. As long as you’re training correctly with the right diet, you’ll burn more than enough calories in the gym.
My type of training involves one HIIT-style workout per week. These are all that you need to jump start your slowed metabolism to promote fat burning (as long as you’re consuming enough protein every day).
4) Stop Weighing Yourself Everyday
As you commit to an exercise program, it can become really easy to find yourself reaching for a weight goal. You might weigh yourself every morning, or worse, you weigh yourself every night before bed.
This is a bad habit to get into. Try to stop yourself from looking at the scale every day. It’s only going to make you feel worse and demotivate you. This is especially true if you weigh yourself at night.
I’ve had days where I’m 6 pounds heavier at night compared to that very morning. That’s how much weight can fluctuate throughout the day. So, try to quit this habit. Don’t worry about bodyweight.
You’re going to look significantly different after 12 weeks. You may even notice some changes after just 2 or 3 weeks into training. This is important because if you weigh yourself and see no change after 3 weeks, you might feel the need to quit.
So stop weighing yourself. You’re going to burn fat and build muscle with my training. You might actually gain weight because muscle is much more dense than fat. But don’t stress!
5) Not Enough Weight Lifting
Lifting weights, especially with dumbbells, is a significant part of how I train. While you can definitely burn fat and build muscle without weights, having access to dumbbells will greatly accelerate the process.
The way I train with weights isn’t what you typically see. I’m a big believer in time under tension, so I try to utilize that in all my exercises that involve weights.
For example, let’s take a look at the typical dumbbell lateral raise. This exercise hits the side delts of your shoulders. Typically, you raise the dumbbell up and lower it back down.
However, this movement doesn’t give nearly as much time under tension as we want. So, let’s change the exercise and make it more uncomfortable. You’re starting position for each rep with the dumbbells will be at top of the lift with both arms raised.
Now lower one of your arms slowly and back up again. Repeat on the other side. That is one rep. By adjusting the exercise in this way, you’ve greatly increased the time under tension making it a much more effective exercise (and a calorie burner as well).
You won’t want to use the same weight for this. Since you’re putting tension on the muscle for the entire exercise, you’ll want to use lighter weights than what you would typically use.
This style of training can be applied to every exercise you do with dumbbells. That’s how you’re going to train because time under tension increases your heart rate, fatigues muscles quickly, and ultimately builds muscle much faster than the common way.
6) Not Eating Enough Protein
I put this point way down here at number 6 because the more I train and learn, the less important I find protein to be. Don’t get me wrong — protein is still a vital component to building muscle and burning fat.
But, you don’t need nearly as much protein as you think. If you have 3 solid meals with around 30 grams of protein per day, you should be fine. Include a protein shake as well and you’re golden.
Protein intake does depend on your size. Since I’m only around 155 pounds, I aim for about 120-130 grams of protein per day. This is more than enough for me. If you’re bigger, you’re going to want more.
If you’re a tiny woman who only weighs around 110 pounds, aim for around 20 grams of protein per meal and a 20-30 gram protein shake per day. That’s all you’ll need to build some nice looking lean mass.
Don’t obsess about protein. I never weigh my foods anymore so I couldn’t tell you exactly how much protein I get. I simple make sure my breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals have a solid amount of protein.
7) Your Genetic Profile
Last but not least is genetics. Quite simply, genetics play an important role in your body type. My genetics are pretty bad because my body likes to throw all my fat into my belly. I can be really skinny but still have belly fat.
I’ve seen people who have this much worse than me. Some guys I see are as thin as a rail and yet they have a belly that’s huge. It doesn’t make a lot of sense other than the fact that their genetics make it that way.
The good news is that you can still transform your body. If you’re incredibly skinny with belly fat that makes you insecure, I want you to try to forget about it. Just focus on training the way I teach and you’ll see changes. The reason I developed this program is because it worked for me, a guy who suffers from shitty genetics.
Focus on training the way I recommend and improve your health. Throw out sugary foods, throw out the crackers, try to eat as little bread and pasta as possible. These foods tend to increase my belly fat for whatever reason. It might be the case for you.
Exercise That Burns Fat and Builds Muscle
The goal with the way I train is to promote muscle growth and slow, steady fat loss over the period of several months. It’s important that you don’t look at this as some short-term training program.
If you have a wedding in 6 weeks and you’re hoping to lose 20 or more pounds, you’re in for a tough time. It’s not realistic to lose 3 pounds per week. At most, you want to lose 2 pounds. This makes it realistic and something that you can be consistent with.
With that said, when you exercise the way I’m going to show you below, you’re going to stimulate muscle growth. Because muscle weighs more than fat, the numbers on the scale won’t drop as much as you may expect.
This is why I don’t want you using the scale as your way of tracking progress. Instead, just look in the mirror week after week, take pictures, compare.
I’m not going to give you a specific workout program since there’s so many different things you can do, but these tips will help you build your own. You can always email me for a custom program.
1) Train With High Intensity: Time Under Tension, Short Rest Periods, Higher Reps
This website isn’t names Lean Warriors for no reason. The type of training I teach is very specific to transforming your body in just a few months. To create such a quick change, you must train as if you’re a high performance athlete.
This means lots of exercises that involve movement. Hitting your legs with fast, twitchy movements. Using resistance bands and stretches to hit the stabilizers. Lighter weight, higher reps, short rest periods, and time under tension.
Think of ways that you can move while performing a lift with dumbbells. How about combining a resistance band with a dumbbell to further increase the intensity? Most people have never done this before.
You never need a machine of any kind if you train this way. Instead of leg curls, you can use your own bodyweight with an exercise ball to achieve better results that are healthier and safer on your knee joints.
Using both bodyweight exercises and resistance training will give you the best results in the shortest amount of time. This is how athletes train and it’s why they’re able to look and feel so good year-round.
2) Dumbbell Training To The Next Level
There’s nothing wrong with hitting your chest with a classic dumbbell bench press. Feel free to perform a compound lift as the first set for all of your workouts. Bench press on chest day, rows on back day, squats on leg day, shoulder press on shoulder day. You can do this if you want.
My advice when it comes to compound lifts is to keep the weight a little bit on the light side. Work in a 10-12 rep range with short rest periods (45-60 seconds max). Keeping your joints healthy is key so do go easy on the weight. This isn’t Starting Strength.
After 3-4 sets of the compound lift, You’re going to do an exercise or two with dumbbells that keep your muscles under tension throughout the entire set. Let’s use chest day as an example here.
Grab some lighter dumbbells and set the bench up for flyes. It’s important you go light here on the dumbbells. The goal is time under tension and not heavy weight. Starting position is at the top of the lift with your arms extended above your face and dumbbells touching. By starting here, your chest muscles will be firing for the entire exercise.
This takes chest flyes to a whole new level. Bring your right arm down and back up, then your left arm down and back up. This is one rep. Work one arm at a time. Perform this exercise for 3 sets, 12 reps each and only resting for 45 seconds.
Think of how many exercises you can perform this way. Almost every exercise with dumbbells can be performed in this way. It’s an athletic movement because you’re keeping the muscles under tension for the entire exercise instead of just at the peak of the movement. You’re in peak state the entire time. This is also why you go lighter on the weight.
3) Add Resistance Band Training To Your Routine
This is one of the most overlooked parts of training that I would argue is the most important. Most people who train the common way never implement resistance bands in their training.
This is a vital mistake because as you progress in your training, you put more and more stress on your joints and small stabilizer muscles (such as the elbows, wrists, knees, rotator cuff and more).
If you neglect these small muscles for too long, you end up with either injuries or a body that’s in poor form. You’ll find yourself with bad posture, knots and trigger points in your muscles, tendonitis and more.
Resistance bands are great for hitting these small muscles and strengthening the joints and tendons. They can also be used to add tension to your lifts if you get creative (which is what I like to do). A great technique is to super set a dumbbell exercise with a resistance band exercise.
An example of this is performing a set of dumbbell lateral raises followed immediately by a set of band pull-aparts. Because you’re performing these as a super set, you’ll be suprised at how much you feel this. And, they’re a great exercise for your rotator cuff and rear delts.
If your gym has access to several different sizes of resistance bands, you can use a thin, stretchy one in combination with a dumbbell. An example of this is the shoulder press. You can stand on the band, grab the dumbbells, and proceed to perform the lift. This is a killer combination that hits many different muscles throughout the exercise. It’s incredible.
This isn’t the best image, but stand on the band like this guy and add dumbbells. This is some next level intensity that you’ll be feeling for days after, especially if your rest between sets are minimal.
4) Bodyweight Training To Finish Strong
I can’t stress this enough: your workout intensity will be the most important factor when it comes to burning fat and transforming your body. If you’ve got that “dad bod” or feel like you’re not seeing progress, this type of training will change that. Fast.
The idea is to create your own training program from what you’re learning here. Your first exercise will be a simple, compound lift like the bench press. The next exercise will involve dumbbells. Focus on time under tension with short rest periods.
After a few sets of dumbbells, add some resistance bands to the next sets. Rest for only 30-45 seconds max between sets to keep the intensity high. Your heart will be beating fast at this point. Do 3 sets with dumbbells combined with resistance bands followed by 3 sets with just the bands.
Finish off this muscle group with another 3 sets of bodyweight exercises. For your chest day, this can be any variation of push ups or chest dips to failure. There are many different types of push ups you can do along with many different ways to increase the intensity. I regularly add exercises in the Exercises section so check there for ideas.
This will give you 15 solid, intense sets for the chest. Because you should also train triceps on chest days, you are only half way done. It’s time for another 15 sets that hit the triceps. This will give you a total of 30 sets for your workout.
Here’s a classic 4 day split for you to get started:
Day 1: Chest and Triceps
Day 2: Back and Biceps
Day 4: Legs
Day 5: Shoulders
Feel free to throw in abs on any day that you wish. This schedule gives you 4 days of training and 3 rest days per week. Depending on your fitness goals, you should begin to see results after 3-4 weeks.
By week 12 your physique will be much different from when you started. Whether you lose 1-2 pounds per week or gain a pound per week, you will notice a significant change. It’s this type of training that transforms the skinny-fat body.
If you want me to develop a training program for you where I handpick all the exercises for you to perform for 12 weeks, then contact me and we’ll get started right away.
Diet and Nutrition for Best Fat Burning Results
I used to count every calorie I put into my body. I had the apps and all that. For years, I tracked every single thing that entered my body. Would you be shocked that my results were very minimal?
This is because my training wasn’t anywhere near what it needed to be in order to transform my skinny-fat body. While I believe that nutrition is important, your exercise routine is just as important.
Don’t think of this as nutrition being 80% and exercise being the other 20% when it comes to results. This isn’t the right way to look at it.
Instead, look at it as if both diet and exercise need to be at 100%. You need to take both of these things seriously. If you lack in one, you will not succeed if your goal is to develop a lean, sexy physique. Your diet AND your training need to be on point.
With that said, you don’t need to count calories. All you need to do is make sure you’re eating enough protein, fats and carbs so that you recover and get results.
The way you do this is you make sure that you’re eating 3 protein-filled meals along with a post-workout protein shake per day. At minimum, these 4 meals should give you 120 grams of protein per day for the average person (smaller women can reduce their protein intake). You can add snacks to fill in the rest of your protein. I aim for around 130-140 grams per day.
Track your progress in the mirror. Try not to get in the habit of weighing yourself daily. Weight yourself once per week if you can. But again, because lean mass is heavier than fat, don’t be surprised if the scale hasn’t moved much after a few weeks.
What’s most important is that your endurance will fly through the roof. You’ll be much healthier than you were before you started. Your core and your strength will improve as well, even when you’re using resistance bands and lighter weights.
All-around improvement of your body is the goal. It’s required to quickly transform your body composition in the least amount of time as possible. In 3 months, you’ll look better than you ever have if you commit to this type of training. It’s extremely rewarding.
Feel free to change up your exercise routine every single week. Make it more intense, change the compound lift (olympic bar one week, heavy dumbbells the next), add additional sets of bodyweight exercises, do more supersets, add a challenge day where you perform a circuit with no rest for 15 minutes, and so on.
This is where I can help you personally so feel free to reach out to me if you’d like me to develop you a routine to help transform your skinny fat body.