I received an interesting question from a reader a while back:
“Hey, Phil! Is there a way to fix skinny fat without lifting weights? Like if I don’t have the time for it? Can a diet alone be enough?”
That inquiry surprised me a bit because I’ve always seen exercise and nutrition as a package deal. If you want the best results, leverage both. Nevertheless, I thought about the question and decided to share my thoughts.
Fix the skinny fat look in 7 simple steps...
Download my free guide on fixing the skinny fat look in the next 6 months. Implement step one today!
But First: A Definition Of The Skinny Fat Look
Skinny fat folks have low muscular development and a high body fat percentage. They appear thin while wearing clothes but lack muscle definition and often have excess fat covering their lower back, love handle area, belly, and chest.
Many people end up skinny fat because of their lifestyle choices: not paying attention to their nutrition, sleeping poorly, and not exercising. In some cases, folks end up skinny fat after a weight loss phase, which happened to me back in the day.
What Does It Take to Fix The Skinny Fat Physique?
Your idea of ‘fixing’ the skinny fat look will determine what you should do. For example, if a person only wants to get skinny, dieting to lose fat might help them get there. But, if you’re interested in developing a lean, toned, and athletic physique, you will have to gain some muscle mass. For example, here is a skinny fat person who can probably get leaner by dieting:
But here is how a body can look with some muscle mass:
Notice that he’s not the most muscular guy, but he looks great because muscle adds shape to the body.
Can You Fix The Skinny Fat Look Without Lifting Weights (Or Doing Any Form Of Exercise)?
If your definition of fixing the skinny fat body means to be skinny, I would say yes. You can put yourself in a calorie deficit, and your body will break down muscle and fat to get the remaining energy it needs to function. The problem is, you will lose much of the little muscle you have on your frame, and you won’t like how you look.
But, if you want to develop an athletic physique, you will have to do some form of training to stimulate your muscles, forcing them to grow and strengthen. Resistance training is the single best way to drastically change how your body looks, regardless of your current circumstances.
It’s also important to note that physical activity has a favorable impact on your appetite, making it easier to eat fewer calories, lose weight, and maintain your results.
How to Get Fit If You Don’t Have Access to A Gym
A common reason why many people choose to remain skinny fat or attempt to fix the look with diet alone is a lack of time, which seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation. After all, commuting to the gym, signing in, waiting around for equipment, training, changing clothes, and commuting back home takes time.
But what if there was a way to reduce the amount of time it took you to exercise? And no, I’m not talking about doing cardio instead. We are still discussing strength training. Let’s take a look at four effective tactics and alternatives to gym training:
1. Do Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training might not seem like big of a deal, but the modality is versatile and effective, even for advanced trainees.
Bodyweight training is excellent because you can do it anywhere, including at home. Meaning, you don’t have to waste time commuting to your local gym, waiting around for equipment, and more. You can put on some comfortable clothes and jump straight into your workout.
If you’re interested in bodyweight training, read this: A Simple and Effective Skinny Fat Bodyweight Workout Routine.
2. Do Home Dumbbell Training
Dumbbell training is another convenient and incredibly effective way to do resistance training, gain strength, build muscle, and develop an athletic physique. Thanks to the many adjustable dumbbells on the market today, you can invest a bit of money in a pair and get everything you need.
Adjustable dumbbells are fantastic because you can manipulate the load and perform numerous wonderful exercises, including dumbbell rows, floor press, and goblet squats. You can read the guide I wrote on dumbbell-only training.
3. Increase Your NEAT
If you’ve read some of my other content related to the skinny fat physique, you probably know that I’m not the biggest fan of cardio as the primary way to get fit. There is nothing wrong with cardio, and I’m not against it. But I don’t recommend it being the primary type of training you do.
Most cardio activities neglect to train many of the major muscles in your body. Plus, cardio isn’t exactly a muscle-building activity, and it won’t help with the ‘gain muscle’ part of fixing the skinny fat physique.
If anything, I recommend focusing on your NEAT as a means of burning extra calories and improving various health markers. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis and represents all the calories you burn from activities that aren’t dedicated exercise time. Brushing your teeth, walking up a flight of stairs, and dancing are some examples of NEAT-based activities.
Increasing your NEAT is a practical and non-invasive way of increasing your caloric expenditure and more easily placing yourself in a slight calorie deficit for fat loss. Walking is always a great option because the activity is simple, doesn’t put stress on your joints, and you can integrate it into your life. For example:
- Walk to close destinations instead of taking the car
- Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator
- Get off one bus stop earlier and walk the remaining distance
Riding a bike is also a fantastic way to boost your NEAT. Aside from saving some money on transportation, biking is an excellent way to train your legs, burn extra calories, and soak up some sunlight.
I recommend increasing your physical activity for a couple of reasons:
It is a natural way to elevate your metabolic rate and improve your health.
It doesn’t necessarily require that you dedicate extra time to it, making it suitable for people on a tight schedule.
It’s worth noting that boosting your NEAT will not be enough for you to achieve a lean and athletic physique. I still recommend combining that with one of the previous tactics, even if you can only train for 20 or 30 minutes at a time.
4. Document Your Training And Progress
Circumstances won’t always be ideal, and you might find yourself following less-than-optimal tactics from time to time. But regardless of that, you should make it a habit to document your training and progress. Doing so would allow you to see if what you’re doing is working or if you need to change something. One of the biggest mistakes skinny fat folks make is not tracking their progress. But, how can one improve something they don’t measure?
The first thing you should start doing is writing down your workouts as you do them. One option is to write in a notebook, but you can also use a note-taking app like Evernote. In it, you should write:
- The date of the workout
- The exercises you’re doing
- How many sets you’re doing
- How many reps you get per set
- The weights you’re lifting (if there are any)
Doing so takes just a few minutes but recording your workouts is a great way to see if you’re improving over time.