A lot of people start going to the gym and exercising with fat loss as their main goal. Joining a gym or starting a home fitness program is one of the best steps you can take in your quest to lose fat and get in great shape but if you follow conventional wisdom when it comes to choosing and applying a workout regime then you could end up heading down the wrong path which might either make it a lot longer before you achieve your goals or take you to an entirely different, unwanted destination instead. That destination is the Skinny Fat Syndrome and it isn’t a place you want to go!
What is Skinny Fat Syndrome?
If, when fully clothed you appear to be relatively skinny and thin looking but in actual fact you have areas of fat such as your belly, chest and upper arms then there is a good chance you are skinny fat. This is the exact opposite of the athletic and toned look most people desire and affects men and women in equal numbers.
How Do People Get Skinny Fat?
Now, we understand that if you are reading this you specifically do not want to get skinny fat or are already there and want to know how to change your body composition to something healthier and more aesthetically pleasing. But it is worth pointing out the various ways people can end up suffering from Skinny Fat Syndrome to help explain this condition fully.
Starting Out Skinny with Gradual Fat Increases
This is the most common route to ending up being skinny and fat at the same time and happens to lots of people. Perhaps you were skinny or thin in your teens and early twenties and could eat what you wanted and didn’t have to do any physical activities to maintain your weight. As you started to get a bit older and as each year your body’s metabolism slowed down bit by bit you continued to eat the same amount of food but your body began to store more of this food as fat around your body. It might have been a gradual process of only a few extra pounds a year but after a few years this added up and you soon found yourself with a significant deposit of fat around your belly. Initially you could hide this new extra weight gain but when not wearing the right clothes or at the beach it was visible for all to see.
Following the Wrong Exercise Program when Trying to Lose Weight
This is the other main way people end up being skinny fat and is perhaps even more frustrating for the people to whom it applies. If you were overweight and had a body some people might have considered as being fat and you took the commendable steps to do something about it you might have initially started to lose weight and seen a striking transformation in your body composition as the fat started to melt away slowly but surely. But as you got down to a reasonable weight you found that although some parts of your body were thin and skinny other parts such as your belly, chest and thighs were still carrying unwanted weight and fatty deposits. Although you were now no longer overweight you still had areas of fat and for all the weight you had lost you still didn’t have the body you wanted.
The chances are you were using cardiovascular exercises such as running as your main or only method for burning off those extra calories and although this worked well initially it soon become a contributor to your status of being skinny fat.
How to Lose Weight without Becoming Skinny Fat
So now that we have covered ‘what is skinny fat’ and how it can happen we are getting to the crux of this article and that is how to lose weight without becoming a skinny fat person.
If we take a look the typical profile of a skinny fat person which applies to both men and women, we can see what needs to be done to avoid this situation:
- Mainly skinny but with unwanted areas of fat such as the belly, upper arms and chest
- Low levels of muscle tone
- Legacy of being able to eat what they want which was mainly unhealthy food
- Doesn’t exercise often and if does, only cardio exercises such as running, cycling or cross training
- Drinks too much alcohol
- Slower metabolism due to increasing age and/or lack of the right kind of exercise
So as you can see there are a number of contributing factors that could apply to someone in order to render them skinny fat. Some or all of those might apply to you and the more of them you can fix then the quicker you will be able to change your body to healthy and toned or whatever your goal might be.
The Best Thing You Can Do to Beat Skinny Fat Syndrome
If you look at the list above three of the key factors (low muscle tone, no regular exercise & slow metabolism) can be grouped together and remedied at the same time and that is with regular weight training. This applies to both men and women and we recommend that both genders should workout in the same way if they want to get in great shape, obtain a toned, healthy looking athletic physique to ensure they look good naked or at the beach.
Why Weight Training?
In a previous article we talked about why weight training is the best way to lose weight so for a more detailed answer you should look there but to sum it up weight training is the best way to no longer be skinny fat because:
- Weight training workouts burn more calories than cardio exercises over the course of a day
- More muscle tone means a faster metabolism which means your body burns more calories when resting
- Adding muscle to your body gives you an athletic toned look with no flabby or wobbly bits
Weight training workouts can be done a few times a week and we recommend you only train for 30 minutes at a time. After half an hour shouldn’t have enough energy left to continue and if you have then you got the energy then you haven’t been doing it properly. Three 30 minute workouts a week should be sufficient.
You can start an effective weight training workout with hardly any fitness equipment at all or even without any equipment by doing body weight exercises. This means you can easily train at home without the expense of setting up a home gym or buying costly cardio equipment. For some ideas on weight training at home on a budget read this article to get started.
Why Cardio Isn’t the Answer
While cardio exercises such as running or cycling are great ways to increase your fitness levels they aren’t the best means to avoiding becoming skinny fat and having a toned figure. As you lose some of your fat by doing cardio training you unfortunately won’t be replacing that fat with lean body mass or muscle so your body won’t develop that toned, fit look.
Cardio training burns calories while you are training but as soon as you stop the exercise the calorie burning stops too. With weight training you get around an extra hour of increased calorie burn after you’ve finished working out making a weight training exercise much more effective in terms of calorie usage.
As your body doesn’t develop much if any muscle from your cardio workouts your body’s metabolism won’t improve like it does when you increase your levels of muscle. This means you don’t get the very important benefit of having a body that burns more calories in a day which you get from weight training and increasing your muscle mass.
Cardio training can even burn muscle instead of fat if you don’t do it correctly or fuel your workouts in the correct way. Muscle loss due to badly planned cardio workouts is more common than you think and can be a real problem and a big cause of becoming skinny fat. If your body is using muscle instead of fat for energy while you are running or cycling for example you won’t lose fat and will even lose muscle instead which might make your progress on the scales seem like it is heading in the right way but in terms of looking good in the mirror won’t help at all. Losing muscle will slow down your metabolism, make you look less toned and lead to a loss in strength and energy that might prevent you from being able to exercise in the future.
But I don’t want to Get Muscle Bound
This is a common concern from both men and women when they are recommend a weight training program in order to lose fat and get in shape but it isn’t something that should concern you. In order to get the benefits having more muscle gives you such as a faster metabolism and a more toned athletic look you only need to add a few pounds of lean mass. Adding significant amounts of muscle where you start to look bulky and out of proportion doesn’t happen overnight and takes years of dedicated heavy weight training alongside the user of supplements and special diets. We are not advocating that approach at all so this will not happen to you!
The average trainer will put on a few pounds of lean muscle relatively quickly and then the body will reach its natural limit of muscle mass. To get past that point you have to take your training to the next level which is something that is not needed to get in great shape and look good naked or at the beach. Do not fear weight training; excessive muscle gain isn’t easy!
Saying Goodbye to Skinny Fat
If you are serious about losing fat and getting in great shape I hope I have convinced you that weight training is the single most effective way of doing so without ending up somewhere you don’t want to be such as Skinnyfatsville.
Of course diet plays a big part and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink and cutting down on the number of unhealthy treats you have will definitely help but for the amount of effort vs. benefit weigh training can’t be beaten as it:
- Speeds up your metabolism causing you to burn more calories each and every day
- Replaces fat with muscle tone
- Increases strength and gives you a great beach body
- Can be done at home with very little equipment or none at all
If you want to know more about weight training for impressive fat loss then have a look at some of these articles:
- Get in shape without cardio training
- Why weight training is the best way to lose weight
- Weight training without equipment
- Workout at home with suspension straps
- Kettlebell workout for women
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