Help! I have a holiday in 2 months and I’m skinny fat! What do I do?!

“I’m going away in August and the sunny days will be never ending. The pool parties will run round the clock, and my physique will be there for the ladies to see.”

(This kind of thing was easy for Arnold, thanks to genetics and hefty drug doses.)

Lap it up bro?

“You haven’t seen my stomach though. I mean, I can see an ab……at least I think it’s an ab! And I don’t have much muscle either. So the guns and traps won’t save me. Damn, I’m doomed. I don’t know whether to bulk or cut. I mean I should be bigger, but I probably could/should be leaner.”

*Poor fella looks down and scratches head*

It’s OK. This isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s a common conundrum. And overcoming it takes a little planning and dedication. Let’s solve this guys problem and enlighten all the other skinny fat dudes out there, desperate to get ‘jacked’.

What is skinny fat, am I skinny fat and why am I skinny fat?

‘Skinny fat’ in my terms, means you’ve got a relatively small frame and a high level of body fat in proportion to the frame. This is usually the type of guy who has poor relative strength. He may not actually weigh all that much, but his overall strength is poor. Squatting 1xBW is a fantasy. To him, guys who do 10 pull ups are superman.

Are you skinny fat?

If you’re notably above 15% body fat as a man, yet not much above 150 lbs (given you’re of normal height) odds are you’re in this camp. I would say though, the biggest indicator is a poor relative strength level – especially if you’ve been lifting/training a while. 

Why are you skinny fat?

It could be for a plethora of reasons. Usually a combo of the following: low testosterone, a poor diet and lifestyle habits that quash your testosterone. Sadly, for some, it can be genetic. I’ve seen guys try their nuts off and really dial things in, yet still struggle aesthetically. These are rare cases though.

What to do about the holiday situation and how to move forward –

Even the slightest idea of bulking can be tossed in the trash right now. You have 2 months until vacation. How much muscle can you realistically gain in 2 months? Think hard. Very little. And even if you were to add a measly 2 lbs, it won’t show at all at your current body fat levels. Above 17% or so for males, additional weight is merely additional weight to the spectator. If you were leaner – say 10-12 %, a few pounds (of muscle) shows much more.

It’s incomparable the amount of potential fat loss to muscle gain in a 2 month period.

Cutting is now your reason to live. Announce it to the world, write it down and create an environment where you can drown in accountability.

Here’s the cutting methodology you’ll employ……

ALL JUNK FOOD IS TO BE ELIMINATED. No discussion or debate here. You’ll have your 7-14 day holiday to do all the indulging you could ever need. I don’t believe in being overly anal on holidays and vacations, it just saps your enjoyment. You have a solid 8 weeks to be strict, disciplined and dedicated. How bad do you want it?

Now I would advocate counting calories; what gets measured gets managed. Take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 15, this is your starting point. If you really don’t want to or can’t track calories, at least track protein – track something!

Have a solid dose of protein with every feeding. If you’re not tracking calories, don’t go too long without eating. YOU WILL OVERCOMPENSATE. I’ve done this, trust me. Keep a nice frequency of 4 hours or so. If you get too hungry, eat. It’s that simple. Have an absolute minimum of one solid serving of veggies/fruit or fiber with every feeding. Nuts and avocados are very ‘road friendly’ and can be eaten around anyone’s schedule (almost). These will cater for your dietary fat needs too.

Again, don’t be suckered into the low carb noise. Sure low carb works, but it isn’t a necessity. Which leads me to the next point……

Training.

                                                                          (Image via eatingacademy.com)

You’ll want to keep this simple: maintain strength as much as possible. If you can even build a little strength, awesome! Don’t train too light or with excessive volume. Let your nutritional discipline be the workhorse. Maintaining strength will require glycogen, as the chart above illustrates. Don’t go overboard with carbohydrate reduction.

Cardio will be your new best friend too. Do sprints once per week (if you can), keep the intensity high but the workout duration short. 20 mins max. On off days, do empty stomach walking. Pop a podcast on in your headphones and walk for 30 minutes. If your schedule allows an hour, do the hour. Try and find podcasts all about cutting and fat loss generally. What is it they say?

Surround yourself with those on the same journey as you.

Only drink water and unsweetened teas/coffee. If sleep is an issue generally, ditch the coffee for now. You’ll thank me later. Be meticulous about your sleep, this will play a bigger role than you could imagine in getting your testosterone up.

6 hours minimum.

Weigh and measure yourself once per week. Take your waist, do this first thing on an empty stomach. Sunday works best. If your measurements stay the same for 2 weeks, you need to eat a little less or up the cardio a touch. The difference between one and two sprint sessions weekly for fat loss is night and day! If you take the calorie counting route, just notch your total down. Go 14 x bodyweight instead of 15. Keep lowering accordingly.

What should you do when you get back from vacation?

Well, let’s not worry about tomorrow yet. For now your life will revolve around leaning out and cutting body fat. If you get the results you want, we may well start lean bulking when you’re back from holiday. If you’re not where you want/need to be, we’ll run the ‘lean machine’ phase a few weeks longer.

Depending on how ‘good’ your holiday was, we might need a rebound cut (just kidding).

At the end of the day……..don’t succumb to the pressure of feeling you need to match up to your buddies and whatever they look like/think you should look like. They asked you to come on holiday, not your 8 pack. And those girls you want to impress, are they really all that perfect in terms of physical prowess?

Didn’t think so.

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