Strong is the New Skinny
Ever hear of the term “skinny fat”? That’s someone that is thin, but with a high body fat. Like a distance runner or a sedentary person who doesn’t eat much or lift weights. They may look fine in clothes but are all flabby underneath; they have very little muscle. A lot of us want to lose weight and be “thin” but take heart–strong is the new “skinny”. . .“Skinny fat” is not gender specific. I know both men and women that fall into this category but they often have different views on strength and exercise and how they approach it. Most men workout to get lean and muscular, the bigger the better; they are competitive and intense. They are progressive, push themselves hard and become more self confident.
Women usually start working out to look better and lose weight. They are often self conscious in the gym, afraid to pick up weights for fear of “getting big” and usually stick to cardio and colorful little dumbbells if they make it near the weight room at all. I am not knocking my gender–there are exceptions–this is merely the mindset of the majority.
Any male or female wanting to lose the “skinny fat” appearance, or body fat in general will need to build some muscle and lose fat. The shape of your body will be formed by adding muscle. Lowering the body fat translates to dropping dress and pants sizes and reducing problem areas such as butt, gut, thighs and arms. In order to get these results you must lift heavy weights–consistently, with intensity and volume and make progressions. Cardio and flexibility work are a definite part of the equation but it’s time to hit the gym or create one at home in your garage. When you enter the weight room, do so with the mindset of dominating it and accomplishing the look you want.
A special note to Ladies: do not be afraid of getting “big”. Most men have 10-16x the testosterone we do and unless you are taking anabolic steroids (and I seriously doubt most of you reading this blog are) it just ain’t gonna happen. Period. Lifting light weights for high reps will not give you the shape you want. If you want a flat stomach and defined muscles in your arms, shoulders, back and legs you need to pick up some weights.
Now that that’s resolved let me explain how and why you should train this way. First off, skip the machines–we are going to use heavy free weights, low reps and do “manly” exercises like the squat, deadlift, bench press, military press, dips and pull ups. These have all been covered in earlier blogs (category: fitness).
Another question for the Ladies: has it ever seemed to you that men get fitter faster than women? To those of you that answered yes, the why of it goes back to what I stated in the beginning. Men tend to approach their workout with motivation, hitting it hard, consistently and seeking progressions from workout to workout. This covers three very important basic principles to getting results, quicker.
- Intensity: how hard you perform the workout
- Volume & Frequency: how much and how often
- Progression: increasing demands from workout to workout
This approach works for both genders in transforming their bodies. Men will build much more muscle, increasing their legs, arms, chest and back while reducing body fat (provided nutrition is in check) while women will develop the ultimate “curve appeal” or a tight, firm body. They will lift the butt, reduce the thighs, slim the waist and define the arms (provided nutrition is in check). Gone away is the “skinny fat” look.
Stick to the exercises mentioned above and give this Basic Program a try for 12 weeks:
- Include a thorough warm up
- Establish basic technique in the exercises first.
- Start light, you will progress each workout and do not want to stall too soon
- Train 3 days a week, allow for recovery in between. Try a M/W/F or Tu/Th/Sat ; 2 days a week will also work–progress will be slower
Workout 1: Squat 5 x 5, Bench 5 x 5, BO Row 3 x 5, dips 3 x 5 or push ups 3 x failure
Workout 2: Squat 5 x 5, Military or OH Press 5 x 5, deadlift 3 x 5, pull ups 3 x failure
Alternate these workouts each time you train. The 5 x 5 or 3 x 5 simply means 5 (or 3) sets of 5 reps. Rest as needed between (1 to 5 mins. depending on difficulty). Add weight (approximately 5 lbs or less) to each lift each workout until you stall. When that happens, attempt the weight two more times, then lighten it up 10-15% and build back up. To maximize your results include metabolic conditioning (aka cardio) 2-3 days a week and continue to work on your mobility. You may do this immediately after or on separate days.
Ladies and Gentlemen we have developed a game plan, time to get to it because Strong is the new “skinny”!
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.