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To look leaner, you need muscle which is commonly associated with a bulk, but you also want less body fat, which is associated with a cut. So, should you cut or bulk first if you are skinny fat? You should bulk first if you are skinny fat. Stay in a surplus for a minimum of 4 months and then begin a slow, gradual cut.
As a nutritionist, I have seen a number of cases where people are skinny fat, wanting to build muscle without gaining body fat in order to achieve a lean physique. Through extensive experience and research, I have figured out what the best approach is to achieve this.
What is being skinny fat? Skinny fat is a phrase used to describe people who appear to be a normal weight, or thin, but are actually carrying a high percentage of body fat, and have a low amount of muscle mass. This means that if they calculated their body mass index BMI , which is only based on height and weight, they would fall in a healthy range but their body fat percentage is actually higher than what is deemed healthy for their body. The Fitbod App helps you get lean and build muscle by giving you workouts based on your training background and goals.
In order to understand whether you should cut or bulk first, you need to understand what causes a skinny fat physique. As well, the more muscle mass you have, the more energy you expend and fat you burn even at rest. The next points cover a few ways this can be achieved.
In order to produce muscle growth, we need a stimulus. Resistance training, or applying stress to your muscles, provides the necessary stimulus for growth. The best way to achieve this is through lifting weights and progressively increasing the amount of volume and intensity being used. As well, adequate protein in our diet will ensure that we not only build more muscle, but preserve the muscle that we already have. In other words, be in a caloric deficit.
In other words, you want to avoid burning muscle while in a caloric deficit. This can happen after you have been in a caloric deficit for too long and your body feels it needs to store any excess energy food as fat to have as a fuel reserve, rather than burning it as energy.
When we are stressed for a long period of time, this can lead to insulin resistance, which causes fat gain because our body is no longer able to efficiently use the energy we are getting from carbohydrates in our diet.
What should you do: Cut or Bulk? If you are taking in more calories than you are burning in a day, you will be in a caloric surplus that will lead to muscle and potentially fat gain. The purpose of a bulk in this situation is to increase your muscle mass, which ultimately will reduce your body fat percentage. Also, as we recall, the more muscle mass you have, the more energy you expend and fat you burn even at rest.
To calculate your TDEE, you can simply input your personal stats into an online calculator like this one. For example, if my calculated TDEE came out to be 2, calories, I would want to start my bulk at — 2, calories calories X 0. In addition to being in a controlled caloric surplus, you want to make sure that you are getting adequate protein, following a high intensity resistance training program and reducing your stress.
Consuming a diet high in protein is necessary to build muscle. As I mentioned previously, in order for our muscles to grow we need to be applying stress through resistance training. In order to be sure you are progressing in your weight training, I recommend tracking your workouts so you are able to see your progressions. A great way to do this is through an app like the Fitbod App. Fitbod fills in the sets, reps, and weight for each exercise based on strength-training best practices.
As you get stronger or master exercises, Fitbod adapts to push you a bit harder in your next workout. Sign up for 3 free workouts HERE. Because high levels of stress can contribute to gaining body fat and hinder muscle growth, it is very important to take any measures you can to reduce your daily stress.
Try adding some de-stressing techniques to your daily routine, like meditating or practicing yoga. Typically this includes a lot of unhealthy junk food.
With a dirty bulk, a lot of the weight gained will be from fat, which will not help your situation if you are skinny fat. The most effective and efficient way to do this is to eat in a controlled caloric surplus. Implementing cardio can help ensure that any unwanted body fat is burned, improve heart function which will allow you to train harder and lay down more muscle, as well as increase your calorie consumption potential. However, if we are only doing cardio and a lot of it without any strength training, we will not be able to build new muscle mass, which defeats the entire purpose of a bulk.
We wrote an entire article on whether you can get stronger training once per week. The main points are: Regardless of whether you can train once a week or six times a week, you need to ensure that your workouts involve high-intensity, high-volume protocols.
Your training program should focus on the whole body and incorporate compounded exercises. You will also want to make sure your diet is made up of clean food for the most part.
Include high quality protein sources chicken, steak, salmon , carbohydrate sources oats, potato, yams and fat sources avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. If you are obese, you will want to put yourself in a caloric deficit but continue to priotitize weight training to build muscle. Make sure you are following a progressive weight training program to ensure muscle growth. If you are new to working out and are at a healthy body weight, you should bulk first. The younger your training age, the quicker you are able to build muscle and therefore you should take advantage of this with a caloric surplus.
This will make it much easier for you to cut body fat after the bulk, as you will have a lot more muscle mass compared to if you started out by cutting.
About The Author Maggie Morgan Maggie Morgan is a level 1 PN certified nutritionist who specializes in sport, exercise and performance nutrition, a strength training coach, and an elite level athlete. Maggie has competed in bodybuilding, and is an international-level powerlifter.
Currently undertaking her Masters in Counselling Psychology, Maggie is not only able to lead others in strength and aesthetics through her personal experiences and scientific nutritional foundations but additionally by addressing the psychological and behavioral implications of exercise and nutrition.
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This allows for high workout frequency and a full body split workout while still allowing each muscle group adequate recovery time. Deadlift 1x per week Bench Press 2x per week Squat 2x per week Barbell row 1x per week There are also lots of accessory movements, including overhead press, incline dumbbell press, tricep pushdowns, Romanian deadlifts, etc.
You need to start light and work your way up. It automatically calculates your progression based on the number of reps you achieve. You can slow down or speed up progression rates for each lift based on your own preferences. You can customize which exercises you do for the push, pull, and leg days. Questions about PPL Programs? This program is available on the Boostcamp App. This is a correction and aligns the program with the original version posted on Reddit. Thanks to a Lift Vault reader for pointing it out!
Metallicadpa v3. It is also known as the Metallicadpa PPL. Several versions of this spreadsheet exist same program, different spreadsheets. This issue should now be resolved.
Thank you to the helpful user that contacted me about the issue. If you think a weight is way too light, you can either increase your 1RM inputs, increase the progression rate, or allow yourself an easy week or two before things get heavier. Up to you. I have changed the Reddit PPL v2. The weights will update automatically and progression will work normally. Shoot me a note if anything else looks wonky. It tracks 12 weeks at a time, progresses weight per workout automatically, and is easier to customize.
It is linked below. It is a 16 week program, run 4 days per week. As you bench twice per week, it has "1A" and "1B" workouts. By correcting some of the shortcoming of other popular novice programs e. Starting Strength, Strong Lifts by incorporating basic linear progression, GreySkull… PHATburn Powerbuilding Program Spreadsheet Established by Doug Hepburn as a powerbuilding routine that blends the heavy weight work of powerlifting training with the hypertrophy-inducing volume of bodybuilding training, PHATburn is a challenging program for advanced athletes.
If you're looking to introduce more volume into your off-season training, this may… Kizen Back Hypertrophy Program Spreadsheet This is a Google spreadsheet for Kizen's free back hypertrophy program. If you want a huge, thick back, you're in the right place. For the full scoop, sign up for free over at Kizen, but here's the jist.
Kizen Back Hypertrophy Program Overview 8 week… Jonnie Candito Linear Program Spreadsheet The Candito Linear Program is a great strength program with 3 different variations that will rapidly add pounds on the bar for beginner and intermediate lifters alike. Now, enjoy in an easy to edit, mobile-friendly spreadsheet!
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It automatically calculates your progression based on the number of reps you achieve. You can slow down or speed up progression rates for each lift based on your own preferences. You can customize which exercises you do for the push, pull, and leg days.
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Questions about PPL Programs? This program is available on the Boostcamp App. This is a correction and aligns the program with the original version posted on Reddit.
Thanks to a Lift Vault reader for pointing it out! Metallicadpa v3.
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It is also known as the Metallicadpa PPL. Several versions of this spreadsheet exist same program, different spreadsheets. This issue should now be resolved. Thank you to the helpful user that contacted me about the issue. If you think a weight is way too light, you can either increase your 1RM inputs, increase the progression rate, or allow yourself an easy week or two before things get heavier. Up to you. I have changed the Reddit PPL v2. Neither the free nor the premium version of Bitwarden is great for anyone who is new to password managers.
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