What is Skinny Fat? (and How to Avoid It)

skinny fat

I hear the term “skinny-fat” thrown around a lot in my industry. At first I always chuckled because it sounded so campy and slang. Well… I gave in and finally googled it one day. I was shocked to see the hundreds of pages of results! This is not only an actual legitimate thing but it’s a genuine concern for people. But why? “Skinny” seems to be the lifelong quest for so many people, so why is “skinny fat” even on the radar? What is it?

I dug deeper and did some hardcore Sherlock Holmes style research about this topic and came up with some pretty fascinating, almost shocking, discoveries. First of all the term “skinny fat” is actually beginning to pop up in some medical journals and research studies done by several major medical universities. This really is becoming a reason for concern. Why? The major concerns are that a person who is “skinny fat” is actually at equal risk of diabetes and heart disease compared as one who is clinically or morbidly obese!

What “skinny fat” really means is that a person may be skinny in appearance, however their body fat percentage (24% to 39% seems to be the general range) is very high by medical and health standards. You may fit into a size two but do you still jiggle without Spanx? That is ”skinny fat.”

Okay, so we get what it means. Now how do we fix this? Resistance training coupled with interval cardiovascular workouts. Many of my female clients are genuinely worried about becoming too “bulky” if they adopt any kind of resistance training. Ladies, stop freaking out. There are natural chemical balances in both men and woman which only allow for a certain level of bulk or size. In women the estrogen-to-testosterone ratio is such that building bulky muscle is extremely unlikely, however, it will allow for a more lean and toned muscle. Read Rhonda Hunt’s article, “Why Women Should Work Out Like Men” for more information on this.

Guys, don’t think I forgot about you! Generally speaking, in my experience, you want to do exactly the opposite of woman — you want to bulk up or shred out. Well guess what, you still need the interval cardio work! Without reducing the body fat percentage your progress will never show! Your results will be hidden under a layer of unwanted body fat and then the downward spiral of discouragement kicks in. Don’t let that happen. Interval cardio with your heavy lifting is essential for that killer physique!

On the flip side, the resistance training is equally important to your workout to build lean, long, hard muscle for men and woman alike. This also helps your body burn the unwanted “skinny fat” and replace it with a fabulous, tight, sexy figure.

Cardio? CHECK.

Resistance Training? CHECK.

Eyes turning for second takes because your tight butt makes the men and woman drool? CHECK!!!

FROM THE BARRY’S BOOTCAMP TEAM: Now how can you take advantage of this information, other than working out as Derrick suggests? At the L.A. locations, from January 7th to Feb 3rd, 2013, we will be having our first ever FAT BLAST CONTEST. You could win a 30-day membership to Barry’s Bootcamp in L.A. HERE’S HOW IT WORKS: Clients will weigh-in this weekend and have a final weigh-in the first weekend in February. The winner will receive a 30 day Silver Membership!


Derrick SobotkaDerrick is the Manager of Barry’s Bootcamp San Diego and began his career in the fitness and athletic industries by training as a gymnast for fifteen years which is also where he developed his personal outlook on life… ”there are no excuses, only solutions.” During the conclusion of his athletic career he felt it was only natural for him to transition into training others on how to push past their own physical limits and achieve what they thought was impossible…much like how he did as an athlete.  Through constant education Derrick continues to develop his specialties in strength and conditioning as well as performance nutrition. For daily fitness updates and inspiration, find Derrick on Facebook or drop in and visit him at Barry’s Bootcamp.