Yesterday I got a comment on the SFT blog from a reader who said he appreciates my content but that he doesn’t agree with my advice on not using weight training for skinny-fat guys.
First and foremost, I’m not against using weight training at all.
During Phase 2 training in my 2 phase training and diet system, I mostly use hybrid programs that combine weighted bodyweight exercises, machines, dumbbells and cables with the primary exercises most often being weighted pull ups, weighted dips and dumbbell squats.
But only after they’ve built a strong base on the basic bodyweight exercises. (Around 12 wide grip pull ups, 20-30 diamond push ups and 100 squats with perfect form).
It makes the most sense to learn how to move your own body through space and have sufficient mobility before working with additional weight.
There are a lot of weak points that need to be stretched and strengthened before even considering to work with heavy dumbbells or barbells.
You can’t just take someone who has a messed up hormonal balance and sat down for 20 years straight with minimal movement and have them do back heavy squats, bench presses and deadlifts.
The average skinny-fat guy can’t even even do 15-20 pull ups with good form or even do a full squat where the glutes touch the calves and the back is neutral.
With a starting point like that, you will benefit greatly from simply working with your own bodyweight.
Getting your pull ups from 0 to 15-20 clean reps will build up your upper body immensely so there’s no gym needed to even make gains.
The alternative of starting with machines or cables doesn’t make much sense either since these exercises work best as assistance exercises for someone who already has a base of strength and muscle.
Why? Because these are isolation exercises and don’t teach you the fundamental movement patterns in training.
As a beginner, you need to constantly practice the fundamental movement patterns and build up your mind muscle connection on the compound lifts.
This will over the long term enable you to execute every exercise with much better form and thereby get more out of each rep — while minimizing the risk of injury.
Variations of bodyweight exercises provide the perfect middle ground for this practice.
You have the compound movement that gradually improves your whole body’s athleticism, muscularity and overall strength while being extremely safe.
Basic bodyweight exercises have much lower injury rates compared to basic barbell training.
To see this, you can simply go to any calisthenics forum and compare the amount of injury threads with a barbell training forum such as starting strength or stronglifts 5×5.
On heavy barbell programs it’s not a matter of how many people get injured, but who doesn’t get injured.
So take your time and build a solid foundation of strength and mobility with bodyweight exercises.
If you have to start with just hanging on a chin up bar for time and doing wall push ups, so be it. We all start somewhere and by continually practicing you will be doing 15-20 pull ups with good form within 3-6 months of training. Then you can safely progress to doing weighted bodyweight exercises and weight training. The gains are not going anywhere and you’re not losing out on anything by building your foundation the right way from the get go.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer
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