Why is Running Making Me Skinny Fat?

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question-icon-newI want to find a diet for building muscle and shedding the weight around my waist and some flab on my chest! I workout 6 days a week with 1 hour of running and intermittent walking. I used to lift weights at least once to twice a week. I recently had a hernia surgery and that’s why I don’t think I should being lifting weights. The doctor said that my right side hernia was repaired but the left might have some weakness but as of now it has been eight months since my hernia surgery and I feel fine.

The fat on my waist and chest is mostly baby fat. I want to bulk up a little and add some muscle to my shoulder and biceps and trim up my waist. I have been running for the last six months and there is a noticeable difference in my waist which is very encouraging but the muscle around my shoulders and biceps make me look lanky and weak. I’m starting to look skinny fat and my body basically has weight in the wrong places! What approach do you suggest I take? Should I continue to reduce my weight by running more or start on a muscle building weight training program?

answer-icon-newConsidering your recent hernia surgery, all recommendations concerning a fitness program should first be cleared by your physician. Everyone heals from surgery at different rates so advising you in different aspects of undertaking a training program needs to incorporate the rate at which you are healing from your surgery. The last thing you want to do is negate all of your progress with an injury and have to start over again after a long healing process. With that said, keep in mind that the following advise pertains to an individual who has been cleared by a physician and deemed healthy to begin cardio and resistance training.

What you are describing as to the look and feel of your body is commonly called “skinny fat”. It’s a sort of slang term to describe when people feel as though their muscles are skinny while also having excess body fat. This look to the body is often times partially determined by genetics and exasperated through lack of exercise and poor diet. A program to combat this will naturally need to incorporate strength training to increase muscle mass while utilizing an efficient cardio program and nutrition plan to burn excess fat. With those 3 aspects in mind let’s take a look at how you can build the appropriate program for yourself.

Resistance Training
The reason I say resistance training as opposed to weight training is that weight training is only 1 form of resistance training. People often think that lifting weights is the only way to get the body stronger but there are a number of exercises you can do to provide the necessary resistance to gain significant muscle and strength by utilizing the weight of your own body. This is especially effective for someone who is coming off of a surgery or new to resistance training in general. Below are links to many body weight exercises that are incredibly effective for building strength. Also provided are links for weight lifting exercises to target the shoulders, chest and arms that you inquired about in your question:

Cardio
It appears you are currently doing an ample amount of cardio training. Running is a fantastic form of cardio exercise and I’d really like to see you add in some variety here as well. Biking, swimming, hiking, jumping rope and rollerblading all provide great cardio exercise while stimulating different muscles. This is not only important to avoid repetitive stress injury but to further increase your overall fitness. Also the variety will keep you more motivated.

Diet
Your diet is critical to losing fat and gaining muscle mass. Stick with nutrient dense foods which contain lean proteins, whole grain starches and unprocessed foods for your daily meal plans. Further information concerning a nutrient dense food lists and sample meal plans can be found on the Nutrition 101 page.

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