Skinny To Fit: Possible Or Not?
While some people struggle with losing weight, others do their best to gain it by increasing muscle. So, is the transformation from skinny to fit possible? It is quite understandable, since keeping fit has a plethora of benefits.
Fitness can help you (8):
- Prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
- Lower your blood cholesterol level.
- Manage your blood pressure.
- Recover easier and faster from hospitalization.
- Prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Lower the risk of having cancer.
However, this is not an easy task for the skinny of us to undertake. To this end, you will need a lot of time and perseverance. Everyone can build muscle mass if they follow a particular strategy and basic recommendations.
Compound Exercises > Isolation Exercises
First off, let’s look at the definitions of compound and isolation exercises.
Compound exercises are those that engage multiple muscles at the same time. These include squats (activate glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and abs), deadlifts (activate quads, hamstrings, glutes inner thighs, erectors, abs, obliques, and some other muscles), push-ups (activate chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders), and others (2).
Isolation exercises are those that engage only one particular muscle or muscle group. For instance, leg extension engages only quads, while standing barbell curls activate solely the biceps (1).
For those who want to go through the skinny to fit transformation fast, it is recommended to focus on compound exercises. These are fun to do and less time-consuming. Performing a squat, especially with weights, works on several groups of muscles at a time. Consequently, you will see the result sooner with compound exercises than with the isolation ones (1). However, that does not mean that you cannot spice up your workout with a few isolation exercises. What really matters here is to work your muscles to the fullest, leading to their fatigue. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), three sets of 8-12 reps per exercise are sufficient to set your muscles on fire (3).
If You Have Persistence, Add Resistance
It is proved that resistance training has more of an impact than non-resistance training. The point of resistance training is to increase muscle against external resistance (5). The latter is usually indicated by the use of weights, but there are a number of other pieces of equipment as well, including resistance bands, benches, etc. Indeed, working out with equipment tends to exhaust your muscles much faster than without it.
Even those who have only recently embarked on their skinny to fit journey can apply resistance to their training. It is crucial, however, to regulate its intensity. There is a foolproof method to gauge the ideal resistance intensity for you. What you need is to calculate your one-repetition maximum (1RM), which is the maximum weight you can lift per one repetition. To do this, take the following incremental steps (7):
- Warm up.
- Do up to 10 reps of the chosen exercise with the weight that comprises 50% of your expected maximum.
- Rest for a couple minutes.
- Increase the weight to 80% of the expected maximum and do 3-4 reps.
- Rest for a couple minutes.
- Add another 10% and do a single rep. After a 2-minute rest, increase your weight by the last 10% and perform one rep. The weight you will manage to lift will be your 1RM.
It is important to perform such an intensity check once a week to keep track of your progress. In fact, the 1RM percentage of your resistance will decrease as you become stronger. As a result, you will have to increase your intensity regularly.
Engage Different Muscle Groups Every Time You Train
Since resistance training is very draining on your muscles, time for recovery is required. Weight lifting causes micro tears in your muscles, which need to heal up. If you continue training at the same pace, you will do more harm than good to your body. Ultimately, failing to let your muscles rebuild might lead to injuries that will prevent you from exercising for a long time (3).
The ACSM suggests a 3-day plan, during which you train the following muscles:
- Day 1: shoulders, triceps, and hands
- Day 2: glutes, hip abductors, quads, hamstrings, and calves
- Day 3: biceps, abs, and back
In the beginning, you might need to take 1-2 days’ rest until the soreness in your muscles vanishes. As you advance in your skinny to fit goal, you will become able to work out without rest days. Nonetheless, it is recommended that you allocate time for rest, so that you do not get too tired.
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Make Sure You Eat Enough Protein
The first and foremost function of protein is to build and repair muscles, making it a vital nutrient for those eager to change their shape from skinny to fit. Thus, eating enough protein will help your muscle tissues rebuild quicker, facilitating your muscle building prospects. Apart from repairing the tears in the muscles, protein generates energy for muscle contractions if in case fats and carbohydrates aren’t sufficient for this task (4).
Therefore, those who are willing to increase muscle should not forget to include protein foods to their diet. Such products include lean meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Although there are numerous plant-based protein sources, only soy contains all the eight essential amino acids (4). Other plants with protein include lentils, seeds, nuts, spirulina, etc.
Despite playing an invaluable role in bulking up your muscles, protein can harm your body if over consumed. If protein constitutes more than 30% of your diet, your body will produce toxic ketones, overwhelming your kidneys. As a result of this, your body loses a great amount of water, leading to dehydration. Consequently, this is likely to decrease your muscle mass (10).
Ideally, the average grownup person should consume 0.80 g of protein per 1 kg of their body weight. However, if you do a lot of strength training, your protein intake should make up 1.4-1.7g per 1 kg of your body weight. Overall, your daily protein intake should be within the 15-30% boundaries (4).
Do Not Fast
Remember, your task here is not to lose weight, but to gain it safely through bodybuilding. Accordingly, it is not advisable for you to cut down on your meals. To grow your muscle properly, you need to have a nutritious diet, in which the amounts of carbs, fat, and protein are balanced. Similarly, you should not forget about vitamins and minerals, which will strengthen your body (3).
Balance is key to your diet, since overeating a particular nutrient can have a detrimental effect on your health. For instance, indulging in products rich in carbs can make your insulin level soar, thus weakening the growth hormones, responsible for muscle building. Likewise, you should make sure that your fat intake does not go beyond 30% (3). The same goes for protein.
Water is vital for every human being, not only those who have commenced their skinny to fit transformation journey. To that end, it is suggested that one drinks about 10 glasses of water a day plus another 2 glasses before a workout. Then, one should have a glass of water every 15 minutes of intense training (3).
Best Exercises For Your Body Metamorphosis
Although a balanced diet and plenty of water are critical in bodybuilding, physical exercises are still its cornerstone. Here are the best resistance exercises that will make your muscles more defined:
This is your best choice if you want to pump up your chest. To perform the exercise, follow these steps (6):
- Lie under the bar with your feet flat on the ground.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and arch your lower back to protect your shoulders and spine respectively.
- Grab the bar with a tight grip. Set your hands apart at a width that is comfortable for you or that corresponds to your goals.
- Take a deep breath in and unrack the bar.
- Lower the bar slowly, letting it slightly touch the chest.
- Breathe out and push the bar in the opposite direction.
The exercise works your pecs, triceps, and the anterior deltoid.
Kettlebell Russian Twist
This exercise will set your abs on fire if done correctly. What you have to do is (9):
- Place a kettlebell on the floor and sit down beside it with your knees bent.
- Lean back without bending your back.
- Grab a kettlebell and move it across the body, until it reaches the other side.
- Continue switching from side to side.
For a challenge, perform the exercise with your feet raised.
The exercise works your abs and obliques.
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Hands down, one of the most effective low body exercises with weights. For this, you need to (9):
- Stand before a bar with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees as you are bending over to grab the bar. Your back must be straight.
- Flex your glutes and press down until you straighten your legs and have the bar in front of your knees.
- Reverse the movement and repeat.
The exercise works traps, shoulders, abs, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Calves are the muscles that shape up your legs, making them look strong and athletic. Although traditional calf raises do not require any equipment, using it will only boost the effectiveness of the exercise. To do calf raises on a step platform, you have to (9):
- Stand with one foot on a step platform before the wall to hold onto. Let your heel hang down from it.
- Raise this heel all the way up, shifting your weight to the toe.
You are free to modify the exercise by adding some weights. If you are advanced, try doing calf raises without holding onto the wall.
The exercise works calves, quads, hamstrings, and abs.
The Bottom Line
The skinny to fit journey is rather demanding in terms of time and the efforts you have put out. With this in mind, not everyone is ready to accept the challenge. However, all you need is to make it through the initial, adaptation stage of your transformation, which is the hardest. Then, everything will be relatively easy for you. In addition to regular exercising, you need to eat balanced meals, drink plenty of water, and not to forget about resting. Sticking to these recommendations, you will start noticing the results in the early period of your skinny to fit program.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 4 Tips For The Skinny Girl: How To Put Muscle On A Slim Body (2018, bodybuilding.com)
- 5 Compound Exercises You Should Add to Your Workout (2015, acefitness.org)
- 7 Muscle-Building Strategies for Guys (2008, webmd.com)
- 9 Things to Know About How the Body Uses Protein to Repair Muscle Tissue (2018, acefitness.org)
- Beginner’s Guide To Resistance Training (2020, bodybuilding.com)
- How To Bench Press: The Complete Guide (2018, bodybuilding.com)
- Intensity or Resistance (2018, nsca.com)
- Physical activity – it’s important (n.d., betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Top Muscle-Building Moves for Men (2019, webmd.com)
- Will Eating More Protein Help Your Body Gain Muscle Faster?. (2002, webmd.com)