1.) Don’t lift heavy weights or resistance
2.) Don’t eat sufficient protein
3.) Deplete the body through steps, cardio, and/or calorie restriction
It boggles my mind when a 95-145lb female with over 30% bodyfat seeks coaching without confronting herself with the obvious program flaws listed above. Don’t get me wrong: there are other demographics which are skinny fat too. But it’s predominantly avid or would-be female runners, cardio-enthusiasts, and step-trackers with a protein and weight training aversion, claiming that they’ve been incapable of changing body composition. Well, yes, you are actively training to be obese, but have lucked out to keep your body mass as low as it still is.
In every single comparative analysis regarding body composition, heavy weight training versus not is statistically superior at improving body comp. Likewise, high protein versus low protein is a net win on body comp, especially in females: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29405780/
I don’t even want it to be true, because personally I would love to eat less protein. But biology and science don’t give a rip about what I want to be true. They exist as objective realities.
Additionally, I would love if cardio were effective at improving body comp. You know how much easier it is psychologically for me to mindlessly do classes or repetitive motion instead of getting under an iron bar with hundreds of pound on it? But again, physiological mechanisms exist independently of our personal desires. The way I’m wired, it was really easy for me to run 60 miles per week, eating predominantly vegetarian when I was 17 and 18 years old. And I was skinny fat at 165lbs. I couldn’t get a six pack.
Contrast that against recent years where I’ve had visible abs between 230 and 250lbs, sometimes doing no cardio at all.
People chase their tails on this one, refusing to embrace the fact that their incredibly faulty methodology is the culprit. Doubling down, they just run more, starve more, avoid intense resistance more, reject protein sufficiency more. Fat or skinny fat persists. I know. I’ve been there. And professionally I’ve seen tens of thousands of people futilely want the same to be true, slave for it to be true. But it just ain’t.
Does playing basketball make you 7 feet tall? Does playing a lot of basketball intensely make you at least 6 feet tall? If you just really, really buckle down and practice as hard as you can, can basketball make you 6 foot 5 inches tall or taller? How is this line of questioning any different than thinking lots of running will give you a runner's body? The build and the body lend themselves to the sport. The sport doesn't create that body. Your frame and a lot of the muscle fiber distribution is more or less set. We can change body composition through intelligent training and nutrition. We cannot change your frame or completely revise your fiber makeup.
No strengthening, low protein, plus lots of wanton physical activity works for the occasional rebellious male (and total freak statistical outlier female) with high enough muscle mass and hormones still. He may get away with this foolish tactic because he’s playing by a different set of rules. One day it will cease to work though as he ages and suppresses hormone balance. And for everyone else, best case scenario is being skinny fat.