Fellas, let's just admit it: Whether feeling fit or feeble we've all got some unsightly flab clinging to our carcasses. Meaning that while many of us might look svelte from afar or when fully clothed, deep down we suffer from a common male condition known as being skinny fat. But rather than just bitch about that beer gut we long ago pledged to lose or that jaw line we've been meaning to excavate from our neck, we decided to consult leading medical and fitness experts, who helped break down each permutation of skinny fat, explain why certain men gain weight in certain areas and, finally, give us tips on how to best shed those extra lbs from our otherwise Adonis-like physiques. Unfortunately, as Dr. Dennis Cardone, a sports medicine expert at NYU Langone Medical Center tells us, just exactly where we gain weight can be blamed on genetics. “Nearly all issues of where fat deposits build up are based on genetics, or an imbalance in the levels of testosterone and estrogen" Cardone says. "Men have a level of both hormones, and if something offsets the balance, it can lead to body changes similar as what occurs in women—including an increase in breast tissue or a greater amount of fatty tissue developing around the butt or hips. Many things can impact this balance, including...alcohol and aging. Men produce less testosterone as they age, which can increase the ration of estrogen in the body." So, basically, you can't drink and you're turning into a woman. But the good news is there are ways to fight back. That's why we turned to Francisco "Cisco" Liuzzi, a Manhattan-based physical trainer who primarily works with lean, low-body fat percentage endurance athletes like cyclists. Cisco says consistent and efficient exercise can trump even the flabbiest of genes, and while he used our two least favorite words in the same sentence, "hard" and "work," he did lay out a plan that even the weakest and fattest of us skinny fatsos can follow. Suck in that gut and read on.
The Condition: Your fat, swollen ankles make it seem as if they've collided with your calves, giving your lower leg the undefined look of a piano key. Add this to the list of things you blame your parents for, cause it's all genetic, Mr. Tubby Legs. Or as Cisco clinically puts it, "Cankles are largely due to the shape and insertions of your calf muscles, specifically gastrocnemius and soleus and how they attach to your Achilles tendon. These are things you can't fix, sorry." Cisco's Solution: It’s all about building your calf muscles so that your ankles look smaller by comparison. Which, for some of us, is no easy task. “Calves are hard for some people because the soleus muscle is overwhelmingly made of slow twitch muscle fiber that resists hypertrophy (muscle cell growth)” Cisco says. “So if you don't have a large proportion of fast twitch fiber in the gastrocnemius (the higher muscle group on your calf) then you aren't going to get a lot of growth.” Don't worry, you just have to work harder.” To that end, Cisco prescribes calf raises, lots of them. “Do standing calf raises to target these muscles. Go heavy and stretch them at both the top and bottom portions to get them out of their comfort zone.” NEXT: The Flab Coffin