• Feeling “skinny fat,” Corey O’Hara made simple diet changes to incorporate more protein while reducing carbs and sugar.
• Following a routine he found on Reddit, O’Hara also started using a basic push, pull, legs workout to build muscle and burn fat.
• As a result, he lost nearly 30 pounds and has since regained some weight as he’s continued to add strength.
Corey O’Hara had always been a skinny kid. Growing up, the 24-year-old estimating engineer from Derby in the United Kingdom had never worried about gaining weight. But after graduating from university and getting his first office job, he started getting a paunch, becoming what he calls “skinny fat.” He felt unhappy in his skin, and resolved to get fit.
“Everything I know about fitness was picked up from the internet—mainly Reddit and YouTube,” he says. “I’ve never had a trainer.” (YouTuber David Laid was one of his inspirations, having the same height and build as O’Hara.)
He threw himself into the gym, using a routine he’d pulled from Reddit that had him doing “PPL (Push, Pull, Legs)” six days a week. Push days involve, yes, pushing weights away from the body to work the chest, shoulders and triceps; pull days hit biceps and back; and leg days focus on, you guessed it, leg muscles. The program combines compound movements at lower reps for strength building with accessory movements at higher reps to enhance muscle size. “I’ve followed that program ever since,” he says.
He also had to change his diet. Before, his lunch was some fast food sandwich next to a chocolate bar and a bottle of soda. He swapped that for plain chicken breasts, a pouch of rice, and microwave vegetables. For breakfast, he started taking two scoops of whey protein alongside his cereal. Dinner would be high-carb, high-protein meals such as shepherd’s pie or spaghetti bolognaise, made by his mom. He’s since been able to progress to a less bland diet, adding seasoning to his chicken and get more variety that still fulfills his macros.
O’Hara’s weight fluctuated as he alternated between “bulk” and “cut” routines every couple of months. Looking back, he thinks it would have been more efficient to focus on one or the other for longer spans. As it is, at his heaviest he was about 214 pounds; his lowest weight was 185. Right now he’s just around 207. “When I was chubby it was a little bit hard to deal with mentally,” he says, “but once you lose the body fat and all your hard work shows, you feel on top of the world.” He’s especially proud of what friends call his “boulder shoulders.”
O’Hara credits his supportive girlfriend for being with him every step of the way, including helping make his meals. He was also sure to take plenty of pictures along the way; when it felt like he wasn’t seeing gains, he could look back on them to remind himself how far he’d come. He also encourages not over-analyzing your own regimen; it’s fine to spend some time feeling out what works for you.
Just as important as his physical change, he’s also seen improvements in his attitude and self-worth. “The gym has been amazing for my posture and I stand up much straighter and walk with confidence,” he says. “Guys at work or the gym talk and treat me better and I just feel more respected in general.”
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