Some are born strong and others are made strong.
Useful Links: Part 2
If you’re pre-T and reading this article, chances are you want to build some muscle. That’s awesome!
In my experience, the internet offers a lot of contradictory advice on training for anyone on the gender spectrum. That’s not awesome.
Two of the questions I get most frequently from other trans guys relate to:
I’m going to cover a myth and a truth about both in two articles. It’s myth-busting time!
Everything special about you came out of a bottle!
I came out to myself as transgender almost a year ago. I started having thoughts of the “Maybe this is the wrong body for me” kind when I was eleven, but I found excuses to dismiss them: “I’m not trans, I’m a butch lesbian”; “I’m not trans, I just like men’s clothes”; “I’m not trans, I just feel insecure because I don’t look like a man…”
Keeping the truth buried deep inside for over ten years felt like drowning. When I found the strength to accept who I am and breached the surface, I took in a huge breath of air to make up for the prolonged apnoea.
I decided I wanted everything right away: I threw away my (few) female clothes and began using a new name, researching HRT and top surgery, and lifting weights (in a more serious and structured way than before). That was June 2018.
Today, I choose to be a little more patient. I’m still not passing, still not on testosterone, still have gender dysphoria. So what’s changed?
It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.
Before September 2018, I hadn’t been to a gym in about fifteen months. Even when I did go on a regular basis, I only ran on the treadmill. In September I moved from London to Portsmouth, where I have two gyms within walking distance from my house. Having out-trained my home equipment, I decided to sign up for the university gym.
On my first day, too scared to go into the male changing room, I dropped my backpack in the female one in a mad rush and stepped onto the gym floor with trepidation. The room was almost empty, which made the mirrors stand out all the more. Mirrors on every single wall, haunting me, showing me how small and puny and female I look from every possible angle. A painful reminder of what I’m not, of what I should have been.
In addition, that day I was supposed to start a different training routine with new, unfamiliar exercises. As a result, I was shaking throughout the workout and left on the verge of tears. Dysphoria is a bitch, am I right?
One of the reasons why I want to become a personal trainer is to help other trans folks overcome this. Personally, I had to change gym and find ways to build my confidence. Here are six tips that have worked well for me:
It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.
In this third and final instalment, I’m going to delve into how I was exercising before the cut, how my approach changed, the results it yielded, successes and fails.
Before we get down to business, a shout-out to the people out there who think not having access to a gym will prevent them from training effectively. For most of my cut, I didn’t have a gym nearby, so all of my workouts were done at home, five days a week, before I left for work. I bought a yoga mat and two pairs of adjustable dumbbells; that’s all. Don’t be discouraged by what you don’t have and make the best of what you do have. It may take a little longer or require a few tweaks, but you can still make it work. Determination was my greatest piece of equipment.
Now, to the rest of the article!
There is little that can withstand a man who can conquer himself.
If you’ve ever dabbled in strength training, you must have heard of the terms “cutting” and “bulking”. In gym speak, during a cut you go on a moderate caloric deficit (usually 10-20% of your maintenance intake) to induce fat loss. During a bulk, on the other hand, you go on a slight caloric surplus to stimulate muscle growth. Putting on muscle comes at the inevitable cost of some fat gain, so one would usually alternate the two phases throughout the year, bulking and then cutting to shed fat and bring out their new gains.
In this three-part mini-series, I’m going to cover nutrition and exercise during my cutting phase, which lasted from mid-June to late October 2018. I’m going to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly: the research I did, the strategies I implemented, the mistakes I made, and the results I got. In today’s introduction, I’ll talk you through my reasons to cut and my mental and physical state before and after the experience.
A personal trainer who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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