Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
Useful Links: Part 1
Myth #2 – Training legs and glutes will make them look more feminine
I think you already know where I’m going with this.
There aren’t many gender-based physiological differences that affect training. One of the more relevant is the fact that male bodies have a higher baseline level of strength and a greater amount of muscle mass.
However, this difference is more significant in the upper body than in the lower body. Where a female-bodied individual has about half the strength of a male body in their upper body, they have about two-thirds of that strength in their legs.
If you are serious about your training, this means that even pre-T your legs could come pretty close to what they would look like in a male body.
Moreover, following on from the previous article, training your whole body will help you develop a proportionate physique. Few things are as awkward as having broad shoulders and a wide back tapering down to spaghetti legs and a flat butt.
How to train the lower body
The main muscles to focus on are the quadriceps group in the front upper thigh, the hamstrings group in the posterior upper thigh, the glutei, and gastrocnemius and soleus, the calf muscles.
Quadriceps and hamstrings have an antagonistic relationship and cross both the hip and knee joints, so compound exercises for the lower body tend to involve both to different degrees.
For example, we usually think of the squat as a quadriceps exercise. However, the hamstrings are also forced to contract, along with the glutes, when we are descending into “the hole,” in order to flex the hips. They then extend the hips when we rise up again.
The complexity of the interplay between these muscles makes it tricky to classify exercises as “quads specific” or “hamstring specific.”
For this reason, I split the selection of compound exercises below based on basic movement patterns: the squat pattern and the hip-hinge pattern.
I would recommend starting workouts with compound lifts as your main exercises, then choose one or two isolation moves to further stress the target muscles at the end.
Compound squat variants
Compound hip-hinge variants
Glutes and hamstrings exercises (that aren’t “standard” hip-hinge movements)
Isolation exercises for the lower body
Truth #2 – How to overcome fear and discomfort
Before I started training, I was worried about these myths, too. Click-bait headlines like “Best Workout for Your Booty” would frustrate me. A “booty” was the last thing I wanted.
Reflecting on it now, I realise that I wasn’t worried so much about the result as I was about looking girly while doing a certain exercise.
While there are no “gals only” or “men only” exercises, we may still associate certain moves, like the hip thrust, with a specific gender. If you are pre-T, that mental connection may trigger dysphoria when you have to perform the exercise yourself.
One strategy to overcome that is to watch videos of cis male lifters doing these exercises. You can also search for videos of cis female lifters doing movements like the bench press or any other that you associate with masculinity.
Challenging these gender-based assumptions and teaching your brain alternative associations may help you gain more confidence around some exercises.
As an alternative, simply avoid the exercises you don’t feel comfortable with until you are in a better mental place.
Being able to train with any movement is the ultimate goal. However, being able to train at all may already be a huge milestone for some. Hopefully, this short series helps you conquer some of your mental barriers!
In Future Episodes:
To work with what we have, we have to know what that is.
When it comes to training, are there any differences between male and female bodies? How important are they? Can they be used as an asset to make training more efficient?
Let’s find out next week!
Do you have other fears about training? Or did you have any that you have now overcome? Share them with me in the comments!
A personal trainer who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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