Every transgender person has their own concerns and goals regarding their bodies – some people prioritize passing and some don’t, some pursue therapy and some do not – but for transgender men, gaining muscle is often a major area of interest.
That’s because, after starting testosterone, building muscle mass tends to be much easier because of its effect on growth hormone activity; many cisgender men who want to bulk up may also consider taking supplemental testosterone.
Still, just because you’re able to build muscle doesn’t mean you know where to get started with a fitness routine, and that’s when a personal trainer can help you.
Attaining A Classic Look
Before diving into the differences in training between transgender and cisgender men, it’s helpful to consider what we’re talking about when we discuss a classic male physique. In general, this concept refers to bodies that are in balance, with no muscle group that is over-developed, so while the classic male physique may be large, it is also proportional. Additionally, men are traditionally expected to have clear definition between muscle groups, a small waist, and wide deltoids.
Developing this classic, buff appearance takes a great deal of work, and it also relies on a wide variety of different exercises, but you don’t need to have huge muscles to have a recognizably masculine appearance.
Your Training Routine
If you’re feeling ready to start a new training regimen as part of your overall gender transition and affirmation process, Demetz Online Personal Training is here to help. We work with clients from all walks of life and are excited to help you articulate and achieve your goals. And while each of our clients receives their own personalized training plan, these exercises can help you get started.
- Upper Body Elements: One of the biggest differences between traditionally feminine and traditionally masculine bodies is that women’s shoulders are generally much narrower relative to their hips than men’s. In order to build up your upper body muscles, then, you can choose among various simple bodyweight exercises like pushups, chair dips, and side and standard planks. Meanwhile, exercises like seated rows can help widen your shoulders, helping you to establish that conventional shoulder to waist or hip proportions; many transgender men recommend training the shoulder and upper body area somewhat more than the lower body in order to maintain this shape.
As you get better at these exercises, you can make them more challenging by doing them more slowly, as extending the time it takes to do each motion requires greater control. There is no need to start using conventional strength training equipment until you’re further along in your training. Bodyweight exercises also allow you to avoid the gym, which can be a source of anxiety for transgender men, especially for those who are earlier in their transition or for whom body comparison increases gender dysphoria.
- Core Strength Considerations: For many people, regardless of gender identity, developing a six-pack is a top fitness priority. This is challenging, in part because a lot of people focus on the wrong exercises for strengthening their core area, as well as because having any abdominal fat can disguise the progress you’re making. If you’ve chosen to take testosterone, over time, changes in your body fat percentage can make your abdominal muscles more visible.
So, if many people do the wrong core exercises in hopes of developing abs, what activities should you be doing instead? Ditch the traditional crunches and, for at-home workouts, try a Russian twist instead, adding weight as you get stronger, or master the tricky exercise ball pike. Planks and leg raises are also great for building your core and defining the muscles in this region.
- Leg Strength: Building leg strength at home can be a little harder than working on some other areas without equipment, but it’s certainly doable, and many exercises that work well for your legs can be combined to boost core or shoulder strength as well. Among the exercises you can start with at home, are forward, reverse, and walking lunges, knee lifts, squats, and calf raises.
Remember, any time you’re working to build muscles, your goal doesn’t need to be tackling the toughest equipment or largest weights. Small motions, especially when executed with a lot of control, can actually help you build a great deal of strength. Down the road, you may wish to shift your routine to include leg press and extension machines at your local gym, but you don’t need to start there if you prefer to work out at home or don’t feel ready for that level of intensity.
Although we offer remote programs like our online strength training program at Demetz Online Personal Training, we also know that community plays an important role in each person’s fitness journey. You may have friends in your area who are engaged in similar fitness journeys, but there’s also a growing movement of transgender men in strength training, weight lifting, and fitness more generally. Connecting with groups like this online may help you put your progress into context and learn strategies that have worked for other transgender fitness buffs.
Whether you formally transitioned years ago and have been training in different contexts over time or you’re a newcomer to the transgender community and are hoping to feel more at home in your body, Demetz Online Personal Training is here to support you. As trainers, our aim is to help you define your personal fitness goals and pursue them safely, with accountability and guidance. There is no one size fits all approach to strength training, regardless of your gender identity. At Demetz, we respect that we don’t have all the answers, but we’re always willing to learn more to support our clients.
Contact Demetz Online Personal Training today to learn more about our training programs and explore how we can help you. By offering flexible, at-home programs, we hope to encourage everyone who wants to get healthier, stronger, or generally more fit. It’s our privilege to walk this journey beside you, so let’s get started – together.