Body image can be a big issue for transgender men. A recent study found as many as 40% of young trans men and gender non-conforming people have diagnosed with eating disorders.
There are many possible factors at work here. Eating disorders can be complicated matters. However, one driver or disordered eating is dissatisfaction with body image. For transgender men, that often means frustration with trying to achieve muscle mass and toning. The good news is: exercise can help.
There exercises – weightlifting and otherwise – specifically designed to deliver the desired muscle tone. Exercising can also generally help build body confidence and positivity. Seeing what your body can achieve can help you appreciate it more, even if you previously felt conflicted about it.
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Target Training for Great Results
For transgender men, whether on hormones or not, different exercises are going to give you different results. A lot of the basics of building muscle apply, like using safe weightlifting form and the right support equipment.
But you can also focus your workout to better support your body and fitness goals. Trans bodybuilder, Ajay Holbrook, for instance, notes that he trains his lats and shoulders in a more focused, “slightly disproportionate” way compared to cisgender weightlifters. While cis men may benefit from more even workouts to avoid on an unbalanced look, for trans guys, broadening the shoulders more than the waist can help achieve the body shape they seek.
Not everyone is going for the tightly-sculpted v-shape of a competitive bodybuilder. But lat exercises like seated cable rows and pull-ups, and shoulder exercises like a shoulder press or lateral raises can help any trans man broaden his shoulders.
Chest exercises can be important, too. For those who haven’t had top surgery, one tip is to focus on exercises like decline pushups to strengthen the clavicular head of the chest, which creates a more even look and avoids growing too much muscle underneath breast tissue.
Avoid Overtraining to Stay on Track
One of the most common mistakes trans men make when trying to bulk up is overtraining. It can be easy to get excited about early muscle gain or get frustrated at the normal plateaus that come with any exercise regime. So, rather than focusing narrowly on goals like muscle growth or fat loss, taking a holistic approach to health can help. Getting enough rest, eating right, and limiting stress can all affect both your overall health and the effectiveness of workouts. Plus, focusing on overall health helps to avoid overtraining, which can put you out of action – and out of the gym – quite quickly. With this in mind, a healthy and targeted fitness routine can help you build muscle and feel more confident in your body.
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Last modified: July 23, 2019