Updated: Oct 7, 2020
My teen is trans. He’s 17 at the moment and right now he's still pre-T. He’s waiting until after he turns 18 (in just a few months!) and is living as an adult in college, and he's researching and making his own choices for how he'd like to proceed.
In the interim, we’re working on changing his diet and exercise (or just having him DO some exercise) to create the more masculine physique he is looking for before he starts on T.
[Note: You may or may not want what society would consider a "masculine" body. It's your choice. You don't have to look like anyone's definition of anything.]
Because he does want a more muscular body, one of our big lessons is that getting strong, burly shoulders doesn’t happen by laying around on your phone and taking T. Strength comes from strength training (or doing physical labor, but we’re NYC folks, so that’s not happening anytime soon). In fact, if you’re looking just for T to do all the work for you, that’s a mistake. Because the hormone will help your body to grow facial hair, take away your period, and square up your jaw, but it won’t give you a solid muscular physique without a little effort. Testosterone therapy for FTM is known to increase body weight (and increase appetite). But diet and moderate exercise will literally shape your results.
There is so much you can do without T to build muscle mass and strength and develop a more masculine physique, whatever your definition of that is. You’ll also feel better, have more energy, and experience a whole host of other mental and physical benefits.
If you’re sitting around, eating bags of chips, leading a sedentary lifestyle, not getting enough protein (or calories from nutritious sustenance in general) and not sleeping enough, your shoulders and back aren’t going to get more buff, T or no T. This goes for our cisgender folks too.
So, whether you’re pre-T, you have decided you never want to be on T, or you’re on T, but not getting the physique you want, here are some tips and small adjustments to make to start building a more masculine appearance.
1. Get enough sleep. Your body can’t repair and build muscle if it doesn’t get adequate amounts of rejuvenating rest. Did you know we’re meant to sleep at night and be awake during the day? The deprivation to our bodies when we are lacking sleep is exponentially detrimental. But getting enough sleep helps us to lose fat, gain muscle, recover and repair, regulate hormones, regulate our hunger and appetite, and more.
2. Get outside and soak up Vitamin D. Vitamin D is really useful for our bodies when we’re trying to build lean muscle mass and decrease fat mass. And the best way to get that D is to just go outside and get it from the sun. Sure, we can take yet another supplement, but why, when the best source is free, feels great, and is easy to get. Aim for 10 - 30 minutes outside per day around midday. It’s tougher in the Northern hemisphere, especially in winter, but do what you can to make this happen. [PS if you go for a walk in the sun, then you’re really multitasking effectively]
3. Eat a variety of nutritious whole foods. PB&J and salami sandwiches aren’t bad, they just won’t fuel our body as adequately as it needs to build muscles and strength. For prime growth, our bodies need a variety of foods to take in the appropriate amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). The best way to do this is to eat less processed and more whole foods. You can have your cake, but also ensure you’re eating your apples and kale (or whatever fruits and vegetables you like) too.
4. Follow a workout plan that provides the appropriate guidance for building that V-shaped body, wide shoulders, bulging biceps (if that’s what you want - you don’t have to want that, there are different masculine bodies). If you can, find a trainer that truly understands what YOU’RE looking to achieve and creates a plan that is built FOR YOU. FOR YOUR BODY. FOR YOUR GOALS. And someone who will be there with you, encouraging you every step of the way. There are a lot of ways to do this without stepping foot in a gym. [We know how unfriendly and gendered these places can be.] You can work out in your own home, at a trainer’s location, with the trainer online, etc.
At Sweat Equity Wellness, we can train you online, in person at your location or ours, or a hybrid of both, You’ll get nutrition coaching support as well. AND a free app that you can follow for your plan with easy to follow videos and direct messaging to your trainer.
If you’re not sure, but want to speak with someone, please just reach out with your questions or set up a FREE, no sales, no pressure consultation. Honest. Our goal is to ensure training is available to anyone who wants it. We offer sliding scale coaching to accommodate anyone’s needs.
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