Trans people and the Olympics

You might have noticed that I messed up with my scheduled posts, it’s tidied up now but worry about that. I was distracted by sorting out the new website. The website now has all the content from here and now also has information the policy on trans people competing in the Olympics.

Training Programmes: Intermediates

I wrote this for an FAQ on a forum but thought it would be useful here. Other members of that forum did provide feedback and suggestion on my draft so I can’t take sole credit. I will be posting it as a series of bite sized chunks. 


If your goal is strength then the most common programmes to move onto after you finish with ICF, SS or SL are the Texas Method , Madcow, Candito’s 6 week and 5/3/1.

By now you have been lifting a few months and will have learnt a lot so will be better placed to work out for yourself which is right for you. The articles linked to(for Candito’s looks at the relevant PDF and spreadsheet) will give you a good grasp on each programme but if you are really can’t decide then again just pick one. You can always change your mind later but are both good and the key thing is to be doing a good programme consistently and to stick with it for at least a few months.

Injection Site Pain

This is top of my list of ‘things nobody tells you about starting T’. It can seriously hurt and lifting can make it worse. But there are things you can do to minimise it.

How guys using testosterone (and variants) for performance/image enhancement cope with doing so many injections is beyond me. It hurts and you can’t (well you really shouldn’t) train the muscle you injected into for 24-48hrs after the injection because you can/will irritate it. I once did some squat reps with 100kg right after an injection, I could barely walk the next day and on reflection I was being pretty stupid. But if you can get it to hurt less then the impact it has on your training schedule is less.

I’ve been on T the better part of 5 years and in that time I’ve been on sustanon (in various doses), testosterone enanthate, testogel and nebido/reandron. Testogel was only briefly when the whole of the UK seemed to run out of sustanon and enanthate. I don’t like gels, there’s nothing objectively wrong with them, it’s just they don’t work for me.

Sustanon was evil. It was fine in terms of T effect, the sort of T you are on makes no difference, it’s all about T levels and your genetics. But the pain was worse than any other sort I’ve been on.  We’re not talking agony but I did often have a limp for 2-3 days with ways of helping making almost no difference.

I switched to enanthate because of the pain with sustanon and it was much better. I could feel it but there was no limping. I’m on nebido now (and was on reandron in Australia though they are the same) because I find less regular injections more practical for my life in general. With nebido I have no pain at all, just a lump that hurts for a few days if I press it hard. Given nebido is 4ml I was expecting a hell of a lot worse.

However, my point is not that nebido is best. It’s that if you have pain see if you can try a different sort of T. I have a friend who found enanthate awful but sustanon no problem. I’m not why different people experience it differently, I’m not sure if science on it even exists.

If you can’t change or if you still have pain then there are still things to try:

  • Warm the amp/vial before you draw it up then inject right away. Hold it in your hand, sit it on the radiator etc. because warm oil moves more freely.
  • Inject slowly, as in so slow it feels silly.
  • Experiment with different amounts of exercise in the day after as well as immediately after, it’s another one that varies person to person. However don’t lift or do anything that involves serious effort. I like a brisk 20-30min walk immediately after then not much else for the rest of the day.
  • Apply a hot water bottle to the injection site a few hours later.
  • Gently massage the muscle a few times a day for the 48hrs after injecting. The more pain you get the gentler you need to be.
  • I’ve tried having nebido injected as two 2ml injections, one in each side, but I don’t think it makes a difference. But it might be worth trying, individual and all that, because it does seem to make logical sense that it could help. However, one in each side means you can’t rotate your injection sites by side- consider asking a nurse about showing you the right spot to rotate with quad and glute instead.

Training Programmes: Time to Move on?

I wrote this for an FAQ on a forum but thought it would be useful here. Other members of that forum did provide feedback and suggestion on my draft so I can’t take sole credit. I will be posting it as a series of bite sized chunks.

When it is time to switch to an intermediate programme?

You make quicker progress on a beginner programme so you want to stick to it for as long as you can. If you feel like you are struggling then first consider if you are eating enough? Right now you should be gaining muscle, which unless you were overweight to start with, means the scales should be going up. If they aren’t then you need to go read the diet sections of this FAQ. Second, you need to consider sleep. Sleep is when most of your recovery happens, recovery is the process through which your muscles get bigger and stronger, so if you aren’t sleeping enough then you will struggle. Third, consider if you really are still doing the programme. Sometimes people slowly drift off doing the programme as it is written so don’t notice they have done it which goes back to the problem of you not knowing enough to be tweaking the routine. Also, make sure you have been deloading as the programme recommends.

If you have those three things in check then you can start considering when you are done with your beginner programme. Unfortunately there’s no clear cut answer to this but one thing that will make it easier is if you have a written log of your training to look back on, in a note book and/or online. It means you can go back and look at your progress more objectively than say going by how you feel it’s going this week. Decide to switch when you have reached a point where progress has slowed significantly and deloading no longer seems enough. It’s not a clear but thing but you’ll likely know it when you get there, try to push through for a bit but it doesn’t really work.

The next post in the series will suggest what you can to move on to. If you want to receive a notification when it is posted check out the follow options in the widget tab.

Being Small and Weak

I’m 5ft5 and was in the region of 60kg/130lbs when I first set foot in a gym and I sure as hell felt tiny. It can make the thought of going to the gym pretty intimidating. This is far from a trans-specifc problem and just knowing that helped me. However, I do think trans guys tend to feel this a bit more acutely than cis guys.

If you feel like that, you basically need to suck it up and give it a go. I don’t mean to be harsh but that really is all there is for it.

Nobody will be judging you. Well, ok, some people are dickheads so they might but they are a minority and it’s their problem, not your’s.

We were all noobs once upon a time and the vast majority of lifters are glad to see more people getting into it. But mostly, nobody will find you very interesting so are very unlikely to notice what you are doing at all So you’re probably building it up to be worse than it will be.

It can help to have a plan and know what to expect, for example, know you are going to go in, find a rack and use it to squat 40kg 5×5. You may well feel more self conscious if you haven’t already decided what to do and end up standing around thinking- but even then nobody will actually care what you are doing.

And FWIW some of the nicest people I’ve ever met are huge, strong guys who can be quite intimidating to watch lift.

Or do you think you should train at home to get a ‘base’ first so you aren’t the smallest and weakest?

You might well be the smallest and weakest but you won’t be for long and there will be other beginners about. And that guy benching 100kg- it’s probably not that long ago he was struggling with 50kg and because your goals forever increase, he probably doesn’t think of himself as especially strong.

And anyway, this is flawed logic, it’s harder to make good gains at home because of the lack of equipment so you could just be setting yourself up to fail. Plus postponing going to the gym probably isn’t going to make it any easier the first time, it goes back to you needing to just suck it up and give it a go because it’s not bad at all.

There’s more posts to come on the barriers trans guys face to going to the gym. Check out the follow options in the sidebar if you want notifications when I get them up.