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.

Going to the Gym: Why You Should

Well, in short, you need the equipment. To appreciate that you need to know a bit about what a strength training programme looks like. If you don’t then go check out my posts on that.

But what about training with just body weight?

Push ups: a classic bodyweight exercise but not a great strength builder

You can do a fairly decent upper body routine with just body weight exercise though the main problem is training legs. If your legs are weak then you will never be strong as a whole. If your legs are twig shaped and your upper body gets decent then you’ll look silly in shorts. Plus, even for upper body it is much simpler to use weights and you can still have bodyweight exercise within your lifting routine.

Or do you plan to buy equipment for a home gym?

This is a valid option so long as you are really willing/able to make the required investment. To make good progress you should be doing one of the routines I’ve mentioned previously or something rather similar.

For them you will at least need:

    • Squat rack, preferably with safety bars, that goes low enough to bench from (£130)
    • Bench (£60)
    • 20kg bar (£90)
    • 100-120kg in weights (£200)

You may also want:

  • Rubber floor matting- to protect it from weights being dropped on it
  • Dumbbell handle- then you just need one/two handles that you load the needed weight onto instead of a whole set
  • Pull up bar- the sort that you hang from the door is usually most practical

And you’ll be surprised how quickly you need more weight. In the brackets is a rough idea of what it would cost new (in the UK, in case the £ didn’t give that way :p) but you can save money if you get lucky on gumtree/ebay. The new costs are for the cheap end of the market, personally if I were to be setting up a home gym I’d spend a bit more to have it work and last well.

You’ll notice I didn’t say go to Argos and get a 50kg weights set. You can’t bench or squat properly with no other equipment and 50kg is nowhere near enough to be challenging for long enough to make any noticeable progress. Trust me I did it. I lifted 50kg in my room for months and the progress I made was nothing compared to when I finally went to the gym.

There’s more posts to come on the barriers trans guys face to going to the gym. Check out the follow options in the widget tab (those buttons on the top right) if you want notifications when I get them up.