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.

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.

Drugs Testing & T

In most sports, at a recreational level, you won’t face drug testing but in strength sports- well powerlifting and weightlifting but not strongman- you can find it happening at any level. It’s been a real barrier to me. I was really concerned that being trans and being on T, for any reason, could be a big can of worms and that put me off competing for a long time. Never mind the fact I wasn’t sure if I would positive on a drug test at all. If I did test positive I’d get a life time ban so it didn’t seem worth the risk.

After a fair bit of digging I found a dependable source that actually talks about testing in sports. It says:

Once the steroid has been metabolised in the nucleus, it is taken from the cell and degraded in the liver. From here it is excreted in the bile or the urine. The actual excretion products vary from one androgen to another and it is these products that are detected in sports drug testing

So, if you take T they will be able to detect it in a urine test. If your levels are in ‘normal male range’ then it wouldn’t be detected on a blood test but any sports testing I’ve ever heard of is urine. The good news is that doesn’t bar you from competing as you can apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).

The main authority on drugs in sports is World Anti-Doping Agency and they have guidance on trans guys who are on testosterone competing in sport. In reading it you need to consider the criteria for TUE:

  • The athlete would experience significant health problems without taking the prohibited substance or method

  • The therapeutic use of the substance would not produce significant enhancement of performance, and

  • There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise prohibited substance or method.

So what the document is addressing is how this criteria would apply to trans guys. There is some vagueness in the document and I think this is because WADA don’t see it as their place to say whether or not a particular sports body should allow trans people to compete. But, in my opinion, what WADA are saying is being on T is not a reason to ban trans guys from competing and if you allow trans guys to compete then they should be granted TUE for T.

There is a but, your T levels will likely to be within ‘normal male range’ and you will typically need a doctor signing off on your TUE application. Though I wouldn’t expect that to be a problem for most.