In the midst of all the unknowns and panic-shopping that is happening surrounding this pandemic, the thing that is causing me the most anxiety is the fact that my gym closed down. I can barely bring myself to write that “I don’t want to lose my gains, bro!” It sounds so superficial. But as I analyze why that phrase represents so much to me, I feel more comfortable talking about it, and I know there are many other people who are experiencing a similar worry.
Rationally I know from previous experience (time-off from the gym post-surgery, post-injury, and post-partum) that muscle-memory is real and that any muscle I lose over a few weeks to months can be put back on in a reasonable time-frame.
But rational thought is not easy to come by in times like these. How am I going to relieve stress if I can’t lift? What if I do lose a lot of muscle mass? How are pushups and pull-ups and air-squats going to help me keep muscle on?
Realistically, as a non-binary/trans person, I experience changes to my physical body on a deeper level than most cis people would.
The main reason that I lift weights is to create a more masculine appearance for my body.
Yes, I happen to enjoy lifting for other reasons too (like, grunting and sweating is fun, and I have a thing for chalk) but what if you replaced the sentence “I’m worried I’m going to lose all my gains” with “I’m worried I’m going to start appearing as a different gender than I am”?
If a cis-male stopped lifting weights for awhile and lost some muscle mass, they would still appear as a cis-male.
When it happens to me, I start getting called “ma’am” more often, everyone defaults to she/her pronouns instead of they/them pronouns, and that triggers a new wave of dysphoria.
So, action steps are needed. I’m partially writing this post as accountability for myself but I’m hoping it will help other people in the same boat.
I don’t have a home-gym, so creativity is going to be the name of the game for the next few weeks.
Of course lifting gallon-jugs of milk or water can’t compare to the weight of heavy dumbbells, and it’s daunting to think of doing glute-bridges or hip-thrusts with whatever heavy object I can find in my house, when I’m used to loading a barbell with hundreds of pounds (bragging/not-bragging). But I’m going to do my best, because some resistance is better than none, and even though we won’t be able to do any progressive-overload to create muscle hypertrophy, we can still rely on the principles of metabolic stress (think high-rep resistance band exercises where we are shuttling lots of blood into the muscles and getting a good pump) and muscle damage (focusing on the eccentric or negative portion of an exercise can achieve this) to spark muscle growth.
This is the workout I’m going to be doing a few times this week. It’s a program of lower-body strength-based corrective exercises that I originally created for runners. The reason I thought of it for this week is that it requires the least equipment possible. There are no weights needed. If you already have a looped resistance band, that’s ideal, but most of the exercise could still be done without it so long as you are willing to be creative. You will need a sturdy chair or low table for some of the exercises. I usually offer this as a paid program, but I’m offering it as a free resource for however long this social-distancing needs to last to slow the spread of this pandemic.
If if asks for a password, type in “glutes”
Again, this is a free offering. If you want to view what this program/workouts offer first, you can see the summary at www.engineeringyourbody.com. And if you liked the workout program and you are financially able to support me as a small business in this time, please consider purchasing the program though that link. (All proceeds collected this month will be donated to the Trans lifeline charity in December 2020.)
I intend to keep posting workout/movement ideas for as long as gyms are closed. Gotta maintain upper-body strength too! And I’d love to hear about what’s working for you in terms of home-workouts or exercises. Please feel free to leave a comment below.