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Sculpting a Womanly Figure


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I know this is a highly specialised question, but I figured I'd throw it out here and see if anyone has any ideas.

I have a friend who is in the midst of transitioning from male to female. She wishes to sculpt a more defined waist, and she's also noticed that she has more muscle bulk on her arms and legs than many other women she knows, so she'd like to reduce this, or at the very least, not gain any more. Her stated goals also include losing weight, but I'm fairly sure the actual number on the scale will matter far less than how she looks and feels.

As her hormones are currently changing, she should be getting more oestrogen and less testosterone over time.

Any tips? So far, we're thinking a focus on yoga and cardio will help. Maybe something like belly-dancing too, since the hormones involved can temporarily increase stomach fat? I know weight-lifting helps many women to build womanly figures without bulking up in a masculine way, but as my friend still has slightly more testosterone in her system than the average woman, she may be more prone to bulking up, which is definitely not what she wants. For myself, I'm attempting to further define my waist by bulking up my hips and ass slightly, and I think this may be effective for my friend, as it may be an easier way for her to reach the ideal 0.7 hip-to-waist ratio than purely by attempting to slim down.

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Perhaps one of Craig Ballantines bodyweight only exercises can help. Or some stability ball based ones.

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If you both have an idea of when she should be getting more estrogen at ideal levels, you could have her do some cardio between 60-80% heart rate since it can use muscle as fuel. Have her work up to an hour to an hour and a half. That's all I got, I know this is a special situation, but hopefully the estrogen will take care of most of that.

As for the hips and ass, Deadlifts for ass with a little of everything else, Leg Raises/Flutterkicks for Hip Flexors. There's a program that I've read about that is specialized for mass. Pick a number between 4-6 for a weight that is kind of hard, but you still have some gas in the tank, and work up to doing it for 20 Sets.

If you want, I'd be glad to message you the program from Pavel's book if you'd like.

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I know this is a highly specialised question, but I figured I'd throw it out here and see if anyone has any ideas.

I have a friend who is in the midst of transitioning from male to female. She wishes to sculpt a more defined waist, and she's also noticed that she has more muscle bulk on her arms and legs than many other women she knows, so she'd like to reduce this, or at the very least, not gain any more. Her stated goals also include losing weight, but I'm fairly sure the actual number on the scale will matter far less than how she looks and feels.

As her hormones are currently changing, she should be getting more oestrogen and less testosterone over time.

Any tips? So far, we're thinking a focus on yoga and cardio will help. Maybe something like belly-dancing too, since the hormones involved can temporarily increase stomach fat? I know weight-lifting helps many women to build womanly figures without bulking up in a masculine way, but as my friend still has slightly more testosterone in her system than the average woman, she may be more prone to bulking up, which is definitely not what she wants. For myself, I'm attempting to further define my waist by bulking up my hips and ass slightly, and I think this may be effective for my friend, as it may be an easier way for her to reach the ideal 0.7 hip-to-waist ratio than purely by attempting to slim down.

you can't spot reduce fat, so belly dancing wouldnt specifically target reducing fat on the belly.

what about increasing shoulders and hips? that would result in a more hourglass figure, and make the waist look smaller than it is?

but it will be hard to bulk up one area while reducing muscle in another area, since she's going to have to eat less to lose the muscle.

honestly, though, not really sure how to answer, since its such a person specific situation. her doctors may be able to give more insight, as they know all about the hormones and that stuff.

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STR: 21 / DEX: 17 / CON: 14 / INT: 15 / CHA 15
“There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
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Not quite sure how to answer this.

The hormone profile will be completely different to both a Man and a Womans.

To be honest, it may just be best to do a lot of cardio to simply reduce weight while getting the diet into line.

After the body becomes more used to the transition (e.g. longer period on the drugs) then perhaps further steps can be taken.

Can I also recommend talking to doctors and those who have actually gone through the transition?

There are people who are far more experienced and knowledgeable about this issue than we are.

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I for one recommend your friend goes vegan/vegetarian, as that will do wonders to remove all of that nasty testosterone from his system.

cutting meat out of your diet will not remove testosterone from your system.

Spezzy, the Arcane Skirmisher
Chaotic Good Quarter Elf Slayer/Magus
STR: 21 / DEX: 17 / CON: 14 / INT: 15 / CHA 15
“There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
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To echo and affirm what Carjack said, keep in mind that a vegetarian diet will usually entail eating lots of soy:

Dr. Daniel: Soy lowers Testosterone levels! Just about all soy products on the market contain the phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) known as isoflavones. Plant estrogens have lowered Testosterone levels in rats, monkeys, and other animals as well as humans. For grown men, this usually leads to decreased libido and lower sperm count. There’s an old wives tale that Japanese women punish their straying husbands by feeding them a lot of tofu!

We can joke about that but not about the effect on baby boys fed soy formula. Pediatricians are reporting more and more cases of emasculated boys reaching puberty with breasts and tiny penises. Undescended testicles are also far more common than they were in the past. Remember too that soy estrogens damage far more than the reproductive system. The thyroid is usually hurt first, leading to loss of energy, weight gain, depression, lethargy, and a host of other symptoms.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_interviews/poison_protein

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beat it until it loves you.

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yes, soy does increases your estrogen. my point was more that if you stop eating meat, you won't wash yourself free of testosterone.

Spezzy, the Arcane Skirmisher
Chaotic Good Quarter Elf Slayer/Magus
STR: 21 / DEX: 17 / CON: 14 / INT: 15 / CHA 15
“There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
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You lose access to testosterone precursors, which is pretty much the same thing.

As for sculpting "womanliness," I would suggest an emphasis on lower body exercise with a paucity of upper body exercise. He'll just look like a buff woman until true womanliness sets in. As a general rule of thumb, women have roughly equal lower body strength when compared to a man of equal weight, but about half of the upper body strength. I'd suggest he go ahead and use that as a benchmark - whatever his current upper body strength is, aim to reduce it by 50% to be convincing.

If he insists on being weaker than he currently is to make it more convincing, it's up to him to scale down over time as he sees fit.

I'd recommend he continue doing squats but also a bunch of heavy weighted side bend type moves to build up obliques to give a faux hourglass appearance. If he does it right, it won't hit his arms or traps at all - though it will necessarily strengthen the wrist and hands, but that doesn't really show much.

Your body is your enemy,

beat it until it loves you.

{ NSCA Certified

Strength and Conditioning Professional // Biochemistry B.S., UCSD 2011 // San Diego, California }

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Cannibal, thank you for your advice, but please remember that my friend is a 'she', not a 'he'! I think the focus on obliques will be really helpful.

If you want, I'd be glad to message you the program from Pavel's book if you'd like.

Thank you.:) That would be helpful.

you can't spot reduce fat, so belly dancing wouldnt specifically target reducing fat on the belly.

what about increasing shoulders and hips? that would result in a more hourglass figure, and make the waist look smaller than it is?

Oh yes, of course, that was phrased badly. I was thinking along the lines of toning the core, with the cardio taking care of some overall fat loss.

I think increasing hips will help, but I'm a bit concerned that increasing shoulders at this point will cause her to look more manly.

What I'm getting from this thread is, low calorie diet to lose muscle and fat for a while, then build up muscle again in other areas, ie, hips and obliques? Does that sound about right?

I think my friend is planning to talk to her doctor about this, but I think, in asking me, she just wanted to discuss it with someone she knows, in an unprofessional capacity. I know she dislikes transgender forums, as she finds they tend to focus on a transgender identity, rather than on getting through the transition and then simply living as a woman, which is her aim. I will suggest that she looks at the information available on them, though, even if she doesn't interact.

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Pilates pilates pilates. This program is specifically designed to strengthen while avoiding bulk, as your average dancer or acrobat does not want unnecessary pounds, muscle-weight or not. It also has a very strong emphasis on the core (surprise!), which results in general slimming as the muscles get firmer and less flabby. You can't spot reduce fat, but you can work the muscle underneath, and the stereotypical long slim pilates silouette exists for a reason. : )

Everyone can probably chorus along with me right now, but the best free pilates videos I've found are from www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com. You must make an account, but it has free streaming. In particular, under specialized workouts, there is a Wedding Preparation workout that is 50 minutes, which is specifically designed to maximize the female figure - tiny waist, toned thighs and arms. Suggest she give it a try!

"Let another say. 'Perhaps the worst will not happen.' You yourself must say. 'Well, what if it does happen? Let us see who wins!' ".

- Seneca, 63 AD

"There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength." - Henry Rollins

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To second what a lot of folks have said on here: Cardio, reduced calorie diet and targeted strength/hypertrophy training on for the glutes/hams/deltoids/lats to curve her out a bit.

Basically she needs to use the same tricks that many figure athletes use to accentuate curves on a very lean body.

Careful with torso work as she may end up with a thicker waist.

Watch knee dominant movements as mass on the quads tends to make the legs "look manly" where hamstring and glute mass makes women "look curvy."

Similarly, I would be hesitant to recommend Pilates. It's focus on torso training (see above) and it may not be challenging enough for someone hormonally female, but with a male's strength level.. depends on her fitness level which unstated above.

This is an interesting conundrum. Please keep us posted.

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Build up the booty!!! http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2011/01/08/kettlebell-swing/

Also, give the hormones a chance to work. I know a couple of MTF ladies, and it takes year or two for fat/muscle to re-distribute in a more female pattern (it WILL happen, though).

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JBzero, you're right. I figured what better way to see the effect of pilates was look at pics of male pilates teachers and they're not curvy, just lean. Not the effect she'd be looking for. However, in terms of a "mans strength" making it too easy for her:

. : )

So, as mentioned, belly dance. For fun, I guess your friend's structure would be transitioning somewhere between these two dancers, so this might give an idea of how a dance class might affect her. I've done bellydancing, and it was an absolute blast. Gotta find the right teacher, of course. She might be able to try a class somewhere free, if you look.

"Let another say. 'Perhaps the worst will not happen.' You yourself must say. 'Well, what if it does happen? Let us see who wins!' ".

- Seneca, 63 AD

"There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength." - Henry Rollins

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