Appearance Body Modifications Exercise Health

Basics of MtF Weight Cycling

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As I’ve posted before, there is a lot more to creating a feminine figure than just growing boobs. Breast growth is one of the fastest and most prominent changes you’ll notice when you’ve been on HRT for a few months, but other changes are also working through your body. After the first year on HRT, you’ll notice that your figure is a little different. Your tummy might start to get smaller, and your hips a little wider. Though a slow process, the fat in your body is slowly shifting to a more feminine pattern.

Though fat distribution can’t change your underlying bone structure, it plays a much bigger role in feminization than most people think. Though women do have wider pelvises, much of the width in their hips actually comes from fat, not bone structure. Men on the other hand, store fat primarily on their trunk above the waist (stomach, back and chest), which makes the chest, ribcage and waist appear larger.

Where fat is on your body can be one of the biggest and best feminizing changes you can make, and you don’t have to wait years for results. You can speed this up with a concept called ‘weight cycling’.

The Physiology of Fat

Your hormones are the main determinant of how your fat is distributed around your body. So as your hormones change under HRT, your body’s fat stores will slowly go from what’s called ‘android’ to ‘gynoid’.

But how does it work? First, a little detour into the physiology of fat. Fat cells, or adipocytes, store and release lipids into the blood stream based on the complex signals of your endocrine system. But generally, if you eat fewer calories than your body uses, your adipocytes will shrink; if you eat more than you use, your adipocytes will grow. So when your weight changes, this is adipocytes growing and shrinking the amount of lipids they contain; you don’t actually lose or gain fat cells (unless you gain a lot of weight).

Also surprising? The number and location of cells in men and women isn’t really that different – men have the about the same number of fat cells in their thighs and hips that women do. But the fat cells in men and women are activated by different hormones. Estrogen causes the cells in women’s thighs and hips be much more active, and store a lot more fat, than in men. The inverse is true for men – testosterone causes fat cells in the trunk to be a lot more active than elsewhere in the body.

Over time, as you naturally gain and lose weight, you’ll notice you slowly put on fat in new places, and start to slim down in other places. But because fat cells like to stay fat, it is a very, very slow process.

The Theory of Weight Cycling

The concept of weight cycling has been around in the fitness/body building world for a long time. The idea is that you intentionally increase calorie intake to gain weight (or ‘bulk’) to trigger and support cell growth, and then decrease calorie intake to lose weight (the ‘cut’) to reduce the size of fat cells and decrease overall body fat percentage. A great book that covers the basics, if you’re interested, is Thinner, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews

We can use this same concept to speed up the process of fat re-distribution in our bodies. When we cycle weight in this way, we dramatically speed up the process; each time we cut, we lose fat more quickly in the android areas, and each time we gain weight, we add more fat in the gynoid regions.

What You’ll Need To Get Started

First things first, you need a way to count calories. The best way to do this these days is with an app. There are a lot of great ones out there, but I’ve used Lose It!; it has a great built in library of common foods and makes adding your daily intake a breeze.

You’ll also want a scale in order to monitor your weight. I also recommend a good old fashioned tape measure and caliper to monitor body composition as well – a lot of people will forget to exercise (see below) and will end up losing most of their weight in muscle mass rather than fat; measuring your body composition (body fat percentage) is a good way to ensure you’re losing the right type of weight.

A Basic Weight Cycling Routine

A weight cycle is made up of a period of calorie restriction and weight loss, the ‘cut’, combined with a period of calorie increase and weight gain, called the ‘bulk’. The length of these cycles depends on how much weight you want to lose and how quickly, but typically you’ll be able to lose between one and two pounds per week. Gaining weight can happen faster, but its usually good to try and keep the weekly increase in the same one to two pounds per week ballpark.

Unless you are unusually fit, you’ll want to start your cycle with a cut in order to lose weight. This means reducing the amount you eat until you reach a target weight, typically 5 or 10% of your total body weight. Then, you’ll do the opposite, and increase the amount you eat until you gain 5-10%.

So here’s what my latest weight cycle plan looks like:

Starting Weight: 137 pounds, around 2000 daily calories.

Cut Phase

  • Target weight: 125 pounds
  • 1450 calories per day, 1 1/2 pounds per week
  • Length is 7-8 weeks

Bulk Phase

  • Target weight: 135 pounds
  • 2400 calories per day, 2 pounds per week
  • Length is 5 weeks

One of the key aspect of your cut will be integrating some frequent exercise routine. The reason for this is you want your body to maintain muscle mass as much as possible, and only make up for the calorie deficit with fat. If you restrict your calories, but don’t exercise, your body will lose a lot of weight by consuming muscle instead of fat; exercise helps to maintain muscle.

I hope this helps get you started! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help.

Appearance Body Modifications

MtF Waist Training Basics

For many trans women, developing a feminine figure is a key milestone to feeling comfortable with their body. We all focus a lot on the boobs (they’re great!), but I hear from many people who are pretty unhappy with their waists and hips.

Fortunately, there is a easy way to give yourself a more feminine figure through waist training.

What exactly is a ‘feminine figure’?

So, we throw that term around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Well, breasts are certainly a large part of it, but generally it’s defined by the ratio of waist circumference to hip circumference, or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), measured with a tape. Women typically have an WHR below 0.8, while men typically have a WHR closer to 1. The ‘ideal’ WHR for women is around 0.66; the classic 36-24-36 measurements.

Interestingly, your specific measurements matter very little; its the visual proportion of waist vs hip that is important. So even if you have small hips for a woman, you can still get a more feminine figure by reducing your waist circumference.

Anatomically, men have larger waists because their ribcage is broader overall, and especially at the two lowest ribs, pairs 11 and 12. Luckily, these ribs are also the ‘floating’ ribs, in that they’re only connected at one end (to the spine). Because of this, they’re very flexible and can be moved quite easily.

The big squeeze

The most effective way to reduce your waist circumference is to gradually ‘train’ your 11th and 12th pairs of ribs to reduce the circumference. You do this using a corset or waist trainer that applies mechanical pressure to move your ribs and hold them in a new, narrower position. Over months, the cartilage will adjust and keep your lower ribs in their new position, resulting in a permanently smaller waist.

When you first start using a corset or waist trainer, you’ll see immediate results, in that your waist will be temporarily smaller. This can be a big confidence boost and look great. Then you take it off, and everything goes back to normal 😔. But, over weeks and months, you’ll slowly see a reduction in your waist that is more permanent.

The typical rule of thumb is that your waist will shrink to about half what you set your waist trainer at. So if you have a natural waist of 32 inches, and train your waist to 26 inches, eventually you’ll have a waist around 29 inches without any compression.

How long can it take? It depends, but generally weeks or months to see improvements. But the key is in consistency – the more you use it, the faster your results will be.

What kind of results can you expect? That also depends on how big your ribcage is. If you have a barrel chest and 44” band, you probably aren’t going to get down to a 26” waist. That said, as I mentioned above, what you are shooting for is a waist-to-hip ratio below 0.8, which is attainable for most everyone.

Is it dangerous? Generally, no. From a volume perspective, you’re not really changing the internal dimensions of your thorax an appreciable amount (maybe 5%), so there’s not really a chance you can damage your internal organs. If you go nuts and try for a 15” waist, you probably should consult a doctor first.

Tip 1: Lose weight

Ok, normative assumptions of femininity and all that aside, if you want a smaller waist, you’ll need to manage your weight. This is doubly important for trans women, because we’re fighting against what’s called the android fat distribution pattern. This just means that a lifetime of testosterone has trained your body to store extra fat in their hips and stomach (the spare tire). If you have a lot of excess fat, you’ll be increasing the size of your waist a lot more than equivalently sized cis women, because that is naturally where your body stores fat.

Luckily, if you are on HRT, your fat distribution will change over time to reflect a more feminine ‘gynoid’ pattern (mostly in the hips and butt). But that takes years. So for now, if you want the best results, you need to reduce your weight to slim down your waist.

Unfortunately, despite all the ads saying differently, wearing a waist trainer alone won’t help you lose any weight. You’ll need to reduce the amount you eat and increase exercise to make any progress on those love handles.

Tip 2: Find the right waist trainer

There are lots of different options to choose from. Some women prefer custom made corsets made of fancy material like silk. The downside of corsets is they require a lot of time to put on and a fair amount of care to keep in good shape.

Others prefer a more practical approach – I fit into the later camp. I use a pretty simple latex waist trainer for day-to-day wear; its really comfortable and provides an even pressure. There are three sets of hook and eye closures you can use to progressively tighten before needing to size down. It looks great under everything but tight fitting T-Shirts.

I also use a cheap and flexible waist trainer for more athletic activities. The elastic makes is comfortable during the day, and the Velcro means you can easily adjust the compression to be more or less depending on how you’re feeling. It can be a little bulky under tight fitting clothing, and in that case the latex trainer above is a better option.

One of the key things to watch out for is placement. The waist trainer will be more effective, and more comfortable, the higher up you go. You really want the top to sit right under your boobs. You should be able to bend over comfortably without the bottom digging into your hips or lower abdomen. Most of the compression should be focused on your lowest ribs, not your waist or hips.

Tip 3: Go slow and gradual

Done right, waist training doesn’t hurt. The trick is to go slow and gradual and progressively reduce the size of your trainer and increase the amount of time you wear it. Ideally, you’ll wear the waist trainer for 6-8 hour a day most days until you achieve the circumference you’re looking for. But you’ll need to work up the compression to get to that point.

I used a pretty basic schedule of time and compression, shooting for 5 days on, two days off.

  • Week 1: 1 hour per day, light compression
  • Week 2: 1.5 hours per day, light compression
  • Week 3: 2 hours per day, light compression
  • Week 4: 2 hours per day, medium compression
  • Week 5: 3 hours per day, light compression
  • Week 6: 4 hour per day, medium compression
  • Week 7: 5 hours per day, medium compression
  • Week 8: 6 hours per day, medium compression

After week 8, you can see where you are and either increase to 8 hour per day, or focus on tighter compression to reach your desired waist size.

I hope this helps! Waist training is one of the easiest ways to get a feminine figure, and if you do it right, it is immensely satisfying.