What I’m about to tell you is going to make me very unpopular*. (Never mind that I spent so much time being unpopular in high school that it is pretty much my natural state of being.) You know that old weight lifting trope “Don’t fear the heavy weights; women don’t have enough testosterone to get bulky.” ? I don’t buy it. (Shun! Shun the non-believer! Shuuuunnnnnn!) While I do absolutely believe that heaving some iron is great for men, women and everyone in between, I also think that women can put on more muscle than we’d like. Sure we’ll never be this guy:
But we can get bulkier than we like to be. As material evidence, I kindly submit to the jury my favorite little black dress. Every girl has one – it’s the dress that you can accessorize with anything and makes you look like a million bucks even when you’re post-popcorn and pre-period bloated. My particular LBD is a retro Audrey Hepburn inspired black sheath dress that nips in at just the right spot on my waist and has a neckline so flattering that half the time I don’t even bother with the jewelry. I’d post a pic of me wearing it so we could all ooh and ahh together except: IT WON’T ZIP UP ANYMORE. The trouble spot? Not my usual problem areas – it slips right up over my hips and thighs. It catches on my lats. Of all the stupid spots to have a dress not fit, I cannot think of a less desirable place to gain inches than across my bat-wing territory. For those of you unfamiliar with bodybuilding parlance, your latissimus dorsi are your armpit muscles. Running down the sides of your back, they’re often called the swimmer’s muscle. You can see why:
Continuing on with bodybuilding lore, there are three types of people in this world: Ectomorphs or people who are naturally thin and have a hard time putting on muscle (party like an emo rock star! Or a catwalk model!), Mesomorphs or people who are well balanced with fat and muscle (also known as the type everyone wishes they were, what up Mr. and Miss Universe?), and the poor Endomorphs or people who put on muscle easily but put on fat even more easily (Holla all you rom-com sidekicks!). (Funny aside: the site linked above lists “stalkiness” as an attribute of endomorphs. That might be the awesomest abuse of the English language I’ve seen since my ex-boyfriend e-mailed me that he’d gotten a job as a “night stalker” at the local grocery store. Sadly that turned out to be more true than any of us ever anticipated but hey it kept the local police on their toes. Although in our culture I’m not sure which is the more offensive adjective: stocky or stalky. Perhaps one would rather be stalky.) ANYHOW. I’m pretty darn sure I’m not an ectomorph but whichever the remaining two I am, I don’t like it. And not just because it makes my armpits crazy hard to shave.
I want the bat muscles gone and my dress back. Operation: Lose Muscle.
Gym Buddy Megan – who also hates her bat muscles so see, I’m not the only girl with a dominant vanity gene – and I pinpointed the emergence of our rogue muscles on the P90X Experiment. All those variations on the pull-up had us working our lats like never before. And August’s Swimming Experiment didn’t help either. So what to do?
According to several very authoritative (i.e. Yahoo’s ask-a-question) websites, these are my options listed in order of best to worst:
1. Get the body part set in a cast. This was universally the method of choice for muscle atrophy, after all have you ever seen someone get a cast off their leg? Clearly this works. Also clear: if I think being unable to zip up my dress is embarrassing, I will not be able to handle the public mockery that would ensue if I showed up with armpit casts. Out.
2. Cut your calories to below 800 a day so that your body will go into starvation mode and burn muscle for fuel. Downside: You might die. Also out.
3. Stop working that muscle. Now we’re getting closer. I already use this strategy with my calves. What? I love my calves exactly the way they are and toe raises are tedious. The difference between calves and lats however is that the latter is connected to other very important muscles like, oh, your whole upper body. Kinda out, for reasons of practicality.
4. Lift lighter and increase your reps. Whoooaaa… isn’t this what all the experts tell you not to do? Which means it might just work. Not great, but probably my best option.
What kind of -morph are you? Do you have a muscle you wish would go away? Do you avoid working it to keep it from getting bigger? Or is your philosophy that a girl can never have too much metabolism-firing muscle? Any advice for me? Should I just get the dress altered and be done with it?
*There has been some confusion in the comments I wanted to address. When I wrote this post I meant it to be a tongue-in-cheek light-hearted look-what-us-girls-go-through-for-fashion humorous kind of post but apparently I shouldn’t be blogging late at night ’cause clearly it didn’t come across that way. Just to be clear: I’m not going to do any of the above. While it’s true I don’t love my lats, I do love having muscle and I’m not going to quit weight lifting. Nor was this meant to be a judgment on any woman who is trying to get bigger muscles. To any of you whom I have offended, I am very sorry! To all of you whom I confused, sorry again. To everyone else-Thanks for allowing me to make mistakes sometimes:)