Let’s Hulk Out: 12 Tips for Lifter-Friendly Apparel
With strength training comes muscle growth. With muscle growth comes no longer being able to fit into clothing that once fit well. This can result in you “hulking” out of your clothing. Have no fear! This is nothing to be scared or embarrassed about. It is AWESOME. Here’s my advice for owning it and building a collection of lifter-friendly apparel.
(Even if you don’t lift, you have a body that grows and changes, so these tips are applicable to you, too!)
1. Pay particular attention to when a piece of clothing is starting to fit tightly. Before you rip it, you could give your clothing to a friend or donate it. I did this recently with one of my favorite jackets. My shoulders/back were not having it anymore, and it was so close to ripping. Instead of letting my muscles destroy it, I gave it to a friend. I also went through my entire closet and tried on every piece of clothing that I had not worn within the last month. I donated all the clothing that was too small for me. I now have a lot more closet space and empty hangers to fill with clothing that makes me feel good!
2. If you rip your clothing in a public place and you do not have a change of clothes with you, you can always rip it more. This won’t work if you rip a hole in the back of your pants, unless you’re around your BFFs 😉 I was working my desk job, wearing a long sleeve button down shirt. I was stretching my arms at my desk when all of a sudden, the armpit ripped open in the sleeve. Naturally, I decided to rip the whole sleeve off in one fell swoop. I went through the rest of the day with only one sleeve on my shirt. All my coworkers were amused and started calling me “The Hulk”. It was empowering rather than embarrassing.
What should you do with your ripped clothing?
3. Keep your ripped clothing pieces as “trophies” of becoming bigger. I have kept all my ripped clothing pieces so I can share them here. But, I threw them all away after writing this post!
4. Re-purpose the fabric from your ripped clothing into a craft project. I have not done this yet, but you can find tons of ways to do this on Pinterest.
5. Or just burn your ripped clothing as a celebration of becoming bigger. Because why not?
You’ve destroyed some clothing, now what?
6. Your clothing size DOES NOT dictate your worth. Be honest with yourself about the size of clothes to buy. I used to always wear a Small/Medium in all tops, and now by default I try on a Large first to see how that fits before deciding to get that, go down to a Medium, or go up to an Extra Large. I never buy anything in Small anymore and I am totally okay with that. I buy my tops in Tall/Long whenever possible. I used to wear a size 4 in all pants, and now I’m more of a 10-12. Never buy anything that is too small for your when you try it on for the first time. When trying on clothes in the dressing room, do the “hulk test” by flexing and stretching in all sorts of ways. When in doubt, try the next size up. Don’t get too attached to any particular size! Every brand sizes clothing a little bit differently, and it doesn’t matter anyway. You are a unique, multifaceted, amazing human being, so learn to flow with your body’s changes instead of being resistant to them.
7. When online shopping, check the measurements to get the right size. Ever since I started lifting, I am no longer able to buy the same size in everything. It is useful to regularly take measurements of clothing that is your “perfect fit” and compare those measurements to what is listed online before buying it. Choose stores that have good return/exchange policies so that you can feel comfortable taking a chance on something that may or may not fit. JCPenney has a great selection of Long and Tall clothing. Other reliable online retailers include City Chic, Nordstrom, Express, Target, Revolve, ASOS, Levi’s, and eBay.
8. Find a reliable pair of jeans: Okay, this one is definitely easier said than done. Ever since I ripped 2 pair of jeans, I have been very anti-pants. However, I was determined to find at least ONE pair of jeans I enjoyed even a little bit. After trying on jeans from countless stores in at least 10 different brands, I found one pair that I rather enjoyed. Then I grew out of those jeans, and didn’t find another suitable pair of jeans until several years later at a thrift store! Then I got a little smaller and now those jeans are too big to wear without a belt. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t love jeans, haha!
9. Find dress pants that are right for you: My legs feel so tight in normal, non-stretch dress pants. When I worked my desk job, I wore black dress pant yoga pants every day. Those pants were gve you some room for your lower body to grow without ripping them. These pants will allow you to do some squats in the break room when no one is looking! 😉
10. Pick the right shirt: I have ditched all button-down shirts because I always manage to rip the shoulder area. Instead I just wear a lot of long sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, or short sleeve sweaters, flowy blouses, or t-shirts. I also really like wearing a semi-fancy racerback shirt with a fly-open cardigan over it. Aim to find shirts that will stretch instead of rip.
11. Embrace the racerback: Free your shoulders by wearing racerback bras and tank tops! I am obsessed with finding and buying new racerbacks. They are my absolutely favorite type of top to wear, and I find racerback bras to be infinitely more comfortable than normal bras.
This next one is the most important tip of all:
12. Remember that if clothes are making you feel bad about your body, the clothes are the problem, NOT your body. Maybe you have a shirt that you bought a long time ago but never really wore because the fit isn’t quite what you like. You find yourself feeling guilty about having it but never wearing it, so you tell yourself, “I have to wear it every now and again, because I spent this much money on it!” But…
If you find yourself associating guilt, shame, or any other negative emotion with a piece of clothing, it’s time to let it go.
Keep this in mind when shopping for new clothes as well. It’s completely fine to go on a shopping trip, go to multiple stores, try on a bunch of things, only to not end up liking any of it. I’ve been there many, many times. Don’t settle for mediocre-fitting clothing just because you want to buy something! Sometimes you find nothing, other times it’s one thing, and other times it’s a few things. Try to let go of attaching happiness to the “result” of the shopping trip. Don’t be discouraged! Instead, have a positive attitude and use the experience as motivation to search for that piece of clothing that makes you feel that much better.
How has your relationship with your body changed over time? Or do you have a good “hulking out of your clothes” story? Let me know in the comments below!