Why Getting Physically Stronger Will Help You Live Longer

Strength and Health

As the body ages it goes through a number of changes in its organ systems. The muscular system, skeletal system, and nervous system do change with senescence. Disease and age related conditions can be common, but there is a method that can maintain quality health.  Strength training can help maintain a healthy body. It is more than just a training method for elite athletes. This is more than a fitness fad, but a possible method to avoid chronic illness. The changes that occur in the human life cycle. Seeing as the average life expectancy will increase, it is pivotal to be mindful of health. This is important for women who on average will outlive men. There are normally more women who reach old age compared to males. There are health differences among the sexes, which have implications for the future. Biological and physiological differences must be accounted for when examining health. Women often would avoid strength training for fear of getting bigger, yet this has changed. Women can still see benefits form training.  Strength training should be a major part of a person’s fitness regimen. There has finally been a scientific investigation into how building strength is critical to general health.

      As the human body ages it loses its physical strength. The majority of people reach their physical fitness peak between the  ages  of 20 to 39. This also is influenced by a number of genetic factors and health habits. Some of the decline can be reversed with doing weight training later in life. It is never too late to start. Ectomorphs compared to mesomorphs would probably see a larger loss in muscular strength. Starting out with less means loss in muscle mass would have a larger impact. Those with endomorphic body types may struggle to maintain a healthy weight. The other  factor is diet. The prevalence of  high amounts of sugar and fats is contributing to poor health. Extreme declines in strength happen in the octogenarians and nonagenarians. There comes weight loss and frailty which effects the body as a whole. Decreased mobility, loss of balance, and possibly disability can occur.  Elderly people are at risk of falls, which could result in major bone injuries. Fatigue and slower walking are also symptoms of physical frailty.

Physical activity is not just for the young. Older people should incorporate exercise into their daily routines. 

Gerontologists and biologists have suspected that aging is the result of  particular factors. Mitochondria as the human body lives become weaker with the passage of time. This organelle in the cells of the human body is a valuable power source. Cells are the building blocks of organ systems. A change in mitochondria would mean as we age decreased levels of stamina, strength, and endurance. The body goes through metabolic changes with age. Chromosomes are also effected with age. The enzyme known as telomerase is responsible for repair and maintenance of caps on the ends of chromosomes. This plays a role in cell division and when telomerase can no longer be produced in the same amount, mitosis is effected.

info_telomeres     Telomerase has to build telomeres so that it can prevent shortening by adding DNA each time a cell divides. There are mechanisms in place to maintain and control cell growth throughout a life time. This also provides an explanation into the production of cancer cells. Tumors that appear on the human body occur when telomeres are too active. Cells replicate alone with no supervision. Each time a cell divides telomeres become shorter, which lead to cell death. There are only so many times that the body can do this over long life span.

 

 

It is hard to image that the body is made of a multitude of cells. The human body functions like an organic machine. 

There are changes that occur both on the genetic and organ system level. The endocrine changes with age means that testosterone will decrease in males and estrogen in females. Testosterone plays a role in muscular hypertrophy so the strength loss would be more dramatic in males. The endocrine system difference in terms of hormones has an implication for physical fitness between males and females. Men have greater strength due to higher levels of free testosterone. Women produce more estrogen and progesterone which allows for more storage of fat. This means women would have a harder time losing weight or fighting obesity. Muscle has the ability to burn more fat. Besides this difference in health, the skeletal system changes with age. The effects of puberty increase male bone density, where this spurt of strength does not occur in females. This means women would be at higher risk for osteoporosis. If women have lower bone density and bone mass decreases with age this becomes a serious health risk . Strength training can be a means of maintaining  and building bone mass. Women need weight training because of this biological and physiological difference.

Women have more durational strength. This means they can live longer compared to males even when the environment is perfectly stable for both sexes. While women do not have the same physical strength levels as a man who engages in the same activity women can build strength. The article claims that “bulking up is a myth.” Women are capable of muscular hypertrophy it is not to the same extent as a man. The term “bulky” does not accurately describe the transformation of the body through weight training. Women respond to training stimuli, however the difference is in starting point. If men have a different body composition it would seem as if they gain at a faster rate. This is not true, it appears that way because the amount of muscle in their bodies prior to training is higher. Women who have less to start with gain at a similar rate. Some muscle may be good for the female body. Strength training can prevent skeletal diseases that could effect mobility. There is still more to be learned about these developments in health science and biology, but studies and data are providing some clues.

         Two studies from the British Medical Journal revealed that lack of  muscular  strength could be a strong indicator of mortality. It claimed this even when other health factors were adjusted  as well as for cardiorespiratory fitness. A total of 30 studies were conducted using people who were in their 70s. Only five people under the age 60 were used in the study. Researchers measured bench press strength, grip strength, walking speed, chair rising speed, and standing balance. What they concluded was that poor performance in any of these categories increased the possibility of early mortality. Before one takes the study as fact, these results would have to be replicated. Another problem arises when sex differences are not factored into the experiment. It should be clear that women’s performance on upper body tasks would be considerably lower. Hand grip strength does not seem like the best measure to be using. If that measure were to be included, by obvious logic men should be living longer than women. Male hand grip strength is on average greater than women’s.

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This does not translate to functional strength. Although it does suggest provide a basic estimate of physical strength capabilities. The weakest woman is still weaker than the weakest man. The strongest woman does not reach the highest levels of male strength. The charts above are not as accurate at measuring absolute strength. While it did produce a result that was expected with the female athlete having close to or equal strength of an average male, it is possible that men could generate more force simply because their hands are bigger. A woman who participated in the study may have more functional strength, but may have failed to generate more force in the study conducted by the Journal of Applied Physiology. That study used handballers rather than weightlifters. Looking at weight lifting records may be more accurate compared to grip strength. While the studies from the British Medical Journal do use bench press as a measure this also causes another problem. Men have more upper body mass and a larger skeletal frame. That means the data would be distorted, because even physically fit women cannot not match the upper body strength of a man who is on the same training regimen. Women who could be of various fitness levels still live longer than men. The study referenced to only examined men, but did not do the same for women. It is possible that a man who is physically weak could outlive one that is very strong. There are many factors that influence longevity which include genetics, general health condition, diet, environment,  and the amount of physical activity an individual gets.  This can also hold true for women.

It would be hard to predict which one of these women would live the longest. Using strength solely would not provide precision. 

Factors related to environment can be just as essential. Access to reliable healthcare and a healthy diet can increase health outcomes. Men’s health outcomes may be lower due to sociological factors. On average, the male suicide and homicide rate is higher. This is another factor related to surroundings rather than biology. Muscular strength may not be the best indicator of future morality. Standing balance, chair rising speed and walking speed seem to be better in that regard. They give better measurements of functional strength and movements. The British Medical Journal could be rushing to conclusions. At worse it making a generalization based on a sample. Simply being strong and building strength does not automatically mean a person will live longer. What getting stronger can do is improve quality of life and physical fitness condition. Implying it can be some form of life extension is a bit of an exaggeration.

       There is no doubt that weight training can improve health. There is the claim mentioned that weight training can add six to seven years on to one’s life, but this should also be questioned. Everyone does not respond the same to a particular training regimen. Health condition varies among people. Genetically inherited diseases or other conditions can effect human life span. However, it seems that exercise is capable of mitochondrial rejuvenation. Resistance training can induce the activation of satellite cells. This initiates gene shifting in which can revive mitochondria. It appears the even older muscles if worked can be turned back physiologically, genetically, and biochemical. Telomerase  production can be maintained by exercise. There is also a link to production of antioxidants. These are molecules that stop the damage that could be done by free radicals. They are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C. E, Lycopene, selenium, lutein,  beta-carotene  and many other molecules. There is also indication that exercise can stop cognitive decline. The reason may be that a healthy circulatory system can protect the brain. Stroke, heart disease, and high cholesterol can cause major health issues across the  body. When there is a disturbance in the arteries of the brain, this could cause dementia. Specifically multi-infarct dementia develops from blood clots that cause blockage in the blood vessels of the brain. The result is reduced oxygen to the brain causing death of tissue.

Brain arteries

vascular-dementia

The circulatory system functions like a highway. If there is a clot, that is the equivalent of a traffic accident. The problem is that there is no alternative route. If cars were to just keep piling up it would be a chronic mess. The blood supply being moved does not have an alternative path adding to the complications. Maintaining a healthy circulatory system is essential to overall health.  Heart disease and high blood pressure become more of a health risk  if one’s diet consists of fat and sugar based foods. Inactivity contributes along with poor diet. Exercise is not only important to longevity, but also quality of life. Weight training is just one type of exercise that can improve health.

     It should be realized that these studies do not mean weight training is the best form of exercise. The articles suggests that all forms of exercise are not equal. Yet, any amount is better than none at all. A training regimen depends on what one wants to accomplish in their fitness goals. This does not mean weight training should be the only form of exercise performed. Walking, aerobics, or running could be options. Although too much of one form or the other could cause problems or the possibility of over training. Doing aerobics does not increase muscle. Doing cardio does not burn fat as effectively. If a person is sticking to one exercise, they are neglecting other elements of physical fitness. There are some misconceptions that need to be addressed. Healthcare and medical professionals suggest that seniors avoid strenuous activity, yet seniors should exercise with in their limits. An exercise session does not have to mimic an Olympic athlete’s. Elders benefit from gene shifting, which means improvements in health. There are also benefits to mental health, which fight depression. While physical health is important, mental health biomedical science has now realized is just as critical. There is a link between exercise and the release of endorphins, which can improve a person’s emotional state.

Women have the most to benefit from strength training. There remains a fear of looking “too muscular” which prevents women from engaging in weight training. Appearance is a matter of preference and its should not be dictated by society’s standards. Women should not fear having some muscle on their bodies. No one just looks like a professional bodybuilder by just lifting weights casually. It also is the same for any other sport. Giving women basketballs does not automatically turn them into SKylar Diggins Smith , There are women with the capability to gain more than others, but this is not a characteristic that should be condemned. The point of exercise is too improve health, not for the purpose appearance. Women must learn to overcome body image issues for the sake of their mental and physical health.

The great aspect about a new emphasis om fitness and physical activity is that it is now acceptable for women to be active. While its been proven weight training can improve elements of health and fitness it is still questionable that it can make people live longer. If this were so, there would have to be an experiment conducted in nations with either  high and low life expectancy. There are numerous reasons why life expectancy increased globally since 1970. Medical advancements such as the end of defeat of smallpox and the development of the artificial heart  as well as organ transplants are few examples. State healthcare systems and improved public health measures have contributed to improving world health. Yet, there are challenges such as global pandemics like AIDS or antibiotic resistant bacteria. Many countries around the world do not have the economic resources to provide a functioning healthcare system or adequate hospitals. Socioeconomic status also effects health, with people in poverty struggling to afford medical care.

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Japan has the highest average life expectancy, with the the highest portion of centenarians. If the hypothesis is correct, if weight training was part of the average Japanese citizen’s life, the life span should go beyond the age 100. The study would not just involve males, but females. They should be study closely, seeing as on average women tend to live longer. Knowing this, it would mean a change could be seen if such an experiment were to be conducted. If the average life expectancy of a Japanese woman citizen is 86.1 years, that should increase if the assumption weight training can make a person live longer. Then a comparison should be made with countries with the lowest life expectancy.  Afghanistan and Chad have some of the world’s lowest life expectancy which is calculated below fifty years of age. Here is the trouble with making an experiment. Certain aspects would have to be controlled to get a precise set of data. Environments would have to be favorable meaning the same level of public health, be free of warfare, and functional medical facilities. The subjects would have to be of a similar health condition. South America’s nations have life expectancy that is either high or low. Conducting the experiment on this continent  may produce a result that may give a precise answer.  Weight training may improve health, but how long you live also depends on other factors. Genetics can be an element including environment. Then lifestyle choices and health habits can alter the condition of health over a lifetime. An individual that engages in smoking, excessive drinking, or overeating is increasing their risk factors for chronic illness. While it can be debated that  simply getting stronger will increase your lifespan, it is a method of preventing diseases of the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, and nervous system.

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Why Getting Physically Stronger Will Help You Live Longer

The Female Muscle Fetish : Psychological, Biological, and Social Causes

The female muscle fetish can  be classified as a separate entity.  Although cratolagnia and sthenolagnia are closely related to it, female muscle as a stand alone sexual fetish has become something unique. Sthenolagnia is arousal from displaying strength or muscles. This is mostly about showing the muscles. Cratolagnia is arousal from the display of physical strength. The female muscle fetish encompasses more than that. There is an entire culture that has emerged around it. Wrestling, art, and fictional written stories are part of this subculture. The female muscle fetish by definition is men who love the look of the strong physique on women to varying degrees and idolize it as a great standard of beauty. This does not just include athletes, but any woman with some muscle development.  There has been a movement to accept larger women and the mainstream still up holds the thinner body type as ideal. Yet, this is changing. Different forms of beauty and ideas about women’s bodies are developing. Gradually, there is more acceptance, than in previous generations. The athletic figure on women has more visibility than ever. This is mostly due to television and the internet. Crossfit, bodybuilding, and other sports have allowed men to see highly developed female bodies. There could be psychological, social, and biological reasons why some men have the female muscle fetish.

       Some basic definitions should be understood before examining the female muscle fetish as a whole. Cratolagnia is more about showing one can be strong. Just being muscular does not automatically make a person strong. Big muscles do not always mean more physical strength. A weightlifter who is smaller could lift more than a much larger bodybuilder. The factors are related to body composition and the specific type of muscle fiber, A person with cratolagnia would be more impressed with a woman who is just strong. They may not have as much muscle, it is just the about the act of demonstrating physical power.

If a woman was muscular,but did not have the strength someone with cratolagnia would not be amused. They would not fall under the female muscle fetish category. However, if the muscular woman is very strong, then it is possible such a man can have both cratolagnia and the female muscle fetish. Sthenolagnia puts more emphasis on the muscle its self. It is not so much actually being strong, but looking the part. A woman could perform strength feats, but may not have muscular development that is noticeable. Biceps, abs, glutes, or legs are of importance to the man with the female muscle fetish. This emphasis on particular body parts is not new to concepts of physical attraction. Every man has an idea about what is the most attractive part of a woman. Traditionally, the lower body specifically the posterior has been a major beauty mark. Legs are also an area of interest. The woman who seeks muscular development only enhances these areas to a greater degree. The hourglass shape is almost more exaggerated relative to a higher extent of upper body development.

These two fetishes are related, but are not the same in terms of definition. They have similar connotations in the sense that it favors a woman with a highly developed physicality. Then it should be noted that there is a difference between sexual fetish and paraphilia. Paraphilia  is extreme behavior that sexual arousal can only occur when the action or object is present. It can be distinguished by the fact that the individual becomes obsessed and are dependent. More men are likely to have paraphilia. The causes of these disorders can range from psychoanalytic or  behaviorist  psychological explanations. Psychoanalysts believe it is a person either reverting to an earlier stage in life. The behaviorists claim that it comes from conditioning. This means an individual must have learned an inappropriate behavior at some point in life. Liking muscular women could not count as a paraphilia. A sexual fetish is arousal based around a non-living object or a body part not part of the reproductive system. This is harmless in comparison to extreme paraphilia. However, there is a difference in sexual expression among individuals. This makes it difficult for psychologists and sexologists to classify what constitutes normal sexual behavior. The man with the female muscle fetish may express this through muscle worship or mixed wrestling.

This can not be considered paraphilia either. Although some might mistake it for BDSM. The goal of  mixed wrestling is to see how powerful the woman is and show off muscle. The intent is not entirely pain based or dominance. Mixed wrestling can be competitive, semi-competitive, or fantasy. Fantasy takes the least amount of effort, because it is acting and has elements of role play.  Muscle worship is the fetish behavior, which a man would admire the muscles of  a muscular woman. There is rarely wrestling involved in the behavior. Many fetishes that fall under female muscle overlap. Lift and carry, scissors, and arm wrestling can be part of the female muscle fetish. At times for the sake of clarity an all encompassing term can be used to describe these behaviors. There are stereotypes that have been associated with the female muscle fetish that do not represent reality.The notion that the muscular woman is a powerful dominatrix seems to have emerged in the subculture. Women who do session wrestling are not all involved in dominance.

This is a prejudgment based on the women’s appearance. The assumption is they must be dominating if they are so strong. That notion lacks credibility,due to the fact such an attribute has to do with personality and temperament. A dominatrix would rarely have a physique comparable to a female athlete. Then there also is the image that all men who have the female muscle fetish are schmoes. Men who are schmoes are hardcore fans of female bodybuilding and like the most muscular women. A man with a female muscle fetish would enjoy all ranges of physiques. It is also a myth that this would be the only type of female body that is sexually attractive to  them. Normally, their preference for female physiques varies vastly. Men who love female muscle would still see that there are other types of beauty.They may have more than just one attraction.

There seems to be more of an acceptance of larger women. No one calls this a fetish, yet curves are praised. It is rare that an attraction to thin women is called a fetish. Society is slowly understanding there are multiple forms of beauty and it can vary depending on the culture.

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The woman sculpting her physique is essentially building curves. There is bias against women who do  not fit into the mainstream version of beauty. However, people reject the mainstream versions and choose to develop their own paradigms. Considering the female muscle fetish is not widely accepted men with it are either secretive or not as open about it. There may be more men who like muscular women. There has not been a quantitative gathering of data to know just how many do. Understanding the difference in terminology can help clarify the elements of the female muscle fetish.

        There is a psychological reason for why men may have the female muscle fetish. It has been hypothesized that many fetishes start during puberty when boys and girls reach sexual maturity. It is not just the physical body that is growing it is also the mind. Adolescents during this period develop a sense of awareness about sexual impulses and feelings. This also involves youth exploring their bodies. Masturbation is a common expression of sexual impulse that both men and women engage in during adolescence. During this period sexual orientation also develops. There are multiple sexual orientations which include heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. It is difficult to get an accurate measure of sexual behavior, due to the fact many are based on anonymous surveys. Many respondents probably would not be truthful, due to the taboo surrounding copulation and human sexuality. There is a change in the mind that occurs with increase in sex hormones. Testosterone and estrogen can effect the mind as well as behavior. Testosterone plays a role in both sexes  in terms of healthy sexual functioning. A man with a female muscle fetish clearly developed a psychological association with that image. Seeing such an image it creates an association of pleasure that could either be conscious or subconscious.

There exists in a person’s mind a sense of psychological sexual motivation. Unlike food or water, sex is not an urgent need for survival. People can live without it and not face the threat of death.  Biological drives such as sex can influence behavior. There are culture specific rules that dictate sexual practices or social rules. Traditionally, in American and Arab cultures homosexuality was  seen as abnormal, while in Polynesian civilization it had acceptance. The rise of the sexual revolution in the United States gave way to more open discussion about human copulation and sexuality. Many times it was either taboo or for some too embarrassing to  discuss. There was also too much misinformation or myths surrounding human sexuality. Sex is not homeostatic, which means that the body will not return to a state of equilibrium after the act. The motive for sex in an animal species is the need to have offspring that will spread particular genes. This functions on sex and natural selection. Social motivations are complex in regards to endocrinology and environment. Marriage, relationships, and courtship are dictated by cultural mores and societal standards. During adolescence men are developing ideas about what type of body they find attractive on a woman. It is obvious this may not be regulated to a few attributes, but many and changes overtime. Sexual arousal is not just a physiological response; it is also a mental one. Psychological research indicates that a fetish can emerge by imprinting and conditioning experiences. Seeing a muscular woman on TV or in real life could induce this process. To an extent it may be a form of classical conditioning. This would mean that the female muscle fetish could be of the realm of behavioral learning . Behavioral learning functions on both stimuli and responses. The muscular woman would be the stimuli and the man’s attraction could be the response. This could be more of a reflex to the stimuli. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)  explored the idea of classical conditioning through experimentation with dogs. The dogs were put in a restraining apparatus and presented with neutral stimulus ( tone ). Doing this made form a neutral stimulus became a conditioned stimulus with the sound of the bell. The dogs would salivate when hearing that noise. It is a possibility exposure in youth to strong women can produce the female muscle fetish in a classical conditioning like manner.

Some psychologists have suggested that fetishes come from displacement. This is a term used to describe the process in which individuals shift their reactions to an event to another source. It is possible that the female muscle fetish could be displacement for some event in an individual’s life. This is sometimes the case with extreme paraphilia in which the people with the condition did not get affection or attention in early childhood. They displace their emotions into inanimate objects or other activities. While it could be the case that the female muscle fetish is part displacement, men who have it do not have all tragic childhoods. There is a possibility that a small portion of men have displacement for a loving mother figure. The lack of love or support could cause such fetishes to develop, but this may not count for the majority.

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These are the major perspectives in the field of psychology. These are views psychologists take in approach to study and academic investigation.

Behaviorists and Freudians come to major disagreements about the nature of the mind and scientific application. To the behaviorists if  elements of the human mind or function of learning could not be observed it was not scientifically credible. Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939) was a proponent of psychodynamic theory. These concepts and ideas emphasized unconscious motivation and the impact of the past on mental disorders.  The problem is that it is difficult to observe the unconscious mind. What Freud did to peer into the unconscious mind was to utilize psychoanalysis. This system of treatment involved therapeutic methods to unleash hidden conflicts , memories, and urges. Freud developed these theories without the aid of modern neuroscience or brain scans. This explains why some elements of his theories are either challenged or could be discredited, yet there are still adherents in the 21st century.

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These are the modern branches of psychology.

Freud may have been correct that people do go through a process of psychosexual development. The oral stage of life involves children be dependent on their parents. This is a stage in Freud’s theory were an infant has no other interest than to eat and cry. The anal stage is a period in which infants start toilet training and learning self control. The phallic stage is a period in which a person becomes aware of their sexual desires. The problem with Freud’s theory is that men experience an Oedipus complex at a certain stage of youth. it does not take into account the differences in female sexual development or he just refused to recognize that women have sexual urges as well. There is a period of latency in which people learn to deal with sexual desires and impulses. The final stage is the genital stage in which sexual relationships have developed and energy is displaced into other activities. A more healthy relationship is then established with the individual’s parents. The problem with this theory is that it does not account for sexual and psychological changes over a lifetime. The Oedipus complex is not a common occurrence and there is limited data to suggest that this a standard part of sexual development in males. Freud may have seen the the female muscle fetish as displacement or  unconscious  Oedipus complex behavior. These are the wrong conclusions due to the fact everyone’s childhood and development as a person differs. That is why modern psychology takes into account culture and ethnic differences. The problem with early psychology is that it believed Western Europeans were the default of humanity.  Cross cultural psychology attempts to reverse this narrow minded view. Freud viewed masturbation and homosexuality as signs as abnormal behavior. These were obvious biases of his time. Modern psychology does not hold those views. The Freud’s theory can only minimally describe the changes that occur from childhood to early adulthood. Relevant to the female muscle fetish it may not be the best theory for description. Women contrary to popular belief, also have urges and are not passive receivers of male advances. For a long period of time women were forced to be as demure as possible about their feelings and sexual urges. It is very possible that women could have fetishes as well. Although men are thought to have more fetishes, it could be women are not as willing to be honest about theirs.

 There could be some women who like the idea they can wrestle a man into submission. This may be arousing to them as well. Too often when session wrestling is investigated it is assumed the woman is just a passive instrument. This is not the case, because it is social interaction between two people. It cans be presumed that women can also have a muscle fetish. They may have this more so than men. Traditionally, it was acceptable for women to admire a strong male physique. Women who engage in physique sports like the idea of muscle on both sexes and regard it as another paradigm of beauty. Psychology when it emerged as a science did not focus much on women. It even had elements of sexism and racism as well as class prejudices of the late 19th to early 20th century. Its association with eugenic and unsubstantiated theories caused the rise of multiple perspectives. The pyschodynamic and behaviorist ideas may explain some causes of the female muscle fetish, but not all.

      Biological and evolutionary psychology could provide some clues to why some men have the female muscle fetish. Biological psychology puts emphasis on the search for the link between behavior and the brain. This perspective utilizes brain scanning equipment and neuroscience. What it seeks to do is understand the mind through brain activity in response to certain events or stimuli. This has contributed much to the understanding of memory, emotion, learning, and what is the basis of mental disorders.  The human brain hold the key to understanding the mind. It is a complex organ responsible for thought, emotions, involuntary motions, and management of the body. The nervous system is an essential network of the human body. Relevant to the discussion of responses the hypothalamus is a major contributor. This gland has the task of regulating behavior which includes sleep, stress response, thirst, and hunger. This gland also is responsible for secreting hormones that influence emotions and arousal. Men with the female muscle fetish if shown an image of such a woman  may have activity aroused in this area of the brain. This fetish along with others could be a biopsychological response.

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The hypothalamus is sometimes referred to as the master gland due to its importance to the endocrine system.

Evolutionary psychology believes that behavior came from the tendencies inherited from humanity’s past. There are millions of years of human evolution and with it behaviors that have remained ever since. They do not ignore that environmental forces have an influence, but natural selection still remains a force in the animal kingdom. Certain characteristics may have been favored over others resulting in particular behaviors. Organisms that could acclimate to particular environments were the fittest for survival. This female muscle fetish could be men’s desire to produce strong off spring. The idea of physical strength could be a trait of natural selection acting upon men and women. Sexual cues and sexual scripts could be the product of the evolutionary past acting on present behavior. Genetics evolutionary psychologists believe influence behavior. The goal of any organism is to leave as many offspring as possible. The reproductive strategy for humans in accordance with evolutionary psychology was that males evolved to have more partners, while women were more cautious in mate selection. This may explain why women invest more time in child rearing and men have little investment in it. Sexual motivation differs for the sexes in this perspective. Females only seek mates for status and protection, while males seek women who are the most fertile. This may explain why men may show more interest in sex than women. It may also explain why women think of it terms of both long term and committed relationships. Yet, cultural impacts also influence this. Men could be encouraged to be more promiscuous as a demonstration of masculinity, while women are more restricted. Promiscuity in women has traditionally been seen as negative. Psychology had long debated nature versus nurture, it should be understood that it is a combination of both. Both nature and nurture act in collaboration. The female muscle fetish does have a biological root, but the social as well as environment factors cannot be ignored.

          Environment and socialization are major factors on individual  preferences and biases. The consumption of media has reached new levels with the internet, social media, and other modes of communication. Through media certain images a presented. The image of the strong woman has been presented to many over various forms of pop culture and entertainment. Female athletes have more exposure than in previous generations. There was a period in which finding images of physically strong women would be rare.Now with powerful search engines like Google simply entering the term “muscular woman” or “female athlete” can produce thousands of images. It is obvious that having this level of exposure alters opinions. This socializes consumers to seeing a muscular woman as not an abnormal thing. A paradigm shift has occurred through elements of advertisement. Young are more susceptible to this because they can be easily influenced and the are big consumers of social media content. A young man who runs across such images of strong women and repeatedly looks at them has gradually been socialized to to like it.

There exists separate from mainstream culture many subcultures in societies. This contains material and non-material elements. There has existed a female muscle fandom subculture that developed from  the bodybuilding world. When female bodybuilding emerged as a sport it created a unique culture that involved both fans and athletes. One activity was the rise of both session and mixed wrestling. The female muscle fetish could have been an outgrowth of this subculture. Schmoes are hardcore female bodybuilding fans who sometimes pay to have wrestling sessions with female bodybuilders.Mixed wrestling is different because it just involves men and women wrestling in various venues. Session wrestling has been a method for some athletes to fund their sports endeavors, when the industry pays very little. The lack of sponsorship or endorsement from the fitness industry leaves women with few options. Instead they start their own business in session wrestling in which there is no corporate gatekeeper between them and the consumer. Mixed wrestling itself can be seen as an entertainment genre over the internet. This was pioneered in the late 1970s by Bill Wick and expanded even more with the rise of internet access. Sites like Scissorvixens or Utopia Entertainment videos are just a few that regularly produce videos. This is for the female muscle fan who would rather watch a match than be in one.

This high amount of availability over the internet gives people more exposure to muscular women. Men may stumble upon it and be curious about it. Seeing as information is at one’s fingertips  this only causes a person who wonders to discover more. It is also easier to connect with people who have a similar interest faster. It appears that the attraction has generated a cultural meme through technology. It is possible having exposure to the subculture surrounding female bodybuilding and the much wider fitness culture could cause a female muscle fetish. Exposure and access to certain images and materials has an effect on socialization.

          There has been in a sense a slight cultural paradigm shift. The concept of the strong woman is gaining some acceptance. There passage of Title IX in the US opened the door to new opportunities for women and girls to become involved in sports. It came at a time in which women were gaining political and social power in society in the feminist movement. The female athletes of the ancient past to 20th century faced sigma and ridicule. Strict gender roles and conservative attitudes perceived strong woman as unfeminine. That changed with more open minded attitudes about what a woman can do or be. The physically strong woman image began to appear in the mainstream culture. Women in other sports began to train their bodies with weights. Lifting and building muscle was not seen as the sole domain of men. Such physiques have been seen on television. Women were not afraid to show off powerful looking bodies and some men were not hesitant to show their admiration.

Although there are a number of detractors to women’s involvement, it is not possible to halt their advance. Female muscle has entered the mainstream to some degree through the sports world. They are not doing this to please men, but for their own personal reasons. That does not mean men have not taken notice and others love the development. Women themselves are slowly seeing it is okay to be strong and have muscle. Sometimes a man with a female muscle fetish got media exposure of a developed female body during youth and the image remained in their mind. Entertainment is a refection of the culture at large. There seems to be a celebration of strong women in many variations presented in popular culture. This could range from film, TV, or printed media.  There are even shifts in the fitness culture. The new maxim is “strong is the new skinny.” Toning as some call it, is nothing more than women building some muscle. Fitness is no longer a male only activity and there seems to be a movement toward acceptance.

 Alicia Vikander trains for Tomb Raider

Magazines do feature more female athletes and present a powerful image. While print publications are slowly fading, there is a boom in online publication. Users can get information faster compared to print. This gives the female athlete more exposure. 

Wonder Woman used female athletes as extras to play amazons in the film. Here is crossfit athlete Brooke Ence.

Body image ideals do shift overtime and it is possible another one is occurring. The other possibility is that more people are becoming accepting of different versions of beauty. Certainly exposure helps people understand and get to know that muscular women exist.From this comes some acceptance, for others it is an enthusiastic embrace. The love of the muscular female physique could also originate from other sources. The first place could be from a family environment. If one was raised in a family very dedicated to sports and physical activity the strong woman may be seen as normal. Children who have parents who are athletes may be taught to respect such activities. It is no surprise that some of the biggest schmoes in the female bodybuilding subculture are male athletes themselves. This makes sense in a way, seeing as they are in an environment in which they would be in contact with such women. Seeing as being a champion physique athlete takes much time and effort it would be difficult to start relationships with women who are not involved in the culture. Women who have the same interest may be more compatible to their lifestyle. It is clear there has been a form of cultural evolution that has emerged from fitness culture. Women are gaining political, social, and economic power yet this does not seem unusual. There is the much expected backlash and areas in which more advancement is needed. Control of the body and physical development of the body is the new frontier that women are entering. It is an understudied development .

The representations of the physically strong woman appear in various entertainment media. Comics, cartoons, and video games   present the physically strong woman to large audiences .  Some depictions can be negative or based on stereotypes, but it seems the majority are positive. There are some images that could either be classified as neutral. They neither present a negative or positive image. The impact is that these characters are seen by many children and adults. It is not impossible to believe that these images if circulated could induce the female muscle fetish. Environment, society, and culture play a role as well as biology.

           Biology is the the study of life. Relevant to the discussion of desires, there should be some basic understanding of the nervous system. This organ system is essential to the function of the human body. Neurons are the cells responsible for the foundation of the nervous system. These specialized cells are estimated to be up to 100 billion in the brain alone. They compose a communication network sending information and receiving it to maintain operation of the body. The neuron has basic structures that have certain tasks. The cell body (soma)  contains the nucleus . The nucleus also has genes that provide instructions. Genes are responsible for nervous system formation during the prenatal period. The structures of the neuron are involved in processing information.

Neurons

The dendrites act as communication links between other neurons. This is where the signal is received. Receptor sites also contribute to the process. Axon terminals then send messages . The action potential or neural impulse is the electrical signal in transit. The myelin sheath acts as an insulator and contributes to the speed of action potentials. The nervous system is the master control system of the human body. If it were to completely shut down, that would be the end of life. neural communication does occur electrically, however it is estimated that 99 % happens chemically. The synapse acts as a connector between axon terminal and receptor site. Neurons do not have a direct connection to one another and the synapse must act as a bridge.

 The nervous system can be divided into two parts. The central nervous system consists of the spinal column and the brain. The spinal column contains bundles of neurons that communicate with the rest of the body. This is known as the spinal cord. The brain is the director of activity. There is a protective structure known as the meninges and cerebrospinal fluid. The skull protects the brain where it is encased. The peripheral nervous system consists of two parts. These include the somatic and autonomic nervous system. This system requires the work of both afferent neurons and efferent neurons. Afferent neurons must send information to the nervous system. The efferent neurons must send information from the nervous system. The subdivision of the somatic system uses afferent neurons to relay signals from sensory receptors in the eyes and ears. they are also collecting information from receptors involved in taste, touch, and smell. This subdivision is also responsible for fine and gross motor activity. It has been theorized that smell plays a role in sexual attraction, mostly the work of pheromones. One type of pheromone known as a releaser which contains    androstenone, androstadienone and androstenol could be active in human beings. There is a science of sexual attraction that is still unknown and being examined. It is more than just culturally or socially based; it is both biological and anatomical.

Structures of the brain can influence behavior and emotional states. The female muscle fetish could be part somatic nervous system based. The autonomic nervous system must play some role as well. This subdivision is responsible for internal regulation of the human body.  This part of the nervous system is also pivotal to arousal and different emotional states. The endocrine system acts in concert with this subdivision system. It is mostly the work of the sympathetic and parasympathetic system activity. The female muscle fetish could be a response to the stimuli of the image of the strong woman. The human brain is complex. It is the product of both millions of years of evolution and genetic information. This may hold the key to explaining why  some people have predilections for certain fetishes.

        The fetish as a general concept remains a mystery. At one time there was a separate classification. Partialism was a term once used to describe arousal from body parts not related to the reproductive organs. The fascination  posterior or legs  for example could fall under this classification. The DSM once separated this from fetishism, because it classified it as something different. Fetishism is no longer part of the DSM.

The man with the female muscle fetish may have a preference for a certain part of a woman’s body. Traditionally, the lower body has been emphasized. Legs and glutes tend to be major favorites. This explains why in many mixed wrestling productions there are nothing but women putting men in scissor holds. The emphasis is to see the power of a woman’s legs. This is the demonstration of partialism. The term has fallen out of use and today fetish is just used to describe a whole range of arousing inducing stimuli. Female muscle fans also have a fascination with other parts of the body. Some like biceps, abs, or a full chest.

The term fetish was coined by French psychologist Alfred Binet. He was also known for developing one of the earliest IQ tests . When he coined this term in the early 20th century There was still much unknown about sexual behavior. It was too controversial to examine academically. When the stigma and taboo were decreased scholars began serious investigation. Fetishes are not a modern day development. Such behaviors could have roots in humankind’s evolutionary history. Some psychologists claim that a fetish can be established as early as four years old. This claim would be difficult to prove as definite scientific fact, but is not impossible. Although fetishes are seen as strange, they are not unhealthy. The only way it could be unhealthy is if it causes harm to the individuals or others. People may have a number of sexual kinks which describe a number of sex practices. According to a study from the University Bolongna the common fetishes are ones related to feet, stockings, boots, or gloves. These were once again based on surveys, so it may not be clear how precise they are. The female muscle fetish may not be as large, but the possibilities are bigger when considering the global population. The term fetish suggest that there some pathological behavior involved. There is not correlation between pathological behavior and fetishes. The appearance of fetishes can be the result of sexual expression.

Each individual has a “turn on” which technically is sexual expression. This is the reason why some couples may engage in role play or other types of activities. There is a ritual in this process. Alfred Kinsey was the pioneer of sexual science who in the 20th century interviewed 17,000 Americans about their sexual behavior. His work was done in the 1940s and 1950s during a period in which sexuality was not openly discussed. The data he collected was an important resource for future scholars. William Masters and Virginia Johnson went beyond surveys and actually examined sex in a laboratory. They observed people engaging in sexual activity of various types from copulation and masturbation. For the first time there was actual documentation how men and women physically and physiological react during sex. They discovered that men and women function on a sexual response cycle. This happens in four stages which includes arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. A fetish would probably fall under the arousal stage in the sexual response cycle. A fetish may just merely be another way people express their sexuality.

      Evolution and genetics must play a role to a degree. Genes are segments of DNA which has a presence in the nucleus of the cell. Genes are important to the process of heredity and sexual reproduction. Genes are also involved in the production of proteins. It is important to understand that there are multiple genes that are responsible for various traits of an organism. Genes are in larger groups known as chromosomes .Genotype does not always link to phenotype. Genes do not always determine physical characteristics. Genes may give potential for what traits a person has ( body type or height ), but environment can influence phenotype ( exercise and nutrition can dramatically change the physical characteristics of the body ). Genes can be capable of polygenic expression. Numerous genes could contribute to particular traits of a person. The study of genetics has reveal much about human evolution. The brain has become more complex with the increase of endocranial volume. The cerebrum became bigger compared to our early primate ancestors. Humanity was given a new power of introspective thought, reasoning, language, and the ability to produce art. The body was not just changing physically; humanity was morphing psychologically.

Genetic mutation, genetic drift, and anatomical changes would lead early homo genus species to change in both phenotype and genotype. 

As the human brain became more developed so did emotions and behaviors. Richard Dawkins an evolutionary biologist describes the way genes spread similar to a computer program. The self gene wants to preserve particular traits and continues to propagate through other organisms. Altruism may not be the product of group benefit, but rather the desire to see certain genes spread through a biome. Genes and phenotype play a role in sex selection. The reason men and women may find certain traits attractive is because it is biology, genes, and past history of human evolution producing these feelings or actions.

human-evolution-family-tree-with-skulls-graphic-hero

It is not impossible that the rise of the fetish that is just now being studied in human sexual behavior, was present in the homo genus species. The whole basis of sexual drive and motivation is influenced by the need for humanity to produce offspring. What is called love may just be nothing more than a biological impulse, rather than an emotional relationship.Human evolution has been a process that took close to 5 to 7 million years. Human are part of the family hominidae. Primates derived from a common genetic ancestor, which explains why humans share genetic similarities to chimpanzees. Human emerged recently compared to other organisms.  It is estimated humanity made its appearance close to 150,000 years ago. More is being revealed from fossils and from biogenetics. Charles Darwin was the pioneer of evolutionary theory suggesting that natural selection operates on selecting particular traits for an environment. Herbert Spencer coined this term and his views were strongly associated with social Darwinism. Such ideas were applied to social problems and justified discrimination as well as class structure. This idea is part of the realm of pseudoscience. While social Darwinism as a scientific idea has been discredited, the term survival of the fittest is no the best description either. Rather it is the survival of the best acclimated in an ecosystem  organisms who can produce the most  offspring . Fitness in this this terminology means the organisms who are successful at producing offspring. This is by definition direct fitness. This does not mean the strongest people will survive. A weak person could reproduce many children and would be in terms of  Darwin’s theory fit for survival. They are passing on genes and traits more so compared to others who are not successful at doing so. This is not as simple as it seems. Offspring are not exact  genetic blends of their parents. Darwin’s theory of evolution also describes indirect and inclusive fitness.

Fitness used in an evolutionary context does not mean the strongest will dominate. It is referring to chances of producing offspring so that genes can spread. 

What actions organisms take are to ensure survival and the production of more offspring. Inclusive fitness involves a group in which certain behaviors contribute to the survival of the species. This explains why human being are social animals. The evolutionary past require some level of cooperation among a family, clan, or kinship group.  This does not mean there is no competition for mates. The reason sexual dimorphism exists in certain animals is that it is part of sex selection. Physical differences act as a tool of attraction. It is not impossible to say that the female muscle fetish is rooted in evolutionary history. An attraction to particular features of a woman’s body may be an nonverbal signal of fitness. The trait of physical strength may be something that a man with this fetish subconsciously wants  in his offspring. This is only theoretical. There is still more to be discovered about human evolution and its relation to human sexual behavior.

         The female muscle fetish  does have a cause. Psychologically it could be based on behaviorist, psychoanalytic, or imprinting theories. A sociological perspective sees it nothing more than being placed in an environment. If one was raised in an atmosphere of female athletes or muscular women, it may become something appealing. The internet and mass media exposure does have an influence on thoughts and ideas. Biologically the brain and with the assistance of the endocrine system are responsible for sexual desire and cycles. There is the debate in regards to whether this is nature or nurture based. The answer to the question is not one or the other. Human behavior is a product of both nature and nurture. It would be erroneous to say that both stand independently of  one another. It is both interaction and collaboration that occurs between these two concepts. There still remains the puzzle to how much does one act on the individual. Sex and sexual fetish are a combination of these two concepts of nature and nurture. The psychology, biology, and the internet have demonstrated that fetishes are more common than previously thought. Fetishes are not unhealthy, but suppressing them could cause a person a level of distress. There still remains a level of stigma attached to the concept. Only further study and eliminate false notions or preconceptions. The female muscle fetish has multiple causes, but its origins remain unclear.

References

Zimbardo, Phillip. Psychology Core Concepts.  New York : Pearson, 2009.

Cherry, Kendra. Essentials of Psychology. New York : Fall River Press, 2010.

Perry, Philip. “Are Sexual Fetishes Psychologically Healthy?” Big Think, Big Think, 19 Feb. 2017, bigthink.com/philip-perry/are-sexual-fetishes-psychologically-healthy.

Griffiths, Mark. “Survival of the Fetish.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 7 Jan. 2014, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-excess/201401/survival-the-fetish.

Gregoire, Carolyn. “The Strange Science Of Sexual Attraction.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Feb. 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/14/science-of-attraction-_n_6661522.html.

Spelman, Dr Becky. “Understanding Sexual Fetishes.” HuffPost UK, HuffPost UK, 31 Jan. 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-becky-spelman/understanding-sexual-fetishes_b_9124334.html.

The Female Muscle Fetish : Psychological, Biological, and Social Causes

Self-Defense : Physical Differences Regarding Training

Physical Differences Regarding Training

Self-defense for women is critical. Just learning techniques is not enough, but understanding how sports performance can be applied to a person’s protection. There are physical differences in biology, anatomy, and physiology that must be considered when embarking on a training program. There has to be practical considerations if women are to successfully defend themselves against an attacker. Prevention is important, but this sometimes is out of an individual’s control. If the average male has a higher physical fitness capacity, it would be best for women to incorporate other forms of fitness training to ensure personal safety. The text explains the differences from a perspective of kinesiology and biomechanics . While author does mention the differences in the skeleton and muscular system, the respiratory system is also essential in physical activity. The sports performance element should be considered when developing training programs for women.

            The major difference between male and female bodies is the skeleton. Men have greater bone density and this contributes to strength. The pelvis is wider due to being equipped for gestation. This explains why the sacrum is much larger. This makes the distance between the right can left hip greater. This cause the femurs in the female body to be more angled. This explains why women  genu valgum pathologies. Knee and ankle problems are common among female athletes. this had implications on women attempting to do kicking motions.

Men seem to have more genu varum issues. Any one with such issues should develop an exercise program that does not strain joints to an extreme degree. Puberty also changes the bone structure. The female body becomes more lax in terms of joint stability. This limits neuromuscular control of lower extremities. The knee joints will rotate inward when weight is applied adding more pressure to ligaments and tendons. This puts women at risk at higher rates anterior  cruciate ligament tears. What this generally means is that differences in the skeleton produce a unique female hip and leg mechanics. However, some differences come later in the human life cycle. Girls until age nine have more lumbar flexibility. This ends when males gain more lumbar extension and women acquire more lateral felxion.

 This cannot account for all of the disparity. It seems that women are using more of their internal hip rotation. Male joints are not reliant on flexion and extension. The reason the human walk is different between the sexes is different to the skeletal structure. Women walk with more more pelvic movement and reduced width in step. This explains why women run slower than men is due to the shape of the pelvis. Mechanically a large pelvis is not the best for running speed. The differences in q angle also create the difference.

Knowing that a large portion of power comes from the core and the hip, this has implications in women’s total power out put. The text does make an error. Women’s throwing ability is not entirely related to body structure. Girls on average, are not taught to throw like boys. The only difference in female throwing is that it would lack the force of a man. The reason being is that males have more upper body strength. A larger upper body means more space for muscle mass creating the difference. Boys and girls could theoretically be taught the same technique and throw  in a similar fashion at least until the changes brought on by puberty. The concept of “throwing like a girl” may not even exist.

gender throws
This may not be entirely biologically based.  Assuming this example is of children prior to the age of thirteen, there should not be significant differences in the skeleton. This seems to be technique based because the girl is one using her forearm, rather than the boy who uses his whole body.

Inward knee rotation makes the base of the female body more unstable. A strong core and hips contribute to striking power. A power strike originates from the hips to the core and follows to the shoulder. The final product will be the punch that is generated. If the body is not ground like a root, the legs will just act as shock absorbers. The skeleton is the base for the human body. This means that women’s punches and kicks would have to be performed in a manner that is effective without causing injury during execution. One consideration that the author does not mention is the difference in hand size. Men have larger hands on average compared to women’s. If this is the case women have smaller fighting tools to work with. Punches can still hurt depending on where you are hit. Striking spots are critical to remember is such a dire situation arises. The differences in biomechanical function must be recognized in developing an effective training program.

            Muscular strength also can contribute to self-defense. There are differences in body composition, metabolism, and speed of muscular contraction. Male muscles have greater power out put and in terms of anaerobic metabolism a higher capacity. The difference in muscular strength may make it more difficult for women to defend themselves. Men’s larger size and endocrinology means they are on average stronger than women. The muscle cells of men and women do not differ; the amount of muscle fibers make the disparity vast. The weakest male could still have more strength than an unfit woman. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Training can reverse some of this, but it does not close the gap entirely. A woman and man who train on the same regimen will not see similar fitness results. While women do increase in strength, they still retain higher levels of body fat. This difference may be the largest obstacle the only solution is to incorporate some weight training into a self-defense program.  The article makes a excellent point stating ”   women can pack a very powerful punch this way they still will not match the physical strength of men.” There should be a level of caution and thought when in a dangerous situation the author reveals : “standing toe to toe and duking it out with an enemy larger and stronger than them is just plain stupid.” The idea is just to defend one’s self, not pulverize them similar to an MMA match. There are other factors to consider. Every attacker will not be a hulking brute or have the same level of fighting skill. If the male attacker is physically weaker it would be simple to defend one’s self. If the attacker is stronger, the best method is to figure out a means of escape.

If this man was attempting to attack, this woman’s best defense would be to run or escape.

An attack from this man would not be successful.

Skill is also important, because simply just being strong does not mean you can defend yourself automatically. Certain martial arts disciplines such as judo do not require immense amounts of strength. What it does is it uses body weight and gravity against a bigger opponent. Depending on what martial arts disciple is learned, it is possible to overcome larger opponents. There are multiple fighting forms which include karate,  aikido, ju jitsu, and kick boxing. If trained in these fighting styles it may close some of the gap in the strength difference in terms of self-defense. If an attack had the same training, then this could be problematic.

Training in body motion and developing strength can alter the differences that are based on anatomy and physiology. Women must train on a regular basis to see effective results. This require the use of proper drills and instruction. Women are not at a complete disadvantage. Their muscular endurance is higher compare to men. Although there is a difference in power generation, their function under work can last longer. There are other factors that are involved in muscular strength. Genetics, health condition, and somatotype play a role. Women vary in this physical fitness spectrum. There may be women who find it easier to be a fighter simply, because they have their unique physical advantage on their side. Women with ectomorphic body types find it difficult to make significant strength gains. This should not discourage them from making efforts to learn self-defense.

Having some strength would not hurt. To ensure maximum protection a combination of both skill and strength will help. Women’s bodies on average carry 35 % muscle compared to the average male’s 50%. This varies depending on health, the function of the MTSN gene, and size. A larger woman will have more strength than a smaller man simply because her skeleton can house more muscle. It is not impossible for a woman through training to boost physical strength and muscular levels. A woman can see an increase in physical strength to at least 40 % if weight training is consistent. Muscular hypertrophy functions in the same way in the female body. The muscular system of women is the same, but some differences make it harder for them to reach a particular fitness level.

If the core essential to fighting muscles of that area must be trained. This can negate some of the upper body disparity. It does not completely make it disappear. A man can still have slightly more upper body strength even if the height and weight are the same. The estimate is that women are 63% weaker in the upper body and 27% weaker in the lower body. Women are closer to men in the lower body. A large portion of men”s muscle fibers and androgen receptors at located in that area of the upper body. This has implications when fighting with your fists.

Punches may not be as powerful compared to a man’s,but they can still hurt of done correctly. Women would need to build upper body strength, This would be more of a challenge considering the differences between male and female physiques.Women’s punching techniques need to be modified to be more efficient to maximize damage. Men put more power in using their opposite lead foot.This allows men to utilize the core more and have a stable base to work with.  Seeing as the female skeletal and muscular structure has some difference biomechanics must be approached form another manner. Punching the same way as a man would cause women’s hips to lock at the moment peak power could be used. Thus more effort is put in without the pull power projection. The best way as explained by the author is to step in on the same side as the leading foot, thus preventing a possible knee injury. Technique and a strong body can be useful, but there is one physical fitness element that should not be forgotten.

      Aerobic capacity is a fitness element that should be focused on. If the only option in a perilous situation is to run, cardiovascular fitness is necessary. This is one aspect of fitness more difficult to close a gap. The reason has to do with the size difference of the heart and lungs. Women’s smaller hearts and lungs means they have less oxygen reaching the muscle tissue. That means the average woman will run slower than the average man.

Women can improve running speed with the right training. Cardio exercises should be a small part of self-defense training. It seem rather odd that the text did not mention the respiratory system in regards to physical differences. The muscular and skeletal system are obvious points of examination when discussing self-defense. Women’s total VO2max is lower. Women also have lower hemoglobin levels. It may seem that there are limited advantages in terms of women’s respiratory capacity, yet evidence suggests that women have more endurance. It was reported in 2017 that women processed oxygen faster according to a study conducted by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. This means women have possibly more endurance. Running slower may be a better trade off when running for long periods of time. Sometimes the best solution to an attack is to escape if possible or plot a route to safety.Fighting may not be the best response to every incident.

       There should also be an understanding about the mental aspects and situational considerations. It has to do with reactions and prevention as well as a particular mindset. there must be a level of confidence in movements when fighting. Being hesitant can cause a situation to be reversed. The problem the text suggest is that women may tend to think they can reason their way out of a violent situation. This is a mistake. Reaction time critical in such a situation and it make a difference. If one is being attacked it should be noted that it is a fight for survival and that anything should be done to keep safe. Biting or eye gouging can be effective. It is pivotal to know which areas of the body to strike If an attack is happening. Negotiation or  minimal attacks will only aggravate the assailant. Being as aggressive as possible ensures damage and success. Finding a skilled and qualified instructor who realizes that women have to be trained based on their sex differences can improve effectiveness.

Then there should be an emphasis on prevention. Many third wave feminists claim that teaching “men not to rape” is a practical solution. This notion is ludicrous, because violent aggressive  individuals are not so easily rehabilitated. It goes off the assumption that all men are predators and that it is only women who are sexually assaulted. Men and children can victims of sexual assault or rape. Custodial rape is common in US prisons and the Catholic Church remains  silent about the abuse of boys in its institutions. Using common sense can be the best key to protection. Walking alone late at night or in an unlit area is making yourself a target. Going to a party with the intention of becoming intoxicated also increases chances of attack. While the common counter argument is that women should be able to do these things as free individuals, it must be understood the world is a dangerous place. Having awareness of your surroundings and avoiding possible situations is imperative. Getting the proper instruction from a self-defense professional who understand the sports performance elements can help women learn how to defend themselves more effectively.

Self-Defense : Physical Differences Regarding Training

CNN Money : Inside the World of Women’s Tackle Football

Originally aired in 2017, this news clip exposes audiences to the world of women’s tackle football. Over 4,000 women play competitively in the United States. Sadly, they do not get the stardom or income of NFL players. There still is a major gender divide in sports in terms of  media exposure, pay, and cultural attitudes in regards to the female athlete. Football continues to be a sport that is more male dominated than others. However, that has not stop women from organizing their own leagues and playing. Women continue to be a huge part of the sports world and their numbers are increasing as fans and athletes.

CNN Money : Inside the World of Women’s Tackle Football

Women Closing the Strength Gap in A Big Way

Women and the Strength Gap

This article published online for Women in the World. com was discussing a physical fitness measure between the sexes discussed in a Washington Post piece produced in 2016. There was an analysis of hand grip strength between average men and women. This is used as a measure of strength, but is not the most accurate. The study reported that women between the ages of 30 to 34 had the hand grip strength equal to men of the same age. The right hand was measured for men and women between the ages of 20 to 30. It was compared to data collected in 1985. The average woman compared to the sample could produce 79 pounds of pressure compared to the 117 pounds of pressure of men. The results from 2016 show that women produced 98 pounds of pressure. That is the current male total pressure as well in the 2016 sample group. There was a decline in male grip strength. It should be questioned how accurate hand grip strength measure is as a predictor of physical strength. It has been suggested that it is an accurate predictor cardiovascular disease and life expectancy. These claims need verification to be considered fact. Women are not becoming overall stronger than men, but have improved their physical fitness. Men as indicated by this sample have declined in terms of that element of physical fitness. There are environmental factors that could explain this including changes in health condition. Women have been getting stronger, but closing the strength gap has not happened.

         The subjects used were 237 full time students attending universities in North Carolina. Pinch strength was also measured. The problem with this is that the sample is small compared to the rest of the population. If the study included a wider selection of the population the results would have been different. The results may have looked different. It may still would have shown that a portion of the population in the US is unfit. Obesity and weight related health problems are gradually becoming a public health crisis. The methodology could also be flawed. The 1985 study was conducted in Milwaukee from students who participated in the experiment. This took one cross section of the population. At best this only shows that the average male university student has lost strength. Then one must consider the attributes of subjects used. If it is a test for the average man and woman, students with athletic backgrounds may have to be excluded. This may have distorted the data. Obviously, the female athlete has a physical fitness capacity beyond an average woman.

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Today’s Men Are Not Nearly As Strong As Their Fathers  is the original article in the Washington Post. If a woman like Elizabeth Akenwale was used in the study it would distort data.

  If all the women had athletic or fitness backgrounds it would alter the data to make it seem like they acquired immense strength rapidly in two decades. Also the male subjects the studies used could also result in data that is exaggerated. If some of these subjects were student athletes, their activity levels would be higher. This would result in them having a higher physical fitness capacity relative to their inactive counterparts. The 2016 showed that younger millennial women scored lower in grip strength compared to older ones in the 30 to 34 age range. This resulted in the total average of grip strength of women being 75 pounds. The 20 to 30 age group may have done poorly because the body still goes through physical changes during this age range. It is possible for people to still grow up until the age of 25. Muscles reach their full potential in strength, contraction speed,   and size also by the mid-20s. Muscle mass will  plateau and then will decline with senescence. Bones and muscles can change depending on the amount of stresses and strains they have to endure. Muscles can respond quickly to changes  and patterns in use. This means that if younger women are going to be a part of the study, they would need to be a least 25. This is the stage in the the human life cycle that growth is fully complete and the body is at its physical peak.

Age does have an effect on fitness through the human life cycle. Prior to puberty girls and boys are at the same physical fitness level. The changes in endocrinology alter the bodies of men and women. The male body has more type II muscle fiber and the female body stores more subcutaneous fat. This results in differences in strength. Physical strength is not solely determined by sex, but genetics, somatotype, and exercise regimen. The subjects used in the 2016 study were described as healthy. This could have many connotations. If they all were disease free, that would mean they were healthy no matter what their fitness level was. One could be slightly overweight and be disease free, if one follows the exact definition. Knowing the exact body types and activity levels of subjects could have provided more insight. This experiment if scientifically true, should be able to replicate the same results. If not, it cannot be considered fact.

         There is a problem using hand grip strength as a measure. This method only is an approximation. The text reveals that it is not the same as functional strength. Testing hand grip strength only demonstrates relative strength. This is the force generated by one muscle group or area. Only a measure of absolute strength can be a more precise assessment. This examines the entire muscular force that can be generated from the body. It is not impossible that a person could lift more weights and still produce minimal hand grip force. Weightlifting uses more muscles of the body and would be a better measure of strength.

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Such an activity uses multiple parts of the body rather than just one. Hand size could be a factor. It could be possible that difference in hand size could make a difference in the grip data. Absolute strength is the culmination of both the upper body and lower body. This gives an idea about estimated strength ranges in body. Women can have an estimated 50 to 60 percent strength level in the upper body compared to a man of a similar weight and height. The lower body women are closer ranging from 70 to 75% in terms of absolute strength.

 These estimates could not be extracted from a simple hand grip measuring test. It is not that men have better muscles. Their muscle fibers are larger. This results in a major difference in power. Doing work and generating force is what power is. It is critical in sports such as sprinting or long jump. Examining weightlifting or crossfit records show the differences in strength between the sexes in a more precise manner. As seen in the charts above, men still have higher performances compared to their female counterparts. These measures are better than hand grip testing. Approximations are not helpful in a scientific inquiries.

        Besides problematic methodology, there may be an environmental  reason for this result. The article describes it as work habits. When the first study was produced in the 1980s more men were involved in manual labor. This meant they were getting more exercise hence the hand grip generation. Factory or construction work has been gradually disappearing ever since. Globalization and a knowledge based post-industrial society has caused such laborers a struggle to find work. For those who have transitioned into it, it has had some negative consequences. Sedentary lifestyles and excessive consumption of junk food has caused health problems. Obesity, heart disease, and cancer resulted in this shift. Rarely do Americans get the recommended amount of exercise by the CDC. A materialistic and work obsessed culture causes mental stress as well. Increasing rates of anxiety and depression have become prevalent. Over consumption of alcohol also has increased among the young. Limited life work balance has produced poor physical and mental health. There are some changes being made in workplaces. Standing desks help prevent employees from sitting too long. Some Americans even get gym memberships. It may be too late to reverse such a trend. This will eventually cause strain on a healthcare system already under strain. Environmental factors do influence health. It is not solely biology. Everything cannot be reduced to biological determinism.

            It should be clear that women have become stronger. The measurements in strength show that women are probably doing more physical activity, which resulted in the increase.  Women were less likely to do manual labor jobs in the past. Now that has changed with women working in construction, firefighting, law enforcement, and the military. Some men have become weaker and women have become stronger due to their activity levels. This does not mean women have closed the strength gap. It reflects that women are either getting in better shape or men are becoming less active. It is rare that women who train with men reach the same level of strength. There of course can be overlap in the population. The indication  is that to extent social policy did help women’s health. Title IX gave women opportunities at young ages to become active in sports. Since then the numbers have increased. It is not just the professional female athlete that is becoming more active; average women are exercising and becoming a part of fitness culture.

 There has been to at least a small degree a change in attitudes. Strength may no longer be seen as a male only attribute and women are not afraid of building it. Women seem to take better care of themselves compared to their male counterparts. American women tend to keep up with doctor’s visits and engage in lower levels of high risk behavior. The men who scored low on the strength test may not all be obese or have a weight problem. They could just be out of shape or at a lower fitness level.

The American man has not become a puny weakling or a gluttonous blob, rather just more inactive. American women seen either stabilization or improvement, because historically physical activity and sports was not considered gender appropriate. Now that such barriers are gone and attitudes have changed women are full participants.  Biases remain,yet this does not stop women from pushing their bodies to their physical maximum. There is a revolution going on yet it is a small one. Women who are not afraid to display or demonstrate physical power. There are women who are in various divisions of bodybuilding, crossfit, weightlifting, powerlifting, and numerous sports. This is not just happening in America. The year 2012 and 2016 saw more female participation in the Olympics. Women have become stronger, but en mass not so. It seems to be the age of the amazon. American women have entered the world of law, business,science,  and politics yet there still is a general taboo against women enhancing their physical strength. There is a small shift in cultural attitudes, but more progress has to be made. The excellent development is that some women are embracing strength and fitness.

The rise of the modern fitness woman is a phenomenon. It has not been recognized or studied seriously. There has up until now no point in history in which women have developed themselves physically to this extent. There muscular women prior to the rise of modern fitness, but they did not have an outlet to display their talents. The boom of physical culture from the late 19th century to early 20th century did involve women to a lesser degree. Strongwomen either performed in circuses, vaudeville acts,  or smaller venues. This was not the athletic competition they craved. The rise of the feminist movement and the challenge to institutional sex discrimination  opened the path for the female athlete to get mainstream exposure. From the 1970s  to present there has been an increase in women’s participation and women have gained notoriety as sports stars. While this rise is impressive some made erroneous predictions that women would be out performing men in the 21st century. Some even said women would become stronger than men in the future. This is disputable when examining the biological, physiological, anatomical dimensions.

            Women are not closing the strength gap as a whole. Certain women are able to do so. It is not impossible for a woman to be strong as a man. A man who does not exercise would most likely not be as strong as a woman who does. However, that depends on body type. The mesomorphic somatotype is prone to building more strength compared to ectomorphic and endomorphic body types. Men of ectomorphic and endomorphic body types would not exceed the strength of the female mesomorph. Even

though the men are producing more androgens they are limited by the genetics of their body type. When comparing these body types in a sense women have closed the strength ( or rather exceeded )gap with average men and men of a lower physical fitness level. The strength gap is wide even when male and female ectomorphs are compared. The weakest male would still have more strength than the weakest female. This relates to body composition. If estrogen and progesterone produce more fat, compared to muscle this changes total strength capacity. The thin male has limited body fat and although their little muscle, the few fibers present can still generate force. Fat does not generate the same force as type II muscle fiber.

 Simply having large muscles is not an indicator of strength. There is a difference in training for strength versus training for muscular hypertrophy. The first is the desire to lift more without the goal of developing muscles. Training for hypertrophy is designed to make the muscles larger, doubtless of what the final strength result will be. A weightlifter could be stronger than a bodybuilder because they have trained for different goals. This relates to two different forms of muscular hypertrophy. Myofibrillar hypertrophy causes the growth of contractile parts of the muscle fiber. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy causes growth of organelles, plasma,  and non-contractile proteins. This increases muscle volume, but does not grow the fibers to their maximum extent. This could be an explanation why a less muscular weightlifter could lift more than a bodybuilder.

Women can see at least a 40% increase in physical strength from resistance training if the intensity is high and the diet is adjusted. The muscular system is the same for men and women the difference is in body composition. Testosterone plays a major role in protein synthesis.  This explains why men are more likely to gain more mass compared to women on the same training regimen. it also has to do with starting point. Women have more body fat to lose relative to men. It is however not the total amount of testosterone that accounts for the difference.

 It is the amount of free testosterone that  is present in the body. The majority of testosterone is either connected to sex hormone building globulin and non-specific proteins. A thin man could still produce more testosterone and not be stronger than a female athlete. This reveals that there are other factors besides endocrine function that contribute to strength. The MSTN gene dictates directions to the myostatin protein. This regulates muscle growth and individuals who have low levels can build larger muscles.

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The location of the MSTN gene

Being female does not limit strength potential. Men have some physical advantages which just means their physical fitness capacity will be higher. There are obviously exceptions to the general rule, simply because genetics vary among individuals. Charley Craig and Naomi Kutin were lifting heavy weights when they were children . it is clear they have a natural advantage which aided them in their athletic endeavors. As they mature and if they decide to continue they will have impressive athletic careers. It would not be a shock if they will be seen in the Olympics years form now. Strength does not just involve the muscular system. It related to the actions of the nervous system as well.

It seems that men are destine to get easier  stronger just from the difference in hormone function. The testes allow for greater testosterone production making this possible. The gonads in both men and women perform different functions.  The testes produce sperm and the ovaries produce eggs to allow for sexual reproduction. This requires a surge in sex hormones that change the bodies of girls and boys. The effect is more dramatic in men. Bone, tendons, ligaments, and muscle tissue will gradually increase causing a strength spurt. This also causes an increase of about 40% more heart muscle in the male body. The male growth spurt happens at the end of puberty, while women reach their full growth earlier. As boys mature the amount of free testosterone increases in the bloodstream. Bone density increases and the chest as well as shoulders become broader. This is done by age 20. Women do not see an increase in physical strength during puberty. Muscle fibers do not increase in number, they widen and extend to a greater length. Ligaments are thinner in women compared to men, however they are relatively lax. This means women can be more flexible, but makes them vulnerable to joint injuries.

Women’s hips widen which effects total running speed. Other than that, there is no significant growth in the lungs and heart to the extent of men. Testosterone also increases the amount of hemoglobin in the blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the muscles. If men have more that means they get more oxygen to the muscles during exercise. This means the average male would have a higher fitness level with little or no training assuming they are in good health. There is obviously a reason for the difference in athletic records between male and female athletes. The idea that women are closing the strength gap en mass is not correct. Despite the physiological differences, there is the possibility that  the strength difference can be narrowed. There has been calculations that  if the average sports records of women stay below .85 percent women van make more improvements in accordance with the 90% ratio.Training can not eliminate all of the differences in physiology. The average woman’s muscle weight without training is 35% compared to men’s 50%.

So far, it is clear that women are not closing the strength gap, but are becoming more fit. The article’s commentary seems to either have a vague or limited understanding of exercise physiology. It was fascinating that it did not expound further on contents of the Washington Post article, because it gave a lucid picture. This article was written for Women in the World an organization that promotes live journalism events.It has third wave feminist leanings, which may explain why the title of the article is such a hyperbole. If one were to read the article with limited knowledge of human anatomy or physiology, they would believe that women were as strong as men. This is not the case, but there are some very strong women. The third wave feminist movement would benefit from learning science rather than branding it a tool of patriarchy.

           The topic regarding sex differences had been a controversial issue. It has been complicated further by those who still promote and believe pseudoscientific biological sexism of the past. The opposite end of the spectrum is faction of third wave and power feminists who think that sex differences are entirely sociologically based. To them the differences in strength among the sexes is nothing more than an example of patriarchy. The reality is that on average men are stronger, but that does not mean men are stronger than all women. Biology is not patriarchal or sexist. It is a science, but it seems that this small group of women want to wage war on it. Ignoring or pretending that differences do not exist is irrational. Differences are not evidence of inferiority. Misogynists normally use the fact men are stronger as a justification men should have more privilege and power in society. This argument is ludicrous, because that would mean a stronger woman should have more rights and privilege than a weaker man.

As seen previously, strength is not male only. Arguments that truly to prove biological inferiority have no basis in scientific fact. The reason power feminists and factions of third wave feminists focus on this is because it is an area in which they cannot not fully compete with men in .  They claim to want equality, but rather they seek power and an abnormal amount of influence in various spheres of society. There is nothing wrong with women being a part of areas in which their numbers are low, but there is the problem of conducting it as an invasion of male space. An example is that of the electronic entertainment and video game industry. While women do not play as many video games as men a small group of third wave feminists are attacking video games. This was started by Anita Sakeesian of Feminist Frequency, which presented the gaming community as sexist woman haters. Sexism is a problem in the industry just like other areas of society, yet the trend now is to focus in on a particular section or group as a root cause. There seems to be a desire to demonize attributes or activities traditionally considered masculine by this faction of feminists. If  it is not condemnation its third wave feminists entering a sphere and using it as a vehicle to advance their  agenda.   The mentality is compete with men and promote gender antagonism. The only reason this has not occurred in the sports world is that women’s participation is low and there are biological obstacles that make it a challenge.

They claim that  their is sex segregation in sports and that there should be an integration. This is not segregation, but making competition fair. If men are stronger and faster than women having a separate division is just like a weight class. Women if there were no divisions would be pushed out of contact sport. Men weight more and are taller giving them a physical advantage. The only way this would constitute discrimination would be if it were separated when there was no physiological or anatomical advantage that favors men. There would be no need to have separate archery or equestrian teams for example. There are women who just want to challenge men for the sake of promoting gender antagonism. There may also be another reason for this concern about strength and physicality. The fact that men are stronger than women may induce a level of trepidation in some women considering the rate of domestic abuse. While one does not need to strong to be  physically abusive, it makes it simpler for a person to inflict damage.

 Some feminists erroneously believe that if women were as strong as men this would end oppression. That is not true because oppression is reliant on control of resources and property. The reason women were held back in human history was due to the fact they did not have property rights and were denied education . Employment was limited and healthcare was of low quality due to restrictions on reproductive rights. Regulated to the domestic sphere they had limited access to politics or the affairs of state. This was reversed in the 20th century. Although some nations lag behind in terms of women’s rights, women have become more powerful politically and socially. Many women are enjoying opportunities that their great grandmothers could only dream of. Women are getting power politically and socially so the obvious next step is to develop the mind and body. The problem this the power feminist is that they want to use a new found power as a tool of vengeance against men.That should not be a goal. The point is for women to enjoy sports and fitness not demonize men. Recognizing that sexual dimorphism exists is not sexism. It is the result of millions of years of evolution. However, the influence of environment cannot be ignored. Women at a young age are discouraged from the use of the their bodies and body image conformity has a negative consequence on health. There is a reason anorexia and bulimia are higher among women compared to men. The idea of a single body image for women is being challenged in America and it is a welcomed change. It is imperative that men and women have a healthy perspective about their bodies. Physical activity should not be done for the sole reason of cosmetic purposes. Maintaining health should be the goal. The strength difference is a combination of nature and nurture. If one examines the number of women in physically demanding occupations this demonstrates interactionist  theory. If women on average have less strength it means their numbers would be lower. That is not the only reason, because discrimination has kept women out of certain fields such as these. The numbers still will not be equal even if social barriers are removed.

        unless biology and physiology of women change dramatically, law enforcement, construction, firefighting, and the military would remain mostly male. Biological determinism is not the only reason. It also comes down to behavior. Men take more risk and are raised to be more competitive. These jobs do require a level of risk that many women may try to avoid. The challenge therefore is not solely biological, but social behavior.  This probably is the major obstacle to reaching actual equality. It will not be realized with the current version of feminism that is visible in American public life.

       Although hand grip does not give an exact measure of health it is obvious that American health is declining. The decline in hand grip strength is an indirect indicator of low levels of physical activity and fitness. American life expectancy has declined reaching a plateau when this article was published in 2016. There factors could include high fat, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar based diets. Making no time for exercise can have major consequences on health. Children are even having health problems with an increase in unbalanced diets. The cuts to public education have also harmed physical education in schools. There also has been a disparity in healthcare. The US is one f the few nations that does not have a government program for healthcare, but instead relies on private companies. Most Americans get their health insurance through their employers. Those who are unemployed or could not afford a plan had to pay out of pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act was suppose to be a means for which all Americans could get healthcare no matter what their socioeconomic status. This needs to be developed into a universal healthcare system in which all citizens can be covered. Now with a Trump presidency it is being dismantled and medicaid as well as medicare will soon be under attack. The removal of such programs will ultimately cause a public health crisis.

It seems like the study only demonstrated that women are taking better care of themselves. Men are neglecting their health. 

This would impact men worse in particular. On average the male life expectancy is lower even when conditions are favorable. A woman with a particular health aliment may survive longer compared to a man. This also depends whether or not a citizen lives in an urban or rural area. Urban areas have more hospitals, while rural areas are dependent on health clinics. Hospitals located in rural areas may require long distances to travel to. Health clinics in rural areas are shutting down due to lack of funding, while simultaneously there is an attempting to dismantle government healthcare. There must be a drastic revision in public policy to reverse years of neglect of these populations. Women’s longevity does come with a price. The longer you live the more likely it is to have more health aliments related to age. Cancers and dementia become a threat to seniors. If elder care is not funded or functional this will add to the mass public health crisis induced by poor diet and inactivity. Social security, medicare, and medicaid will not be able to handle the medical costs from advanced age related illnesses. This can be prevented, but it starts with a change in eating habits, lifestyle, and a new attitude in regards to exercise.  It can be concluded that women have not closed the physical strength gap, rather they have closed the durational strength gap. Women’s life expectancy exceeds men’s even in countries that have the lowest average. When compared  in this regard they do have greater strength.

Women Closing the Strength Gap in A Big Way