Today it seems as if women are engaging in more physical activity. There are women participating in numerous sports, which thought to be solely a male domain. One question that has been raised is if women are getting physically stronger. It is clear that women’s sports records have improved. Not only has that happened, but more women are involved in professional sports. Working the body would certainly increase an individual’s physical strength and there is no reason to think this would not work for women. Environmental and sociological factors do play a role. Biological determinism is not a complete assessment of physical potential.
Women have gradually become open to working out with weights. There are still a huge majority that rather focus on aerobics or cardio exercise. The reason for this is fear of developing muscle or virilization. These myths are slowly being overturned. Weightlifting has been proven to be an effective tool for weight management. A new trend and zeitgeist has developed in fitness circles called “strong is the new skinny.” This is an alternative to the almost emaciated bodies presented to women as beautiful. Many women enjoy have some muscle and shape to their body. There still is trepidation about becoming “too big.” That term is relative. When discussing aesthetics they vary from person to person. This is a personal barrier that women may put on themselves subconsciously. It could be referred to as a strength glass ceiling. Women are either pressured to stop trying to reach their highest physical potential. Some women who weight train claim they just want “tone” ( which is adding muscle). Even though there are sociological barriers, there are women who go on to develop themselves to the maximum. Women have competed in bodybuilding, strong woman competitions, and weightlifting. These are a select few amount of professional athletes. The average woman can still increase her strength.
Most women would rather aim for a body of the woman on the left. Women who want to be serious athletic competitors would attempt to emulate the woman on the right. Both women would face harsh criticism for their athletic endeavors.
While it it true more women are working out, there still is an obsession with thinness. It seem the majority of women’s magazines promote weight loss over the gain of lean body mass. Fashion magazines are the worst promoting anorexic bodies. Although, there is some progress. Some women health magazines have women with a bit of muscle on their covers.
Besides training and exercise environment does play a role. Depending on were a woman lives determines how much she can be involved in physical activity. Some societies still believe in strict gender roles. Certain activities are considered not appropriate for women . There are extreme cases that exist in the world today. Afghanistan has a poor record for women’s rights. Women are given less opportunities to education, political rights, and healthcare. This is gradually changing. One area that Afghan women are advancing in is sports. Afghan women’s football teams have made progress. There still remains gender bias against their participation.
Afghan Women’s Football now has membership in the Asian Football Confederation.
The women may not be given the same training facilities or instruction as their male counterparts. Training and coaching can improve performance. Women who are involved in sports may not be given the same amount of coaching or attention, which could enhance their skills. The West claims to be “liberated” in its views toward women, but the same gender bias remains. Women are taught the most important part of life is upholding their femininity and attracting a man. This outdated notion is being dismantled. There are women who seek not only to increase their strength, but take it to the maximum limits.
Women are now competing in numerous strength sports. Weightlifting, bodybuilding, and strong woman contests are open to women. Another popular competition is CrossFit. This fitness company sponsors games held in the United States held during the summer. Competitors engage in weightlifting, aerobic exercise, and gymnastics. CrossFit at its core is a strength and conditioning program. The women that compete are certainly strong. Some were just average women wanting to lose weight or add shape to their body. There are others who take this a serious competition and want to see how far they can go. Although female strength sports do not get as much attention as mainstream events, they demonstrate how far the female body can be developed.
This woman clearly is stronger than many men.
It is obvious that something has happened. Now women want “toned” arms and to add shape to their body ( which means adding lean body mass). Women athletes are not only appearing more physically powerful, their performance improved. Women were not permitted to be as competitive, even when certain sports were opened to them. There was an emphasis on different rules and physical activity that maintained “feminine composure.” With new attitudes about women’s roles in society changing, this idea dissipated. Women no longer had limited restrictions on their physical development. There have always been muscular women and athletic women, but they were not given a platform or opportunity to display their skills.
This is Pudgy Stockton and Lenda Murray. They competed at different time periods, but illustrates how women’s physical strength has advanced.
Muscular, athletic, and strong women were either regulated to performing in circuses, vaudeville houses, or competing in smaller sports venues. Pudgy Stockton for example could not compete in a professional bodybuilding federation, because none existed for women at the time. Athletes now use weights as part of their training regimen in other types of sports. Women who are not serious athletic competitors are recognizing the benefits. However, there are still antiquated social conventions. Some women who are naturally strong and athletic may hide their ability for fear of ostracism. Others refuse to submit to ridicule and engage in their sport.
Athletes are a small portion of the population. The average woman may not do the same exercise regimen. There are also certain health factors. The West has a problem with obesity. High sugar and fructose corn syrup based foods are causing a public health issue in developed countries. Developing countries are struggling with the opposite. Food insecurity puts many in a perilous situation. Women are at a risk for higher obesity rates, because of the production of certain hormones. Estrogen produces a body composition of mostly fat. This makes weight loss a hard challenge for women. Then there is a cultural element. Leisure eating has become a recreation for people living in the developed world. Trying out different restaurants, bars, and fast food establishments has become a major pastime. There are negative effects and it could cause deleterious results on health. A sedentary life style combined with a sugar based diet will result in illness. This could effect women even worse, because they are not encouraged to be physically active.
Supplements are another tool that can increase body strength. Women just like men, who are involved in fitness or sport are now consumers of multivitamins, protein powders, and fat burners. The use of these supplements can increase physical strength. Protein powders are critical, because they help build while simultaneously repairing muscle tissue. The supplements act as an auxiliary to regular food. Besides supplements, there is a more controversial method of strength gain. Anabolic androgenic steroids have been a part of professional sports through out its inception. However, men account for the majority of steroid users. Most users are not even professional athletes. Women do not need steroids to get strong or muscular, but anabolic androgenic steroids do increase strength immensely. If a woman does not have the genetics for a mesomorphic body, steroids will do little to improve performance. Even athletes who do use still need to train with the maximum amount of diligence.
This is what can be done with some anabolic steroid use. It still requires a huge amount of effort and work. This is still amazing.
Muscular and strong women were around before the development of anabolic androgenic steroids. Detractors of women’s athletic involvement claim that drugs are the only way women can have physical ability. This statement is ludicrous when examining the past. It has only been recently that women have competed on this scale and level in sport. So, it is still unknown how far women can go. Then there is the consideration of improved supplements of the future.
A woman can still build muscle without performance enhancing drugs.
Supplements of the future may be more effective. They could create protein synthesis at a rate more rapid. There is also the possibility of myostatin inhibitors. This protein regulates muscle growth and if it is manipulated genetically, it could produce spectacular results.
It is true that women athletes have become stronger. Women as a whole have not. Although it seems that more women are becoming physically active. They are not just running on treadmills or doing aerobics. The fear of weights is slowly dissipating among women. There has been an extension of sports opportunities for women, but some countries still hold strict gender role conventions. When certain barriers are dismantled, women can advance far. There are some biological differences that are endocrinological, but these are not disadvantages. Women will have to work harder to gain strength. With modern resistance training women can build considerable bone mass and muscle. The future is not predictable. It is not impossible that women could become stronger in the future. Evolution still continues, but this takes millions of years. It should be understood that biology is not destiny. Merely being female does not limit ones physical potential.