Women’s Long Jump Goteborg (2017)

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Women’s Long Jump Goteborg (2017)

New Research on the Muscles of Elite Athletes: When Quality is Better Than Quantity

Quality versus Quantity

A study conducted by the University of Southern Denmark in 2016 revealed interesting information about athletes’ muscles at the cellular level. Endurance athletes showed a change in mitochondria. Athletes who participate in soccer or skiing demonstrate that muscle quality could be better compare to mass quantity. Larger muscles do not equate to a better athlete. The mitochondria provide energy to the cell and allow people to engage in long periods of exercise . Exercise physiology has reached the conclusion that the more endurance exercise done the more mitochondria increase in the muscles. This may explain why endurance athletes have more compared to non-athletes. Muscle fatigue happens after physical activity. The study also shows that endurance is not only determined by the number of mitochondria, but their structure. Such a discovery can contribute to making more efficient training programs and possible medical applications.

      The study conducted by the Swedish and Danish team found that the mitochondria of athletes was structured to generate more energy. The human body seems to adjust to various demands depending on a particular stimuli. It was stated by  Joachim Nielsen professor of muscle physiology : ”  our measurements have shown us that these mitochondria can generate around 25% more energy.”  This provides an advantage to marathon runners, cross country skiers, and soccer players.

The involved comparing non-athletes to athletes. A muscle biopsy was then conducted. Biopsy is a procedure in which tissue is removed from the body for examination, normally for the purpose of detecting a disease. The sample size included 15 elite athletes and 29 non-athletes. While it would help that the sample size was bigger, there was no indication of sex distribution. Women are now serious athletes, however many times the biological and physiological differences are not accounted for in    training and exercise physiology studies. This still should hold the same for women, seeing as there is no difference in mitochondria between the sexes. The muscles tissue between the sexes do not differ either. Muscle cells are the same between the sexes, the only difference is in the amount and particular fiber type. Men have more type II muscle fibers compared to women having more type I.

Women can build muscle. Sex should not have an effect on the outcome if this study was only done with female athletes. When the muscle tissues was viewed through a microscope, changes could be observed.

        Research indicates that such an endurance advantage may not be inherited. There is no substantial evidence to suggest that a mitochondrial athletic advantage can be passed through generations. There could be an indication that longer periods of exercise could change the mitochondrial structure for the extended term. According to   Joachim Nielsen : “we took detailed measurements of each muscle fibre and saw that those muscle fibres that are typically most active during extended periods of physical activity are also those with the most significant changes in mitochondrial structure. ” This may also suggest that these changes may be more so epigenetic changes. The DNA sequence would not be altered like that of a mutation. Athletes are changing themselves through training. The only way to know for sure is to observe how their offspring would be like.

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It seems the cellular function in relation to sports performance is more complex than previously imagined. Training will certainly become more sophisticated and scientifically based in the coming decades. Many times training took a more trial and error approach to methods. Pure science mainly focused on observation, which in many regards athletes used that system in their training methods. There now seems to be a framework to follow based on a scientific method.Long term exercise may induce some form of permanent change at the cellular level  if done for decades. If this was to be made it into an experiment it would be difficult to test for. If mitochondrial advantage is inherited it is probably a combination of genes. The misconception is that it is one gene responsible for various traits. The function and actions of gene expression operate more intricately. Then environment can also influence how such genes are expressed. An athlete may have genetic advantage , but a poor training method could hinder their full potential.

This would require a longer study of athletes to see if there was a genuine genetic  athletic connection. Science is far away from engineering a superhuman athlete, but it appears to be getting closer.

       Such studies also offer other applications in biomedical fields. There are diseases that harm mitochondria which can result in impaired muscular and metabolic function. This may also hold the key to improving the lives of people with metabolic disorders. There are  a number of mitochondrial diseases that people can have. Normally such diseases are genetically inherited. Not all mitochondrial disease is inherited. Some can be classified as chronic. Other disease can induce mitochondrial dysfunction. Severe mitochondrial disease has particular symptoms. This could include muscle weakness, exercise intolerance, poor growth, Respiratory problems, Thyroid problems, Nervous system or brain disorders, heart, liver, and kidney health issues. The symptons depend on the cells effected. Mitochondria is very important to human health and the body. If disease can be understood at a cellular level, the possibility of cures become that much greater. Rather than just having medical treatments, particular mitochondrial issues can be eliminated through genetic engineering.

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Research has suggested that major diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and various autoimmune diseases have a link to damage of the mitochondria. If Mitochondria fails to produce energy, this will have deleterious effects on human health. The lack of critical energy harms metabolic function.  This may explain the cause of obesity or diabetes in some individuals. It has been theorized that exercise can protect the mitochondria. Free radicals if produced in a large number can create oxidative stress. The mitochondria have antioxidants, which focus on reducing damage to the cells. It is possible that antioxidants decline as a person ages. Having a diet in which the require minerals and vitamins could improve cell health.

If this is scientific fact, then there could be a means of reversing the aging process by means of manipulating the mitochondria. If immortality was to be achieved this would generate much bioethical controversy.  The secret of life is hidden in the genetics and organelles of cells. Cells and organelles can also reveal much about the history of human evolution. People inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mother. This is why biologists and  paleoantropologists are able to trace human evolution millions of year ago. The body is like a puzzle and each part fits somewhere. Mitochondrial function may be the holy grail of biomedical advancement.

       The only way to fully grasp the significance of the study is to have an understanding of mitochondria’s structure and function. The mitochondrion has an inner membrane folded shaped like shelves with incomplete partitions. This allows for an increased surface area so that fats and sugars can be released. The outer membrane of a mitochondrion is smooth with limited features. Mitochondria can be found in most eukaryotic cells. The Mitochondria must generate energy in the form of adensosine triphosphate. The number of mitochondria vary depending on the type of  cell. Muscle and liver cells can have to thousands of mitochondria. Red blood cells do not have mitochondria. The outer mitochondrial membrane is permeable  to transport small molecules with particular channels for moving  large molecules. The inner membrane is less permeable only allowing small molecules to enter the matrix. The matrix has the DNA of the mitochondrial genome and enzymes associated with the tricarboxylic cycle. This will then metabolize nutrients into by product for the purpose of energy production. The conversion happens in the inner membrane.   Cristae  house the protein components. The electron transport chain induces a series oxidation reduction reactions which move electrons from one protein to the next. The free energy produced enables the  phosphorylation  of  adenosine diphosphate to ATP. The final result is the powering of cells through  chemiosmotic coupling of oxidative phosphorylation, which allows for the fueling of various cellular activities. This also include the generation of muscular movement. Mitochondria and its properties may hold a key to more efficient athletic training.

New Research on the Muscles of Elite Athletes: When Quality is Better Than Quantity

Thin is In? Think Again. New Research Shows That Muscles and Body Tone Are Increasingly Rated As More Attractive Than a Purely Thin Female Body

New research shows that muscles and body tone are increasingly rated as more attractive than a purely thin female body

It seems that once more body ideals of attractiveness are changing. The study that was conducted by Frances Bozsik of the University of Missouri-Kansas demonstrated how media can change particular perspectives and attitudes. This study just examines the United States and does not explore other parts of the world. The results were published in Springer’s journal Sex Roles. What the team did was examine Miss USA pageant contestant photographs and documented the change overtime. Undergraduate students were selected to rate and look at the photographs. The collection were photographs between the years of 1999 to 2013. Based on the study it seems that the contestants became more fit with bigger muscle definition. The 64 graduate students in the study were shown photographs of  that were identical. The only difference was one had a thin body displayed and a more muscular one. They were show the images separately and then together. The more fit woman in the photos were rated as more attractive. The study however did not ask what the subjects’ body ideals or preferences were. This could have distorted the study. This does not mean that the muscular body type or a thin body is an ultimate ideal, but men’s preferences are vast and more extensive in terms of activeness. The study seems to indirectly prove how images and media can control an individual’s perceptions and attitudes. Social media may explain the rise of a more powerful female physique becoming mainstream. Beauty as demonstrated by the study is not one concept, but can vary depending on culture and personal preference.

          The 64 subjects used in the study should have been surveyed about their ideal female body type. If most of the men in the study had a preference for muscular women that would obviously distort the results produced. These men would probably rate muscular women higher just because of preference.

It should be no surprise that there are men who like not just women are are in shape, but display a huge amount of muscular development. Then it is problematic with the use of the term toned. This term is not always lucid. The photos shown as “toned and thin” almost seem like a contradictory statement. Tone used in this context implies some muscle definition. This raises some other interesting questions. They used beauty pageant contestants, but what if the study employed some photographs of female bodybuilders or larger women. This could have cased another split in the survey.

Thin woman compared to a slightly athletic woman 

A larger woman compared to a slightly more muscular woman. 

The highest degree of development 

The study does not explain which level of muscularity is preferred on women. If this was to be investigated further one could conduct a study of women of multiple body types. There are also limitations in terms of the survey size. The number of men and women should be equal, but large enough to make a more precise assessment. There were 78 women who looked at the photographs. It should also be considered the differences in men and women’s reasoning for ratings. Women may rate certain women higher,because they either see something they want to emulate. It may not be an indication of  the attractiveness of a body ideal, rather a physical fitness inspiration. Men’s ratings may also be a little more complex. There may be a factor of amusement simply because women of a certain physicality they do not see in their daily lives. The high rating may be one of respect, rather than an admission of  attractiveness. There may be admiration for someone who accomplished such athletic feats, but it may not be in line with their personal concept of aesthetics. To be through, surveys should have been conducted afterward to find out why participants picked the body type they did.

The beauty pageant contestants have gotten bigger compared to the past. It seems fitness has influenced body ideals. Bodybuilding culture has spread. It seems that beauty pageant contestants are adopting training methods of the fitness and figure class more so. 

The main reason could be is that they were exposed to images of strong women prior to the study. The internet and social media platforms are responsible for this rise. This was only over a fifteen year time span, which was relatively short. This survey should be done once more with more men and women. If the results are the same then it is definite that there has been some form of paradigm shift in the attitudes regarding women’s bodies.

       The study notes the rise of the concept of fitspiration. This neologism refers to a culture that embraces fitness and exercise, but also encourages others to follow by example. What makes this subculture unique is that it is mostly women participating in larger numbers, but it is getting exposure through mainstream sources such as social media. The concept of exercise and fitness being a hobby or a pastime is nothing new. The difference now is that women are becoming a major part of this movement. The reason women are a big part of this fitness movement is because there are now more female athletes that are visible. Title IX encouraged women for decades to be involved in sports . There also is a global movement in which women are becoming a presence at the Olympics. This was almost unimaginable 100 years ago.

images (18) There is a female fitness culture that has supporters and detractors. A schism has emerged in this movement about purpose and objectives. Supporters claim it helps build confidence in a society that attempts to make women feel bad about themselves. Detractors say that it is an obsession with appearance and should be focused on health. The more vociferous objections come from sexist who believe it is not gender appropriate for women to be engaging in fitness culture at all. These issues do need to be addressed. Fitspiration does not make the demand that every woman look fit. The dominant fitness magazines tend to market weigh loss rather than exercise to women. Obsessions with thinness come from mainstream media sources, not fitspiration. This fitness movement is small compared to the dominant mainstream culture. The problem is not women exercising or getting in shape it is sexual objectification that is projected in emphasis in appearance. The mainstream media presents only one image of beauty. Fitspiration is not attempting to present one image, but just to get women physically active. The sexist arguments normally follow the lines of that such physiques on women are unnatural. The reality is that humanity has the ability manipulate their own biology to a certain degree. They are not unnatural, because nature is changing. Human evolution is an example of how the body can change overtime.

Women who are of such physicality are not abnormal. It is just for so long there has been restrictions on what is appropriate for women. The difference now is that women are beginning to define what is beautiful on their own terms. There should be no confusion that women who  embrace fitspiration are solely doing it for the purpose of appearance. Some are serious athletes improving their performance, others are women who are entering the fitness industry, or simply casual lifters. Some women have used this fitspiration movement to develop their  business  related to fitness. Women although large participants in fitness are largely excluded from the business aspect. Social media has allowed for women to promote themselves rather than going through the established corporate gatekeepers. If women’s sports do not get enough coverage on television social media and the internet can be as useful tool to challenge the disparity. It is not entirely clear whether this fitspiration subculture is a positive or negative development.

     Social media has become an international phenomenon. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat  are used by billions of people. The internet and social media have contributed to the rise of the image of the muscular woman becoming more prevalent. Frances Bozsik even states :” These websites allow individuals to collect images of women with whom they identify or admire, essentially allowing them to cultivate their own media repertoire of highly salient thin and fit media.” A user can easily go to Pinterest or simply use Google to find images and other materials on muscular women. Prior to this, the only way to see one was to either go to a watch a sport or go to a gym. There was print media to a limited degree, but it is now more extensive with the internet’s global reach. Social media has power to influence people and ideas. Depending on how it is used, it can be a helpful tool in changing people’s attitudes. There seems to be a gradual acceptance of women with muscle and strength. Female athletes do receive huge amounts of traffic to their websites and social media.

Seeing as the mainstream entertainment platforms devote less time to women’s sports this helps athletes immensely. Women can manage their own image rather than being reliant of a public relations firm or corporate sponsor. Fans and supporters can interact with their favorite athlete and have access to enormous amounts of material. Video streaming sites like Youtube, Dailymotion, or Viemo give users access to women’s sports to a greater extent than television. Fans will no longer face frustration about not seeing a particular female athlete. The new entertainment medium of social media has become a positive development for women’s sports and the image of the physically strong woman in general.

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The internet has become a powerful communication and entertainment medium producing blogs, websites, social media, video streaming and electronic commerce.

 There is also a negative dimension to the rise of this new medium. Cyber bullying and harassment have been too ubiquitous for many users of social media. There is also the issue of the rapid spread of false information. Relevant to the physically strong women they are subject to rude comments or ostracism from internet trolls. The anonymous nature of the internet emboldens sexists, racists, and the churlish  to insult whoever without consequence. Many muscular women have reported that sometimes they do receive unwanted commentary to their faces, but not as often compared to an online setting. The comments are pretty much similar in thought from phrases like “she looks like a man”  or “that’s too much for a woman” and voicing another insult of women being “disgusting.”

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Everyone has the right to their own opinion,but that is not a license to insult or be exclusionary to people. The reasons for such reactions can vary. Some people may not be used to the idea of a muscular woman and do not know how to react. Some responses con from ignorance. The other type of commentary is out of jealousy. This mainly is from other women who do not like the idea some other women are getting attention. Instead of being introspective about such emotions they rather attack other people who they perceive as more successful. Men who are insecure may just attack women in general because they want to validate their masculinity. There is a strong feeling of threat that comes from women who are confident in themselves or are unique in some way. These same men would probably be threatened by women who are very educated or make more money than they do. A large portion of trolls are just hateful people who attack anyone who is different. The major problem is that many people still view women in terms of gender stereotypes and dated sex roles.

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This is an example of blatant sexism. Strength if its demonstrated by women is shown as being gender inappropriate.

There has been an uneasy relation between women and exercise throughout the modern fitness culture. The attitude is that women should be physically active, but they should not develop themselves to the maximum. The notion that women can develop themselves to be “too much” seems ludicrous. One would not ask an artist to stop painting too many murals or an architect to stop constructing buildings. There are differences in what makes the most aesthetic physique, but there is room for all of them in the fitness culture. There is an obvious size bias. Female bodybuilders are sometimes ignored or repudiated by members of the fitness culture even when they were the harbingers to the women’s physical culture phenomenon of today. The women of the 1970s had a more difficult time with public stigma and misunderstanding. Women now have at least a slightly improved situation compared to the past.  There has been progress, because for every negative comment there are more positive ones that can be seen on social media. There is also another dilemma with this. Sexual harassment directed at the women. Such commentary makes users feel uncomfortable and adds another challenge.

  There is a difference between admiration and sexual objectification. A simple compliment would be welcomed. However, there should be a clear understanding why sexual advances or comments  are not appropriate on social media .  Thankfully, there are blocking features that can be used to counter harassment. Technology can be abused, but this can be avoided if it is utilized responsibly. Then there is the question of privacy. Some athletes may find that they have an online stalker. While there are complications that come with technological advancements, it has allowed the idea that women and strength are not two contradictory concepts.

This new image of female strength would not be as prevalent or influential without the contributions of social media and a vast global internet network.  This has produced positive and negative effects.

        It can be debated that simply the presence  of various images produces body image dissatisfaction. It cannot be ignore that there is a strong pressure at least in the West for women to have a thinner body type. The fitness woman image has become a recent phenomenon. To say that women who see such images will automatically feel terrible does not have basis in fact. The real problem is what message the images are conveying to the consumers. Magazines directed at women focus excessively on weight loss or appearance. Bozik states ” This process of selecting preferred images and then narrowing the media focus by placing these images on their ‘boards’ may inadvertently increase the risk of developing higher levels of body dissatisfaction, as well as subsequent disordered-eating behaviors that are linked to it,” Looking at an image does not immediately lead to an eating disorder or psychological distress. Not all consumers will be susceptible to these issues. There are women who are more vulnerable : those with low self-esteem and easily pressured. The basis of mainstream consumption in a capitalist system is that it plays on consumers fears and insecurities. If society puts a huge amount of pressure to reach an ideal unattainable it will take some internal fortitude to resist. If there is a lack of confidence or low self-esteem then such psychological disorders can emerge. There has been a counter to this which has been the body positive movement. It seems odd that it favors women with curves, yet the physically fit women are not even part of the discussion.

Many times the same promoters of body positive movements will body shame women who are exceptionally fit. If one is against body shaming, then there should not be a reason to target fit and muscular women with negative criticism. There is also a problem with the body positive movement. It wants to replace on standard of beauty with another. Replacing paradigms is not the solution. The only way this will change is when women stop putting so much effort and energy  into their appearance. While sexism is to blame for some of these attitudes, women are partially responsible. Fashion, make-up, and beauty products are commodities that women have control over. They profit from making other women feel awful about their appearance. Men are not solely to blame as many third wave feminists would want some to believe. Numerous times its other women who disparage other women’s appearance. The only solution is to teach young girls that they are more than their appearance. Society must learn to value women as people, rather than the misogynistic view of being sex objects. If such actions are not taken then no change will occur. That is why it is futile to stop using photoshop on magazine covers or  promote plus size models. As long as the negative perceptions about women’s roles and worth are present there will always be a problem. A solution would not be to stop showing images of fit women.

The media does have the power to influence. However, it is too simplistic to say prevalence of the fit woman image is causing body dissatisfaction. Correlations between media consumption and extreme behavior are inconclusive. Video games are not the cause of extreme violence nor is television.  They may be a factor, but that does not explain the phenomenon. Relevant to women in body image it is the message being conveyed is the issue. If one body type is presented as beautiful either directly or a  subtle  manner that is the root of the problem. If you favor one type over others this becomes an issue. Beauty can be both cultural and personal preference based.

        Beauty and aesthetics vary from culture to culture. Some societies like bigger women others mostly in the West are focused on a slim body. The promotion of a particular aesthetic is a recent phenomenon. This rise of photography, advertisement, and visual media contributed to the promotion on single image of female beauty. TV and movies contributed to this and distorted the public’s thinking. What emerged was the notion that all women should look a certain way based on particular images from mass media. While women who do not follow the image are ostracized, men who find other paradigms of beauty are also subject to harsh criticism. There seems to be limited tolerance for men who have varieties of beauty concepts in regards to women. If the more voluptuous body type is being embraced, others should be embraced as well.

Some people enjoy curves or a more athletic type. There are a large portion that favor numerous paradigms of beauty. The reason this has become an issue is that it is related to sex roles and psychology. Body image is related to sex roles and psychology has become interested in the study of body image. The reason is related to methods of confronting mental disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These conditions which are eating disorders or an obsession with weight disproportionately effect women. While men can have these mental disorders women are the majority in terms of diagnosis. Such disorders are products not only of a constant circulation of images.

       The way people view the bodies of women are based on strict sex roles. These are normally restrictive and have sexist overtones. Women were once seen as the weaker sex. Their primary role in the traditional culture was to be mothers and caretakers of children. The medical view was in the past that the female body was naturally weak and its only purpose was for childbirth. The male body was the opposite a symbol of strength and power. When women gained more political and social power it spread to other areas. Women began to take control of their own bodies. This was not only done with reproductive rights and an emphasis on women’s health, but women participating sports. Now, after decades of Title IX women are enjoying the benefits of exercise and physical fitness in larger numbers. Women who became active also took their fitness a step further and developed their bodies to their physical maximum. Never before in human history have women reached this level of physical development. There were muscular women that existed in the past, but they did not have a competitive outlet. Nor did they have access to training facilities or an extensive knowledge of exercise physiology.  Women who show great physical power and prowess are challenging strict  gender roles. However, women themselves still struggle with the idea of muscle and strength. Even supporters are skeptical about the aesthetics. Women can be strong, but not too strong. There is a belief that too much muscle would compromise a woman’s femininity. Women are at this stage not afraid to show whatever muscularity level.

The most significant paradigm shift is that women who get involved in fitness culture are not there for appearance purposes. They become serious athletes. Crossfit and women’s increased participation in the Olympics has made an impact. Sports and fitness will no longer be the sole domain of men. Social media is becoming a more powerful tool to organize and market something to a global audience. There is a possibility that this is a mere trend which will fade away. Social media has a predilection for various sudden trends becoming more expansive with multiple hastags. This change in preference in terms of body type was occurring before social media’s appearance. When it was introduced to the public, this explains the surge in interest. User were sharing images and materials with other users. The study’s conclusion can be debatable. It is too early to saw that a strong female physique will become the new mainstream beauty paradigm. The image would have to expand into film, television, or other popular media. What is definite about the study is that people could have multiple preferences in terms of body ideals, even though society continues to promote one. The radical occurrence from this change comes from the women themselves. They are deciding what is beauty for themselves, rather than have it dictated by the wider society or mass media. Where ever this shift in beauty concepts goes, it is uncertain. What can be observed is that women’s mindset about fitness and exercise has changed.

Thin is In? Think Again. New Research Shows That Muscles and Body Tone Are Increasingly Rated As More Attractive Than a Purely Thin Female Body

Introduction to Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is a field that uses the study of the mind to improve athletic performance. Athletic performance is not just physical; it is also mental. With the rise of numerous professional sports many teams have sports psychologists on their staff. The role of the sports psychologist is to get athletes motivated, contributing to practice sessions, and learning to control emotional states under extreme pressure. This is essential to any athlete competing at the highest levels in professional sports. Psychology is the scientific disciple that examines the human mind. This should not be confused with psychiatry, which is a medical field of study. Psychiatry takes the perspective that people can be treated for mental diseases and it can be cured. Psychiatrists hold medical degrees meaning they can be licensed to prescribe medicines and perform medical procedures. Both psychiatrists and some psychologists treat mental disorders. That is the only aspect of similarity. Psychology has a wider field of study which encompasses behavior and mental processes. Sports psychology is an example of applied science. This means it goes beyond mere research and is used to solve particular problems.

      Sport psychologists could be involved in numerous elements. They could be examining and developing techniques to improve participation satisfaction or performance enhancement. This could also involve sharpening mental skills. Athletes may require counseling or clinical issues assistance. Athletes may deal with stress or negative emotions, which could effect how they play. A sports psychologist can help them manage issues or tribulations that might emerge. Sport psychologists can also assist in organizational elements of sports counseling. Sport psychologists may also study the social and developmental issues regarding sports participation. The sports psychologist applies their specialized knowledge  to training and competition.

Sports psychologist must also know the technical elements of competition and have an understanding of sports organizations’ rules. Sport psychology thus becomes an important tool for coaches. Anxiety and stress are major hindrances to overall performance. This requires a set of mental skills and techniques to manage such emotions. They cannot be eliminated, but controlled for the period of competition. Coaching style and philosophy of game play can make a difference. Sports psychology employs a number of methods to solve rapid changes in emotional states.

          There are methods that are used by sport psychology to increase performance. Cognitive skills and behavioral training are utilized in sessions. This includes goal setting. imagery, and performance planning. Goal setting is establishing what performance target an athlete wants to accomplish. Imagery and performance planning is the process and actions involved in reaching a particular objective. These techniques put emphasis on a pathway to success and the actions required to reach it. Cognitive and behavioral skills training also involves improvement of concentration. Having attention and a high level of alertness contributes to athlete awareness as well as response.

There are also confidence and esteem building techniques to deal with feelings of nervousness and self doubt. There is an emphasis on emotion regulation as well as developing sportsmanship and leadership skills. Competence building is also another aspect related to the behavioral- cognitive skills building. Counseling and clinical intervention is another part of sport psychology. Athletes may suffer from depression or phobia and require guidance. Then there are points in which burnout can arise or extreme lack of motivation. People who lose enthusiasm for something they are passionate about is not abnormal. This happens to writers, artists, filmmakers, or anyone with a high level of talent. Counseling can help with reminding individuals like these why they should continue and be dedicated to their passion. Counseling and clinical intervention also assists with injury and rehabilitation. When play sports professionally the risk of injury is high. Sport psychologists can help an  athlete cope with returning to a  healthy state. Medical professionals now understand that there is a mind and body link, which is important to overall health.

Counseling can assist athletes when transitioning to other careers. Major changes in life will take sometime in terms of acclimation. Athletes who choose another sport to compete in benefit from  counseling to make such transitions less cumbersome. Athletes can suffer from the same mental illness that effects the majority of the population. A strong support system and attentive coaching can prevent mental distress. Sport psychologists also use consulting and training as a procedural technique. Team building becomes critical when working with multiple athletes. Team sports require cooperation and coordination on higher scales. This requires an understanding of group psychology and how to get individuals to function as one unit. A soccer team or a basketball team will not successful if all the players either are suspicious of one another or have difficulty collaborating.

20110703000329291611-minihighres The best teams are one that can function as a single unit and helping one another to success. Sports organizations also seek the advice of sports psychologists. Psychology has become interdisciplinary. Sports psychology also uses other academic fields such as kinseology, physiology, and biomechanics. The sciences are more connected to one another than previously thought. Neuroscience, biology, and anatomy contribute to psychology. As more is discovered about the human brain this requires multiple disciplines to decipher and interpret. Sport psychology has been applied to how youth sports are played and function. There are systems of intervention for both families and youth. Psychologically people change as they age and during youth it is a time of rapid development. Youth development follows in stages according to some psychological theories.

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abigail_2Children do not just go through physical maturation, but a cognitive one. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was the psychologist who pioneered the study of childhood cognitive development. According to development happens in developmental stages. The sensorimotor stage is the point in which an infant becomes acclimated to their five senses. This lasts to about age two. The next stage is the preoperational in which language is being learned and used. Children at this stage between the ages of two to six have not mastered logic or the understanding of other perspectives.   The concrete operational stage between six and eleven years of age children gain the ability to reason. The last operational stage happens at age twelve results in abstract thinking. Piaget’s theories can be questioned however it seems that his model does accurately describe the cognitive development of children. A sport psychologist must take that into account when designing programs for youth sports. Coaches also may consult sport psychologists in methods and techniques in regards to motivating a team or developing talent of the athletes.  Such methods make building an athletic team more sophisticated compared to the past.

        Psychology has multiple branches and perspectives. Although it is a fairly recent science, psychology may have ancient roots. Philosophy was the first system of thought to investigate questions of the mind. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates debated what was consciousness and the mind. African and Asian civilizations also investigated such questions. Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization were exploring concepts of medicine  and the mind. Further east Buddhism and Yoga philosophies focused on consciousness and techniques of mastering the mind through meditation.  African civilizations developed a folk psychology in which shamans would use certain therapies for various aliments that were both of mind and body.

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Modern psychology gradually developed from ancient and modern philosophy. The sciences can trace its birth to philosophy. Many scientists of the past were known as natural philosophers. The rise of the scientific method and more advance mathematics gave birth to modern science. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) proposed the notion that the spiritual mind and the body were two distinct entities. Reflexes and sensations were not products of supernatural forces. Such activities were based on the nervous system. Psychology as the public knows it did not come into existence until the 19th century. Wilhelm Wundt working at the the University of Leipzig was the harbinger of experimental psychology. These early experiments into psychology conducted in 1879 studied perception, sensation, learning,consciousness, and memory. Since then psychology has expanded these elements.

The perspectives of psychology have different explanations for human behavior. The biological perspective seeks to uncover the mind by the study of genes, the nervous system, and endocrine system. Evolutionary perspectives normally fall under this category, but it can be paced under a separate classification.   The cognitive perspective puts emphasis on mental processes such as learning,memory, perception and thinking. The psychodynamic explores the function of the unconscious. The behavioral perspective examines the role learned responses and the nature of human behavior. The developmental perspective realizes that an individual will change throughout a lifespan. The whole person perspective seeks to examine mental health and human potential. Trait and temperament are a focus which explores the attributes of personality and individual differences. The sociocultural perspective realizes that various groups behave in different ways based on the societies in which they live. While some theories have credibility, other can be questioned. The human mind and brain . is more complex than previously thought.

         When discussing sports motivation and emotion are important to an athlete’s performance.  The brain serves a major role in emotion. The amygdala a structure of the limbic system is responsible for a wide range of emotions. Athletes even are going through numerous emotions prior to and during competition. Emotions could fluctuate between joy, anxiety, or trepidation. The brain responds to external stimuli. The barin even reacts to different facial expressions. The physical reactions to emotions happen when the automatic nervous system activates. The energy level of the body can increase or decrease depending on the intensity level.

limbic_system

Brain

when discussing emotions this raises another question. Do people have the same emotions? There are obviously varieties of emotions . This depends on the environment, situation, and temperament of the person. Human populations either experience happiness, trepidation, or sorrow. These feelings are universal, which indicate that emotions and social behavior are evolutionary survival mechanisms.

Emotions and complex social behavior was probably a means of our early hominid ancestors adopting to dangerous environments of the prehistoric past. This may explain why humanity is also capable of nonverbal communication. Psychology also explores motivation and how it relates to behavior. The reason some may perform better during competition has to do in some manner with degree of motivation. Sports competition could either be defined as intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is doing an activity for the enjoyment it produces. The reward or accomplishment is not the ultimate goal. Many athletes get a great satisfaction by simply just playing their sport and being active. Winning almost becomes an afterthought. This does not mean the competitive drive disappears. Extrinsic motivation is reward based. A person can be motivated more when a reward is possible for accomplishment. An athlete could be motivated by money, fame, and an enduring legacy in the sports world. Psychological motive is defined as the internal mechanism that selects and dictates behavior. Drive is separate entity because it is biologically based. Sport psychology does contribute to understanding the mental elements of performance, but it is still unclear how effective it is. More research and exploration is needed to reach full verification.

 

References

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

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

Hunt, Morgan. The Story of Psychology. New York : Anchor Books , 2007.

“Sport Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.aspx.
Introduction to Sport Psychology

New York Magazine : Squeeze Play

Squeeze Play

The article “Squeeze Play” was written by Amy Sohon in 1996 and was archived on their site in 2014. What may seem like a common article to a fan of female muscle, brings it to a mainstream audience.  This may actually be the first mainstream publication to discuss session wrestling and muscle worship to a greater extent. The special element about it is that it takes commentary and interviews from the women and men who participate. Normally mainstream publications or media outlets are judgmental about activities or practices they do not know of or understand. The article states that session wrestling and female bodybuilders have become a popular fetish. Session wrestling was already popular prior to the New York Magazine article.  Lori Braun the founder of femalemuscle.com is mentioned. The website has for the past decades booking sessions, posting articles, and producing videos of muscular women. The site has been around since 1994 and continues to produce content. What Sohon’s article exposes is the expansion of the love and acceptance of some men of the strong female form. The New York  Magazine does not present session wrestling as bizarre or abnormal. Rather, it is a curious pursuit. The writing does not display negativity that is commonly associated with commentary on female bodybuilders. This is unusual fro the time period in which it was produced. The problem is the article only gives a few aspects of the session wrestling world.

       There needs to be an understanding of women’s motivation as well. The commentary from a bodybuilder named Michelle is interesting, but it only relates to the clients she has wrestled.  She stated ““One guy wanted me to wear my posing suit and sit on his face with my glutes. ” Another client loved to be headscissored until he passed out. When this article was written female bodybuilding was in a different state. It was not in a decline, but a silver age. Women’s sports are underfunded and women are paid less. The women athletes of female bodybuilding began to to enterprising by doing sessions.  During this time sessions could be up to $500 dollars just for an  hour. Women could make more money from this than competing. The extra income could be used to go for competing expenses and travel. Finance is not the sole reason for women doing sessions.

Women also get a level of thrill out of this. The article mostly focuses on the men, but its the women who make it possible. Women may also have fetishes, even though it has been commonly believed that men have more. The women who do this may find it a turn on to physically dominate men. This role reversal  is something women do not experience in their lives. Women who gain this much strength and physical power say it has a positive effect on their lives. They have more self-esteem and more body image confidence. Power is an attractive quality. Physical power was traditionally seen as an attractive quality in men, but has gradually become somewhat acceptable for women. The image of the female athlete has made this concept more widespread. Some session wrestlers say they enjoy doing this because they get to travel around the world. Many female bodybuilders who offer sessions travel around their own country or others meeting different people. This aspect is what female athletes seem to like the best. According to Lori Braun in the article women prefer muscle worship, because it takes the least amount of effort. There may also be another reason. The women may like the attention. Sadly, female athletes do not get the same respect or attention within the bodybuilding and fitness world. The admiration and enthusiasm can be refreshing in atmospheres of negativity. Session wresting is not exclusive to female bodybuilders. Many session wrestlers come from various backgrounds. Some women are not as big as female bodybuilders, but very athletic.

The motivations vary widely for women. Being athletes having a competitive nature is common.Some women like the idea of competing with a man in a wrestling contest.These women are normally stronger than the men they wrestle or at least evenly matched. Such activity can be a serious workout for some. For both men and women this could just be simple fun. This phenomenon is growing, but it is uncertain how many participants are involved. There may be few men or women willing to admit they do this out of embarrassment. There is no reason to be ashamed. The ostracism comes from a public or groups that are closed minded about anything that is different. Biases are normally projected even more on media outlets and popular entertainment venues. People still seem to have a problem with powerful women and women of this type in particular.

If one can accept women in business,politics, and the wider public sphere there is no reason a physically powerful woman should be an anomaly. Nor should having an attraction to them. Women who do session may actually have a fetish themselves. It has been thought than men have more fetishes, but this may not be entirely true. It seems that it is plausible that women have fetishes considering they have a sexuality as well. For a longtime, this was suppressed and only with the sexual revolution did this change. Women have sexuality and have sexual expression just like men. Cratolagnia and    sthenolagnia can be present in women as well. Power can be attractive. Mental and physical power can be very enticing attributes. It just now that men and women can see these are positive attributes in both sexes.

There is both a sex bias that distorts the public’s view about muscular or athletic women. Women who have participated in strength sports often say they enjoy the transformation their body goes through. Muscle to them is the extension of the aesthetic of the female form. Some women want to take this beyond mere looks and want to see just how strong their bodies can get. Women’s motivations are just as wide ranging as men’s, but there is no way of documenting every reasons individuals participate.The only records and data that can be gathered is from statements of individuals.

            The article provides statements of men who regularly have sessions. Statements and commentary come from a lawyer named Matt. This is unique that a client would give their identity when discussing session wrestling. Many men are afraid to reveal their love of muscular women. Other would be too bashful to admit they participate in sessions. For female muscle fans this is a deep personal secret. However, other rather be open than be furtive about it. Matt the lawyer interviewed  says that the thrill comes from a change in power dynamics. He describes it as ”  then I realize, either in fantasy or reality, that she can take me, and that’s the buzz.” There always is a moment in which a client realizes that they like muscular women. Normally this starts at a time in youth. Matt the lawyer stated that seeing a room mate playfully wrestle a girl stuck with him from college. Sometimes this attraction can happen as early as childhood.

There tends to be a moment or experience that gets men to be lifelong devotees to such a body type. The article does make that point from the commentary it collects. Experiences vary from person to person.  These men come from various class, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. There are common misconceptions about clients who participate in sessions. Some are stereotypes and others are exaggerations based on limited knowledge. Schmoes are normally depicted in the subculture as socially inept nerds or more threatening sexual predators. The reality is that these men could be doctors,lawyers, or your neighbors. Some are married men or have girlfriends that do not even know about their fetish or their session wrestling participation. Schmoes and the general female muscle fan differ in some regards. The general female muscle fan likes any muscular woman. Schmoes love the strongest and most muscular women. Their focus is on the female bodybuilding sport itself. The female muscle fan’s range likes any woman of various levels of physical development. It seems that it would be odd that men of power and high paying jobs would enjoy this. The idea is that they would like being in control all the time, however doing this provides some what of a form of stress reduction. For a moment  the responsibilities of power can be cast aside. Not all female muscle fans participate in sessions, but rather watch videos. The men who participate in sessions are not all the same.

     There are certain wrestling sessions both clients prefer. Muscle worship is what women seem to like the most, because it takes the least amount of physical effort. Wrestling multiple times in a day could be exhausting. The majority tend to favor fantasy wrestling and semi-competitive wrestling.  Competitive is least preferred due to the risk of possible injury, but matches like that do happen.

 Clients like certain wrestling holds the most. Many are ones that involved the use of legs. Headscissors and bodyscissors are the most popular moves that clients favor. Many websites are devoted to women doing this wrestling move. Some video productions just focus on a single wrestling move. The video productions are more for viewer entertainment. A private and personal session has another dynamic within the subculture. Session are controversial even in the female bodybuilding culture. Detractors compare it to prostitution, other just see it as a frivolous activity. The claim that it is like prostitution is an exaggeration. Physical intimacy is not part of sessions, however this does not mean it does not happen. There really is not enough information to know exactly how many times such acts occur. The average session merely is wrestling or muscle worship. The other criticism does not take issue with women doing sessions, rather that it brings a comedic image to the sport. Some feel that if female bodybuilding is going to survive and rejuvenate itself, it needs to improve its image and something ludicrous looking will not help. This claim also seems to lack cogency, because sessions are not widely known to the public and there are many times in which sports and be silly. Women wrestling men is not going to harm the image of female bodybuilding. The only reason that female bodybuilding has a negative image is due to the fact the fitness industry does not promote them in media and the public relations element is mostly controlled by men. With session wrestling women are at least in control of their financial gains.

Some athletes just become wrestlers more so than competing. Women from fitness, bikini, physique, and figure also engage in wrestling sessions. Those categories are in comparison doing better than the traditional bodybuilding category. However, they are still paid less by the IFBB. Doing session allows them to compete and get the financial gains that should be offered by the corporate structure. Sessions were around during the earliest stages of female bodybuilding. Bill Wick polarized it with his VHS tapes in the 1980s and 1990s. The rise of the internet cause an explosion of mixed wrestling material and muscular women. Clients had easier access to sessions than ever before.

         To mainstream observers there is the perplexing question of what is the appeal of such women. While there is no exact reason, there are some common ones that are shared among female muscle fans. The idea of power can be attractive. Power can have many connotations  . It could mean leadership, influence, or a high status position in society. There is also another connotation that relates to mental and physical power. The muscular woman demonstrates great physical power,but also mental power.

It takes much diligence and will power to reach such a level. The time, energy, and dedication are an indication of a strong mental fortitude.Another way in which women who do this sport show mental fortitude is how they deal with constant ostracism. It is not as terrible as it was in the past, but muscular women are targeted for insults and closed minded attacks. It takes inner strength to handle such intense harassment. This quality seems admirable. While it seems more acceptable to admire women’s mental strength, the physicality aspect seems more taboo. Women and muscle does not seem like two elements that would mix to some people.but it has a unique appeal and aesthetic. Women have often been cast as the weaker sex, but this notion is challenged with the image of the physically strong woman.

To a degree such an image challenges the traditional gender stereotypes. If women can be  in politics, business, the arts, and other occupations why can’t a woman develop her body to a physical maximum. Women who seek to develop their bodies to this degree are still attempting to enhance the female figure. The female bodybuilder attempts to create an hourglass figure with a developed upper body and lower body. The female bodybuilder aesthetic still values the older elements accept on a bigger frame. The female form is accentuated.

There is nothing wrong with liking such an image. The problem is that society and some people believe beauty only comes in one form. There are multiple forms of it. When understood from this perspective the love of female muscle does not seem strange. No one ever makes the claim someone has a fetish for thin women. The female muscle concept has reached the mainstream to a degree. The article mentions WWE and magazine, but since the time of this article’s publication there has been rapid expansion of the image of female muscle. Websites, blogs, and social media have pushed the image further than what could have been done with magazines. The rise of crossfit and the presence of female athletes have contributed to having muscular women more visible. There has been some level of acceptance, although detractors and some backlash is present. While female bodybuilding may be small it was the sport that brought the image of the muscular woman to a wider audience. The sport does struggle, but there is a plethora of muscular women. Women’s embrace of physical fitness has been in many ways a silent and growing revolution.

New York Magazine : Squeeze Play

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Female bodybuilders train for muscular hypertrophy and aesthetics. The present an image of strength, yet the question  is what is their strength compared to men. This article from Spot Me Girl attempts to answer this question. There are women could can be stronger than men, however their is a different outcome if both men and women are on the same fitness program. The reason is due to sexual dimorphism which is shown in size, weight, and body composition. Potential between both sexes in terms of fitness capacity can vary vastly depending on health, somatotype, genetics, and method of training. There is a range of strength levels that can be documented. While physical strength is not the goal of the female bodybuilder, the development of more type II muscle fibers may result in them gaining strength. Microtrauma occurs in the muscle causing hypertrophy. This process happens to women who engage in serious weight training for such a sport. The difference is in degree and extent. The average woman could gain some strength,  who trains on a regular basis. The female bodybuilder who trains for years or decades could reach a strength level either equal to or slightly above the average man. The untrained man probably would not depending on their weight or height be as strong as a woman who trains regularly for strength. Other exercises are useful, but some are more effective at amassing strength. A Female bodybuilder would probably not reach the same level of mass or strength as a male bodybuilder. This does not mean there cannot be overlap, but this is an exception unique to a woman’s individual physiology and physical fitness capacity. Female bodybuilders would thus be stronger than average men, but would have less compared to their fellow male competitors.

         It should be clarified that endocrinology as plays a role in sports performance. The text states that testosterone does not play as big a function in muscle building as one would presume. This contradicts the following statements about initial strength. The reason that this natural strength disparity is present is due to the difference in testosterone. Prior to puberty there is no difference in physical strength between the sexes. Boys and girls have roughly the same physical fitness capacity. Girls will grow faster and end their growth spurts sooner. Boys are slower to grow having two stages. The first growth spurt could happen as early as 10 to 11 years old. The major change comes around age 13 when testosterone production increases and the testis become larger. Between these two growth spurts, males will have a strength spurt. The spurt in strength is the result in increase testosterone production. Estrogen creates more fat storage on the female body when the ovaries produce it. Sex hormones also effect the bones, ligaments, and tendons which also contribute to body strength.  A majority of girls reach their adult height by age 15, while men continue to gain more. Women do not gain a strength spurt form puberty due to the endocrinological changes related to estrogen and progesterone. However estrogen does have benefits. It can contribute to muscule repair, protects joints as well as bones, stops muscle loss, and aids in metabolism. Testosterone aids in protein synthesis which changes the rate of how muscle reacts to exercise. It also effects growth factors. This explains why it would be harder for women to build strength and muscle when starting a training regimen.

The image above shows children and at this stage in life, there is limited physical capacity difference. The adults on the right would show the aftermath of the physical changes from puberty. The athletes at the bottom have to work harder to achieve these physiques. 

It should be understood that it is not the total amount of testosterone that produces greater strength . The amount of free unbounded testosterone in the body makes part of the determination.The majority of testosterone in the body is either bound to proteins or sex  hormone binding globlin. Endocrine function does have a significant fact in strength, yet it is not the only one. There are also considerations at the beginning that has to do with a woman’s body structure.

        The upper body region differs for males and females in terms of structure. Men have broader shoulders meaning a larger frame to store more muscle on. Women can have an estimated 40 % to 70 % upper body strength level compared to a man. When men train they can add more upper body strength. A female bodybuilder’s shoulders would not increase in size. The muscle would develop relative to her frame and size. The skeletal structure including  clavicle, scapula and the rib cage would be denser in the male body. That means an average man would have an upper body advantage over the untrained woman. Assuming the female bodybuilder had enough muscle for forceful recruitment and contraction her upper body strength could be close to or equal the average male, even if the bone density was not equivalent. There would not be a way for her to challenge a male bodybuilder because the bone and muscle mass is greater.

The female bodybuilder compared to the male bodybuilder would not reach his level of strength and mass. The less muscular women would not have the same strength as the men they are next to. The average man at the bottom would not be in the same strength range as the female bodybuilder. 

Tendon and ligaments have to be factored in when discussing functional strength. Women have looser joints, which allow for greater flexibility, but this comes with the added problem of possible injuries.The lower body women tend to be closer to men in body strength. This is probably easier for women to build up compared to the upper body. These estimates in body strength can be represented in estimated percentages. Women are 27% weaker in the lower body and 63% weaker in the upper body in terms of averages. Greater upper body strength can be essential to sports like weightlifting or boxing. The difference in upper body strength only gets more pronounced with training. If women were to match the upper body strength of men it would require more bone mass and broader shoulders. Narrow shoulders mean that there is a decreased articular surface. Before considering other biological and physical factors to answer the question, there has to be a precise method of measuring physical strength.

         There are ways of measuring strength. There are methods that are more precise than others. Hand grip measure would not be the most precise measure. The chart used in the article only used women hand ball players and judo martial artists. The study conducted by The Journal of Applied Physiology . They used a total number of 1,645 men and only 533 women. This data could be distorted considering women’s numbers were small in the sample. While hand grip strength can be an indicator of manual lifting and the ability to carry loads this does not give a full assessment of absolute strength. The subjects they used were not training for physical strength, like weightlifters. Only with precise measures can a determination be made. Looking at men and women’s weight lifting and powerlifting records shows more.

Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

Powerlifting World Records (IPF)

The records demonstrated the difference in  absolute strength between men and women . The difference calculated in weightlifting is 120kg  compared to 327.kg in powerlifting. There still remains a difference in absolute strength. Bodybuilders do not train the exact way as powerlifters or weightlifters. So, if one wants to get specific about strength levels it would be best to collect data on some of the lifting records of individual athletes. When Kristy Hawkins competed in bodybuilding her lifting stats were 205 lbs (92.9 kg) for incline bench, 315 lbs (142.8 kg ) for squats, and deadlift. She could also do 245 lbs (111.13 kg) barbell rows. When she became a powerlifter her lifts became significantly larger. She broke records with a deadlift of 650 kg and a 225 kg squat.  Kristy had strength as a bodybuilder,but gained more of it through powerlifting techniques.

A person can gain some strength from bodybuilding, yet powerlifting and weightlifting provide a greater potential in terms of absolute strength gains. The goal of bodybuilding is not too bench the most, but to present a physique that has definition, shape, symmetry, size and conditioning. It is rare that women reach the strongest trained male range.The comparison of how strong a female bodybuilder is also depends on the man she is being compared to in terms of strength capacity. The average male lifter can roughly squat  125 lbs (56.7 kg), benchpress 135 lbs (61.2 kg), and deadlift 155 lbs ( 70.3 kg). Compared to Kristy Hawkins the average man would not be as strong. This is based of the Lon Kilgore strength standard. Another comparison could be made with Desiree Ellis during her career. She was able to perform 225 lbs( 102 kg ) bench press and 315 lbs squats (142.8 kg ).

The average novice male  lifters weighing 198 89 kg) pounds with several months of training could reach a 230 lbs (104.3 kg) squat, a 175 lbs (79.4 kg)  bench press. These gains are modest, but still not in the range of a female bodybuilder. Several years a male could reach the intermediate level which could see a 215 lbs (97 kg ) bench press and (129.3 kg) 285 lbs for squats. The intermediate level range of male strength is normally were women reach their maximal strength. Advanced male lifters can reach 290 lbs (131  kg ) for bench press and 390 lbs( 176.9 kg) for squats. Kristy Hawkins deadlift is higher compared to advance male lifters, but this is a notable and rare exception.

deadstat

This comes down to body size. women weigh less than men and on average are smaller. Examining deadlift data from a small sample of athletes show the difference in body weight. The smallest males weigh in  at  is 114 lbs (51 kg ) compared to the smallest woman at 97 lbs (43 kg). The largest woman would only reach 199 lbs (90 kg )compared to the male 320 lbs (145 kg )  and over. Female bodybuilders often seem bigger than they actually are. One of the biggest female bodybuilders to compete was Lesa Lewis who competed at 193 lbs (88 kg). Phil Heath the 2015 Mr.Olympia weighed about 240 lbs (108 kg). The biggest  women are comparatively small to their male counterparts.Other female bodybuilders may even weigh less than an average man when in competition. The average weight of the American man over the age of 20  is at least 191 pounds. Female bodybuilders rarely reach this weight even during the off season.

These weightlifting statistics are more precise than a basic hand grip study. While lifting any amount of weight can induce change there is a training technique that is more efficient in building strength. Strength increase can happen from bodybuilding,but powerlifting and weighlifting can increase strength even more.

       Another factor is body composition and somatotype. This is an estimation of possible muscular strength gains that can be made. Many female bodybuilders have a mesomorphic body type prior to starting their sport. Having that base can enhance the body further through training. For people with ectomorphic and endomorphic body types this poses more of a challenge. Muscular gain would be more difficult for naturally thin or larger people. When related to body fat percentages it makes a difference. A thin man would still have less fat compared to a thin woman. Fat does not add to strength, rather it can add to mass. Although from basic kinematics the more mass the more force can be generated, having more fat does not correlate to more functional strength. This explains why a the weakest man would still have more strength than the weakest woman. The male body has more muscle composition compared to the higher fat composition in women’s bodies. Muscle fibers generate more force compared to fat.

Both the men and women in these photos are very strong. However, the women are carrying more body fat compared to the men. It is hard to tell my just looking. 

Normally a female bodybuilder can reach at least 8% body fat. Men can reach as low as 3%. These low body fat levels are only done for a contest. Keeping the body under such conditions could be harmful. Body fat levels need to be low enough to show definition . Fat is necessary for the cell membranes. The recommended body fat levels for men are around 15% compared to women’s 21%. Seeing as athletes are pushing their bodies to a limit, they would actually have more physical strain during contest time. This is tougher for women, because if body fat levels become to low it can disturb the menstrual cycle. This can be avoided as long as there is recovery during the off season. Body composition also has a role in strength.

         Another consideration is muscle fiber type. Simply having large muscles does not equate to more strength. There are weightlifters and crossfit competitors that lift more compared to some female bodybuilders. The reason is based on type II muscle fiber distribution. This muscle fiber type is designed for more explosive power. Type II muscle fibers can either be classified as moderate IIa  or fast twitch IIb. If one is looking to increase strength and muscle mass these fibers are essential to the body. A bodybuilder may have large muscles, but depending on their type II to type I ratio a smaller person could be stronger.

At first this can be confusing. it only becomes clear when comprehended from the perspective of full muscle recruitment. Each of the muscle fibers must contribute to the physical task at hand. Men tend to have more type II muscle fiber, while women contain more type I fiber. Although such type I muscle fiber is not as strong, it is more fatigue resistant. The amount of muscle fiber type can vary among individuals, yet it is clear that sex is a factor in muscle fiber expression, which results in distribution.

tumblr_madpba4oYG1qcj1xb
The general muscle fiber classification demonstrates power and energy levels.
Basic RGB
The type IIa muscle fiber expression in hindlimbs of a man and a woman.

Type II muscle fiber has the ability to contract rapidly. There are case when both type I and type II are used during physical activity. Type I muscle fibers are used first and when they reach their limit there is a switch to type II. The muscle fiber types act as an auxiliary support for the body under physical activity. Men and women have the same muscular system. The difference is that men have a grater amount concentrated in the upper body. The more fibers available in that area means the greater chance for more force from recruitment.

Blood supply is also different for certain muscle fiber. Slow twitch muscle fiber has more blood supply compared to fast twitch. A large blood supply enables more oxygen. As a result their work out put can last longer due to the blood difference. Fast twitch muscle has a lack of blood, which means less oxygen delivery to the tissue. Fast twitch muscle fiber has less mitochandria. Mitochandria is responsible for energy production by means of adenosine triphosphate. This explains the secret to type I muscle fiber’s endurance it utilizes blood supply and adenosine triphosphate more efficiently. Type II muscle fiber has a bigger diameter compared to type I fiber.

Strength can come in various sizes and body types. 

The challenge for type II muscle fiber is the lactic threshold. ATP uses glucose as a fuel source when under physical activity and work. Activity that goes from a range of 10 seconds to three minutes ATP is formed from incomplete breakdown of stored glucose known as glycogen. Lactic acid is produced as a result. Lifting weights requires energy faster than the body can deliver oxygen to the tissues. During this process glucose can be metabolized into  pyruvate. Pyruvate will then be converted into lactate for energy production to continue. The lactic threshold almost acts as a defense mechanism telling our bodies to stop strenuous activity. Lactic acid is not responsible for muscle soreness after work outs. Metabolites have been thought to cause such soreness, but it is unclear which ones. This explains why an athlete cannot exercise non-stop.

During exercise intensity levels are a factor in fatigue and lactic acid build up. Slow twitch fibers are reliant on a mixture of fat and glucose. Women who have a higher fat percentage can use some of that for energy. When intensity levels rise for slow twitch fibers fat metabolism will subside, while the carbohydrate metabolism increases. This induces assistance from fast twitch fiber.

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The muscle cell types
muscle1
Basic muscle fiber structure

What can be extrapolated is that not all muscle fibers are the same. The muscle cells also differ.  The three types include cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle. It is skeletal muscle that contributes more to strength and type II fibers that make it physiologically possible. The motor neurons are bigger in type II muscle fiber. The difference relative to size means that more fibers are activated during muscular contraction. Sarcomere length also contributes to maximal force of the muscle. Filament length if too short or too long will not produce the highest amount of force. Sarcomeres are the smallest units of contractile sections of muscle. The thin and thick filaments overlap one another when producing action. There is an estimated 600 muscles in the human body which requires the myocardium, voluntary, and involuntary muscles to collaborate. Women contain the same anatomical structure, however the difference is in body composition and total muscle fiber type.

       The nervous system is a factor in strength. Neural activity and its function translate into motor skill movement.The nervous system transmits impulses to the muscles. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. Strength level can be effected by the total number of motor neuron units and the rate of activation. This process is known as rate coding. When an athlete reaches a high level of rate coding they reach a classification known as explosive.

Motor neurons
The motor neuron and muscle fiber link as displayed anatomically.

There are certain methods employed to increase strength training wise. Lifting heavy weights can cause a change or lifting light weights at fast intervals. There are also factors of coordination and synchronization. Inter-muscular coordination refers to how efficiently multiple muscle work together to perform a task. Intra-muscular coordination requires the firing patterns of individual muscle fibers for a particular physical task. The process functions similar to gears working together in a clock. The gears will move to get the hands of the clock to move. This collaboration in action results in a synchronization. Motor neuron units will fire in accordance to the training load. Synchronization describes how particular muscle fibers are used depending on the physical task. Neural adaptation also is just as important as muscle fiber type. Technically, if a female bodybuilder has mastered this neuromuscular efficiency she could have considerable strength.

Some bodybuilders actually do have powerlifting backgrounds that contributed to their success. Bev Francis was a powerlifter before competing in bodybuilding. Her training in that sport gave her a great base to compete. Her maximum lifts were 335 lbs bench press 501 lbs deadlift and 500 lbs squat. Becca Swanson has been considered by many to be the strongest woman who ever lived. Her statistics include a 600 lbs bench press, 683 lbs deadlift, and 854 lbs squat.  Jill Mills also competed in bodybuilding before becoming a World’s Strongest Woman competitor.

If there were to be a comparison of strength levels, they would probably be stronger competing as powerlifters than when they were bodybuilders. That is due to the fact that the nervous system, just like the muscular system is responding to stimuli. The neural adaptation develops new pathways for the purpose of functional movement. This indicates that lifting higher loads would be more effective than lighter ones. If  any one wants to gain strength weighlifting would be the best method to reach that physical fitness target. Bodybuilders do lift weights, but the intent is not to gain the most strength. It is designed for body sculpting.

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The nerves and neurons serve many functions in the human body. Voluntary movement would not be possible without the effort of the motor cortex. The nervous system is a network of nerves and sensory receptors working to provide the brain with information. The nervous system is divided into two parts : the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system contains the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves responsible that transport impulses from to and from the nervous system. During exercise or sporting competition the nervous system is diligently working with other organ systems. The muscular system, endocrine system,and nervous system contribute to physical strength, but it goes beyond that. Physical strength can also come from the genes.

          There are genes that are linked to physical strength. The genes that are responsible for muscular strength ACTG 1, STY 1, PEX 14, and TGFA. Genes are just units of deoxyribonucleic acid. ACTG 1 provides instructions for the formation of gamma y actin proteins. There are six types of actin and four of them are present in the muscle cells. This contributes to muscular contraction. TGFA also has involvement in protein coding.Genes can be expressed in different ways depending on various factors. There are multitudes of genes that influence body structure and their is a possibility that there are more. Actin alpha 3 and ACE influence muscle fiber type and even endurance. Alpha actin 3 is found in mostly fast twitch muscle fiber. This protein is essential to the fast twitch muscle fiber. ACE instructs the production of angiotensin-converting enzyme. Angiotensin I becomes Angiotensin I I, which may contribute in some manner to skeletal muscle structure. The ACE gene can have variation resulting in the ACE I/D polymorphism. Having two copies of this version of the gene could result in the D allele. This may result in a greater portion of fast twitch muscle fibers in the body.

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Genes and environment can influence an individual’s physical capabilities. While it is true genes are important, this should not mean that genes determine everything. Training method is important. A woman who spends more time doing cardiovascular exercise or aerobics probably would not see a dramatic increase in strength compared to a woman doing weight training. The physical fitness potential could vary immensely among individuals.

        There is an exact answer to this question if approached from a perspective of biology, physiology, and anatomy. Then one must have precise measurement. If one wants to be exact, this is an essential part of the experiment. The use of the hand grip measure was not as precise as weightlifting or powerlifting measures.  The conclusion that can be reached is that men are stronger than women, however a physically fit woman has a strength level either equal to or beyond average men. The Spot Me Girl  article does come to an incorrect conclusion. It states “even if we are biologically the weaker sex regarding muscle, at least we have some pretty good conditions for lifting because of our physical resilience!” There is no such thing as a biologically weaker sex in regards to muscle. The real difference is in maximum physical fitness capacity. Men’s fitness levels are just higher due to differences in genetics, anatomy, biology, and physiology.

    What can be  gathered from this information is a rough estimate of strength levels. An untrained woman would have less strength than an untrained man. A female bodybuilder would be stronger than both an untrained man or untrained woman. However, the female bodybuilder would not have a similar physical fitness capacity of a male on her same training regimen.

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The depiction of strength levels from weakest to strongest going from left to right. 

These women have achieved considerable strength that clearly would surpass a man less active.  

The article is correct in the fact that women require less time for recovery and have an advantage in endurance. The full extent of women’s physical capability may not be known. A majority of exercise physiology research focuses on male athletes. Thus women may not be training in the most efficient manner tailored to their biology and physiology. This makes questions such as these more difficult to answer. A prediction which may be correct can be made. The exact answer could be that female bodybuilders could be stronger than many men depending on the man’s weight, size, health, and physical fitness level.  The female bodybuilder is stronger than the average man, but the weightlifters and powerlifters could achieve strength levels much higher. While men’s physiology allows for greater physical fitness capacity, this does not automatically make them better athletes. Skills, training, and experience can make the difference in athletic competition. Female bodybuilders can be very strong depending on their genetics, training method, and diet.

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Wanda Sykes : If Women Were Stronger Than Men (2006)

 

When it comes to comedy or a sense of humor, it seems that many women lack it. Well, there are female comedians that prove that notion wrong. Wanda Sykes has been making audiences laugh for decades. This one video holds a special place here. Sykes ponders what life would be like if women were stronger than men. There could be a few altercations here and there. Watch Wanda doing what she does best and Happy April Fool’s Day .

Wanda Sykes : If Women Were Stronger Than Men (2006)